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Olympic Games

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

4. What steps he is taking to ensure that businesses in the regions can take advantage of the commercial opportunities arising from the 2012 Olympic games. (95031)

Hosting the Olympics provides Britain and British businesses with a unique opportunity to showcase our products and services, and to exploit commercial opportunities in the short term to create a lasting legacy for British enterprise in the long term.

We are working with the regional development agencies and the devolved Administrations to ensure that we provide appropriate business support so that companies are fit to compete for games-related opportunities. We are ensuring that there is widespread access to, and up-to-date information about, procurement opportunities, and we are working with specific sectors, such as construction and information and communications technology, to ensure that we take maximum advantage of the commercial opportunities as they arise.

There is real interest in the Olympics, but there is a genuine need for the firms to get the information in a proper way and for the procurement processes to be open and transparent. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the contract packaging is right so that the smaller businesses can also get a chance to bid for some of this valuable work? That will enable my region to see some of the benefits from the 2012 games.

I agree with all of that. We are working with regional development agencies to establish a business opportunities network, and we have already started putting online some of the opportunities that exist. My hon. Friend makes valid points, and I will take them on board as we develop our networks and information vehicles.

May I remind the Minister that it would be advantageous to the regions, and Wales and Scotland, if Olympic events were held outside London? In that regard, will she pass on to her colleagues the message that Bala, my home town, has the best white-water canoeing in Europe, and that on Cardigan bay at Pwllheli, arguably, there is the best yachting in Britain?

I will certainly pass that on to my colleagues. When the Sydney games were held in 2000, Brisbane, for example, benefited hugely, not least because the presence of the British team alone added £6 million to its economy.

One of the best and easiest ways that companies in the north-east can benefit from the games is to host a training camp. Gateshead international stadium in my constituency is ready and waiting, offering world-class facilities. The transport links to the north-east are the best, and visitors will receive the warm hospitality of its friendly folk. Can the Minister say whether a timetable has been discussed yet?

I cannot say whether such a timetable has been established, but I will pass on the enthusiasm to have such a facility in my hon. Friend’s constituency to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The value of additional tourism and so on arising from the games has been estimated at some £610 million. What estimate has the Minister made of the proportion of that income that will be generated outside London? Can she assure me that my Province will get its fair share of the commercial opportunities, along with the rest of the United Kingdom?

We have not made an estimate of the extent to which the benefit will be spread across the whole of the United Kingdom, but we are determined to ensure that we do that. That will happen partly through the way that we distribute the various facilities that the games will require, which is a matter for the Olympic Delivery Authority, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Part of that is about ensuring that businesses are fit for purpose, which we have taken on board, and that proper information is provided to businesses so that they can take advantage of the games. The fact that so many hon. Members are rising on this question shows the enthusiasm across the United Kingdom for the hosting of the Olympics here in 2012.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the games represent a great opportunity for the manufacturing sector, particularly the steel industry? Has she had any discussions with the Corus management in particular on how it can take advantage of this great opportunity and play its part?

My hon. Friend the Minister for Energy has responsibility for the steel industry and will take that on board. In general, we have had discussions with the construction industry, and a construction commitment has been signed not only by construction companies but by all suppliers, such as architects and quantity surveyors, to ensure that we use the opportunity of the Olympics to improve our construction practices and showcase the best of British construction as we build facilities.