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Volume 504: debated on Monday 18 January 2010

The Minister for the Olympics was asked—


The £9.325 billion public sector funding package that I announced in March 2007 remains unchanged. The rigorous scrutiny includes significant savings—£390 million alone in 2008-09. I shall sacrifice the rest of my answer in the interests of pith.

The land values have certainly been reviewed. As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, negotiations are currently taking place between the Government, the Mayor and the board of the legacy company to determine on what terms and at what level debt should be reassigned.

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be no further raids on lottery funds to sustain and keep up the budget for the Olympics?

Until 2012, the Olympics are a sixth good cause, as was the millennium in 2000. There will be no further take from the lottery, but the lottery is contributing in a very handsome way towards the creation of the Olympics, which will be one of the greatest events that people in the whole UK have ever known.

Around 250,000 Olympics devotees are desperate to volunteer in 2012, yet only 70,000 of them will be able to act as official volunteers. What steps will the right hon. Lady take to ensure that the existing budget provides meaningful and satisfying volunteering opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of sports fans who are not going to be part of the official volunteering team?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that thousands more people want to volunteer for the Olympics than there are specific opportunities in the Olympic park. We are looking across the UK to create what I hope will become the biggest participation and engagement programme ever. I also hope that one of the criteria that will attach to the selection of volunteers in the Olympic park will be experience of having volunteered in the community.

During a recent briefing, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games reported that one of its greatest operational challenges was Government Departments outside the Government Olympic Executive rowing back on their commitments in the current public expenditure round. Those Departments promised to deliver on those commitments at the time of the bid. Is the right hon. Lady in a position to tell us what action she has taken to prevent that, and can she place in the Library of the House a copy of all those commitments, across Government, with the budgets attached?

I am surprised by the hon. Gentleman’s remarks; those concerns have not been raised with me in those terms by LOCOG. Nineteen Government Departments are engaged in delivering the games and to my knowledge, through the Cabinet Committee and other forms of co-ordination, Government Departments are making every bit of their contributions. For instance, the Home Office is overseeing perhaps the most difficult job of all—security. The Olympics will be the biggest peacetime logistical exercise, and they could not happen without the wholehearted support of the Government; London 2012 has that.

London 2012 (UK Businesses)

The games are creating work and business opportunities for businesses large and small across the UK. The Olympic Delivery Authority has awarded more than £5 billion-worth of contracts to more than 1,000 suppliers. It has been our determined effort to make sure that businesses right around the country, including those in my hon. Friend’s region, benefit from this shot in the arm for UK plc at a time of downturn.

More specifically, can the Minister say what benefits the games construction programme has delivered to companies in the north-west?

Through the ODA, some 43 suppliers from the north-west have sought contracts to supply the Olympic park. I will send to my hon. Friend, and place in the Library, a detailed list of the firms that have contributed, which are diverse and significant. The north-west is also benefiting from the commercial opportunities arising from the Olympics.

While I appreciate that this is a national games and that we want benefits across the country, will the Minister give some indication of the small businesses within a 5-mile radius of the Olympic village that will feel the benefit? Does she have data to hand so that she can give us that information at this stage, or perhaps in writing?

About 50 per cent. of all the businesses that have so far contributed to the supply of the Olympic park are within London. I am not able, at this point, to give the hon. Gentleman the precise detail that he wants, but I am happy to supply it. The ODA is about to issue another £1 billion-worth of contracts, and LOCOG £700 million-worth of contracts, so there are opportunities for businesses of all sizes not only in London but right across the UK.

Will my right hon. Friend write to me—and put a copy in the Library and send one to the Rotherham Advertiserabout how Rotherham workers can find jobs in construction and other related work that is going on, because there is a tremendous sense in South Yorkshire that they are not getting a fair crack of the whip?

I am very happy to do that, and I am happy to come to South Yorkshire again to set out the potential for its contribution to the Olympics. At every stage, we have sought to open up the tendering processes to create opportunities for the whole UK—and South Yorkshire is not usually slow in coming forward.

London 2012 (Multi-Media Coverage)

4. What representations she has received on the provision of multi-media coverage of the London 2012 Olympics; and if she will make a statement. [Official Report, 2 February 2010, Vol. 505, c. 1-2MC.] (310882)

These will be the first games to be filmed wholly to high-definition standards. There will be access to information via additional channels and mobile devices, ensuring the games are accessible to everyone. The International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are responsible for global broadcast rights of the London 2012 games via many platforms, including multi-media platforms.

We all expect the games to be the most watched ever, but the introduction of multi-media coverage presents a huge logistical and technological challenge, particularly as it will come just after digital switchover. To what extent will an analogue signal still be available to those who want it?

The expectation is that the television switchover will have been completed by 2012, subject to any last-minute issues that might affect the coverage of the Olympics. In that sense, the analogue signal will no longer be available. However, much preparation is under way to ensure access to multi-media platforms, starting with ensuring the availability of spectrum. I thank Ofcom for the invaluable work that it has done, so early on, to ensure that that spectrum is available.

Crystal Palace

6. If she will make it her policy to promote the sporting facilities at Crystal Palace as part of preparations for the London 2012 Olympics. (310884)

Yes, Crystal Palace sports centre is an official London 2012 pre-games training camp—no surprises there. Essentially, the onus is on Crystal Palace to market itself to the international teams to train at the venue. There are incentives, however, with £25,000 from LOCOG available for every national Olympic and Paralympic committee to encourage them to use official pre-games training camps. I hope to visit Crystal Palace again before the end of this month.

The Minister is very supportive of Crystal Palace. Given that it represents the internationalism of the 19th century, which, in some ways, is mirrored in the Olympics now, might we do well to co-ordinate the laying of a foundation stone for a new Crystal Palace with the timing of the Olympics and the Queen’s diamond jubilee?

Olympic Delivery Authority

7. What recent discussions she has had with the Olympic Delivery Authority on the implementation of its commitment to maximise local employment opportunities; and if she will make a statement. (310885)

I am a member of the ODA’s employment and skills board, which is responsible for overseeing the creation of the skills and employment legacy. One of the most important aspects of the legacy is ensuring that local people and young people working in businesses as part of the supply chain have the opportunity to leave their Olympic-related job better trained and with an increased chance of staying in work.

My right hon. Friend will be aware of those trade unions that have been complaining about the lack of local people being trained—such training would be beneficial in the years to come. Will she meet the trade unions in question to find out what the problems are and to try to help to solve them?

I am surprised by my hon. Friend’s observation. The apprenticeship level to which we are committed for the Olympic park is in fact three and a half times the regional average, and every single supplier understands the obligation on them. Alan Ritchie, the general secretary of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, recently observed that the Olympics have one of the best regulated construction sites in Britain. Principles of co-operation have been signed between the ODA and the TUC. If there are any concerns, however, we will of course do everything that we can to address them.