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Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

The Minister for the Olympics was asked—

Olympic Legacy (North-West)

The north-west, as with every region in the UK, will gain from sporting, economic and cultural opportunities created by the London 2012 games. Even two and a half years away, 44 north-west businesses have won Olympic contracts—for example, the steel for the Olympic stadium taking shape in the Olympic park is supplied by a Bolton company. There are 45 games-inspired cultural projects across the north-west. There are 65 Olympic and 25 Paralympic pre-games training camps in the north-west, with Thailand, Oceania and the Australian Olympic team already committed to basing themselves there. As my hon. Friend will know, the north-west will also host the Olympic football at Old Trafford.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. She is aware of the partnership in my area that could lead to a sports village at the Cheshire Oaks complex. May I put on record my thanks to Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson for her magnificent support for that project? Will my right hon. Friend come up and visit that project to see what she could do to help this development for people in my constituency?

I commend my hon. Friend for the energy that he has put into supporting the development of the Cheshire Oaks sports village; and yes, I would be absolutely delighted to come and see this exemplary new sporting project in his constituency.

Vancouver Winter Olympics

2. What assessment she has made of the lessons to be learned from the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics for the London 2012 Olympics. (318879)

Once again, the whole House will want to congratulate Amy Williams on her gold medal in the skeleton bob. The celebrations continue in Cambridge and in Bath, where she trained.

While in Vancouver, I had a full programme of meetings, and I am happy to place a list of these in the Libraries of both Houses. The value of those meetings is that they provided real-time opportunity to discuss a number of issues related to city operation of the games and security. I know that the hon. Gentleman will be particularly interested in the time that I spent considering the risk of an increase in human trafficking associated with the Olympic games, and I worked closely with the security services and police officials at federal, district and city level on that. I have met representatives of non-governmental organisations in Vancouver and here, since I returned. We will in due course publish a proper debrief on the Olympic and the Paralympic games.

Given that all major sporting events attract an increase in criminal activity, and in view of the fact that the Metropolitan police have said that there are already new indications that criminal activity in east London is increasing, two years before the Olympics, will the Minister consider a major poster campaign on all London buses, on the underground and on sites, to highlight the fact that Britain is no longer a welcome place for human trafficking and to ensure that human traffickers realise that they are no longer welcome in Britain?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct in his last point, and the focus of all the meetings, visits and engagement that I have had on the issue has been that we want to send a signal to traffickers and criminals from around the world that London will not welcome them in the run-up to the 2012 games. The hon. Gentleman should reflect, as I know he does, on the complexity of the matter. No simple conclusions should be drawn, and we are ensuring that we mitigate the risks.

Cheap ticket prices were fundamental to the success of Vancouver, allowing real sports fans to attend and witness the superb success of Amy Williams from Bath. Some 50,000 free tickets were issued, and 100,000 were issued at less than £16. Equivalent figures in London would be 300,000 free tickets and 600,000 below £16. How many cheap and free tickets does the Minister expect to be issued for London 2012?

The hon. Gentleman knows that I am enormously concerned about ensuring that families with children from right around the country can afford to come to the games, and that tickets are affordable for Londoners. The pricing of tickets is, however, a matter for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which will make announcements about it later this year. I am quite sure that it will listen to the messages that are coming loud and clear from the House about the importance of affordability.

May I add my congratulations to Amy Williams on her gold medal? That is a fantastic way to end Olympic questions for this Parliament. However, her achievement should not disguise the fact that we under-shot the Government’s UK Sport medal target of three; that Snowsport GB, the governing body responsible for snow sports, went into receivership on the eve of the games; and that at a time when we have successfully raised more than £600 million of sponsorship for London 2012, despite the £6 million of lottery and Exchequer funding that has gone into winter sports we have not attracted a major sponsor into that area. As we move forward to the Sochi Olympics—

Order. May I just gently say to the hon. Gentleman that there are other questioners on the Order Paper? I hope that he will bring himself to a question very quickly.

I was actually just going to finish by asking whether, given all those factors, the Minister now feels it is time for a fundamental review of where we are going with winter sports before Sochi.

I do not want anything to detract from Amy Williams’s gold medal or the significant number of top 10 finishes that our athletes had, and nobody in the House should talk down the efforts of team GB, every single member of which deserves our congratulation. It is worth noting that investment in winter sport doubled between Salt Lake City and Vancouver, from £3 million to £6 million for the same number of athletes. I am quite sure that UK Sport, as the responsible body, will want to review progress and the funding strategy.

Olympic Legacy

London 2012 will be the first legacy Olympics. We made two pledges when we won the games in Singapore: to transform a generation of young people through sport, and to regenerate east London. On sport, 10 years of investment will mean that by 2012, 60 per cent. of young people will spend five hours a week on sport and competing, up from 23 per cent. doing two hours of sport a week in state schools in 2002. The regeneration of east London is there for all to see, so those are two legacy promises made and two legacy promises delivered.

I thank the Minister for her response. In my borough of Bexley, we are all passionate supporters of the London Olympics. Regrettably, however, no Olympic events are to be held in my borough. What does the Minister see as the lasting legacy for outer-London boroughs such as Bexley?

Well, I think outer-London boroughs such as Bexley could start by taking up free swimming for children under 16 and people over 60.

Apprenticeships (Olympic Park Site)

Some 350 apprenticeship places will be created on the Olympic park and village by 2012— 3 per cent. of the work force, and more than three times the industry norm for the south-east. The latest figures show that there were 150 apprentices on site in December 2009, 56 of whom were from the host boroughs. The Olympic Delivery Authority and its partners are on track to increase that number to 180 apprentices in 2010.

Would my right hon. Friend care to relate those figures to what she said about the norm for British industry, and will she tell us how they impact on the five host boroughs?

Those apprenticeship places are a very important part of contributing to the skills legacy for the Olympic park—the 350 places will represent 3 per cent. of the work force at its peak, as I indicated. We also welcome the fact that the construction skills academy, which is now relocated at Beckton, will continue after the games, providing a young, skilled work force, including increasing numbers of women, to the construction industry in London and beyond, which is important once the Olympics are completed and as we move towards the construction of Crossrail.

Vancouver Winter Olympics

5. What assessment she has made of the lessons to be learned from the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics for the London 2012 Olympics. (318883)

I hope I have dealt with the question of the lessons learned from the Vancouver Olympics, both on construction and legacy. As I indicated earlier, a full report will be prepared in due course.

One success of the Vancouver games appears to have been the provision of large screens in public parks, whereby very large numbers of people could watch the activities taking place on the slopes. What lessons will the Government draw from that successful experience for London 2012?

The lessons will be to have—right across the country—large screens, live sites, volunteers, and activity locally through the Cultural Olympiad, sporting events and so forth, so that there really is a sense of Olympic celebration right across the UK, and so that people are able, wherever they live, to have first-hand experience of the games.