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Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

The £9.325 billion funding package that I announced to the House in March 2007 remains the budget for the Olympics. The project remains on budget and on time, and as part of my commitment to budget transparency, I have since May 2009 been publishing updates on a quarterly basis. The latest quarterly update was published earlier today.

Bearing in mind the United Kingdom’s present economic difficulties, is the Minister confident that sufficient funds will be forthcoming from the private sector for the 2012 games, and that the contingency fund will prove sufficient to fill the potential funding gap?

Yes, I am. That is an important question, so it is worth placing it on record that 65 per cent. of the contingency remains unspent. We are confident that it is sufficient to complete construction and the other commitments made in the budget. In relation to the hon. Lady’s questions about the private sector, she will know—because I have reported to the House—that contingency funding was used to make good the shortfall in private sector contributions both to the press and broadcast centre and to investment in the Olympic village—an investment that will yield about 2,800 homes. The private sector contribution to the staging cost of the games through the organising committee remains well on target, at more than £500 million.

May I add my congratulations to you on your election, Mr. Speaker? I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister to take particular note of a gifted young tenor who sings “Jerusalem” at the Ashes. His name is Sean Ruane and he comes from Rossendale in my constituency. May I also urge my right hon. Friend to give serious consideration to whether he might have a musical role in the 2012 Olympics?

I thank my hon. Friend. I am sure that Sean’s talents, now recorded in Hansard, will go from strength to strength. I draw her attention to the consultation that is taking place around the country about the content of the opening ceremony, which I hope will be many things, but in no small part a showcase for great young British talent.

What recent changes have been made to the budget to support the ambitious new programme that, according to The Independent on Sunday, the Government are apparently launching to support grass-roots sport? How much sooner does the Minister think the Government will reach the target of getting 1 million more people into sport as a result of the campaign?

The budget to which I have just referred is almost entirely for construction, security and non-sport, non-participation activity. The costs to which the hon. Gentleman referred are being met in a variety of ways: the investment in school sport, community sports clubs and the reconstruction of facilities, and the £100 million a year that the Big Lottery Fund is spending on sport. That all means that whereas in 1997, when this Government came to power, Exchequer investment in sport was £50 million, that figure is now £400 million, so the campaign to get 1 million more people taking part in sport on top of the participation by young people at school is being funded by a steady increase in investment.

Order. I would like to get through a few more questions and answers, and if we show some self-discipline, we will do just that.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way in which we will measure the success of the Olympics is by participation in sport beyond 2012? Does she recognise the important and value-for-money role that can be played by non-for-profit voluntary organisations in delivering that and encouraging participation in sport as we approach the Olympics?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and frequently makes that point. The thousands of sports clubs throughout the country are the backbone of participation, and their contribution will enable us to achieve the target of getting 1 million more people active in sport.

A key element in containing the overall budget is the use of the stadium in legacy mode. I think that everybody would agree that Manchester showed the way after the Commonwealth games. In her initial public pronouncements Baroness Ford, the new chairman of the legacy company, has indicated her desire to re-examine the issue of a football use, and both the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League are keen to use the stadium to support their bids. Given that the last four European cup finals have been played in dual-use stadiums, is the right hon. Lady prepared to re-examine her opposition to such a move?

The hon. Gentleman knows that I have discussed this with Baroness Ford. We have not yet won the right to host the World cup in 2018. Clearly, if our excellent bid is successful, there will of course be a case for re-examination, but this is not cost-free, and the House should understand that plans will proceed to make sure that we honour our commitment to the International Olympic Committee and to athletes across the country in the bid book, that we will have, as a legacy for the games, a 20,000-seater, grand prix-capable athletics stadium. We are making good progress in building the legacy. Tenants include a school, the English Institute of Sport and the National Skills Academy. Baroness Ford is eager to squeeze every last benefit of legacy from every single venue, and I support her in that, but I want certainty and planning for the legacy of the stadium.