|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The problem is that it is the responsibility of the Mayor of London to take action on these issues. One has to ask why the mayor took nearly 18 months to produce a draft air quality strategy, which the European Commission said on 11 December 2009 did not even meet the minimum conditions for a time extension to comply with the air quality laws for PM10. This means that the Commission rejected the British Government's application for an extension due to the poor quality of
5 Jan 2010 : Column 120
Therefore, I suggest to my noble friend that the Government give the mayor full legal responsibility for complying with these air quality laws, at least for PM10s, for which the necessary measures are within his grasp. NO2 compliance is more difficult and requires national solutions. It is very good that the Government announced this morning the launch of the boiler scrappage scheme, which will help dramatically to reduce some NO2 emissions. We have to remember that the UK is the largest emitter of NOX in the whole of the EU and is set to breach the emissions ceiling by 2010.
That may all seem a little scientific and detailed but it is worth reminding ourselves that the Campaign for Clean Air in London estimates that in 2005 up to 7,900 premature deaths were due to dangerous airborne particles in London. On average, those people, who account for about one in eight of the total deaths in London, may have died 10 years early.
Therefore, I suggest that the solution lies largely in the mayor's hands. First, he should ban all pre-Euro IV diesel engines from London well before the Olympics, as it is diesel that produces the pollution. There are plenty of newer vehicles around and there should be a London-wide ban. Secondly, with such a huge public health problem, widespread breaches of the air quality laws since 2005 and a mayor who is going backwards and not forwards, I question how the Government can say that the preparations for the Olympics are going well and breaking new grounds of sustainability in a healthy and enjoyable environment. The site may be very sustainable-I congratulate those who designed it-but because of its location that part of London will certainly not be healthy unless the Government and the mayor take urgent action. My recollection is that in Beijing they solved the problem of pollution by banning cars for some time before the Games. I hope that between them the mayor and the Government can do something a little more sensible and more long-lasting. I wish the Games well.
Lord Patten: My Lords, in declaring my interest as a member of the advisory board of the British Olympic Association under the austere eye of our chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, my remarks will be entirely concerned with the security aspects of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the practical and very costly problems which arise in meeting that most difficult of challenges of achieving a balance between security concerns and ensuring that spectators can enjoy the competitions in an open and friendly atmosphere.
No one raising security matters now can be accused of scaremongering since the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, in a speech in mid-November 2009 to the Royal United Services Institute said that our Olympics would be,
I recognise that there have been no fatalities in any Olympics since that pipe-bomb explosion in a crowded Atlanta park which, alas, killed two poor people in 1996, in a city which I visited at the tail end of October last year.
That our UK security task in 2012 is both formidable and likely to grow in cost formidably is self-evident from what has been done in the run up to the forthcoming winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver, now less than two months away. The preparation for the winter Games started off with a published planning assumption for security costs of 175 million Canadian dollars. The budget is now just under 1 billion Canadian dollars, about what the Greeks spent, in effect, for a whole summer Olympics in 2004, compared with the much smaller forthcoming winter Games events in Vancouver next month. It is very instructive to see where this nearly fivefold increase over the initial planning estimates of security costs will be spent. It will be spent on everything from enforcing airspace restrictions on over-flying to the costs of some 15,000 police, military and private security guards, all of whom are just now being vaccinated against certain viruses as part of their own protection. I trust that the Government will look very close indeed at what I hope will be peaceful Vancouver Games and at the security lessons that we can take and apply to London 2012.
I understand there is a notional sum of some £800 million in the £9.3 billion budget for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That sum is certain to escalate very substantially. As it is a matter of public security-the security of athletes, their coaches and the spectators who come to view these great events-that security bill will have to be met, as we meet others from outside existing budgets. That said, I have two main points to make about our Games relating to physical attack against people and property and one further main point about threats to the ticketing, logistics and organisation of 2012 posed by co-ordinated cyber attacks on our systems in this country.
On violent terrorist attacks, since the 7/7 outrages in this country in 2005 and the almost daily litany of reports of explosions in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, we are all too familiar with the current, most prevalent means of causing mayhem via demented suicide bombers or by improvised explosive devices, IEDs. To these, from information reaching me, I must now add improvised chemical devices-ICDs-those deadly twins of IEDs. Let us have no accusations of scaremongering just because so far those spectres have not attended any great Western sporting events. We must, rather, learn from the success of others in stopping just such potential chemical assaults. I think in particular of how Germany dealt with that specific threat in the run-up to and during the 2006 football World Cup-an object lesson for this Government and for us generally in chemical readiness. Pre-emption was paramount, as in all good anti-terrorist work, of course, but underlying
5 Jan 2010 : Column 122
Without, of course, going into any sensitive detail, will the Minister in his wind-up speech answer this specific question: is a chemical attack/prevention and chemical surveillance plan in development for 2012 or not? If not, will there be one? If the Minister cannot, for understandable reasons, answer tonight because he is not briefed on the point, will he none the less undertake to write to me with the answer, copied to all other speakers, and to place a copy of that letter in the Library of your Lordships' House?
My second point about the prevention of attacks on the person is driven by the belief that terrorists do best, by their lights, by the simple tactic of working around or, best of all, before security measures are in place. Devices of a latent nature could still be left in the Olympic Park during the construction phase and elsewhere. I very much welcome the vigorous biometric checks that have been introduced for construction staff working in the Olympic Village, with a present workforce of about 4,500 doubling to 10,000 by the end of 2010. All those methods, from photographic smart cards in conjunction with hand scanners to iris-checking devices, must be used to help to prevent the courage of illicit and destructive materials on to the site.
However, fast forward not much more than a couple of years, and the same sort of checking will have to be in place for the many scores of thousands of volunteers who will willingly-I welcome this-give up their time for stewarding and other roles in the Olympics. That is a formidable security task. Terrorists, particularly suicide terrorists, use ever more concealed devices, as we have just seen, and there has been a Statement in your Lordships' House today about that. That is a hard question, with all the cost implications that it entails, but I suppose that we must consider whether whole-body scanners should be used for 2010's construction workers and, perhaps, for 2012's volunteers as well.
I end on this note. We face the threat of direct attacks on the person, but we also face formidable possible attacks from cyber methods to disrupt 2012 by a co-ordinated or partial assault on ticketing systems, on the related transport and hotel bookings systems, and certainly on our utility companies' electricity networks. I am advised that there are what are termed in the cyber trade Trojans, which can be placed across diverse systems and networks, and then simultaneously triggered from a distance, as the people of Estonia found out with the devastating cyber attack on their country back in 2006. Just as in the matter of the pressing need for an Olympic chemical attack and surveillance plan, do the Government who, in the end, are responsible for our security, have a cyber attack plan? Who is in charge of it? By the same token, if the Minister cannot answer tonight because he is not briefed on it, will he again undertake to write to me, copied to all other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, and to place the answer in the Library of the House?
Lord Pendry: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester on initiating this debate and the able way in which he has presented a clear picture of how preparations are taking place for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games in London. My noble friend has a long history not only of supporting major games, such as the Olympics, but of helping young sports men and women for years as deputy chairman of the Football Trust. It is very fitting that he should be leading for the Government in today's debate. I also praise the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. His contribution to sport is well known, and in his current capacity as chairman of the BOA he has alongside him another Olympian. I am sure that between them they know well how to prepare for 2012.
I say to those who believe that these Games benefit only London and the southern counties that they could not be more wrong. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have already had a positive impact across the UK. I see this in my region in the north-west. As a former Member of Parliament for a Greater Manchester constituency, I assure my noble friends that in that area we do not have to be persuaded that there are positive impacts of hosting multisports events. We learnt from the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games that hosting world-class sports men and women in the backyard, as it were, is a great inspiration and enthuses young people with the power of sport. We also learnt that what you get out of that endeavour you have to put into communities, towns and regions to get the best out of your efforts. We saw that in Manchester in the preparation for winning medals.
Some of the benefits in the north-west are not just medals but the impact on the community and manufacturers in that area. Dew Piling Limited in Oldham is supplying piling services for the swimming centre that will serve as the gateway to the Olympic park at the time of the Games and will provide the legacy for London swimmers that Manchester athletes have gained through their own pool. Boole's Tools and Pipe Fittings Ltd in Stockport provided mechanical installations for sewage. There are many examples I could give, but time does not permit.
Pre-game training camps have already been agreed. The Australian Olympic swimming team has signed up to use the Manchester pool for training for five years. The Thailand National Olympic Committee has signed to use Manchester facilities. Fifty Pacific islands have also signed on a multisports basis across the north-west with the Northwest Regional Development Agency. There are also cultural benefits. Artists Taking the Lead's major project in the north-west is the Projected Column, which is a monumental spinning column of cloud and light in Birkenhead's disused Morpeth dock. There is also the live site big screens in Manchester and Liverpool, which will bring people together to share the experience of the 2012 Games. There are many initiatives in the north-west, but they are replicated throughout the UK, as I am sure many noble Lords agree.
I witnessed the power of the Olympic Games when I attended the Munich Games, the Moscow Games and the Atlanta Games and the winter Games in
5 Jan 2010 : Column 124
The signs are certainly encouraging, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than impressive stadia, medals and a month of drama and entertainment. They are all about a spirit which says that our struggle together is more important than our triumph. Through harnessing the very best in sport, humanity as a whole is better off. The 2012 Olympics provides a unique opportunity to inspire 2 million young people into sport and we cannot allow it to pass.
However, I must be honest. Until recently I was concerned about the lack of focus of this legacy. Following the announcement of London's success, almost all the spotlight was understandably on the delivery of the Games, and the hard legacy issues around facilities and regeneration. They are crucial to a successful Games, but they distorted the focus which led to an estimated £5.6 million being diverted from grass-roots sport into the Olympics project, which will not do. My fear is that the soft legacy has been assuaged somewhat by recent efforts prompted by pressure from politicians and sports organisations, such as the CCPR. These include the publication of the Government's legacy action plan, with participation funding challenged through governing bodies. These plans have been instrumental in changing the face of those of us who had some doubts about the legacy background, which is good progress. I welcome those developments, but more can and should be done. Specific legacy funding can be made available at the local level for initiatives linked to the Olympics, providing coaching or facilities for the community.
Life could also be made much easier for community sports clubs if the lasting legacy is delivered and eventually reaches a point where we can look back and say that it started with a particular effort by the Government and the authorities. Local community clubs face mounting regulatory burdens in areas such as music, alcohol licensing, water drainage charges and VAT, which increases their costs and administrative requirements. Easing those burdens would go some way to relieving the financial pressure on those clubs and would allow volunteers to spend their time delivering better sport rather than filling in forms and applying for unnecessary licences.
Let us not forget that while participation legacy is important, active communities are stronger, safer and more cohesive, and the future health of our nation relies on increasing levels of activity among all our citizens, particularly young people. If my throat stands the test of time, I will talk more about this in the
5 Jan 2010 : Column 125
Lord Addington: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to speak in this debate. I believe that it is the third time we have got to blocks, but the first time we have started. Much of the thrust on which I wanted to focus has just been spoken about by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry. First, I want to compliment the Olympic movement and, in particular, the ODA. I congratulate you on being so dull: you have been so good at doing what you have been doing that you have annoyed lots of journalists. This House and the whole of Parliament should salute, with considerable joy and relish, any organisation which has annoyed journalists. Well done!
There have not been any great dramas. You have delivered on time and on budget-so far, so good. Unless something goes severely wrong-I always felt this about the Olympics-we will have a wonderful Games. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, will not take it amiss if I say that if you manage to mess up something as intrinsically good as the Olympic Games, you deserve a place in history and infamy together, because the Games are so special.
I also believe that the entire Olympic movement benefited from the complete cock-ups that we had before it-I am thinking particularly of the Wembley fiasco-and the fact that people listened and learnt. They also learnt from the great success story of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, which gave British sport the confidence and the seriousness to apply for the Olympics.
This brings me to the central thrust of what I would say about the preparation for the Olympic Games. We will lose the major benefit from these Games if we concentrate only on the month in which the Olympics and the Paralympics take place. They must be seen as a point in a continual flow of activity. I always felt that the aim of getting 2 million more people actively involved in sport was basically absurd, but not the aim of getting 2 million more people to take up sport or to exercise regularly-in other words, to do themselves some good through exercise in a competitive or non-competitive environment. I do not know where the dividing line is. I have asked the Government several times, and it is quite clear that they do not know either.
What will be the drive behind that? The Olympics have given enough political energy and activity to this to allow it to happen. This is probably one of the great things that one can cash in on. I know that sport is usually a subject in which party politics do not get too involved, but, in this election year and for the next couple of years, when we will not face the most expenditure-friendly environment, we should remember the benefits for the health service, social cohesion and all the other projects of making sure that we allow greater activity and flow through. Such activity and flow through is helped by things such as the
5 Jan 2010 : Column 126
Without this idea of a continual pattern of activity, much of what we do in connection with the Olympics is in danger of being wasted. After that month of activity, there will be a huge temptation to shrug one's shoulders, to say, "That is done", and to let it go. It is a perfectly normal reaction, and we have all had it. We have had it in groups to which we have been attached. After a huge burst of activity, we have said, "Oh, let's do something else. Let's not hang on to the idea". I appreciate that my party is under-represented here today-consideration of the Digital Economy Bill tomorrow will take a lot of energy out of my party's DCMS team, but I have decided that I will treat them with the same contempt with which they treat me-but all political parties must ensure that we keep the drive going because without it we will not get very far.
I thank the Minister for allowing the Government and not someone from the Back Benches or the opposition Front Bench to take the lead in this debate. My questions to him are: what are the Government's plans to find out what does and does not work, and when will they publish them? These Olympic Games are taking on new activity and a new thrust, and they are bound to make a series of mistakes. With the best intention in the world, they are trying to get things right but you will get things wrong when you try new things. What works and what does not?
I have asked the Government time and again which schemes are best for mass participation, which are not so good, which ones only get the kids running around for three weeks and then disappear, and which ones build up mass participation in grass-roots sports beyond the school-age drop-outs and the end-of-college drop outs. Which schemes are working? These are very important questions that I have asked many times.
Also, have the Government decided, provided that they are still in a position to influence it-the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, might be able to give us an idea of his party's approach, should it be in a position to do so-which department will take ultimate responsibility for this judgment? Is the Department of Health in charge? It is, a bit. The DCMS is in charge a bit as well, but mainly this is done through other bodies, and here I pay tribute to the sensibilities behind the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, about the number of boards that get in the way. We could certainly lose half of them, although I am not sure I know which half. When I asked the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, about it, he said that the Treasury is in overall charge. The Treasury has no way of delivering or judging the issue even if it does provide the finance. Where will the judgment be made?
We have got to make this assessment at some point. Personally, if we going for mass participation and mass support, I favour putting the emphasis on the Department of Health. Apart from anything else, you need a big spending department to defend an issue, and if this is that department's particular baby, it will be defended. Anyone who has observed these things for a length of time and has their hands on the levers
5 Jan 2010 : Column 127
Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank everyone for their contributions this evening. It has been a fascinating debate and I have listened to all the different angles that noble Lords come from and all the comments made. The only interest I have to declare is as a past Olympian and one who has been totally and absolutely committed to this project. We talked earlier about cross-party support for a national project. If ever there was an example of a national project in the national interest, with all the parties coming together to support the Government of the day, I would suggest that this is it. Many Members in the Chamber tonight are part and parcel of that effort.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|