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Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

The Minister for the Olympics was asked—


1. What her latest estimate is of expenditure on the London 2012 Olympics, and if she will make a statement. (269375)

The estimate of public expenditure on the London 2012 games remains within the £9.325 billion package that I announced in March 2007.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Now that the Olympic Delivery Authority has decided that Woolwich is to be the site for shooting events at the Olympics, will she arrange for the KPMG report on the venues to be published in full? I know that it has been published, but only with all the rather interesting financial information missed out, and British shooting does not feel that it has been given a fair crack of the whip. Will she therefore arrange for that report to be published in full and placed in the Library of the House?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I met the advocates for the Bisley case very particularly, as I also met the advocates for other venues, and the Olympic Board confirmed its decision at its last meeting. It is certainly my intention to publish the KPMG report once the issues of commercial sensitivity have passed and the relevant negotiations have been completed.

What reassurance can my right hon. Friend give that at least some of that expenditure will positively aid the regeneration of the Olympic boroughs?

The reassurance that I can give my hon. Friend is that of the ODA’s baseline budget of £6.1 billion, plus the provision for £2 billion for contingencies—so far, 20 per cent. has been allocated from both sources of contingency funding—75p in every pound spent is spent on regeneration: on the physical regeneration of the area. She will be aware of the enormous efforts that we are making, of which she has been such a powerful advocate, to make sure that in the post-Olympic period the east London boroughs, one of which she represents, have a higher level of skill and more people in work than before the Olympics.

On the subject of shooting, we all know that one of the factors in choosing Woolwich was cost, so will the Minister today tell us the cost estimate for staging the shooting at Woolwich, and for staging it at Bisley?

No, not today; I shall do so once the negotiations, which are inevitably sensitive, are concluded. I know of the hon. Gentleman’s great concerns about Bisley, and his advocacy for it. He will understand that there were two factors that led the Olympic Board to conclude that Woolwich should be the preferred venue for shooting. The first was on the grounds of cost, to which he referred. The second was certainty, the judgment being that, at this stage, Bisley simply involved too much risk, in terms of delivering an acceptable venue.

Is the Minister aware that the way in which large amounts of public money—£500 million, I believe—have been distributed by UK Sport through the governing bodies of sports is threatening the viability of state-of-the-art facilities in places such as Gateshead stadium? Will she look into that? Will she assure the House that the way in which money is distributed will not threaten the future of facilities such as those in Gateshead stadium, and that the preparation for the Olympics will, as she has said in the past, benefit all regions?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will have been listening to his concern. My hon. Friend will also be aware of the benefit being brought to venues around the country from their designated status as potential training-camp venues. I am sure that he will be a powerful advocate for the venues in his region that have been so designated.

The European Investment Bank website has revealed that an application for a £255 million loan for the athletes’ village was lodged in February and approved on 7 April. Given that this is the first that many of us have heard of the matter, is the Minister able to throw some more light on the subject today? In particular, will she tell us at what interest rate the loan was agreed, what conditions govern that loan, and what their effect will be on the Olympic balance sheet?

The European Investment Bank has certainly given in-principle agreement to a loan in two parts. Part of it would assist with the financing of the social housing; the other part would assist with the financing of the Olympic village. The hon. Gentleman will know, because of the transparency in the financial briefing of the Opposition parties, of the background to that, and of the negotiation with the private sector partners. Obviously, once a decision has been taken about how much of that loan facility will be taken up and applied to those two projects, I will make a statement to the House.

Olympic Legacy (Young People)

The Olympics sporting venues in east London and around the UK will be available for use after the Olympics in a way that involves residents of all levels of ability, from starters to elite athletes. That is a fundamental aspect of the Olympic legacy ambition.

The legacy business plans being prepared for the sports venues—including the stadium in the park, the aquatics centre and the velodrome and velopark—have the provision of affordable access for young people at their heart. Some 500,000 visits a year are anticipated for the aquatics centre, of which more than 100,000 will be use by schools for swimming lessons.

The stadium will include, in addition to a 25,000-seat, International Association of Athletics Federations-compliant athletics facility, provision for a school and a sports academy, providing skills training focused on the 18 to 24 age group. Central to that is the affordability of entrance. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott)—who is no longer in her place—making the point some years ago that the legacy will mean nothing if the facilities cannot be afforded by people who live in the area. I absolutely and wholeheartedly endorse that point, and we are working to ensure that that promise is delivered.

I am grateful for the Minister’s response, which gave good news of progress. How far have we gone in obtaining an anchor tenant for the Olympic stadium?

The question of an anchor tenant is a bit of an obsession—[Interruption.] It is a misguided obsession, because we already have a commitment to a school, so that between 300 and 400 young people will attend school at the Olympic stadium and legacy every day. Hundreds of young people will use the stadium as the base for their skills learning and development. It will be a base for the English Institute of Sport, and it will host major athletics events. Although there will be a management structure, there will be not a single anchor tenant—on the basis of present negotiation—but a wide range of central sporting interests that will ensure that it is a living stadium, used every day of the year.

Will the Minister give the House a little more detail of what practical action is being taken now to ensure that these expensive venues have a long-lasting legacy for all the people of London and beyond in future years?

I can give the hon. Gentleman a lot of practical information about that, including the way in which, in several instances such as the aquatics centre, the designs have been amended—sometimes at additional cost—to ensure that they can be properly adapted for community use after the games have finished. Extra money is being spent on the velodrome which will be the best and fastest in the world. I have also outlined specific proposals for the Olympic stadium. No city has ever been this advanced before in planning the legacy use of its Olympic venues and honouring its commitment to young people, who will be the principal beneficiaries.

One proposed legacy use for the Olympic park is as a university, and the Government are in discussions about that. What is the estimated cost, how much public subsidy might be required and how much finance has been proposed by private financiers?

There have been discussions with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and, particularly, with the Higher Education Funding Council. There is an agreement to carry out a feasibility study, and there is also interest in collaboration with a Beijing university, which the Mayor and I have been discussing since the games in the summer. Once the feasibility study is concluded, the hon. Gentleman’s questions will be answered.