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Olympic Games

Volume 76: debated on Wednesday 3 April 1985

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will arrange future meetings with the appropriate sports authorities to discuss the possibility of the Olympic Games being held in Britain.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment
(Mr. Neil Macfarlane)

I have no plans to do so. Bids for staging the games are the responsibility of the British Olympic Association and interested cities.

Will the Minister make it clear that the Government will give every encouragement, including adequate financial support, to the sports authorities to put in a bid to stage the Olympic Games in Britain? Bearing in mind the recent Government intervention leading to the switch in the venue of the England-Scotland football international from Wembley to Hampden Park, should there not be some Government intervention to ensure that some Olympic events are staged in Scotland? We should remember the recent exemplary behaviour of Scottish sports fans, compared with that of some of the hooligan elements down here.

There are many steps to be taken before anyone can plan for any eventualities in the next decade.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we should welcome the Olympic Games, perhaps hosted partly in England, partly in Wales, partly in Scotland and partly in Northern Ireland? Will he continue to have discussions with the British Olympic Association, and does he have any information about whether a substantial fund of private money will be available to finance the games, as was the case in America?

The latter part of my hon. Friend's question is an important consideration. The most important attitudes are those of the British Olympic Association and individual cities. There is a long way to go before there can be any planning.

I trust that the Minister will press for Britain to host the Olympic Games. Will he bear in mind the interests of Merseyside, which has several extremely good stadiums, football teams that do not get involved in punch-ups and a good sporting record? Does the Minister agree that it would be a good area in which to stage part of the Olympic Games?

I am at one with the hon. Gentleman when he refers to the good behaviour of the football teams in his area. I pay tribute to them and their record. These are matters for consideration. I remain at the disposal of the British Olympic Association if it wishes to have further discussions. There is a long way to go and, as I understand it, the selection is not made by the International Olympic Committee until mid-way through next year.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the sports promotion council in Glasgow has advanced claims to host the 1992 Olympics in that city? Given the diversity and quality of sporting facilities in Scotland, will my hon. Friend give an assurance that his Department will do everything possible to encourage the powers that be to consider Scotland as a place to host the Olympic Games?

I note what my hon. Friend said. I am sure that he will be well supported by my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Scottish Office in any possible or potential bids.

As the British Olympic Association says that it is the Government who have encouraged it to make a bid, what estimate have the Government made of the cost of providing a games village for upwards of 20,000 people, a 100,000-seater stadium, an international pool and similar facilities for 20 other sports? As the Government are restricting all local authorities' spending on sport, where do they expect the money to come from?

I am delighted to welcome the right hon. Gentleman's new-found zest for the private sector. I assure him that the Government have just as much vision as did the post-war Labour Government in hosting the 1948 games. Many steps have to be taken before any decisions can be made.