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Finally, who will sell the sizzle of the Lower Lea Valley? Who guides investors through the alphabet soup of agencies, rules, boundaries and landowners? Thirty years ago, the LDDC fulfilled this role in Docklands. Now multiple organisations are falling over each other to offer parts of that role for the Lower Lea Valley. They all need to agree to work under one roof, or accept referrals from a shared one-stop shop. I remain optimistic. At three years to go, London's legacy planning is ahead of that of any recent Olympics, but we can do even better.

1.15 pm

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, it is a joy and a pleasure to be given this opportunity to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Coe, give a work-in-progress description of the bid, about which we were all so delighted to hear some years ago. This is also an opportunity to hear noble Lords’ concerns. I do not have similar concerns. I am a joint president of London Councils with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. Together, we speak on behalf of the councils with great temerity from time to time.

I wish to quote from a briefing that I asked for to help me. The first paragraph states:

“Londoners are firmly behind the Olympic Games—but there are still major areas to be addressed if the Games are to deliver the legacy that the capital’s residents want. London Councils’ research demonstrates a high level of public optimism about the 2012 Olympics, whilst highlighting some key issues that the Government, LOCOG and other stakeholders need to address”.

That is a reasonable statement and I see that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, nods his head. I approach this matter with a benign, not malevolent, attitude. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, will remember that the first two years of his undertaking his present role were fraught with difficulty, argument and some ridiculous statements. However, we have now reached the stage where I believe that most people in this country, if not all of them, want the Games to be a success. What we need to do to make them a success is, of course, open to argument.

My wife Margaret always told me that she never forgot attending the 1948 Olympics, where she saw Maureen Gardner and Fanny Blankers-Koen and other great runners. I remember living in Newcastle at the time and seeing Arthur Wint and McDonald Bailey. There is a latent interest in and desire for sport in this country. Some speakers have talked about inspiration. That is what we have, especially after last year’s Olympic Games. I do not think that I spoke to anyone during those Olympics who was not imbued with enthusiasm. People were disappointed if some of our champions lost but they were given a taste of what the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his noble friend Lord Moynihan must have enjoyed for many years.

I happen to be a founder member of the Lea Valley Regional Park. I have scribbled down the name “Ron Pickering”. I see the noble Lord, Lord Coe, smile because Ron Pickering was a great inspiration. You get the idea that you are participating ever so slightly by watching an event or attending it. It is a marvellous to say after an event, “I was there. I was part of it”. I think that everybody in the country wants to be able to

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say in 2012, almost regardless of the results, “I was there”. What they will bring to the table is enthusiasm, and I am delighted to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, speak so cogently about the involvement, desire and support of business in this part of the world.

London Councils has, of course, asked me to raise a number of matters. I simply want the noble Lord, Lord Coe, to know that none of them will be fresh. They will all be known to and have been argued with him. I have scribbled down these problems: whether transport will be adequately dealt with, congestion, inconvenience and security. That last concern was quite properly mentioned; I cannot believe that any point I raise is not already on the agenda of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his committee. There is also a great point about additional resources. That is because London Councils is already contributing £625 million to the bid, and it is concerned about the extra costs that it might have to pay.

It ought not to be taken for granted that London Councils will simply absorb the costs that emerge. There needs to be some mechanism. It also wants the legacy to be more clearly defined than it has been up to now. We know what legacy means, but the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and the Minister would do well to pay attention as quickly as possible and say in detail, “This is what the Games will bring”. We also need a better sense of communicating what is going on to the general public, not just in London but in the country. I imagine that there is a job to be done, perhaps in the second part of the six-year battle that has been going on, to make the people of London and of the country better aware.

I am told by London Councils, from its research, that 44 per cent of Londoners want tickets for events. In my mind, that is almost a sell-out whether they get them or not; I am also told that there are 9 million tickets available for various events, so this is a massive showpiece. Above all else, the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his colleagues are capable of inspiring millions of people to feel better not only about the Olympics but about being in Britain, and I wish them well.

1.22 pm

Baroness Coussins: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of modern foreign language skills, and their role in underpinning the quality, reputation and smooth running of the 2012 Games. I declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Group on Modern Languages, which aims to promote the benefit of languages in education, skills, employment, competition and culture. The Olympic Games have all those, rolled into one great big opportunity not just for improving delivery of the event itself but as part of the continuing economic and social legacy.

As many noble Lords will know, the stereotyped image of British people being bad at languages and reluctant to learn is, sadly, reflected in the dramatically reduced numbers of young people opting for languages at GCSE despite London and, indeed, elsewhere in the UK being richly multilingual communities. At the same time, research indicates that the UK economy

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could be losing between £9 billion and £21 billion a year through lost contracts because of a lack of language skills in the workforce, while survey after survey shows employers saying that they want to recruit people who can speak more than one language. Various languages programmes and projects are being rolled out in the run-up to the Olympics, but I would like to see them much more closely aligned with what goes on at key stages 3 and 4 in schools, in order to encourage and incentivise more pupils to stick with languages.

I would also like more of a sense of urgency in LOCOG over planning for language services, particularly in identifying where to find the 300 professional interpreters who will be needed. The assumption seems to be that they will be people who have worked at previous Games or for the IOC. Although that is partly true, the age profile of English mother-tongue interpreters is a serious concern, and there is a real possibility that the needs of the 2012 Games might not be met. The GLA also needs to be less complacent about where it will find the 1,000 language specialist volunteers who are expected to help.

The official Olympic languages are English and French; additional working languages in 2012 will be Arabic, German, Russian and Spanish. Teams from 205 countries will be here, so the number of actual languages in use will run to dozens. The all-party group is supported by CILT, the National Centre for Languages, which is working hard to help LOCOG deliver a multilingual Games. For example, it is running a competition for 13 to 21 year-olds to make a film clip about languages and the Olympics, which I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, has agreed to judge. Another idea might be to tell 13 year-olds in London schools now that if they commit to including a foreign language in their GCSE option choices, they will be guaranteed a place in the 70,000-strong volunteer force or, perhaps, could meet up with an international athlete of their choice who speaks that language.

From a business perspective, planning now is vital. Regional Language Network London is doing sterling work to help prepare businesses through its Welcoming the World programme. Help is available for businesses that need to translate signage or brochures, or to train staff to deliver outstanding customer service to international visitors. Transport, health and the emergency services will all need language skills too. I ask LOCOG, the GLA, the Government and the Olympic Legacy Company to all look at whether they are doing enough now to get information about these resources to businesses, particularly SMEs.

We do those in the next generation a great disservice if we allow language skills to diminish, because they will most certainly lose out to their multilingual peers from other EU countries who will be at a competitive advantage in the job market, whether they want to be doctors, hotel receptionists, retailers, tour guides or sports coaches. What is more, learning and speaking other languages is fun; it gives pleasure and a great feeling of achievement. What better match could there be than sport and the Olympic Games for showcasing what we can do?

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1.27 pm

Lord Bates: My Lords, I shall focus my contribution to the debate on the north-east of England. I declare interests as being a resident and in having businesses up there, and in having a great interest in and passion for that great region of this country. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Coe for his inspirational leadership of this whole project.

It is one of the less endearing qualities of the British temperament always to complain about the rain without giving thanks for the sunshine. When I had the opportunity to visit LOCOG’s offices down at Canary Wharf, I was shown the great work going on at the Olympic site, which is absolutely spectacular. We tend to hear of things only when they go wrong and forget to celebrate things when they go well. It is wonderful to be party to this debate and to pay tribute to all of those involved in ensuring that it is going extremely well. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, on her maiden speech. As someone who only recently gave a maiden speech in your Lordships’ House, while mine was instantly forgettable her contribution will endure in the memory much longer—and rightly so, because it was inspiring.

My focus on the north-east of England is in its having some heritage behind it in its sporting traditions. Not only has it produced some outstanding Olympians and athletes—Jonathan Edwards, Steve Cram and Brendan Foster—but it is the home of the athletics stadium in Gateshead and of the Great North Run, the most popular half-marathon in the world, which regularly attracts more than 50,000 participants. That cultural part and that sporting heritage are extremely important.

For understandable reasons, the Games are awarded to a city rather than a country. That can sometimes mean that people in peripheral regions can think it is nothing to do with them and that this is a London show. I had been a bit guilty of thinking that until I had the opportunity to visit the offices of LOCOG and receive an excellent presentation on what is happening in the north-east and, I am sure, in many regions around the UK.

In the north-east, 220 schools and colleges are registered in Get Set, LOCOG’s education programme, to take the Olympic and Paralympic values into the classroom. Twenty sporting facilities in the north-east have been included as potential pre-Games training camps in LOCOG’s official guide, which has been circulated to all foreign teams, 200 national Olympic committees and 165 national Paralympic committees. These include the Tees Barrage, which the noble Lord, Lord Coe, had the opportunity of visiting last year. It is a spectacular facility. They also include Hartlepool Marina, the Glenn McCrory International School of Boxing, and one should not forget the great Gateshead International Stadium. One live site is already in place in the region in Middlesbrough. A live site is, I have discovered, a place where large screens will be erected, so that people can view the Olympics.

Seven Inspire projects have been given the go-ahead in the north-east. These are local or regional projects inspired by 2012 which have been given LOCOG’s

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Inspire mark—a version of the 2012 brand. The most exciting project in the north-east is one which links 2012 with getting people active and healthy to avoid type-2 diabetes, of which there is a high incidence in the north-east of England.

At the handover from Beijing, 22 special 2012 flags produced by LOCOG were raised in town halls across the region and 38 cultural events were held as part of the open weekend in September. We are now working on the London 2012 Open Weekend. In all these matters, some outstanding work is going on—not least by Jonathan Edwards who is a leading figure in the north-east and carries great credibility in drawing attention to the region and making sure that it is not left out of London 2012. Knowing that he is a major part of the Olympics gives us a great deal of confidence. I should also point out that a great deal of work is being undertaken by the Nations and Regions Group. There is a co-ordinator for 2012 under One North East.

The Olympic motto is, “Faster, higher, stronger”, and perhaps I may conclude with some suggestions as to how we could do more. First, there is the economy. Some £6 billion of contracts are to be awarded. There is a real concern, particularly given the economic downturn, that regional businesses, including construction businesses, are not necessarily aware of the opportunities that are there. More could be done.

My second point relates to volunteers. This has already been referred to in the debate. There will be 70,000 volunteers taking part. It would be great to see many volunteers coming from all the English regions, particularly from the north-east.

My final point relates to the cultural aspect of the Olympiad. There is a great opportunity to promote the culture of the north-east of England and to have great cultural events. As someone who has for a long time been associated with a campaign to return the Lindisfarne Gospels to their home in Durham Cathedral, there to be reunited with the bones of St Cuthbert, I believe that 2012 should have a landmark cultural event. It is time for the Government to undo the injustice by which the gospels were removed from the north-east during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII and return them to the region. That would set a great example by bringing together tourism and highlighting the fact that the Games are not just about London—this is actually about the whole country. It would also grasp the attention and imagination of the people of the north-east. I commend that idea to the House.

1.35 pm

Baroness Ford: My Lords, as the last Back-Bencher to speak, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on securing this important debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on his ingenuity in working the Lindisfarne Gospels into a debate on the Olympics and Paralympics. He is continuing a strong tradition in this House in that regard. I, too, very much welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, whose accomplishments are legion and whose maiden speech today could not have been more welcome or on a more appropriate topic. If her speech is a sign of

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things to come, she will be an enormous addition to your Lordships’ House. I hope that she and I will become close allies.

Just over half way through our preparations, it is fantastic to see the amazing work taking place in the Olympic park. I had the pleasure of visiting the park again last week and marvelled at the breathtakingly efficient way that the ODA, under the able leadership of John Armitt and David Higgins, is completing an incredibly complex task. The big build is most certainly in great shape. I also know that LOCOG will stage a great Games and the noble Lords, Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, have given us a very clear sense of that today.

However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, said, there are three legs to this stool, and I want to focus on the Olympic legacy. I declare my interest as the newly appointed chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. I should like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that the issues of running-cost budgets and an adequate capital budget for the company are very much alive and under discussion with the Government. I have been given absolutely every encouragement to believe that we have been given the tools to do that job, which will be completed quite quickly. Many issues have been raised by noble Lords about the legacy. Rather than taking up more time, I should like to offer all noble Lords who are interested an opportunity for an early meeting to update them on the progress of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and to take on board a number of their concerns.

In Singapore four years ago, when London’s bid was presented to the IOC, the focus on young people and legacy was inspirational. I defy anyone who saw the film that accompanied the bid to say that they failed to be moved by it. The IOC found it totally compelling. A major part of the job is to make sure that the legacy we promised gets delivered.

The 2012 Games must create a transformational legacy for east London, creating a new neighbourhood for the city, reconnecting communities, creating sustainable jobs, encouraging enterprise, particularly social enterprise—the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, drew attention to this—and providing new homes, all in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom.

Clearly, the Games will leave a powerful legacy for sport, with five new world-class venues in east London, many more venues across the UK and a fabulous boost for the participation of people of all ages. The park itself and our magnificent stadium—a living stadium—should provide a major attraction for local people and visitors eager to continue to celebrate the Games and to continue their interest in sport long after the 2012 Games are over. It will have athletics at its core, so that London can continue to attract the best talent from around the world to come and compete here. I say to the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the stadium will be taken down in the way that has been suggested. We are simply working through options. There are smarter things to do with the stadium. I should like to consult widely with the sporting community to get to that point.

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The legacy company, together with the five host boroughs and the very active voluntary sector in east London, will play a crucial role in turning these commitments into reality. Although my writ runs only to the boundaries of the park, in reality we cannot simply redevelop the park without clear links to the surrounding neighbourhoods and without clear reference to the wider plans for the Lower Lea Valley. The noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, has been a steadfast advocate for this type of approach and we are working carefully to ensure that the legacy master plan that is currently in preparation achieves this. The master plan is crucial because it will guide local people, public authorities and private investors for many years to come about how the park and its wider surroundings will be redeveloped, about the level of our ambition, and about, if I may steal a phrase from UK Sport, a “no compromise” approach to quality and sustainability. Between now and Christmas we will sharpen our thinking about this important master plan. I particularly want to build on and connect with some of the fantastic work done by local groups in that area of east London, about which the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has told us on many occasions, so that the final plan makes perfect sense to the sporting community but primarily to those people, particularly young people, whose lives are likely to be most affected by it.

I would like to have spoken for longer today about the legacy lessons that we can learn from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and what happened in South Kensington and Exhibition Road. After the Great Exhibition, of course, the Crystal Palace was relocated from Hyde Park to its current location. We have many lessons to learn from the Great Exhibition about the magnificent educational and cultural legacy that it left for London. It took the formidable Prince Albert 40 years to get that right. It will take us probably about the same length of time, but we must not have any less ambition for our project than Prince Albert had for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

A task for the legacy company will be to use all the park’s assets to create a unique living park of sporting and recreational excellence that is a magnet for visitors, a boon for the economy, a showcase for sustainability and a focus for performance. It must be a precious and loved asset for local people and a new piece of our city that is fully integrated into the surrounding neighbourhoods. The task will be a long one—as I said, it took Prince Albert’s royal commission 40 years—and it will require commitment and investment from partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors. But the legacy that we must leave for sport, for east London and for the wider community will be enjoyed for generations to come. That legacy must live up to and surpass the promises made to the IOC, because those promises were made to the people of east London themselves.

1.42 pm

Lord Addington: My Lords, this is one of those debates where the cliché that everything has been said but not everybody has said it comes ringingly to mind. I feel that it has been as good a broad-brush approach to everybody involved in the Olympics as you will get

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virtually anywhere. Almost every aspect of the Games and their unique legacy has been represented in your Lordships’ House. When I first saw the plans and model for London 2012, I realised that, if the Games went ahead, there would be virtually no downside for the physical space that they went into. Having lived in a flat fairly close to it, I always felt that the area had some potential, but mainly as a set for the more unpleasant type of second-rate gangster movie or a film about an apocalyptic future. Some people will tell me that I missed something very nice, but I did not see it. It was somewhere that needed investment; it had to come.

I have tried to generate a degree of passion in speaking about the idea of the Olympic Games as something that brings everything together. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, whom I welcome to the House, has topped anything that I could say today with the idea of sport as something that can give focus and meaning to lives and as something to aspire to, look back on and support. The whole way through, the idea of a sporting legacy focuses particularly on the elite but, if it is really to succeed, it must be far broader. That is something that the Games have already achieved. They have already made people in government, other than those already in touch, consider sport properly.

As one who had this portfolio for many years, before the Olympics were taken on board, I distinctly got the impression that people thought, “Sport’s an awfully good thing, but it’s nothing to do with me”. It was pushed aside. However, when the Department of Health has publications that mention the Olympics in its physical activity agenda, suddenly the Olympics have already achieved something important. I think that the Minister for Sport should be in the Department of Health, if not heading up his own ministry, with his own seat in the Cabinet. Regardless of how well the committees and odd connections within government work at the moment, I would like there to be a stronger sports—or, indeed, Olympic—presence, with a department backing it up directly. It should be attached to the Cabinet Office, with civil servants from the DCMS and the Department of Health, and it should have education connections. Things may be working now, but any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and it would be very easy to break that chain with a little political pressure here and there.

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