[Relevant documents: The Sixth Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Session 2007-08, HC 104-1, London 2012 Games: the next lap, the Government response, Cm 7437, and the uncorrected transcript of evidence taken before the Committee on 7th October 2008, HC 1071-i, on London 2012 Games: Lessons from Beijing.]
I beg to move,
That this House congratulates the British team on its superb results in Beijing, which should provide an excellent platform for its performance in London 2012; notes with concern however the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Report of 23rd April 2008, which highlighted the inadequate preparations for an Olympic sporting legacy from London 2012; is disappointed with the Government’s legacy action plan which is largely a restatement of existing commitments; notes that the London Olympic Games will be the biggest sporting event in the history of the UK; and calls upon the Government to ensure that the UK lives up to the promise made in July 2005 in Singapore that the London 2012 Olympic Games will be used to leave a lasting sporting legacy.
The Opposition have been unstinting in our support for London 2012. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), when he was leader of the Conservative party, gave his personal assurance at the time of the bid that London 2012 would have the full support of a future Conservative Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson), the shadow Olympics and Sports Minister, was in Singapore for the bid, stressing and underlining the cross-party nature of the support for the project.
The Government may say today that by initiating this Opposition day debate on the Olympic legacy, we are somehow breaking the Olympic consensus: nothing could be further from the truth. It is because we are passionately determined to ensure that London 2012 is a huge success that we have a duty to speak up when we think that things are going wrong.
May I bring to the hon. Gentleman’s attention some of the points that we heard earlier in Prime Minister’s Question Time? There was, frankly, very little support for borrowing. Would he concede that the Olympic programme is founded on a massive construction project, and that unless we make commitments of the kind that this Government have made to the construction companies, we will go belly-up and we will not have any Olympics full stop?
I agree completely with the hon. Lady that those construction projects need to go ahead, and within budget. The Opposition have totally supported the fact that some changes inevitably need to be made in a situation such as the financial crisis that we currently face, and I shall talk about those changes in a few minutes. My point is that when something goes wrong in a project of this scale, it is important to speak up. We did that over the appalling budget miscalculations that meant that the budget for the Olympics had to be virtually tripled, leading to hugely damaging effects on the national lottery good causes. We are speaking up now over the Olympic legacy, which is not only one of the most important elements of the 2012 project, but one of those most in danger of not being delivered.
Our concern is not primarily about the economic legacy, and our motion is not about that. We recognise that the project will bring huge and vitally needed regeneration to five of the poorest boroughs in London, although there are concerns about the possible reduction in the number of houses being built and the threats hanging over the money being invested in upgrading the North London line. Our motion is about the sporting legacy, which divides into two distinct areas. The first is the so-called hard legacy, which is the one that will be left behind by the venues built for the Olympics. The second is the soft legacy, which is the increase in sporting participation that should happen in not only the Olympic sports—that increase is welcome—but all sports. That will provide a challenge, because, as the Government’s own report acknowledges, participation in sport has decreased in a number of the host cities after they have held the Olympics.
Ensuring that the reverse happens is a challenge that we must meet, because these Olympics will cost every household—every family—in the country £500. They will cost the equivalent of £7 million every day from today until the opening ceremony, and that cost is being borne by taxpayers throughout the country. Thus, it is only right, proper and fair that the benefits should also be felt throughout the country. With a sporting legacy, the 2012 games can be a huge success; without it, they will be a gross betrayal of the promises made by Britain both to the world and to its own people.
The Government legacy action plan says that
“it is right that there is no separately costed London 2012 Games legacy plan.”
Of course legacy projects need to be integrated into the main projects, but the danger of not having a separately costed plan is that when the going gets tough, they are the bit that gets cut. We are concerned about signs that that is exactly what is beginning to happen. At the time of the bid, huge play was made of the fact that the facilities constructed for volleyball, basketball and water polo would be temporary and relocatable, so that after the Olympics they could be taken down and moved to another part of the country, which could then benefit from the Olympic legacy. That will not happen in respect of volleyball, which will take place at Earls Court, or fencing, which will take place at the ExCeL centre, and there are signs that Sport England is backtracking in respect of some of the other sports.
That has led the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport to say the following on page 37 of its sixth report of Session 2007-08:
“We are concerned at signs of a creeping reduction in relocatable venues. Every decision not to construct a temporary relocatable venue reduces the scope for the nations and regions to share in the…legacy”.
There was also huge concern when the shooting was moved from Bisley to the Royal Artillery barracks at Woolwich, where what will be constructed will be entirely temporary, leaving no legacy at all. The Select Committee report stated that it is
“highly regrettable that the site chosen for shooting events is not one which commands the support of any of the constituent bodies of British Shooting, and we believe that more should have been done to explore alternative sites”.
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the site for the shooting in Woolwich, in my constituency. Will he please tell the House whether his party is in favour of moving shooting to another location and, if so, to which one?
My party is in favour of exactly what the Select Committee says: that, wherever possible, we should ensure that there is a permanent legacy. The current plans for shooting do not allow any legacy to be created, and we think it highly regrettable that more research was not done into making possible some kind of legacy for shooting from the Olympics.
May I ask the Secretary of State about design? When venues are being built, it is important that the potential legacy tenants—the people who will use the venues after the Olympics have finished—have some input into the design. Can he explain why design decisions have been taken before legacy tenants have been confirmed? That makes legacy use more expensive and less attractive to potential tenants. I compare that with what happened during the 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester, when Manchester city was confirmed as a legacy tenant right from the outset, which meant that there could be a smooth transition and that a legacy could be assured.
This June, the Government finally published their legacy action plan—three years after winning the bid and following two warnings from the Select Committee that they needed to get a move on. If the plan had been even barely adequate, however, we would not be having this debate. However, the fact is that it contains simply a series of re-announcements and only one new idea. The Government re-announced the promise of five hours of sport per week. That is fine as an aspiration, but when unpicked it works out at £15 per school per week to increase the amount of sport from two to five hours a week for every pupil. They also re-announced the target of making 2 million people more active, which dates from March 2007, as well as the medals target, which dates back to the 2006 Budget. They also re-announced decisions in a Department for Transport plan to boost cycling and a Department of Health plan to encourage healthy eating by babies. We should not plan the 2012 legacy by cobbling together every single programme with vague links to sport and the Olympics. This is not about looking at what we are already doing, but about what we could do.
One new idea has been proposed: free swimming for under-16s and over-60s. Of course we welcome anything that encourages swimming, especially because it comes top of the list of sports that people say they would be interested in taking up. However, local councils say that not nearly enough money has been put aside to finance the plan. I would like to mention a matter that I brought to the Secretary of State’s attention during the last Culture, Media and Sport questions. He received a letter from the Labour leader of Stevenage council—in the Minister of State’s constituency—telling him that the average cost for a district council of implementing the scheme for the over-60s alone would represent a 2 per cent. increase in council tax. Is this really the time—when families up and down the country are struggling—for the Department to fund its schemes by bludgeoning its councils into back-door rises in council tax?
I introduced free swimming to the London borough of Newham when I was head of its culture department. We found that it did not increase our overheads or costs, because it brought in people who had not swum there previously. It also had the knock-on effect of advertising and promoting the other services available in the leisure centre that otherwise would not have been seen by that client group. Furthermore, those people spent additional money on food, drink and other services available in the centre, which subsidised some of the fixed overheads of the swimming pool.
In that case, will the hon. Lady speak to the Labour leader of Stevenage council, who has a very different view about the cost of the scheme? Will she also condemn the decision announced by Newham council on 14 October to cancel its plans for a leisure pool as part of the Olympic legacy, which will come as a huge disappointment to its residents?
Information that we have just received about the under-16s part of the scheme identifies the fact that the funding that the Government have put on the table accounts for less than half of the scheme’s total likely cost. The Secretary of State calls it a challenge fund—the only challenge is for councils to decide whether to cut services or raise council tax to fund it. That is an example of the Government over-promising and under-delivering at its worst. Even Labour councils are up in arms over what is happening.
I chaired the recent county sports partnership meeting in Leicestershire. We have asked all our local authorities to work together to ensure that we put together a Leicestershire-wide bid, rather than individual ones. The figures that came back varied enormously and had no basis—literally, they were almost made up. I fear that, in some circumstances, the hon. Gentleman’s figures come from people just flying a little kite. Will he join me in expecting much more detailed work from local authorities, rather than the usual scare story that local authorities need more money?
The hon. Gentleman has again displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what we seek to achieve through the free swimming scheme. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) said, it began in local government. Councils were doing this themselves using funds at a local level, from primary care trust and council funds. We have put in place a national fund to help an initiative that began in local government. The logic of the system now in place for local government means that councils can set their own priorities. Eighty councils have selected the sports participation indicator as a priority. This is entirely in keeping with the system of priority setting in local government, at local level. The hon. Gentleman seems repeatedly to fail to understand that point.
If it was a partnership with local councils, why was it spun to the media when the announcement was made as a promise that the Government would deliver free swimming for the over-60s and under-16s? That was the message in all the headlines.
The best comment on the Government’s legacy action plan came from Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the Central Council of Physical Recreation. In a statement issued this morning he said that, apart from the swimming proposals,
“The rest of the proposals”—
in the legacy action plan—
“are little more than existing plans which have been re-badged…there has been a real poverty of ambition about the Government’s thinking.”
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves his point about swimming, does he agree that although we would all support opportunities, if properly funded, to get those who can swim to do more of it, the plan seems to have forgotten about getting more people to learn to swim? Would not the money have been better targeted at more swimming teachers and ensuring that swimming pools are available at times when pupils can learn to swim, rather than filling them up with those who can swim already outside those times?
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. I do not think that any of the schemes can work in isolation. The coaching and teaching is very important. I completely accept that making something free can excite public interest. We do not criticise the principle of local councils deciding that they want to boost swimming participation by making it free; we criticise the fact that it was announced as a big Government initiative to make it free for the over-60s and under-16s, when in fact that tab is being picked up through the back door by council tax payers.
Is not the fundamental point that this is a cobbling together of initiatives that would have existed already, at a national level? Only London government under the Conservative administration has recognised that if the legacy issues are not dealt with, we risk losing support for the whole Olympic project in London, particularly in south London where my constituents are becoming strongly opposed to the Olympics because there is no prospect of a legacy. For example, places such as Crystal Palace are not being invested in at all.
My hon. Friend makes an important point. One of the first things that the new Mayor of London did was to set up a legacy board of advisers and ring-fence money from the London Development Agency to be used for creating an Olympic legacy, boosting participation in sports and increasing money for coaching. The Conservatives are interested in action, not words.
Although encouraging people to swim is vital, a swimming pool in my neighbouring constituency of Ilford, South has just closed down for health and safety reasons. Does my hon. Friend agree that it might be beneficial for the Government to help replace that swimming pool to ensure a true legacy? It could also be used as an Olympic training facility.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. People have also been concerned about the cloud of misinformation about the number of swimming pools open. The Government have released figures that included swimming pools at private clubs among those considered open to the public.
I understand completely why my hon. Friend emphasises swimming and the sporting legacy, but he will know from his other responsibilities that many people are fearful that one of the legacies of the Olympic games, because of the diversion of resources, will be leaking cathedrals, crumbling churches and other cultural assets being put at risk. Will he briefly address that point?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing the House’s attention to an extremely important consequence of the appalling budget miscalculations that the Government made with regard to the Olympics, which meant that they had to dip into national lottery funds, with an appalling cost to lottery good causes. I agree with him. We do not want this to be a legacy just for the Olympics, and that is why the Opposition have a proposal to return the lottery to its original four pillars, which will restore that much-needed money to the arts, heritage and charities sectors, which are also extremely important when it comes to the overall legacy of 2012.
Can we concentrate on the positive? I had a lot to do with the 2002 Commonwealth games in Manchester. One of the outstanding successes in the legacy of those games was the velodrome in Manchester. I believe that the recent success of our cyclists in the Olympic games in Beijing was based on that legacy. I have two constituents who between them won five gold medals for cycling in the Paralympics. To my mind, the example set in the Olympic games can produce that legacy. Surely the Government should concentrate on allowing people to use the facilities that will be built in order to stage a grand and successful Olympics. Is that not the way to proceed, rather than expressing the negative attitudes that are coming from both sides of the House about what the Olympics in 2012 can achieve for the UK?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. I entirely agree with him. The example set by people such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Rebecca Romero is very inspiring. I believe that since those successes, the sales of bicycles have doubled. My hon. Friend will also be interested to know that 73 per cent. of the funding for our top cyclists came not from the Government but from the national lottery. That is why the national lottery plays such an important role.
My hon. Friend has been very kind about the Select Committee, which, as I am sure he will agree, is ably chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale). Does my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) agree that it is not just crumbling churches that have suffered as a result of the lack of control over the Olympic budget? Grass-roots sporting organisations are having their funding taken away from them. The sporting legacy will not be delivered by the people watching the Olympics on TV, as most people will do. It can be delivered only by organisations such as those in my constituency—if they continue to receive lottery support for grass-roots sport, so that kids get involved in the first place.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Since the Government came into power, 80 per cent. of the funding for grass-roots sport has come not from the Government but from the lottery. Ministers’ consistent raids on lottery funds for their pet projects have meant that the amount of lottery money going into grass-roots sports has declined from £397 million in 1997 to £209 million. It has nearly halved, so my hon. Friend is absolutely right.
Let me draw my hon. Friend’s attention to another responsibility of the Select Committee, which is tourism. There is virtually nothing in the report about the tourism legacy. It is true that the Government have never prioritised tourism, and it is worth reminding the Secretary of State that it is an £85 billion industry that employs 2 million people.
Last year, we were promised a four-year marketing campaign that would welcome the world to Britain. What has happened? The VisitBritain budget has been cut by 18 per cent. over the next three years, and our tourism market share, which has gone down by 10 per cent. since the Government came to power, continues to decline. We are missing a golden opportunity to set the tourism industry right and to allow it to embrace the huge opportunity offered by the fact that the eyes of the world will be focused on this country and this city in 2012.
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is even more important that we have a good legacy for tourism? Those whom I represent in my part of Warwickshire are unlikely to receive a direct legacy from the sporting events and are unlikely to see a significant increase in grass-roots sports. They might see an increase in tourism from those who come to London and are then persuaded to leave London and to visit the rest of the country. If they do not see that legacy, it will be harder to persuade them to get fully behind the Olympic ideal, as we would all wish them to do.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course the challenge of the Olympics, as far as tourism is concerned, is that in the year of the Olympics it is not necessarily the case that more visitors come to the country. Sometimes, people are put off because they think that everyone else is coming, and it will be difficult to get flights and hotels. In fact, in Beijing this year hotel bookings were significantly down compared with last year because of the Beijing Olympics. My hon. Friend is right, and that is why we have to ensure that we identify the opportunities offered to showcase the whole of Britain to the world, grasp the bull by the horns and do something to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That is not happening.
Since my hon. Friend mentions the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I am sure that in his wide-ranging and impressive speech he will be planning to cover the cultural legacy, which is an important feature of the Government’s proposals. They are short of ideas. Does he agree that an outstanding idea from the Opposition, which I hope the Government will take away, would be to recognise the important contribution that this country has made to the Olympics by choosing a suitable site in the Olympic park to recognise the contribution of Dr. William Penny Brookes and the Wenlock Olympian Society to the origins of the modern Olympics?
I thank my hon. Friend for that important contribution, and agree entirely that we need to do more to recognise the Wenlock Olympian Society. The cultural Olympiad must be an important part of what London offers the world in 2012.
Let me return to what my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) said about the way in which the performance of our top athletes can inspire people to take up sports. It is not just sales of cycles that have doubled. Sales of swimwear at Tesco have doubled since the success of Rebecca Adlington. Athletes need financial support, so will the Secretary of State explain why his Department has virtually broken the promise made in 2006 to raise £100 million from commercial sources to support our top athletes? Is it not the case that when the Government made that commitment they totally failed to understand what they could and could not raise from sponsorship? Is it not also the case that they failed to do anything for two years when economic conditions were much more favourable, and that now that the economic tide has turned there is a risk that that money will not materialise?
How different the Government’s approach is from that of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which is organising the games and last week signed up Cadbury as a tier 2 sponsor. The committee has to raise a lot more money, but it has already managed to raise two thirds of the money that it needs, four years ahead of schedule. Paul Deighton, the chief executive of LOCOG, said:
“If ever a strategy of going early was borne out it’s now.”
The Government, who had to raise only £100 million, sat on their hands. Three Culture Secretaries later, not a penny has been raised. Once again, they failed to fix the roof when the sun was shining.
The Secretary of State knows the power of British sporting performance in inspiring grass-roots participation.
The hon. Gentleman is being extremely generous in giving way. I have listened patiently to him and I am afraid that his argument is a long way away from my understanding of the impact of the Olympics. I represent a constituency 200 miles away, near Liverpool, yet our local authority has applied for funding for the Olympics, and has received it. Our health authority is introducing a huge number of initiatives on the back of the Olympics programme. We are feeling the benefit, and we are miles away. We feel really excited about the programme. We do not get any of the big buildings, but we have seen the development of community centres, swimming pools and an integrated health plan to support health. I wanted the hon. Gentleman to know that, because it is my experience, and I would guess that it is not unique.
I want the Olympics to inspire every schoolchild in every school in Crosby. That is a vital part of our Olympic legacy. That is why we are having this debate. We are concerned that what the Government have published does not amount to anything substantive. It is because we are concerned that there will not be a substantive legacy for the schoolchildren in her constituency that we are having this debate.
Let me tell the Secretary of State that the failure to understand the critical role of the national lottery is an essential factor in why it has been so difficult to secure an Olympic legacy. This January, the Government were forced to raid another £675 million from lottery money for good causes. That was described as a “cut too far”—not by us, but by Derek Mapp, the chairman of Sport England. He was promptly sacked, presumably for what he said, and that created turmoil in the very organisation charged with boosting mass participation in sport.
The Government’s amendment asks us to welcome the “reform” of Sport England, but will the Secretary of State confirm that no successor to Derek Mapp will be appointed until well into the new year? If so, that would mean that that critical organisation will be without a leader at one of the most important times in its history.
The hon. Gentleman began by saying that he would not break any cross-party consensus on the Olympics, but he has gone on to make a series of what I would call nit-picking points. Can he say, at that Dispatch Box, what he would have done differently on funding the Olympics?
Yes, I can. We would have returned the lottery to its original four pillars, which would have meant much more money going into legacy. We supported the Olympic budget, but this debate is about the Olympic legacy. One way that we could secure much more money to create a sporting legacy is to return the lottery to its original four pillars.
In Scotland, we are set to lose up to £200 million of lottery spending, and that will have an impact on good causes and grass-roots sports in every constituency. We are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, so does the hon. Gentleman think that there is a case for us getting back some or all of that money to pay for our legacy in Glasgow?
I think that creating support for a sporting legacy is as important for the Commonwealth games as it is for the Olympics. Returning the lottery to its original four pillars could create an extra £400 million for grass-roots sport in the decade following 2012. That would mean that more money would go into sport in Scotland, Wales and every corner of the country.
Does my hon. Friend agree that one problem with how the budget is being implemented is that the Government are spending far too much on consulting, advising, mentoring, watching and auditing, and not enough on just delivering the facilities?
My right hon. Friend makes a telling point, as I would expect. It is true that the amount of money spent purely on consultancy is huge—at more than £400 million, it has raised a lot of eyebrows. Many question marks have been raised about the amount spent on consultants for the Olympics project, and for many other projects that the Government have set up.
The construction of venues is the responsibility of the Olympic Delivery Authority, and that is on track. The organisation of the games is the responsibility of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, and that too is on track. The legacy of the games is the Government’s responsibility: it is a critical area, yet the Government are failing to deliver. One reason for that is that the legacy responsibility has fallen between the cracks, having been divided between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Government Olympic Executive and the Minister for the Olympics.
It could be so different. We could start by returning the lottery to its four pillars, and we could have credible, achievable objectives for every child in every school in the country.
I am listening to the hon. Gentleman very carefully, and I paid special attention to his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). Is he saying that he would like Scotland’s lottery money to be returned to Scotland, especially given that Scotland is building for the Commonwealth games and hoping to create its own legacy from them? Would he go further and increase funding for Scotland from other parts of the lottery, as is happening with London in respect of the Olympics?
The point about the national lottery is that it is played throughout the country, so its benefits need to be felt throughout the country. The Government have had to raid good causes because of their miscalculations over the Olympics, and that has meant that the lottery is not operating as it should. We want to return it to its original four pillars so that lottery players in Scotland can benefit from their contributions, just as lottery players throughout the country do.
The hon. Gentleman has just used a phrase that is incorrect. I heard him say that we should return the lottery to its “original four pillars”, but the previous Conservative Government created it with five pillars, one of which was the millennium fund. Has he forgotten that?
No, but the Culture Secretary may not have noticed that we are a long way past 2000 now. As a result, it is possible to wind up the Millennium Commission. I am not sure that many people in this House would say that how the commission spent its money was an especially good example of how lottery funding can be spent. Both sides of the House bear responsibility for what happened with the dome.
I shall conclude by saying that we need vision. Where is the plan to send Olympians and Paralympians to every school in the country to fire up children with the Olympic vision? Where is the curriculum material that will mean that the Olympics can be integrated into what children are taught? We had such material for the Commonwealth games in Manchester, but there is no sign of it for 2012.
Where is the plan to link sports clubs better to their local schools, so that we can reduce the current high drop-off rates when people leave school and stop playing sport? Most importantly, where is the imagination and determination to make sure that we get a legacy in the constrained and difficult financial circumstances in which we find ourselves?
When the Olympics have gone, we are unlikely to see them back in this country in our lifetime. Therefore, let us use them to inspire a lifetime of sport and sporting values, because we have only one chance.
I beg to move, To leave out from “House” to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof :
“applauds the British Olympic and Paralympic teams for their superb performance in Beijing which should provide an excellent platform for their performance in London 2012; recognises that the increase in public funding for elite programmes has helped contribute to this success; notes that a decade of sustained investment at every level of sport–school, community and elite–has laid the strongest possible foundations for this Olympic period; welcomes the recent School Sport Survey which shows that 90 per cent. of children are doing two hours of sport a week; further welcomes the reform of Sport England that will build a world-class sport development system; and endorses the Government’s Legacy Action Plan, including measures that will make a reality of the promise made in Singapore in 2005 to make two million people more active by 2012.”
It is not something that I do often, but I shall begin by paying tribute to the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) for calling this debate. Sport matters greatly to millions of people in this country, yet the occasions when their national Parliament focuses on it and debates it in detail are rare indeed.
The Secretary of State paid tribute to the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) for calling this debate, but does he nevertheless feel that this is a missed opportunity? We are playing politics with this important subject rather than working together to build a positive legacy for people. An example of what I mean is the proposal to build a bike track at Hadleigh in my constituency. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that we should work together to build a legacy based on the wonderful achievements of our Olympians and Paralympians, and on the great achievements made by men and women in sport across our country?
I am glad that the full parliamentary strength of the UK Independence party is behind the Government’s efforts to build a successful Olympics. Like the hon. Gentleman, I picked up a churlish note in the speech by the shadow Culture Secretary. That was disappointing, because although I congratulated him on calling this debate, I was not encouraged by the tone of his remarks.
I was about to say that the next four years present us all, as Olympic hosts, with a unique opportunity. Indeed, it is a one-off opportunity as we will not again in our lifetimes get this chance to change permanently the place of sport in our society.
I agree that today should be an opportunity to try to rebuild a consensus about the Olympics. I shall come to my criticisms of the legacy plan later, but I wanted to intervene on the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) towards the end of his speech, as I was waiting for the bit when he would announce the Opposition’s plans. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the hon. Gentleman’s speech was heavy on analysis but very light on policy specifics?
That is a perfect summary. The hon. Gentleman’s speech was a series of nit-picking points about the Government’s proposals, but not once did we hear a substantive suggestion about what the Conservative party would do differently to alter the place of sport in this country.
Order. We must not have continued interventions from the Back Bench—
I fear I agree with the sedentary interventions, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are funding an Olympic games that will be the biggest boost that sport in the UK has ever received. The Olympics will lift sport to a place in our national life that it has never occupied before.
The shadow Culture Secretary’s remarks were light on analysis. When the available lottery pot for Sport England is combined with the extra Exchequer investment available to Sport England in the current spending review period, Sport England will be operating with an increased budget for school and community sport during that period, rather than a diminished one.
My right hon. Friend and I have a keen interest in one of the best sports in the world—rugby league. How will he ensure that rugby league benefits from the legacy and how will he ensure that Sport England takes seriously the importance of rugby league and moves away from the sports it always seems to support?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend who makes the case for rugby league, which is a sport important to his constituency and mine. I am sure that he will join me in wishing the England rugby league team success. We congratulate them on their winning start in the rugby league world cup at the weekend. We will see a benefit for rugby league. Under the leadership of Richard Lewis, the sport has made great strides recently in investing in its club structure. I am lucky that Leigh Centurions and Leigh Miners rugby clubs are two of the strongest amateur clubs in the country. Rugby league is agreeing a whole-sport plan with Sport England, which will give the league the wherewithal to develop the sport during the Olympic period, as others wish to do.
The Culture Secretary has just said that total funding for grass-roots sports has increased, so can he explain why answers supplied by his Department to my parliamentary questions show that the amount of money going to sport from the lottery and from grant in aid is £135 million less than when his Government came to power?
I will supply the hon. Gentleman with the exact figures for the total spending over the three-year period, comparing the last spending review with the current one. He mentioned grant in aid, but I think he may have missed out the extra money given to school sport to fund the five-hour offer in schools. Much of that money will go into developing sport in the further education sector and school-club links. I will clarify the figures because it is an important point, but I am confident of my statistics.
We have heard how people were inspired by watching British Olympic success in Beijing. They watched those games on television and the vast majority of people in the UK will watch the London 2012 games on television, so can the Secretary of State explain why there will be such a big increase in sporting legacy after a London Olympics compared to the Beijing games? The only difference is that organisations such as the lottery will have less money to distribute to sport.
I know that the hon. Gentleman is not fabled for his imagination, but he should try to think of the possibility of an Olympic team training on his doorstep, at a local training camp. Can he not imagine what that will do to inspire—[Interruption.] I am sure that national teams will train in west Yorkshire. He should think about how positive that will be and not be so cynical. His constituents under the age of 25 will not be anywhere near as cynical as he is about the Olympic games.
The Secretary of State talks rightly about increased investment in sport in schools, but the uncomfortable fact is that Britain has the highest post-school drop-out rate for participation in sport. We have heard about the cut in funding for grass-roots sports, so what are the Government doing to plug the gap between schools and the 125,000 sports clubs across the UK? Most of those clubs are voluntary organisations and we all know from our constituencies that they have great potential to keep our young people fit, active and engaged.
The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, which relates to a large part of the substance of what I want to say. My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics has just reminded me that part of the funding package I was outlining to the hon. Member for South-West Surrey includes a guarantee of three hours of sport for 16 to 19-year-olds. It is an important aspect and I shall address it during my remarks, but I am glad that the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Hurd) raised it.
I want to be positive because I view the 2012 games with huge optimism. We have referred to the Commonwealth games in 2002. May I ask the Secretary of State two questions? First, what conversations and discussions has he had with those who were involved in the Commonwealth games about the legacy of the games? In an earlier intervention, I mentioned the velodrome and my constituents, Sarah and Barney, who won five gold medals at the Paralympics. They did wonderfully well. Sarah won gold—
Order. The hon. Gentleman will have to content himself with one question. Interventions are getting longer and longer and many people want to participate in the debate, so the Secretary of State should respond—
I will take the question, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and then I will make progress.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield made an excellent point. Experience in Manchester directly informs how the London games are being brought forward, but the same cynical points that his Back-Bench colleague made about the Olympic games were made about Manchester. People said that we were building white elephant facilities that would have no legacy. The gold medals for cycling in Beijing were made in Manchester from the investment in the velodrome and all the associated infrastructure for British cycling. I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that it is important to get these things right, but he makes the point very well indeed. I speak regularly with Sir Howard Bernstein, Richard Leese and others who were pivotally involved in the decisions about the Manchester Commonwealth games. We got it right then and we will get it right in London 2012.
I hope that we can use today’s debate to agree across the House that the Olympic period should be used to raise the place and prominence of sport in national life and debate, and that by doing so, we will make Britain a more active and world-leading sporting nation. It is precisely because of the scale of our ambition on that point, as my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics has reminded us many times, that we were successful in Singapore in winning the games for Britain. Today, I shall update the House on our progress in delivering a permanent sporting legacy. However, although I shall focus on sport, it is important to remind the Olympic cynics that our legacy goes much wider—tourism, skills, culture and regeneration.
We can be assured that in the Olympic Delivery Authority we have a team of professionals who are managing the projects with skill and precision. They have already been commended for the tremendous progress they have made so far, and the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that they are taking every step necessary to secure the best value for the public money involved.
In a moment. I want to make some progress and go through the four key elements in our Olympic sporting legacy.
First, our over-arching and ambitious goal is to have 2 million more people active by 2012. Secondly, every young person in England should have the opportunity to participate in five hours of sport in and out of school. Thirdly, we shall create a world-class community sport system and an improved club structure through a refocusing of Sport England and an enhanced role for our national governing bodies. Finally, we shall have an enhanced system for funding elite sport through the creation of a mixed economy of three funding streams—lottery, Exchequer and private sources. That will be the permanent legacy from our Olympic games. Taken together, those measures represent a coherent sports policy with investment at every level. Success at elite level will drive more participation at the grass roots, and improved facilities and coaching at the grass roots will keep young people active in sport and expand our talent pool.
I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. He took an intervention from the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) about consultants, and I want to return to that point. Allegedly, £400 million has been spent on consultants, but does the Secretary of State not agree that we need to employ consultants to secure the very best contracts and the best value for people? Moreover, what is the point of securing a contract if one does not put in place a structure to monitor compliance with that contract? I happen to think that the spending was a good investment, and I hope that the Secretary of State does, too.
We should not be at all shy of saying that we will make use of the best expertise and professionals to ensure that we get the best possible value. These are complex projects; they need to be managed properly. At times, that will involve bringing in the best in the business to make sure that we get the best possible value. We should not be at all coy on that point.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way; he has been very generous with his time. He mentioned the lottery. In Scotland, we are set to lose £150 million for good causes involved in grass-roots sports at the very time we are trying to create a legacy from the Commonwealth games in Glasgow. Does he agree with all parties in the Scottish Parliament—and with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who agrees with this position—that the money should be returned, so that we can ensure a legacy from Glasgow 2014?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will continue to have incredibly close dialogue with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to make sure that Glasgow 2014 is as successful as London 2012 and Manchester 2002. That is what we want. I give him a commitment that I will maintain that dialogue, but I must remind him that the Olympic games is a British project, for which Great Britain bid, and it will benefit all of Great Britain. Indeed, the football will take place in Scotland. Surprisingly, his party took advantage of the Beijing games to call for a Scottish Olympic team. I do not think that that was in line with the mood of the country at the time. It wants a British team to have a successful games in the capital city. However, we will make sure that the Commonwealth games in Glasgow are a success, too.
I want to draw the Secretary of State’s attention to concerns that local authorities are expressing about their ability to brand programmes that they are already running. I understand that my local authority has just had it confirmed that it can use the term, “Team Sutton”, but concerns remain about the fact that it cannot use the term “London 2012”, which will mean that the programmes remain relatively low-profile.
Of course, we have to ensure that the money that we need to raise privately to fund the Olympics and the building of the Olympic infrastructure is not compromised, and that there is not an overcrowded field in which everybody seeks to use the association with the Olympics. Local authorities can be associated with the Olympics through the “Inspire” brand that my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics has been so creative in bringing forward. I hope that that will give local authorities the marketing that they need.
I must make progress, but I will give way later. Before we address the elements of the legacy, it is important to reflect on the changes and the progress that we have made in the past 10 years. I am sure that the whole House will join me in congratulating the British Olympic and Paralympic teams in Beijing on their tremendous success. Britain won an incredible 102 medals in the Paralympics and 47 in the Olympics; it was Britain’s best medal haul in more than a century. Every single one of those medals was won by the hard work of athletes, with support from their coaches, who are often forgotten, and sacrifices from their families. Again, that is too often forgotten when we celebrate the achievements of our fine athletes.
Public funding helped, and it is important to remember that Olympic success is built not just on funding at elite level, but on a decade of investment at every level of sport—school, community and elite. That has not always been the case, and for all the lectures that we heard this afternoon from the Opposition, let us remind ourselves of where sport was back in 1996. At Atlanta in 1996, Britain won one gold medal and was 36th in the medals table. It was our worst Olympic performance ever. That was not just bad luck; it is what we get when we neglect and under-invest in this country’s sporting infrastructure at every level over a long period. The hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) shakes his head, but I saw first-hand—
Order. We must not have interventions from a sedentary position. Interventions must be made in the proper way, otherwise the debate is totally disrupted.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I saw it with my own eyes: after-school competitive sport was simply allowed to crumble away, and it was not the fault of loony left councils. Competitive sport has always been a bedrock of community life in areas such as St. Helens, where I went to school. That change was the result of failure to respond to one of the key elements of the teachers’ dispute of the mid-1980s. We saw the collapse of an informal, ad hoc, voluntary system of providing after-school sport, and no alternative was put in its place, which deprived millions of children of a quality introduction to sport during their school years. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent wants to dispute that record of events, he should stand up now and do so.
I will. First, the Secretary of State just criticised us for making so-called party political points. Looking at the Olympic medal tables in the 1980s and early 1990s, we see that we came ninth, 11th, 12th and 13th in those years; he knows that perfectly well. He, of course, has picked the one year in the last 30-year cycle to suit his argument, which was a rather silly party political point. He also knows that it was overwhelmingly left-wing Labour councils that pursued an anti-competitive-sport agenda that did huge damage to the competitive sport system in this country.
I just do not accept that that is correct at all. If the hon. Gentleman looks back, he will see that the effect of the teachers’ dispute was that after-school sport ended. I do not believe that that was the result of political ideology, as the Conservatives always claim. It was the effect of the teachers’ dispute, and experts in the field will back me up on that. Not only were there fewer opportunities for young people to play sport, but there were fewer places where they could do so. Playing fields were sold off in their thousands. It was an era when this country’s sporting fabric, in schools and at community level, went into serious decline.
No record was taken of the number of playing fields sold before 2000, and since 2001 well over 50 playing fields have been sold every single year. In 1999, the Government abolished compulsory competitive sports for the over-14s. At the time, the Secretary of State was special adviser to the then Secretary of State. Was that the right decision or the wrong decision?
On the point about playing fields, tests were put in place by the new Government in 1997 to ensure that there was no net loss of sporting amenities. Every application since then has been checked by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, or by Sport England, to ensure that if a playing field was disposed of, the proceeds were reinvested so that the community was provided with equivalent or better sports provision. That is a much better system than the one that was left to us by the hon. Gentleman’s party in 1996. Is he defending that record? I do not think that he is.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it may introduce a note of harmony if I remind the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) that you and I remember the 1948 Olympics. What we really want as the major sporting legacy of the 2012 Olympics is a love of sport for its own sake, without regard for filthy lucre. We want sportsmen and women who can inspire young people at school, as we and our fellows were inspired all those years ago. That is what we want.
I will give way to my hon. Friends in a moment.
We are providing just such an introduction. The steps taken to put school sport back on its feet have been mentioned; in the past decade, £4 billion has been invested in school, community and elite sport, and in the past five years more than £1.5 billion has gone to physical education and school sport alone. We are seeing the results.
Let us look at the headline statistics from the school sport survey, published just two weeks ago. Some 90 per cent. of pupils now participate in at least two hours a week of high-quality PE and sport; only a quarter of pupils did so in 2002. Competitive sport is on the increase. Some 66 per cent. of pupils are involved in intra-school competitive activities, which is up from 58 per cent. last year. Some 41 per cent. of pupils are involved in inter-school competition—up from 35 per cent. last year. On average, each school offers 17.5 sports —up from 14.5 in 2003-04.
To answer the previous point about school-club links, I should say that 32 per cent. of pupils participated in a local club linked to their school, up from 19 per cent. in 2004. Forget the exchanges that we have had—those are the facts. School sport is back on its feet, and I am incredibly proud of those statistics.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that our paltry number of Olympic medals in the years that he has not mentioned today came on the back of investment in private facilities? Sport was then very unegalitarian, but this Government have extended opportunity to all. My school grounds are now safe for my children to play in; they have not been sold for development. In addition, my teachers are well paid as a result of the Government and they are prepared to do what the Conservative party denied them the opportunity to do when it was in government.
I agree entirely with that assessment. I should say in praise of John Major that he recognised the importance of sport and—belatedly—tried to put measures in place to benefit it. It is important that that should be recognised, and I do recognise it. The difficulty for Conservative Members is that that came right at the end of their 18 years in government and they did not leave sufficient time for any appreciable impact to be felt. John Major came with the right instincts and good ideas, but they were not made into reality. It was left to this Government to pick up the threads and turn the situation around. The statistics tell us that the situation in schools has been turned around.
I strongly endorse the approach that my right hon. Friend has taken in his speech, and the emphasis on the wide legacy impact and, in particular, the inspirational consequences of the Olympics for our children. I hope that this year he will be able to come to Woolwich, where in the past two years we have held sportathons on the site targeted for the Olympic shooting event; if he does, he will see the huge inspirational effect on children of knowing that the Olympics will be held in their area. Does that not make a mockery of the facile and incorrect Opposition claim that the shooting at Woolwich will have no legacy? Is that not an indication of the narrowness and foolishness of their approach?
I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. I celebrate what has happened in his local authority area. One thing that I did not read out was that 99 per cent. of schools now have annual sports days, which bring inspiration and a joy in sport to all the young people who participate.
At this point, I should mention the UK school games, which my right hon. Friends the Minister for the Olympics and the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) were instrumental in bringing forward. Some 1,500 young people participated, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), in the summer. It was a fantastic event. The young people were so engrossed in what they were doing; they were really experiencing the thrill of competition and of being part of a major event. The school sports system is completely reinvigorated, and we should be thoroughly proud of it.
I want to raise the issue of football. There was disappointment that there was no Great Britain team at the Beijing games and there will be dismay if there is not a Great Britain men’s and women’s football team at the 2012 Olympics. Earlier, I tried to intervene on my right hon. Friend when he said that he was having talks with the various home countries’ football boards. Would he be prepared to take legislative action, if necessary, so that he could even pick the manager to pick the teams so that we had representatives in those tournaments?
The issue is close to my heart, although I am not sure whether I would go as far as my hon. Friend is enticing me to go. However, let me say this. I come from the north-west of this country; we are close to Northern Ireland and Wales and have strong links to Scotland. I feel strongly British, and it would be a crying shame if our national sport was not represented at London 2012 by a British team. The Olympics is an occasion for people of all political persuasions to put narrow, petty political point scoring behind them and think about the national celebration, letting people everywhere enjoy a moment when Britain comes together and puts its best face forward to the world.
I say to my hon. Friend that the Prime Minister and I have raised such issues with FIFA. The British Olympic Association is keen to field a British team at London 2012. If young people, wherever they come from, participate in that team, no measures should be taken against them for having played in a British team at London 2012, their home Olympics.
I preface my remarks by echoing the words of the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) in wishing the English rugby league team all the best at the rugby league world cup. I hope that that is a sign of things to come, because I believe that England can stand on its own two feet internationally and make the best of it.
I should like to take the Minister back to the raid on Scotland’s lottery money. Will he at least concede that although people in Scotland welcome and are looking forward to the London Olympics, losing Scottish money that should be going into Scottish sport, life and development leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth?
Order. I say to the House again that the interventions have been very long. The clock is ticking, and an awful lot of people are seeking to catch my eye. They are going to be very disappointed. Some who are making long interventions are hoping to catch my eye later; that is rather counter-productive.
Taking the narrow view is not in the right spirit. We are talking about the country’s, not just London’s, Olympic games—the British Olympic games. Scottish athletes will be part of those games, funded through UK Sport. We would all do well to listen to how Chris Hoy put it in the summer when he was celebrating his and his team’s success and did not want petty divisions to be brought in. I have said to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) that we will ensure that there is a successful Commonwealth games in Glasgow, and we will all make an effort so that that happens. I hope that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) will not constantly seek to undermine the London Olympics, which will benefit us all.
In the past, my right hon. Friend has acknowledged that one of the most important ways of engaging young people of all abilities and skills in any sport is to give them access to good-quality coaching. Before he moves on, will he elucidate what more is being done to ensure that schools, community sports clubs, local authorities and other organisations will be able to provide more inspirational and motivating coaching, which is such a crucial catalyst for promoting participation?
I will now come to the detail of that crucial point; I shall explicitly respond to my hon. Friend’s point in the next few moments.
I have described the solid foundations on which we are building during this Olympic period. We want a generation of young people for whom sport at school and in the community has been a bigger part of life. They will then be the legacy of the Olympic games and remain active for their entire lives. We are planning to increase investment at every level so that that can become a reality.
Our overarching goal is to make 2 million more people active, and we are clear about how we will do that. One million people will become active through the formal sports club system and 1 million more through the promotion of physical activity. The Government will make an announcement on the delivery of physical activity in due course. However, we have already taken major steps in this regard, such as our record £100 million investment in 11 cycling demonstration towns, using local creativity and innovation to create a good environment for cycling and cyclists.
We have demonstrated our commitment to a lasting Olympic legacy with our £140 million free swimming package. More than 80 per cent. of councils in England have already confirmed that they will offer free swimming to all those aged over 60 from next April, and our ambition is to help more councils to go even further. I am proud of my own local council, which will from next April provide universal free swimming for all. Let me repeat to the hon. Member for South-West Surrey, who seems not to have understood, that that initiative began in local government and is largely being funded at local level by the primary care trust and the council. This is a partnership; it is about matching funds that are available nationally with funds that councils and PCTs want to put into getting their populations more active. It is not in any way frivolous; it is about permanently increasing levels of physical activity. If we do not do that, we will face serious health consequences in the long term. I hope that he will work with us, and ask his colleagues in local government to do so, to ensure that this initiative succeeds and that we continue to take it forward in that spirit. Swimming remains one of the most popular activities for adults, with one in 10 men and nearly one in five women swimming at least once a month. We think that we can go further and build on that participation.
We promised to increase young people’s participation in sport, and we have set a new goal—the chance to take part in five hours of sport a week. This takes me into the areas mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle). All schools are now covered by one of England’s 450 school sports partnerships. We have more than 3,200 school sports co-ordinators. I do not know whether my hon. Friend has had the good fortune to meet any of his local school sports co-ordinators, but they are an incredible group of people who are inspired and enthused, and do so much good work to get young people active and encourage an interest in sport. We also have a network of 225 competition managers. That is an infrastructure that can deliver after-school sport. I pointed out to the shadow Minister the former lack of such an infrastructure.
The issue is not only time, but the quality of the experience. High-quality coaching is the way to build confidence in young people and encourage them to stay active for life. If they are not given basic coaching in sports such as tennis and cricket at an early age, they will not develop the confidence that enables them to play with confidence at school and then go on to a club environment. Young people find it daunting to go to a sports club for the first time. It is particularly difficult for young girls, because the environment is not always as welcoming as it could be. If young people have confidence in their own sporting ability and understand the technique in the sport that they wish to pursue, there is a chance of ensuring that they stay active for life. That is a crucial part of the plans that we are taking forward.
I welcome the increase to five hours, but what goes with good coaching is good facilities. Will my right hon. Friend use his good offices to ensure that we have a sporting village that replicates what he has in Leigh? We lack a running track and the other sporting facilities that can bring on future Olympians. That is the legacy that we want in Chorley: what can he do to help us to get it?
We must carry on investing in the bread-and-butter facilities up and down the country. Councils provide the majority of sports facilities; we can do more to help them to bring facilities up to an acceptable standard. They need to provide a high-quality environment, particularly for young girls, who may not be willing to put up with the old shipping containers with changing rooms and showers and toilets that do not work. If people are going to play sport they need working toilets and showers and a warm environment to get changed in. Those are basic requirements, and we need to carry on working on that.
Conservative Members keep referring to the raid on the lottery. They cannot have noticed that under my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics and her predecessor efforts were made through the New Opportunities Fund to invest significantly in the sporting infrastructure in schools, predominantly in floodlit astroturf pitches, of which there are several in my constituency. Those facilities are now used by the community during evenings and weekends. A lot has been done to put in place the infrastructure that my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley wishes to see, but I am sure that he will push me in going further and I am happy to talk to him about that.
Let me move on to another key point of our legacy. We want a more focused community sports system. Through Sport England, we developed a bold new strategy that will help to realise that ambition. Sport England will act more strategically as a commissioner of sports development so that we can work with governing bodies to expand participation and the talent pool. In return for public money and freedom comes greater responsibility. I expect governing bodies for sport to reach young people from all walks of life, and they will be expected to operate to the highest standards of internal governance. Women’s sports, girls’ sports and disability sports will not be optional extras, but a vital part of what governing bodies are expected to do. If any sport does not wish to accept that challenge, funding will be switched to those that do.
We want a new system of funding for elite sport at an enhanced and more ambitious level. Public investment in elite sport will reach unprecedented levels in the run-up to the London games, with more than £300 million being put in, compared with £265 million for Beijing. That is the direct result of the decision by the Prime Minister, then Chancellor, in March 2006 to commit extra Exchequer funding to elite sport. In the run-up to the London games, we are taking that funding model further. Building on lottery-only funding at the Sydney games and lottery and tax funding at the Beijing games, we are putting in place for London a new mixed funding model to fund elite sport of lottery, Exchequer and business funding. That is the model that has served the arts and culture sector so well, and that is what we are seeking to create in elite sport.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and I will soon bring forward our plans for medal hopes, and there will be a high-profile fundraising drive reaching all parts of the country. We want all parties in this House to lend their shoulders to ensuring that the country gets behind the British team in the run-up to London 2012. These are well-worked-out plans that have been thought through in detail. It is true that the current economic conditions make raising £100 million from the private sector more challenging, but the performance of the British team in Beijing has given us the best possible platform to build from.
My right hon. Friend was right to trumpet the success of specialist sports colleges, of which I have two in my constituency—St. Mary’s and Priesthorpe. However, to amplify the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley, their only misgiving about the process is the lack of capital to invest in facilities. Will my right hon. Friend speak to colleagues in other Departments to ensure that capital streams such as Building Schools for the Future are more closely aligned with the Government’s sporting priorities?
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is having precisely those discussions with his colleagues in the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Schools can look forward to enhanced sports facilities through the BSF programme, which is an incredible opportunity. When the Conservatives call for the lottery to be returned to its original state, they miss the point that lottery money could not be spent in schools when the lottery was created. Changes such as the New Opportunities Fund made it possible to spend lottery money in schools, creating brand new sports facilities. As we understood it when we fought the general election in 1997, the public wanted national lottery money to be spent on the health service to supplement health projects and on improving schools. That money can still be spent in that way, because there is more flexibility. However, I agree with my hon. Friend that there is more to be done in giving money to specialist sports colleges, although I think that the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families recently announced some discrete funding for specialist sports colleges. Certainly, one in my constituency benefited from a capital grant to drain its sports pitches. More funding is being put in, and I encourage him to find out more about it.
I apologise for intervening. I will go into detail about the £100 million a little later, but I just wanted to speak while the Secretary of State is at the Dispatch Box. He has great confidence that this additional money will be raised; could he explain in detail what rights UK Sport has to sell—never mind the problems in the financial markets at the moment—on behalf of athletes to raise money? As he knows, I do not share his confidence. Can he guarantee that the UK Sport board will be in a position by its December meeting to put forward a funding package for the remaining four years?
My hon. Friend is right about the deadline. There is a need to make four-year allocations to sport by December to allow for planning. He will know that we have already made provisional allocations—I think that he raised that point during oral questions—and we want to enable governing bodies to have firm allocations in December. We are engaged in those discussions right now.
On top of the allocations that we are able to make, we will have a fundraising drive. There is a plethora of schemes out there in which people are saying, “Come and support local heroes”—everyone wants a piece of Team GB. In the “medal hopes” scheme, we are creating the only official route by which businesses at every level—local, regional and national—can come behind the British team and supplement the unprecedented amounts of public money that are going into elite sport.
It is important to remember that some Opposition Members and some of those in the other place have claimed that there is a Government black hole. That is not the case. When the Chancellor set up the system, he said that the public would put in an unprecedented amount of money, but we want to build on that further and bring in private revenue. That is exactly what we are planning to do. My hon. Friend will see soon a number of discrete schemes under “medal hopes”, which are exactly the kind of things that will be offered in the marketplace. I would ask him to exhibit a little bit more patience, but he is right—we will introduce these plans shortly. There will be a package that ensures that we do right by our sportsmen and women. We will build on Beijing, and go on to have our most successful performance ever at the London games.
In conclusion, some might think that our plans for legacy for 2012 sound optimistic, but I remind the House that pre-Beijing, there were those who were cynical about our chances. I quote from the Select Committee’s report:
“Performance at recent Olympic Games suggests that the aspiration towards eighth place at Beijing in 2008 is ambitious; the aspiration towards fourth place in London 2012 might appear even rash.”
I do not wish to rile the distinguished and esteemed Chairman of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, but before he goes to the bookies at the weekend, he might want to take some advice about his sporting predictions—from these Benches perhaps. We have an in-house expert who is very good at making high-profile and risky wagers. I hope that the Chairman of the Committee will see that we have a track record in delivering what we say we will deliver.
May I just say to the Secretary of State—and I suspect that I speak on behalf of all members of the Committee—that we were never happier to have been proved wrong?
That is an incredibly gracious remark. But this is not about point scoring. We were all surprised and delighted by the over-performance of the British team. As I was saying to my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed), we want them to go further in 2012, and that will be part of the legacy, too. If they do, young people will be inspired by the most successful ever British team, at our home Olympics. Think of the benefit that that will deliver to grass-roots sport in this country. It will be enormous. It will be time for the cynics to be quiet and let the sports-loving community of this country enjoy its moment—to enjoy a great time for this country, where people flood to take part in sport at a local level.
The legacy will be a whole generation of young people receiving more and better sporting opportunities in school and in the community. There will be more opportunities for families to take part in sport together through our free swimming scheme, and opportunities for older people to be more regularly active. It will build a sound system for funding elite sport in the long term. That is the best sporting legacy that the London Olympics can deliver. We will deliver by 2012. I urge Members to support the Government amendment to the motion.
I begin where the Secretary of State ended, by placing on record our congratulations on the phenomenal success of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Beijing. I suspect that those results have done more to ensure a lasting Olympic legacy than today’s debate will achieve. Nevertheless, it is an important debate, and I congratulate the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) on securing it.
I want to make it clear from the outset, as the hon. Gentleman did, that my party fully supported the Olympic bid, and we fully support and fully back all the work being done to ensure that we have the best ever games in London in 2012. That does not mean that we do not have some concerns. We share some of the disappointments expressed. We believe that there have been some missed opportunities, and we believe that steps that could be taken are not being taken. The hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) announced in advance of his speech that he has a number of criticisms of the Olympic legacy plan, and so do we, but that in no way should be seen as undermining our support for the London Olympic and Paralympic games in 2012.
Although the sporting legacy has been the main topic of debate and is the main issue covered in the motion, I was delighted that reference was made to other areas in which we hope to achieve a legacy. Reference has been made to the importance of ensuring a legacy for tourism—the fifth most important area of the British economy, and it is in difficulty. Since 1997, when the figures were roughly in balance, Britons have spent about £19 billion more abroad than people from overseas have spent in this country. We urgently need to do more to support our tourism industry to ensure that it has a legacy as a result of the 2012 games.
I therefore find it appalling that the Government are cutting the budget for VisitBritain. When that point was raised by the hon. Member for South-West Surrey, the Minister for the Olympics said, from a sedentary position, “Where’s the money going to come from?” I am sure that she would recognise that a bit of additional investment—or not cutting the planned investment—in VisitBritain, so that it can market this country abroad in the run-up to 2012 will bring huge financial rewards, not only to the tourism industry but to the Exchequer. It would be a very good investment.
The other area that has not been touched on much, although it is an important part of the promised legacy, is the legacy for businesses in all parts of the country. It is worrying to look at what has happened in the awarding of Olympic contracts to date. We were told that every part of the country would benefit, but London and the south-east, which have 30 per cent. of all UK businesses, have so far won 69 per cent. of the 700 Olympic contracts that have been awarded. The north-east, which has 10 per cent. of all businesses, has won only 1 per cent. of the contracts. The Secretary of State, who comes from the north-west, ought to be concerned that his area of the country has 7 per cent. of all businesses, but has so far won only 2 per cent. of the Olympic contracts. We have to give far more support in uplifting skills and providing training to ensure that businesses in all parts of the country can compete successfully for the remaining Olympic contracts.
I note with interest, however, that there are good ways of making money, even out of debates on the Olympic legacy. Any Member who wishes to pay £90 will be able to go, on 3 November, to a discussion on the Olympic legacy. Perhaps we might charge those coming to this debate to raise some of the money that the Secretary of State needs.
I want to turn, as the motion rightly does, to the issue of the sporting legacy.
Before my hon. Friend moves from the subject of other legacies, does he agree that it would be regrettable if the transport legacy—specifically, the North London line—was lost? It is key to the games and to providing superior transport facilities in future.
My hon. Friend is right. As a result of the Olympics coming to London, there will be significant, much-needed improvement in transport in the London area. The North London line is important, which is why, should financial difficulties continue, we will work with the Government to find ways of solving problems so that the contracts can go ahead. I know that various options are being explored, and we will work with the Government to ensure the best deal not only for the taxpayer but so that we get the much-needed infrastructure improvements in transport from building the Olympic park.
I am the first to admit that there have been some phenomenal improvements recently, and I pay tribute to the Government for their work. The Secretary of State listed several improvements, with statistics. I hope that he will not, therefore, think it churlish of me to point out that further improvements could be made and that, if the Government effected them, we would get a better sporting legacy from 2012.
Our elite athletes constitute one matter of concern. That wonderful performance in Beijing was backed up with a funding package of £265 million. The Government announced that we are considering a much bigger funding package—£600 million—for London 2012, and I welcome that. However, the problem remains of the £100 million shortfall. We know that perhaps £21 million will be found because of the new contract with Camelot about a third licence for the national lottery. However, that still means that £79 million must be found. Although the hon. Member for South-West Surrey did not mention it in his speech, he has said elsewhere that the Conservative party believes that the money should come from the Contingencies Fund. I am not convinced that that is the right way forward, but there is a proposal that the Secretary of State might seriously consider.
The Secretary of State knows that we were critical of the second tranche of cuts from the national lottery to pay for the Olympic infrastructure and that we proposed, some four years ago—I am delighted that we now have Conservative support—a move to a gross profits tax approach for national lottery taxation. That approach is used in most other forms of gambling and betting. As he knows, the figures show that, if we did that, there would be more money not only for lottery good causes but for the Exchequer. I therefore hope that he will consider such increased Exchequer funding as a possible source for the £79 million that UK Sport is missing, and make the much-needed announcement in December.
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the legacy a lot. According to the House of Commons Library, funding before the Beijing Olympic games was £265 million, with £90 million for podium funding. I believe that the Secretary of State said that that would increase to £325 million in the four years before 2012. However, I revert to the point that Scotland will lose between £150 million and £200 million through the London Olympics. Although we all support the London Olympics, losing money from Scotland during a credit crunch sticks in the craw. Do the Liberal Democrats support the SNP in wanting to keep Scotland’s money in Scotland?
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is surprised that I mentioned the legacy a lot, given that that is the title of the debate. None the less, I understand his concerns and those of colleagues in Scotland. I urge him to get behind the Liberal Democrat proposal for a gross profits tax on the national lottery. If he supported that, and the Government were persuaded to adopt it in the pre-Budget report, which will be made soon, Scottish good causes would receive significant additional funds.
It is worrying that some of our elite athletes are so concerned that they plan to sell computer-generated images of themselves for £1,000 a year. The creators of the website, gold medal-winning sailors Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton, have announced that they are £30,000 in debt after Beijing. We must address that genuine problem quickly. UK Sport needs a clear announcement as soon as possible.
Not only the elite legacy is important, so let me deal with other aspects of sporting legacy. It is critical to provide more support for community sports organisations and school sport. The Conservatives offered the solution of reverting to the four—five if we count the millennium fund—pillars that were originally designed for the national lottery. That is superficially attractive, and I am sure that it will get much good news coverage, but I hope that the hon. Member for South-West Surrey is prepared to say how Conservatives intend tackling the resulting black hole in aspects that they will no longer fund. As the Secretary of State said, education, health and the environment will lose £200 million a year. The hon. Member for South-West Surrey must explain where the money will come from.
I understood that volunteers and community groups were important to the Conservative party—volunteers will certainly be needed for the Olympics. Yet, if we reverted to the four pillars, a further £65 million a year would be lost to community and voluntary groups. I have given the correct figures for the money that is spent outwith the four pillars.
However, I accept that the Olympic legacy plan has the key objective of maximising an increase in UK participation at the grass roots in all sports and for all groups. If we are to achieve it, we must do more work in schools, and with our national and community sports and our recreational organisations. As the Secretary of State said, it is vital to get the country more active, and achieving that will not be easy. We cannot rely simply on our hosting the games. I am sure that the Secretary of State accepts the comments of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that no host country has yet been able to demonstrate a direct benefit from the Olympic games in the form of a lasting increase in participation.
As well as hosting the games, we must do much more. As I said earlier, many good things are happening. The Secretary of State was good enough to mention the excellent UK school games that were held during the summer in Bristol and, significantly, Bath. He, the Minister for the Olympics, the sports Minister and the shadow sports Minister all came along. I am sure that they will all testify that it was a wonderful and inspiring event. I remind the hon. Member for South-West Surrey that it was partly funded by millennium funds—one of the pillars that he would ditch. However, I am glad that he enjoyed it. One thousand five hundred Paralympic and able-bodied elite athletes took part. However, perhaps the Secretary of State did not know when he visited that, to make the event happen, many people volunteered.
Volunteering is a critical part of the legacy that we must build in our work leading up to 2012. It was fantastic to hear what some of the young people who volunteered at the UK school games said—they now want to go on and get into the various programmes that will help them volunteer for 2012.
I accept that there have been some fantastic improvements in some matters. As the Secretary of State said, 90 per cent. of school pupils now do two hours of sport each week—indeed, in my constituency, the figure is 92 per cent. In my area, which is covered by the former county of Avon, we have a fantastic county sports partnership, Wesport, which is doing amazing work to increase participation by linking schools and sports clubs, encouraging more coaching and volunteering, organising inter-school competitions and much more. The Secretary of State referred to increases in inter-school sports competition. Perhaps the best evidence of Wesport’s success is the fact that in the past year 14,991 young people from the area took part in inter-school sports competition—an increase in one year of 9,053 which is a phenomenal improvement.
Sadly, however, the picture is not entirely as rosy as the Secretary of State made out. Despite the figures that he cited, 750,000 young people are not participating in two hours of sport in school time. He did not point out that that two-hour period includes changing time, so it is not two hours of sport. He also failed to make any reference to some of the age groups in which young people are not participating at anywhere near that level. Only 71 per cent. of pupils in year 10 and 66 per cent. of pupils in year 11 are doing the two hours, while 34 per cent. of pupils are not participating in intra-school competitions and 59 per cent. do not take part in inter-school competitions. One quarter of pupils do no sport outside school and the drop-out rate of people who leave school and then do no sport is alarming. Despite significant improvements, which I welcome, there is still a great deal to be done.
It is easy to reel off the figures, but if we accept that analysis, the question is: what can be done about it? I would like to suggest to the Secretary of State, the Minister for the Olympics and the sports Minister that a number of things can be done, the first of which is to be very wary of setting targets. I welcome the reorganisation of Sport England and believe that the new approach is right. However, the Secretary of State should be well aware of what has happened under his Government over the past 10 years, during which time Sport England has missed nearly all the targets that were set for it. Of the 22 targets that I have asked parliamentary questions about, only two have been met. As for the others, either they were missed or we have been told that there are no data on them.
Let me give the Secretary of State an illustration. One of his Department’s public service agreements was to increase participation in sport by ethnic minorities. To achieve that, the Department tied it to a Sport England commitment to make some 4,000 grant awards, which will significantly benefit people from ethnic communities. That is all well and good, but then I asked the sports Minister a parliamentary question about how well we had done in achieving that target, to which I received the following reply:
“Sport England does not record information on which groups funding is focused. Therefore, it is not possible to give a figure for the number of awards made by Sport England to projects that have significantly benefited people from ethnic communities in each year since 1999.”—[Official Report, 1 July 2008; Vol. 478, c. 883W.]
So, we set a target but we do not even keep any data on whether we have achieved it.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that to talk about getting funding for ethnic minority groups, but not to bother recording the necessary information, is to pay the most blatant lip service? When we consider the enthusiasm for sport and activity among ethnic groups throughout the country and their difficulty in accessing support, Ministers really should be ashamed.
I think not, but I shall try to make some progress and give him a few more suggestions. The introduction of a gross profits tax is one example and the suggestion for how that could fill the black hole in the Olympic elite athletes budget is another, but let me give him some more.
The first suggestion is to look into providing more support to community sports organisations. The first thing that we ought to do is to introduce a gross profits tax, which would put more money in. The second thing is to provide more support, to get more coaches and volunteers active. The third thing is to provide more protection for our playing fields. The Secretary of State rightly said that the Government had improved the arrangements. However, I hope that he will not deny that since 2001 some 267 playing fields that were covered under the legislation have been sold off, despite Sport England’s saying that doing so would be a threat to sporting facilities.
I hope that the Secretary of State will also agree that in 2002 the then Deputy Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), promised the House that increased measures would be taken to protect smaller playing fields, which are those smaller than the 0.4 hectare area covered by the current rules, but bigger than 0.2 hectares. In 2006, the Secretary of State’s Department gave me a parliamentary answer that said categorically that the Government were looking into the issue and that something would be done. In January 2008, I received a further answer that said categorically that they were looking into the issue and that something would be done, but to date nothing has been done. Will the Secretary of State intervene on me and give a categorical assurance that the Government will introduce measures to protect smaller playing fields, as was promised as far back as 2002?
The hon. Gentleman is making a good, balanced speech and has made some fair points about playing fields. My hon. Friend the sports Minister and I regularly discuss such matters with colleagues across Government. I believe that there is some scope to tighten further the way in which the regulations operate. However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that we have created a tight system, through the double lock of Sport England and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. If the hon. Gentleman compares that with the pre-1997 situation that I described, he will find that it has been incredibly effective in ensuring that playing fields are not sold with a resulting loss of sporting provision.
I am of course grateful to the Secretary of State, but I was hoping for a commitment to do what the Government keep committing to, but do not do. In July 2002, and again on 24 July 2006, the Government said in a press release:
“New legislation is also to be put in place to protect smaller playing fields. This change brings down the size threshold upon which Sport England must be consulted when a planning application for development is submitted from 0.4ha to 0.2ha”.
I also received a response to a question in January that said that the Government were going to do that, so I hope that we will get some action and not just the words that we have heard today from the Secretary of State.
We also need to do more to help community sports clubs. The Government have rightly introduced the CASC—community amateur sports club—scheme, which we welcome. However, despite the enormous benefits that can accrue to clubs from becoming a CASC—an 80 per cent. mandatory business rate relief, the ability to raise funds from donations under gift aid, tax-free income from interest and capital gains, and so on—of the 30,000 clubs that are deemed eligible to qualify, only 5,000 have done so to date. It is critical that we all work together to get that message out so that more clubs can qualify.
We must do other things to help those clubs. As the Secretary of State has responsibility for licensing as well as for sport, may I ask him to look very closely into the concerns being expressed about the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on many sports clubs? Only yesterday, the Central Council of Physical Recreation presented evidence to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport of the huge additional burden being placed on clubs of having to pay for the licence application and all the legal and planning work that is necessary for those applications.
This is admittedly an extreme example, albeit one that was cited yesterday, but one yacht club whose annual bar turnover is just £3,500 pays the same for its licence as a wine bar situated next door that is open until 2 am every night of the week and whose turnover is likely to be nearer £3,500 a week. That cannot be right. We need to look at ways of lightening that burden. Giving the 80 per cent. rate relief to clubs that become CASCs is a way forward. Perhaps a similar relief could be considered in respect of licence fee applications as well.
Only recently has it come to light that, because of changes in the way in which utility companies charge for land drainage, a huge additional burden is being placed on many sports clubs. Only one utility company has started the new procedure, but I am assured that it is to be rolled out to all water companies. That will result in a fantastic increase in charges to many sports clubs. One tennis club’s charges have gone up by 2,841 per cent., from £85 to £2,500. That is unsustainable, and I believe that the Government should look at positive measures to provide help.
A further way of providing help would be to consider a simple change to gift aid. If only the Government would accept the proposal to allow gift aid to be used on junior subscriptions to sports clubs. The cost to the Government would be a mere drop in the ocean— £1.6 million in the first year, rising to £4.3 million in later years—yet the measure could bring in about £1,500 per sports club per annum. That would be an enormous boost to the clubs, and provide enormous encouragement for young people to get involved in sport.
We are worried that some of the things that could be done have not been done, and we are somewhat disappointed with the present legacy plans. We are optimistic about the future, but we believe that more could be done. I have outlined a number of proposals, and I hope that the Government will be willing to listen to them and, more importantly, to act on them.
Order. Before I call the next speaker, may I point out that we have spent almost two hours of this three-hour debate on Front-Bench speeches? There is very little time left, so please will hon. Members try their best to make their speeches as brief as possible, so that I can call as many Members as possible?
I am almost at a loss for words when I try to describe the pride and anticipation that I felt when London was chosen as the venue for the 2012 games, and my delight that the Olympic park—centred in my constituency—is now starting to take shape. The clearing of the site and the initial infrastructure works are going well, despite a few unexpected changes. The power lines that blighted the skyline of the area for years are now being dismantled, and work continues to improve the waterways and the surrounding park, breathing new life into what were, quite literally, the backwaters of the east end of London. The stadium is emerging from the ground, and the seating support structure is already in place for all to see. An area that was a post-industrial polluted wasteland is well on the way to becoming the parklands of the Olympic site.
However, today’s debate is focusing not on the progress being made with the construction—impressive though that might be—but on the Olympic legacy. I want to focus not just on the sporting and cultural legacy—important though they will be—but on the entire legacy of the games. This is unashamedly a speech by a local MP advocating on behalf of her constituents. As I do not have much time this afternoon, I am not going to reiterate the many reasons why I am standing on my feet making this speech. I am not going to give the House a statistical analysis of the poverty in London—a London which, despite City bonuses and high incomes, is also a London of real economic deprivation and hardship, in which many struggle to survive. Newham is the fourth poorest local authority in London. Its neighbours—and fellow Olympic host boroughs—Tower Hamlets and Hackney are the poorest and second poorest respectively.
The London bid for the games was predicated on leaving behind an important legacy for my constituents. The bid documents stated that
“by staging the Games in this part of the city, the most enduring legacy of the Games will be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there”.
The ambition of the bid was big, but not unachievable. The games present us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real, positive difference to an entire community in, arguably, the poorest area of the country. It is for this obvious reason that the Olympic and Paralympic games must not simply be a fabulous sporting and cultural spectacle for a few weeks in the summer of 2012. They must become a mechanism for leaving lasting improvements in the health, housing, employment and skills of Londoners. To spend that amount of money and not achieve a lasting positive legacy would be obscene.
The legacy commitments promised to east London were outlined in a document released at the beginning of the year, entitled “Five legacy commitments”. The commitments included a new urban park, which we were assured would be “world-class”, and an Olympic village of just under 3,000 affordable homes, of which it was stated:
“After the Games, retained venues and new parklands will provide local people with places to spend their leisure time”.
The document goes on to say:
“The Aquatics Centre will be open for community use and the Polyclinic, a medical services unit for athletes during the Games, will be transformed into a primary care centre for local residents.”
That sounds sensible: the swimming pool is to be used by the local community and a new health facility will be in situ for the new community being built in Stratford.
But there appear to be some problems. The Olympic aquatics centre was to have had a community leisure and fitness facility built next to it and linked to it. The London borough of Newham—and, to a lesser extent, the London borough of Tower Hamlets—had pledged financial support to build this important community facility. Such a centre would provide local communities with additional access to much-needed sport and fitness facilities. But I understand that these proposals may have been dropped, and that this legacy proposal, with the potential to improve the health of the local community and widen its access to sports facilities, appears to have been abandoned.
The aquatics centre, which was intended to be the landmark Olympic venue, is now to be the only swimming pool of its size in the western world in recent memory to have been built without community use as part of the scheme. Sadly, it has also emerged even more recently that the health centre will not materialise. Instead of a permanent athletes medical centre, we are to receive a temporary facility, to be built for the games and demolished afterwards. And the stadium! This field of dreams still does not have any post-2012 tenants who can work with the community to provide affordable multi-use facilities. Unfortunately, it now seems too late for it to benefit from the interest expressed many months ago by an excellent local premier league side—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] Thank you.
The international broadcast and press centre, a key legacy commitment to boost a growing telecommunications and information technology industry, also appears to be facing an uncertain future. Potentially, this project has the scale and impact to deliver a legacy promise of transformation. It would be an immeasurable loss of opportunity if it were not retained to be used as a catalyst for sustainable high-tech industry. Just as ominous are the indications not only that the athletes’ village is being further downsized, with more athletes sharing fewer apartments, but that the private sector financing for this key part of the project now seems to have dried up. Government funding now seems crucial to the project.
In Newham alone, we have more than 20,000 families on the housing waiting list, and more than 5,000 families housed in expensive temporary accommodation, often making it impossible for people to work and to pay their rent, as they are reliant on benefits to keep a roof over their heads. I would like to press the Minister to consider intervention to ensure that after the games, we use the athletes’ village to alleviate some of the desperate housing need in the area, and to provide a genuinely mixed-use development of family homes. It would be a very positive move if the new Homes and Communities Agency could take an active role in the funding and design of the Olympic village to ensure community benefit from a significant build of new and potentially affordable housing on site.
There are other legacy opportunities that are not building-based, and I congratulate the Government on investing in the local employment and training framework, which has provided skills and employment to thousands of people. I am told that 24 per cent. of workers employed on the Olympic park site now originate from one of the five host boroughs.
Does my hon. Friend agree that although the Government are to be congratulated on what they have done so far, the number of people from the Olympic boroughs employed on the Olympic park remains regrettably low, however much that fact may dismay contractors and their representatives? One way in which the big contractors are getting round and massaging the figures for local labour is by bringing labourers from all over Europe into the Olympic boroughs and putting them in hostels. Those labourers are then counted as local people, but in fact they have been shipped in from all parts of Europe. To provide a lasting legacy in boroughs such as Hackney, which have high crime rates, we need to offer our young people real opportunities to work.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What concerns me about these figures is that we have no method of monitoring whether these are truly local people or simply workers temporarily resident in the local area in order to obtain employment. My community has a rich history of welcoming people from all over the world, but the one thing that they ask of such people is that they stay and become part of the community so that they contribute to the fabric in which we live. Unfortunately, some people are coming in and living temporarily or “hot-bedding” in small domestic homes, creating difficulties in local communities, and they will leave as soon as the work has finished. What we need is a methodology able truly to track whether the people counted in these surveys are indeed local people.
It is also sad to note that only an estimated 6 per cent. of those currently working on Olympic sites have arrived through apprenticeships or Olympic training programmes. Given the high unemployment in Newham and surrounding areas and the documented lack of formal training and skills owned by members of those communities, I urge the Government to do all they can to increase these figures for the long-term economic future of the borough.
The legacy of the Olympics is more than just the sum of its parts—despite my contribution today, I know that. It is also more than the buildings. The motivation that fuels those of us who, despite these problems, very much support the games in London, is the potentially transforming nature of those games for communities. The hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) rightly mentioned the record levels of volunteering, the interest and investment in sporting clubs and coaching infrastructure. That shows that the games are not just about the physical side, but about the development and evolution of new and existing communities in a sustainable manner, which requires long-term planning, and, I believe, immediate action.
My hon. Friend is making a very good speech, raising many pertinent points. She started out by talking about poverty in the east end, but poverty—and child poverty, in particular—is not just about money and housing, but about poverty of experience. One proposal put to me—and, I suspect, to my hon. Friend and other east London MPs—came from the Field Studies Council. It proposed having an outdoor learning centre that could bring children in from areas across London and throughout the country so that they could benefit from nature studies and associated activities. Would my hon. Friend support that proposal for post-2012?
I thank my hon. Friend for that contribution, and I support that proposal. Being a local girl who grew up in Newham, I recall benefiting from a field study trip to a little place called Maldon in Essex. It was my very first time away from home, at the age of 10, and I can say that it was a life-changing experience. I have not often been back to Essex since, but perhaps I should go.
It seems to me that the current Olympic budget is modest for an event that would help to improve the life chances of the poorest Londoners—the 40 per cent. of London’s children who live in poverty. It is modest in view of the relief it could bring to thousands of families living in temporary accommodation; modest in that it could upskill millions of citizens in London and its neighbours, creating prosperity for communities; modest for improving the health of a community of people who die earlier than their neighbours; and modest for re-energising the nation in 2012, boosting young people’s interest in sport and reminding the globe’s travellers of what an amazing place London is to visit.
The Government and the Olympic Delivery Authority have worked tirelessly to ensure that the budget is managed and remains at a sustainable level. The Government are right to be mindful of the need for responsible spending, particularly at a time of financial difficulty. With the UK suffering the effects of the global economic downturn, it is clear that the budget may have to be reviewed, along with the precise design and make-up of the Olympic park and venues. But this review has to be balanced.
To host the second London austerity games, as some are already suggesting, would betray not only the ethos and vision of the Singapore bid, but the vision and the hope that is based on the opportunity to regenerate east London and its surrounding areas. By correctly implementing the regeneration ethos of the Singapore bid, east London can be changed from an area of relatively poor health and high unemployment to a community based on skills, aspiration and healthy activity. The Government have worked hard towards achieving that goal to date, but I would urge them to redouble their efforts and approach the current funding difficulties with the same vigour and determination as my constituent, Christine Ohuruogu, at the finish line in Beijing.
My constituents, who continue to endure the disruption that the seven-day-a-week construction inevitably causes and who have seen local residents and businesses forced to relocate, not only deserve legacy commitments in exchange for that disruption and for their enthusiastic support for the project, but need them to be delivered to allow them to break free of the deprivation that holds back the dreams of so many. They should be allowed the new housing, new sports facilities, cleaner and greener environment and the wider increased job opportunities that the legacy has the potential to offer.
I end my contribution—I do not often do this—by quoting a passage from one of my own speeches made a couple of weeks after the Olympic bid was won. I said that if the Olympic games failed to benefit—benefit, not displace—the people I have just spoken about, the games would have been a failed opportunity and a failed investment. I believe that that statement has stood the test of time.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown)—not just because we learned of her life-changing experience when she visited my constituency, but because she made some important points. I shall return to one or two of them later. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) on organising this debate. It is good to see so many Members wishing to participate; I shall endeavour not to detain the House for too long.
The Olympic games have been an easy target in the past and there has been a lot of negative coverage in the media. I hope that that is now changing. I have to admit that, as the Secretary of State pointed out, the Select Committee was unduly pessimistic about our chances in Beijing. I acknowledge that we got that wrong and I send my congratulations to all our athletes on a magnificent performance in Beijing. I would also like to congratulate the Chinese—something that happens less often in this place—on putting on a fantastic Olympic games. They set a standard that we will have to work very hard to reach. As the Mayor of London told my Select Committee a few weeks ago, we may not be in a position to spend quite as much on the games as the Chinese, but we are endeavouring to produce a “cosier” games. That is something that we can look forward to.
I have no doubt that the games will be a great success. They will provide a fantastic spectacle for people in this country, and a further platform for our athletes to demonstrate their prowess. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey pointed out, the real objective on which we should focus is the legacy, and that will be very hard to achieve. Not many previous games have achieved great success in legacy terms.
The Select Committee visited Seoul, which hosted the games some years ago. The facilities there were wonderful, but most stood empty. There was a vast swimming complex where just a few people were swimming up and down the lanes, and there were running tracks that were barely used. We also visited Athens, which, if anything, was even more depressing: weeds were growing on the running tracks, and some of the sites were in an appalling state of disrepair. The Greeks were frank with us, admitting that they had been so fixated on completing the work in time for the games that they had not really thought about what would happen to the facilities afterwards. As the Select Committee has said, and as I think the Government have recognised, it is essential to take account of legacy use right from the start, when the facilities are being planned.
The Committee concluded in its most recent report that both the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority were doing pretty well. They are, I believe, further ahead than previous organising committees have been, and the International Olympic Committee has been impressed by the amount that has already been achieved. As for the legacy, I want to discuss three aspects of it: the “hard legacy”, sporting participation, and tourism—a subject whose importance my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey rightly stressed, although in my view we are falling far short of what is potentially achievable.
The “hard legacy” was always going to be difficult. We are building a flagship Olympic stadium at a cost of half a billion pounds. In other Olympic cities, such venues have subsequently become national stadiums where national football competitions take place: they become the prestige venues. Of course, we already have one of those, on the other side of London, and it is unrealistic to believe that the Olympic stadium will be able to compete with Wembley. I must say, though—without wishing to upset the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Harry Cohen)—that it is disappointing that no premier league club has said publicly that it is at least willing to consider the Olympic stadium as its future home. That would transform it. We shall have to work very hard to ensure that it continues to be used as it should, given the amount of money that is being invested in it. Perhaps more thought should have been given at the design stage to how that was to be achieved.
The hon. Member for West Ham rightly referred to the aquacentre. At a cost of £300 million—although the candidate file predicted that it would cost £73 million—it will be the country’s premier swimming competition venue. That will be terrific, but it is disappointing that more has not been done to ensure its leisure use. It is all very well for national swimming competitions to take place there, but I suspect that the constituents of the hon. Member for West Ham would rather have a pool where their children could enjoy themselves at weekends. If leisure facilities are being cut back, that is a shame, and poses the danger that the aquacentre will not be used as we would all like it to be.
I am also concerned about another project mentioned by the hon. Member for West Ham, the establishment of an international broadcasting centre and main press centre. We have not been told exactly how much that will cost, although we fear that it too may prove to be more expensive than initially forecast. However, it does provide an opportunity.
This is not just a vast warehouse; it will be a highly technologically equipped warehouse, with a potential for later use by the creative and media industries. I know that the mayor of Hackney and others in that part of London have ambitions for it, believing that it could become a media centre bringing income and employment to the area. I was reassured when the Select Committee was told that it was not true that it was likely to end up as a supermarket distribution centre. We have also been told that reports that it will be a temporary venue to be dismantled later are not correct. Again, I hope that thought will be given to its future use, and that the ambitious plans for its appeal to the media industries will not be dismissed. It would be a great shame if it, too, became a vast empty building sitting in east London.
My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey mentioned shooting. It is probably too late to revisit the debate about whether Bisley was a possible venue, although I still find it extraordinary that a world-class shooting centre should be ruled out on the basis that the road might not be good enough for the spectators, or that it was a bit too far away. The Select Committee was disappointed about that.
I was delighted to hear from the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) about the inspiration gained by the young people of Greenwich from knowing that they are engaging in sport on an Olympic site. I do not discount that; I am sure that it is a motivating factor for them to know that they are playing in the place where an Olympic competition will shortly be held. Nevertheless, it is extremely disappointing that all the shooting facilities that will be built in Greenwich will then be taken down, and that there will be no real trace of evidence that shooting ever took place there. The Select Committee continues to hope that every thought will be given to how we can use the Greenwich facilities to ensure that there is a legacy to benefit shooting, perhaps not in Greenwich but in other places.
The real target, although it is harder, is not the hard legacy but the soft legacy: sporting participation. As far as the Committee can see, no country has achieved a permanent increase in participation as a result of hosting the Olympics. That is not to say that we should not try to be the first to do so. The Government, and indeed our original bid, laid great stress on that being the real prize if we could pull it off. However, having examined the preparations that are being made with the aim of achieving increased participation in sport, the Committee concluded that, although Sport England is apparently to invest £183 million in multi-sport community projects, it would probably have supported such projects in any event, and they would merely be rebadged in order to be associated with the Olympic games.
The Secretary of State spoke of his ambitions for free swimming, and the money that the Government were providing, but he also said that that was always going to be a locally driven project.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that had it not been for the 2012 London Olympics, we would not have the UK school games every year? Earlier this year, 1,600 of our young people competed at the highest possible level in Bath and Bristol as a direct result of our winning bid, and that will continue well beyond 2012. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) attended the opening ceremony, and was instrumental in bringing the event to Bath and Bristol. Would not its continuation be a fantastic legacy, given that it will ensure early participation in sport among young people of school age?
I am happy to agree with the right hon. Gentleman about that. I am delighted that the UK school games have been so successful. I shall say a little more about school sport in a moment, but let me say first that my local district council, having sat down and looked very closely at the figures, concluded that the introduction of free swimming for the over-60s would result in a significant increase in council tax, because the Government’s money would not go nearly far enough. That is why many people think that, as in other trumpeted Government schemes such as free transport for the over-60s, local councils might end up having to pay the bill, because the Government’s words exceed by a wide margin the amount of money they are prepared to put into them.
The ambition to increase the amount of time for school sport to five hours per week is a noble one and I would be delighted if it could be achieved, but I remain concerned that we do not really know how the Government intend to go about that. If part of that extra time for sport is to come out of the school day, what will have to be dropped? If it is not to come out of the school day, but is to take place after school, we will rely hugely on the community and amateur sports clubs to deliver that. I was going to talk about the evidence my Committee received yesterday during our inquiry into licensing, but the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster)—who I am delighted to learn is paying such assiduous attention to our proceedings—has already made the point that licensing is just one example of the burdens on community sports clubs, which are threatening the existence of many of them. Therefore, if the Government are to look to community sports clubs to deliver their ambition, it will be necessary for them to provide further help to enable them to do that.
The third plank of legacy—tourism—is incredibly important. It was recognised by the Government as a legacy that could benefit the whole of the UK, and not just the east of London. In order to deliver that, we need to promote Britain. When the Government published their strategy for tourism, they said that VisitBritain would be the body tasked with delivering the tourism legacy. We therefore still find it inexplicable that the Government should choose this moment to cut VisitBritain’s budget by 40 per cent. I hope that the Government will reconsider that and give greater priority to tourism than they have done to date so that we achieve the full tourism legacy.
I do not, however, wish my speech to be entirely negative. I think that a great deal has been achieved. I pay tribute to LOCOG and the ODA. I have no doubt that the Olympic games will be a great success, and I hope that they will deliver a lasting legacy to this country, but if that is to be achieved, there are areas in which we should be doing more.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale). The fact that so many Members still wish to speak and we have such a short time left shows that this issue should be regularly debated in Parliament, instead of us having to wait for the Opposition to call a debate on it. The public want to know what is going on. Our constituents are asking us about Olympic legacy and it is important that we have these opportunities. It is also important that when people make certain criticisms or raise points, it is not seen as opposition to the Olympic legacy and the Olympic ideals.
I worked with Colin Moynihan before he was chairman of the British Olympic Association to produce, on an all-party basis, a very good document called “Raising the Bar”, many of whose recommendations I am delighted that the Government are gradually introducing. Many of the matters we are discussing this afternoon can be addressed on an all-party basis, which is why it is not particularly sensible for us to be dividing on this subject this afternoon, as the votes and the wordings of motions and amendments never fully reflect the full scale of the debate.
I want to draw a distinction in terms of the legacy of the Olympic venues, to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) referred clearly in her very good speech. A part of the Olympic legacy is the park and what will happen to it. Some of the legacy planning was not done early enough, and as the economic situation gets worse, we will be in an increasingly difficult situation. We clearly won the Olympic bid before the Beijing games on the basis of the legacy. Some people now probably wish that word had never been mentioned, because it is being used all the time. For me, the “legacy” does not mean just a fantastic Olympic games for the participating athletes; we take that for granted. I also think we should not even be thinking of trying to model ourselves on Beijing. We should, as far as possible, get back to the ideals of sport for its own sake. Of course, the athletes will make lots of money—the very successful ones will make huge sums. The broadcasters will also make money, and the International Olympic Committee will make a fortune out of the London games, but, ultimately, it is about delivering a good sports programme in good conditions. I am confident that LOCOG will do that very well, and that the Olympic Delivery Authority will make sure that the buildings are completed in time—even if it costs huge sums of extra money and that money comes from the contingency fund. The necessary amount will be found. The Olympic games will take place in 2012 no matter what happens to the economy.
I agreed to take on the advisory job on the sporting legacy for London for the new Mayor of London because I believe that the legacy, in terms of the participation of Londoners—I am speaking here as a London MP—is what has been sorely missed out. There has been no planning and there has been no joined-up working on it. Some very good things are happening in all our boroughs that Members could talk about. Excellent partnerships are taking place, and there is a huge opportunity to work with the governing bodies. I particularly welcome Sport England’s emphasis on “all sport plans”, because, if they are carried through properly, they will address the problem in areas of London, such as my constituency, where substantial numbers of young people from black and ethnic minorities have not been participating for a variety of reasons. That will have to be built into the all-sport plan, which is where local communities will increasingly have to look to get their funding. This ambition can be achieved.
Londoners are paying a little bit extra, although I know that Scotland has its problems with what it will get out of this, as does Northern Ireland. On Northern Ireland, I ask the Minister for the Olympics, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), the Secretary of State and the shadow Secretary of State to stop referring to “Great Britain”, as that term excludes a substantial part of the United Kingdom. The name of the team should be Team UK. I have made that point to the BOA since my time as Sports Minister. I understand that Team GB might sound better, but it would not take much effort to start talking about Team UK, and we must stop referring to Great Britain. This is a games for the whole of the United Kingdom. Londoners are, however, paying a little bit extra.
I have recently corresponded on the issue of the Team GB name with the Minister for the Olympics. It is an issue that has caused concern in Northern Ireland, and she has written to me, explaining that it is, indeed, the Olympic Committee of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—and, indeed, the other parts as well. I hope that this point is listened to carefully, and that we do not repeat the errors of the past.
I want my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) to have a chance to speak, but let me comment briefly on the siting issue. I know that what I have to say will upset my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford). I agree that it is unimaginable—other than that it looked nicer, perhaps—for shooting to be being held at the venue in question. It should be taking place at Bisley, or in a new purpose-built Dartford centre. However—
No, I will not give way, as the issue has been raised already. Many Members have raised issues about other constituencies.
I have not seen the result of the KPMG report, and I am not sure what the task was, but I think it is important that we see the detail—
My hon. Friend talked about the legacy for London and for Londoners. Will she tell the House how she, as a London MP, is helping the legacy for London and Londoners by moving that Olympic site out of London to somewhere far away when I have described the inspirational benefit of knowing that the Olympic games will take place in that area?
I am interested in the legacy benefits for the sport of shooting. The legacy benefits of having it at Woolwich would be absolutely nil.
I would also like to draw the attention of the Minister for the Olympics to the concern about equestrianism. As I understand it, the modern pentathlon does not need to use either of the equestrian venues, which has been the reason given. It is not too late to reconsider that—I think that we should.
I am obviously going to upset a few Members today, but I have particular responsibility for the grass-roots legacy of the Olympics. None of it is rocket science. We all know what is needed: more and better coaching and joined-up working involving groups such as school clubs and community clubs. Before the previous sports Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), stands up and shouts too, I should say that he has done a great deal to work towards that.
Most of us in the Chamber are concerned about the same things. We want young people to have opportunities to participate, and we want those who have a talent to be picked up, helped and supported so that they can aspire to be an Olympian with a gold medal. However, there is still a huge gap in London that nobody is really thinking about: the facilities gap. Facilities are not funded in any joined-up way. Swimming pool after swimming pool has closed, including two just the other week in Redbridge. There is no plan to create new swimming pools, and if we do not show that we will get money for pools in the long term, we will lose a great deal of the inspiration that the Olympics will bring to many young people.
The challenge is that we sometimes have to say that sport cannot deliver everything. Because we have the Olympics and everyone is so excited about it, there is a tendency to think that sport can change everything in our society. Of course it can have an enormously positive effect on people’s lives. It can be fun, and people playing sport can achieve personal development and health benefits, but there is an awful lot to be done by other people and through other interventions. Sport is not a magic solution to the world’s problems, or even to the problems of our society. It can play a vital role in education, tackling crime, social cohesion and the other things that we see every day in our constituencies, but we need other interventions such as those by physical education and specialist teachers, of whom we are seeing more. We need people with knowledge and experience of working with families and with young people at risk to use sport, perhaps along with other measures, to deal with crime and help social cohesion initiatives.
As I said earlier, this is not rocket science. Everyone says the same thing, but it is interesting that people’s views about how it should be done, and who should be responsible for delivering and paying for the work, often differ once we get into the details. That is part of the problem, because the detail is not very sexy and exciting. It is about the hard work that goes in, with small groups doing good things. With just a little extra money, those groups can expand what they do and we can put things right across London.
The legacy document will be practical and have one simple target: to increase participation in sport and physical activity in London. That will not be easy. As others have said, no other Olympics have increased participation in sport. If we want a different Olympics, we have to do that. The plan that will be launched in the new year will not be a wish list for sport. It will be ambitious but realistic, costed and, most importantly, achievable.
The matters that we will cover in the plan are no secret to anybody: facilities, access, people and structures. They always need readdressing all over the country, but they require investment. There will be investment through the Mayor’s fund and the London Development Agency, but all the local authorities in London need to work together and work closely with the Government. I am happy to meet the sports Minister, as I already have, because we can make a lot of things happen in London. However, London cannot always be treated like the rest of the country. There are 33 London boroughs that all have different ways of working. If we are to get co-operation between them, it must be led and directed by the Mayor with the support of the Government.
I am confident that, despite all the financial difficulties, we can get the private sector involved. We have done that very well, although I am still worried that we do not have the money for elite athletes to which my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough referred. We have to get that, and I do not want to see a plan, for example, for the men’s Paralympic basketball team to be funded but not the women’s because they did not get a medal. That would be wrong.
I ask the Minister for the Olympics to please ensure that we have an opportunity for another debate soon. May I also ask her about an advert that suggests that we might be able to save £50,000? I see that on 20 October, the Government advertised for an Olympic speechwriter at the cost of £50,000 a year. I presume that that was some kind of spoof, because I cannot believe that we are spending £50,000 a year on that.
We will have a wonderful Olympic games, but we have three and a half years to show that we can really make a difference to participation.
I shall be as brief as I hope I am naturally. I have some brief points to make as a London Member. I, too, congratulate my hon. Friends on the Front Bench on securing this important debate. A lot of valuable contributions have been made, and I take on board what has been said by other London Members. However, I have a particular perspective on legacy as an outer-London MP.
We will not get the direct benefits that some other boroughs will. My concern, since my council tax payers in Bromley are contributing along with other Londoners, and are willing to do so, is that they get a fair share of such legacy as there is. That applies in two ways, the first of which is the sporting legacy, about which we are concerned on a number of fronts. First, there is real concern that, for reasons that have already been mentioned, the need to move money away from lottery funding of local and community sport to bail out some elements of the Olympic budget will have a bad impact on many small sports clubs in constituencies such as mine.
Secondly, there is the disappointment that the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) alluded to: Crystal Palace, an iconic sporting venue in south London, does not seem likely to figure in the Olympic plans. We genuinely believe that that is a missed opportunity to regenerate what has always been south London’s great sporting sub-regional centre. I hope that even today, even if it is a training facility, something can be done to give some legacy to people in south London, who are contributing to the Olympic effort and want it to succeed as much as anyone.
The third concern that many in my constituency have is economic. Often, the large contractors come with their own established supply chains. Many businesses in south-east London are small and medium-sized enterprises. When I talk to local business men at the chambers of commerce and so on, they express concern that they are finding it difficult to get into the supply chains, much of which are predetermined by large principal contractors. I hope that the Government will ensure that that is borne carefully in mind. Those people want a fair crack of the whip and to see some of the action both in economic terms and in direct sporting paybacks. Otherwise, given that many of them will not be able to get to the games physically, there will be sadness that less sporting opportunity, not more, is available in places such as Bromley.
My second point is on free swimming, which I make no apology for returning to. I wrote to the Secretary of State about nine days ago, and I am sure that the Minister will gently remind the Department that we would like a reply. Because of the demographics of Bromley, where some 17 per cent. of the population are over 60, the shortfall that Bromley council tax payers would face is £120,000. That is an awful lot of money and a significant disincentive. Ironically, about 30,000 over-60s from my borough and the surrounding ones already swim in pools in Bromley. Not only is there the disincentive of a funding shortfall, but the scheme is not flexible enough to allow Bromley to concentrate such resources as might be made available on those who do not swim, instead of having to give a blanket subsidy, including to those who are happy to swim and do so at the moment. Perhaps the Minister could examine the operation of that scheme, because it seems to involve an unintended and perverse consequence.
My third point is about sport in schools. Bromley has very good school sport, and I accept that work is being done in this area, but more remains to be done. For example, we know that about 2.1 million children across the country are still not involved in competitive sport. I therefore welcome the Mayor of London’s statement that he intends, in his revisions of the London plan, to place a particular premium on protecting school sports fields. I generally welcome the approach that Mayor Johnson has adopted towards working constructively with LOCOG—the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games—and the other Olympic agencies to ensure that we deliver an imaginative and festive Olympics, within a budget capable of being constrained and met by us all. I say that because, as the Minister will know, Londoners still have a potential contingent liability if we do not get things right. I am sure that we all want to work together to ensure that we do get them right.
Finally, I wish to discuss an overlap between the sporting legacy and the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale) about the tourism feature. I do so at the risk of incurring the wrath of the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford). Many people in south-east London are concerned that although the equestrian events in Greenwich park will obviously bring a sporting interest—I do not seek to diminish that—there might be a risk of damage to the park, which is a world heritage site. I put this as mildly and gently as I can, because it has been flagged up in a number of well-researched publications. People are concerned about a potential perverse consequence. There may be a sporting advantage in holding those events at Greenwich, but without cast-iron guarantees that the park will not be done lasting harm, the tourist legacy, which is so important, might be damaged in the longer term. I hope that the Government will make absolutely sure that nothing happens to damage that, because Greenwich park is of huge value to the right hon. Gentleman’s constituents and to people from surrounding areas who come to enjoy it. Nothing should happen to prejudice that key open-air space for people in our part of south-east London.
With those deliberately short remarks, I, like all in the Chamber, again commend the Olympic project to hon. Members. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) for securing the debate. I hope that those issues that affect outer London as well as the Olympic boroughs will not be overlooked.
I am sure that you will appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, the frustration felt by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the lack of time remaining in this debate. So, in conclusion—[Laughter.] I wanted to raise a number of issues, but I shall boil them down to just a couple.
I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) was in the Chamber just a few moments ago. I was interested in Olympics before we even bid, and my hon. Friend and I toured around visiting Ministers and others to try to convince them to bid in the first place. The Olympics are a great pleasure, and I declare an interest as somebody who has been involved right from the start.
The only reason why I ever wanted to see the Olympics come to the UK was the soft legacy, both for elite and community sport. Probably, 2012 will be the point at which I finally stop playing rugby—my wife will be delighted to learn that I have set a deadline at last—and so I will be one of the casualties of 2012, but it is true to say that the only reason why we need the games to succeed is to ensure that that soft legacy is provided in 2012. The most important measurement will be done in 2016; it will not be where we come in the medals table in 2012. Of course, I want us to come fourth and to do better, as well as to increase our participation rates, but the real measurement will be in 2016, and it will assess whether we have sustained that growth and interest that comes after 2012.
The first of the issues from my original list on which I want to concentrate is the £100 million—it will now probably be about £79 million, if we genuinely do have the additional money from the lottery. The problem remains that by December, UK Sport will have to start to allocate the funding for the remaining four years. Everybody knows that the reason why we did so well in the Beijing Olympics was that no compromise was made. The athletes did their bit, but so did all the support staff—the people who surround the athletes. It is only when no compromise is made in every part of the preparation for an Olympic games that those involved make the difference that ensures that they get a gold, sliver or bronze, or even come fourth. We got lots of people into finals. Our athletics team did okay, because many more of our athletes got into finals than it was thought would get there, but the difference between winning and losing at that level is tenths or even hundredths of a second. A no-compromise approach for 2012 means that for the next four years we must get the same level of commitment from the Government and from all those other people. The reality is that a shortfall remains. The medal hopes scheme, which has been explained to me, does not plug that gap as far as I can see. We need the necessary level of certainty to be provided as quickly as possible.
I have not got time to go into all the problems with the current scheme and the fact that UK Sport does not necessarily have many rights that it can put out into the market. I simply urge the Government—I hope that I am being helpful in doing so—to ensure that there is something to take to the Treasury to ensure that the situation is sorted out. I was involved in trying to secure the £300 million in the first place, so I am delighted that we have got it, but this other money is crucial. How sad it would be if, by Christmas, we were cutting programmes after we have all just celebrated some fantastic victories.
Many of those victories originated in Loughborough. I have mentioned often enough the contribution that Loughborough makes, so I can skip over it now and not upset the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), but it is in places such as Loughborough that the nations and regions will benefit from what is happening in 2012. Many of the leading nations have visited and have subsequently made decisions; I hope that a nation such as Japan will perhaps base its team at Loughborough. What a fantastic cultural Olympiad that would bring—an event with flavour and a difference. I believe that about 150 international athletes are on campus at Loughborough university, so bringing an international flavour would be fantastic.
The other area that I wish to discuss is volunteering. I have the honour of chairing the Strategic Partnership for Volunteers in Sport, which is the national voice that speaks up on behalf of the 4 million to 5 million sports volunteers who ensure that community sport is delivered week in, week out right across our nation. Without community sport and, in particular, without those volunteers, many of the aspirations about which many hon. Members have spoken just would not be realised. We may sometimes say platitudes about the value of volunteers—we all say that we know how valuable they are—but if we look around in our communities, we see the contribution that people make, week in, week out, to their community sports clubs. That is absolutely phenomenal, and without such people, none of this would happen.
I would like to say a lot about nations, regions and strategies. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics knows, I am very disappointed with the legacy action plan—I have written to her several times over the past few years and have tried to hold meetings about it. However, I have got to the stage where I do not care about whether strategies look good or how many action plans there are; we just have to get on with it in the nations and regions. The reality is that not much new money will be coming our way, but we have many existing schemes to work with, so rather than just moaning and whinging, it is down to each of us, in our own constituencies, nations and regions, to get on with delivering the soft legacy. It is a tall order, but because of our great sporting tradition, the army of volunteers and the people totally and passionately committed to sport in this country, we can be the first nation to deliver a soft legacy.
I urge the Minister to respond to some of the points raised today, especially the one about the £100 million; the issue is potentially a disaster. Many jobs in my constituency depend on funding for elite sport through the English Institute of Sport at Loughborough university, and it is also in the nation’s best interests to sort the matter out as quickly as possible.
I had the honour of chairing the Committee stage of the London Olympics Act 2006, when the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) was a sports Minister. I congratulate all those responsible on bringing the Olympic games to this country, and I very much hope that we will all be alive in 2012 to enjoy them. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) on initiating this debate and the positive way in which he made his points. I agree with the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) about this being an important matter, and it is a shame that it has been left to the Opposition to raise it.
Issues have been raised about who closed sports fields and what left-wing councils thought about children playing games. However, I was here when the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 was debated, and I do not recall unanimous support from Labour Members for the lottery. I pay tribute to the former Prime Minister, John Major, for the way that the lottery has turned out. There is no doubt that the money channelled into encouraging young people to enter the Olympic games has paid off.
It is a shame that the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Harry Cohen) is no longer in his place, because I agreed with everything that he said about football. Some premiership footballers are overpaid and under-perform, and it is an absolute disgrace that we did not have a team in the Olympic games—we must have one in 2012. The hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) will know that I am a West Ham boy, and I am very proud that some of the Olympic games will take place in West Ham. As a product of St. Bonaventure’s grammar school, I endorse entirely all her remarks about West Ham’s legacy opportunities.
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey had the opportunity to visit Southend and will agree with all my points. Southend wants to be at the heart of the Olympic games celebrations. Although we are just on the cusp of London, the games present us with a real opportunity, and I was glad to hear what the Minister for the Olympics said about the opening and closing ceremonies. Southend has the longest pier in the world, but she will be aware that we have had three fires and that we are desperately engaged in its restoration. Sir John Betjeman once said:
“The pier is Southend, Southend is the pier”.
It is a grade II listed building. We do not need to compete with Beijing—we will not need to bus people to the various events, because they will flock there in their thousands and millions to enjoy the activities—but will the Minister help Southend restore the pier? The opening and closing ceremonies could be a spectacular opportunity for it.
The Secretary of State mentioned swimming and spoke about gentlemen swimming once a month and ladies twice a month. I am delighted to say that a swimming pool will be built in Garon park, with 95 per cent. of the cost borne by Southend council tax payers. I am very grateful for the support from Sport England, but we would like a little more. The swimming pool will be used as part of the training ground, and I am very pleased that some Paralympic events will take place there.
I am delighted that Essex county council has splendidly grasped the opportunity to participate in the Olympic games. The biking event will take place in an adjoining constituency, and Southend council—my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey mentioned this when he opened the debate—is very concerned about the tourism legacy.
I am delighted that Southend council has had discussions with Newham council about having a sort of river-bus service between our two towns. If there is something that we should celebrate, it is the River Thames. This is a wonderful opportunity for us fully to utilise the river.
I had a very long speech prepared, but I shall simply say that we have two living examples of sporting prowess in Southend. Katrina Hughes, an 18-year-old product of the excellent Westcliff high school for girls, is one of the elite athletes in sailing. Of course, Mark Foster, who was educated and born in Southend, was waving and carrying the flag at the opening ceremony.
The Secretary of State tried to savage his opposite number, but I did not feel that he was entirely successful. He will recall from when he was a member of the Select Committee on Health our inquiry into obesity. Trying to engage more people in sport and activities must be another lasting legacy.
We will not argue about who was responsible for bringing the Olympic games to London in 2012. I congratulate everyone involved in that process. We want to ensure that we grasp this golden opportunity to celebrate the sporting prowess that we have in the UK. Let us encourage all our young people to get cracking to ensure that they are on the rostrum in 2012, beating the 47 medals that we got in the Olympic games this year.
I congratulate Team UK on its fantastic performance at the Olympics. I also want to state how proud I am of David Weir, a double gold medallist and wheelchair athlete from my constituency.
I welcome the focus on the sporting legacy and want to raise a couple of points. First, I want to encourage the Government to talk to the Swimming Teachers Association, which feels excluded from discussions on swimming. I think, too, that the Government need to look at the fact that the funding package is for only two years, which is causing local authorities some concern.
On the subject of branding, there is still concern among local authorities that the Inspire programme might not be sufficient in raising the profile of what they are already doing in their constituencies and boroughs.
On the subject of an infrastructure legacy, we have already referred to the North London line. I hope that it is secure and that it will remain as a long-lasting feature of the transport system in London.
On the subject of the additional legacy, I know that Ministers are aware of the proposal from the Field Studies Council for a London education centre based in the Olympic park. That is certainly worthy of further investigation. I know that the Government are considering it, and I hope that it will come forward as a concrete plan in the not too distant future.
Finally, on the subject of the sporting legacy, a couple of subjects have not been mentioned at all in the debate, the first of which is the legacy for people with learning disabilities. Post-2012, there must be something in place to enable that group, who are perhaps the most disadvantaged of all, to access sport and to participate fully. There needs to be a legacy for them. I want to encourage the Government to do everything they can to secure that legacy.
Finally, post-2012, there is the issue of the legacy for UK Deaf Sport. The focus on the Olympics and Paralympics has meant that that organisation has not received much support. Post-Olympics, the Government need to come back to that.
That is all that I can say in the time available, but I want to echo the words of the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey). The different criticisms that Members have made were not about nit-picking, but about trying to make the games even more successful in 2012 than we hope that they will be.
I have always thought that one of the most striking things about the Olympics is that the term “Olympic legacy” means so many different things to so many different people. Today’s debate has entirely reflected that and, I hope, has highlighted the need for a further debate in Government time on these important issues.
During the course of the afternoon, we heard from the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster)—Bath is the host of the UK school games—and the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), who spoke rightly of her pride in the fact that her borough will host the Olympics. We share that pride.
We also heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale), the Chairman of the Select Committee, and I congratulate him on his report. In addition, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) deserves to be congratulated both on her initial report, “Raising the Bar”, which, as she correctly said, formed the basis for the development of sports policy, and on the work she does in London: we look forward to her report in the new year, and the action that will follow.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) spoke very well about the Olympic legacy for his constituents, while the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) raised the important issue of the missing £100 million. He also spoke about volunteering, and I thank him for his work in that regard. My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) spoke absolutely correctly about the impact that the lottery has had in this area since it was introduced in the mid-1990s. He also described the legacy for his constituency, with the restoration of the pier at Southend. Finally, the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) spoke briefly but well about swimming and branding.
Right at the outset, it is worth saying that there are substantial areas of the Olympic project where we as a party support the Government. We share the Olympic Minister’s determination to deliver London 2012 on time and within the main public sector funding package of £9.3 billion, and it is important that the wider Olympic movement understands that. In the current financial situation, there can be no further public money.
I believe that that understanding is important for our national reputation for delivering major infrastructure projects. It will also enable us to scale down the Olympic budget in such a way that parts of the world that have never dared bid for a games in previous years can have the confidence to do so in 2020, 2024 and beyond. However, at the core of the motion is the question of sports legacy, and I pay tribute to the report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that has driven this debate.
London’s pledge to enable young people through sport was at the heart of our bid. Pitched to an audience of former Olympians and sports administrators, it is probably the single biggest reason London is the host city in 2012. The challenge before us today is to fulfil that promise to the International Olympic Committee, and to do whatever is necessary to enable us to benefit from the surge in enthusiasm, interest and inspiration generated from London 2012.
What needs to be done? As always with sport, the task can be divided into three main areas: elite and high-performance sports, school sports and mass participation. Let us take the elite and high-performance area first. There are three main issues that need to be tackled. The first is the one mentioned by the hon. Member for Loughborough—the missing £100 million from the private sector that was promised by the Prime Minister in his March 2006 Budget when he was still Chancellor, but not yet delivered.
I always thought that that was going to be an extraordinarily difficult commitment to fulfil. Even before the current economic crisis, LOCOG, the BOA, sport governing bodies and individual athletes were scouring the market looking for private sponsorship. I always doubted that a private company would pick up what many consider to be a Government funding shortfall.
However, UK Sport planned, perfectly reasonably, for the full £600 million. As the hon. Member for Loughborough said, it would be disastrous if, in the aftermath of our most successful Olympics ever and before our own home Olympics, there had to be cuts in elite athlete training programmes. In my view, the Prime Minister’s promise must be kept, and that amount paid in full.
The second issue affecting elite and high-performance sport is the funding of the new National Anti-Doping Organisation. That has not been mentioned this afternoon, but I do not think that any hon. Member, of any party, would say anything other than that doping arguably represents the single greatest threat to Olympic sport. It is vital, particularly for us as the host nation, that we have the highest possible anti-doping standards in place.
The Conservative party has always argued for a fully independent anti-doping agency, as highlighted some years ago in the cross-party report from the hon. Member for Vauxhall. I am delighted that the Government have reversed their previous opposition to such a body, and I urge them to agree the necessary funding as a priority. While they are about it, the logical next step is to put the sport dispute resolution service, Sport Resolutions, on an independent statutory basis to give it the teeth that it needs to tackle sports disputes.
The third element in this area is the legacy for individual Olympic sports.
The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) jumps to his feet at that, but it is difficult to be absolutely clear about that legacy in advance of the publication of the KPMG report due out next month. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) said earlier, it would be a tragedy if each individual Olympic sport did not receive a tangible benefit from London 2012. I am sure that all hon. Members will agree with that.
If there is to be a legacy for school sport from London 2012, it has to be in two areas: more pupils should have the opportunity to play sport at school, a point the Secretary of State touched on at length, and, crucially, fewer of them should give up when they leave school at 16. It is to our shame that over successive years—indeed, over successive Governments—the UK has had one of the worst post-school drop-out rates in Europe.
I pay tribute to the work of the Youth Sport Trust, and completely support the drive for more competitive sport in school, but four areas need greater attention. The first, which we must make an absolute priority—almost a crusade—is to reach the 10 per cent. of children who do not have the basic two hours of sport at present. There can be no excuse whatever for that, particularly as 78 per cent. of schools already provide it as part of their in-curriculum PE lessons. We must put that right.
Secondly, we must take a more considered look at sports provision in primary schools. One of the flaws in the existing strategy is that it concentrates too much—at least in my view—on secondary provision, by which stage it is too late. If we can enthuse pupils at primary school it is likely that the love of sport and exercise will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The third area is inspiration, which is a constant theme when people talk about London 2012. There is an important role in that regard for the British Olympic Association as the guardians of Olympianism. We need to inspire all 450 school sport partnerships with the spirit of 2012. I want Olympians in every school and school games in every county. It is an organisational rather than a funding challenge, and the results can be spectacular, as those of us who saw the Kent school games this year are aware. I was lucky enough to open the games with Kelly Holmes. Kids from every school sport partnership in the county took part in a competitive county sports day; it was fantastic.
Finally, there is mass participation, or community sport, which is central to the London 2012 vision and has been the area of greatest concern, as was highlighted in the Select Committee’s report. Cuts to lottery funding, constant changes of strategy at Sport England and increased bureaucratic overload have contributed to the damning statistic that in a decade of lottery funding there has been no meaningful increase whatever in the number of people playing sport.
The solution is relatively simple. First, the Government need to restore the lottery to its four original pillars, correcting the situation whereby the amount of lottery funding distributed to sport fell from £397 million in 1998, when the Secretary of State was a special adviser, to £209 million last year—a cut of nearly 50 per cent. Once that funding is restored, the second thing is to ensure that the correct delivery mechanisms are in place to drive up participation rates. I shall cheer up the Secretary of State by saying that I entirely support the new strategic direction of Sport England—to deliver increases in mass participation through the sport governing bodies—although I have to tell him that was exactly what we proposed at the last general election, and it is exactly what was in the cross-party “Raising the Bar” report some years ago; I only regret that it took so long to bring it about. It is unforgivable that Sport England, the Government agency involved in delivering that key pledge, has been without a chairman for more than a year. The chief executive has done a fantastic job, and we all congratulate her, but she should never have had to deal with all those things on her own.
Finally, we need to encourage and incentivise local communities to engage in London 2012. A good start would be for many other local authorities to emulate the approach taken by the London Mayor and the hon. Member for Vauxhall in ring-fencing community sports funding in the London Development Agency budget and spearheading a drive to target grass-roots sport.
Four months ago in Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee told me it wanted four things from a host nation Government: strategic direction, a budget, security and an identifiable legacy. Our motion and the debate have concentrated on the last of those—the legacy. It was the key commitment of the Singapore bid and, as highlighted in the Select Committee report, it remains the most difficult of those objectives to fulfil.
The Government can react to the debate in one of two ways. Either they can try to claim that everything is perfect and that nothing needs to be done, or they can acknowledge the central feeling on both sides of the House that a certain amount has been done, but that much more needs to be done if we are to deliver a really meaningful mass participation sports legacy from London 2012.
I should like to join everybody else in paying tribute to the quality of the debate. I welcome the fact that we have had this debate, and hope that we will have many more in the period—a little short of four years—ahead. One of the most important things about the Olympics is that we, both as parliamentarians and in all the other responsibilities that we exercise, are guardians of an event that it is an extraordinary privilege to host. It will create memories that will last for ever in the lives of all the people whom we represent. We will never have quite the same opportunity at any other point in our lives. As I say, I welcome this debate, which has been inspired by the performance of our Olympians and Paralympians in Beijing.
I had the great privilege of spending yesterday with the British cycling team—the coaches, the performance director and the psychiatrist—in Manchester, and I am sure that the whole House would like to wish them all the very best for the cycling world cup, which takes place at the weekend. I saw the velodrome doing what it was intended to do—providing a world-class training facility for the best cyclists in the world. It is being used by community organisations of all ages, including an over-50s cycling club and children. I think that I am right to say that it is the most heavily used velodrome in the whole of Europe. When Chris Hoy launched the plans for our velodrome in Stratford park, he said that he believed that it would be the best in the world, so we need no amplification of our ambition. Despite the tendency to resort to our usual habits, it is important that we maintain cross-party agreement on how we manage, deliver and develop the games. That is important for any event that spans a Parliament, and that relates to my point about looking after something on behalf of the whole nation, rather than a particular political party.
Five legacy promises were set out in the legacy action plan, which has had a bit of knocking this afternoon. It is a fact that investment is being made in sports participation and London transport. The investment ensures, almost counter-cyclically, that £6 billion—worth of contracts are regionalised, as far as possible, and relate to areas beyond London. That is all part of a clear commitment not to accept the inevitable about the Olympics, as has been the fate of other cities, but to drive the Olympic ambition in the direction that we want.
We have big legacy ambitions, and one of the reasons our bid was so passionate had to do with the potential for legacy and the change that would occur before the games took place. When we won the bid, the games were seven years away. The delivery of legacy is complex, but the delivery structure is clear. The responsibility is shared between my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe), who is the Minister with responsibility for sport; the Mayor, who has some responsibility with regard to the Olympic park; and the London Development Agency. There is also a cross-Government legacy delivery responsibility, covering all other relevant Departments. The five boroughs also have an absolutely critical responsibility to work with Government to ensure that the Olympic park does not become an island of regeneration, with the area at its edges remaining unchanged. The Olympic boroughs, and my hon. Friends who represent them, share a passionate commitment to ensuring that that is not the case.
Our ambition is clear, and it focuses on two of the five legacy promises—the two that, beyond all others, define what we are trying to achieve. The first relates to the regeneration of east London. That has been raised by a number of hon. Members, so I shall touch quickly on specific points. Yes, community use is designed into the aquatic centre and, yes, discussion will go on with the boroughs about their later proposal for a leisure and fitness facility. Yes, work is under way to ensure that once the Olympic stadium comes down to its legacy size, it will be a vibrant centre of sport and activity—not just for young people in the Olympic park, but for those from beyond.
In her excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) made a particular point about affordable housing. Some 30 per cent. of the housing in the first stage will be affordable. There will not be a polyclinic at the first stage, but there will be one as part of the second stage, as the number of homes increases to 9,000.
The debate about the international broadcast centre and main press centre captures our dilemma perfectly: should we build what will in effect be a temporary shed, for which at the moment there is no long-term tenant, at considerable cost? Should we invest extra, at the risk of there not being a long-term tenant? Alternatively, should we stick with the original ambition that is so important for the Olympic boroughs in respect of the scope to offer up to 8,000 aspirational jobs in sunrise industries, the new and developing technologies? That is the dilemma, which we have not yet resolved. We will, of course, engage Members of Parliament, the Olympic boroughs and potential tenants in helping us resolve it.
In response to the points made by my hon. Friends the Members for West Ham and for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), I should say that we are going to track local jobs. The proportion of local people working on the park is now up to 24 per cent., from 19 per cent. in the last quarter.
My hon. Friends the Members for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) and for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) are absolutely right about the importance of soft legacy and of having a sustained legacy for participation. That is why there is investment in new facilities through Building Schools for the Future and other programmes. There is a commitment to 3,000 coaches and a third of young people getting engaged in sports clubs as a first stage. There will be 1,000 young ambassadors throughout all our school sport colleges, talking to other young people, as only young people can, about the benefits and joys of sport.
I should like to say two more things. The first is about the fraught question of shooting at Bisley, equestrianism at Greenwich and basketball. We have commissioned a report. All the venues are temporary. I spent a lot of time looking at the equestrian and shooting venues in China. We will make the decisions, but people should remember that one reason why we won the Olympics was that we agreed to bring shooting into the Olympic area and not have it at Bisley. We won because we promised a compact games. We are not operating on a blank sheet of paper and we cannot tear up past commitments; we have commitments to the International Olympic Committee and the expectations of the people in the relevant areas.
I want to finish by saying that whatever controversy the legacy plans have generated in the House this afternoon, our approach has received praise from the IOC and from no less a quarter than the Sydney Morning Herald, in which on 24 September the excellent Elizabeth Farrelly wrote that
“one quality sets London 2012 apart”
from the Sydney and other games:
“Legacy; an intelligent, strategic approach to the morning after.”
She was referring to the morning after what will be the greatest games in Olympic memory, which will have benefits for young people and the east end for the rest of our lives.
Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—
The House proceeded to a Division.