I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Since 2006, when the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill was passed, enormous progress has been made in preparing London and the rest of the UK for the games. There is, rightly, huge cause for confidence as we look forward to next summer. Politically, the games continue to enjoy broad cross-party support from all parts of the House in the way that was first evident at the time of the bid and subsequently during the passage of the original Bill. I am particularly grateful to the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) for her continued support and for all the work she did to promote the Bill and during the early part of the Olympic process. I am also grateful to our coalition partners—and I was going to say to Members from the other, smaller parties, but they have clearly left early to enjoy the royal wedding.
I will briefly update the House on progress. The build programme is now 70% complete and, I am glad to say, on time and marginally below budget. The Lee valley white water centre, the first of the newly built 2012 venues, was completed last year and opened to the public earlier this month. The construction of the first Olympic park sporting venue, the velodrome, was completed in February this year and handed over to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games last month. The remaining facilities are on track and nearing completion. If hon. Members have not yet had the opportunity to tour the Olympic park, I strongly encourage them to do so. The scale of what has been achieved, particularly for anybody who remembers the site in 2005, is genuinely impressive. I should like to place on record my thanks to John Armitt, David Higgins—the recently retired chief executive—and the whole of the Olympic Delivery Authority for what they have achieved.
The deadline for applications for Olympic tickets closed two days ago. We have seen unparalleled levels of interest from people right across the United Kingdom, with over 20 million ticket applications, and public support for the games remains high, particularly in comparison with the experience of previous host cities. Almost a quarter of a million people have applied to be London 2012 games-maker volunteers. I have no doubt that the same atmosphere of celebration that we are seeing for tomorrow’s royal wedding, and which will be seen again in next year’s diamond jubilee, will be seen once again in the build-up to, and during, the games.
A concern that has been raised about other sporting events is that, despite high ticket sales, the stadiums have not been full. What guarantees can my hon. Friend give to those who hope to receive tickets that they have the optimum chance of attending the events and, more importantly, that those who wanted to go but cannot do not see empty seats when they watch the Olympics on television?
Given the almost unparalleled level of interest in ticket applications, it is pretty unlikely that anybody who has gone through the process of securing a ticket for London 2012 will not turn up. I think that anybody who has a ticket is disproportionately likely to turn up. We must also remember that these Olympics are different from any others in that 75% of the tickets are available to the general public. There will therefore not be the problems that are seen at some events that have large numbers of corporate seats. We are all well aware of the negative impact that empty stadiums would have. I suspect that we will face the reverse problem and that there will be so much demand for events that there will be a lot of disappointed people who cannot get tickets, and that there will not be empty seats on the day.
To pick up on that point, will the Minister make clear what arrangements there will be for a secondary market for tickets? I appreciate that there are draconian measures to stop ticket touting, but presumably there will be an opportunity for a legitimate secondary market for those who have applied, in the rather complicated way, and who by July or August 2012 realise that they will not be able to take up their allocation.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. There is the quid pro quo that if one has tough anti-touting regulations, one has to make it as simple as possible for people who buy tickets in the legitimate expectation that they will attend an event, but who then cannot do so, to exchange their tickets and get their money back. That is what happens in major sporting events the world over. There are a number of sporting events across the United Kingdom where that already works well. There is a very good system at Lord’s for test match tickets, and Wimbledon has a smart system in which people hand in their tickets as they go out and they are simply recycled. LOCOG is absolutely clear that there has to be an efficient, easy and simple mechanism for exchanging tickets legitimately in order to discourage touting.
Turning to the business before the House, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 sets the legal framework.
I want to raise this issue before the Minister moves on to the terms of the Bill. It relates to the Olympic legacy, and in particular to the main stadium. The Minister has received a letter from Tottenham Hotspur football club regarding the arrangements for the decision relating to West Ham United. I wonder if he can say whether he has responded to that letter, and what he believes to be the latest position regarding the stadium.
I have to tread a little carefully in answering that question because we are under threat of judicial review and the lawyers on all sides will be watching what I say carefully. [Laughter.] I hear knowing chuckles from former Ministers on the Labour Benches. I am confident that the process we followed was absolutely in line with what was expected, and that the process followed by the Olympic Park Legacy Company under Baroness Ford was correct. The hon. Gentleman is right that we have received what is technically called a pre-application letter from Tottenham Hotspur, and indeed one from Leyton Orient. We have responded to the letters within the terms advised by the lawyers and we wait to see what happens next. I am entirely confident that the correct process was followed.
I thank the Minister for that reply. Tottenham Hotspur has raised concerns about transparency in relation to these matters, and about the procedure that was used. Does he believe that he has satisfied those concerns, and has he made public the issues that Tottenham Hotspur was concerned about?
I have not made those concerns public, and that is, rightly, a matter for Tottenham Hotspur. I am confident that the process followed by the Olympic Park Legacy Company was robust, correct and inside the law. As I said, we have responded to the letters and wait to see what happens next. At this point it is difficult, and very possibly dangerous, to say a great deal more. Suffice it to say that if we can get to a stage where the legal threat is lifted, I and everybody else in the process will do all that we can to help Tottenham Hotspur find a new ground.
My hon. Friend raises an extremely good point, which I will answer peripherally before coming on to the main question. He knows that, like him, I spent a bit of time in the armed services. I am sure that everybody in the House wants to ensure that injured servicemen in particular are properly looked after in this process. We have concluded an agreement that the armed forces will conduct the flag raising at the medal ceremonies, so they will be very much at the centre of the games. The organising committee has also agreed to take on a number of injured servicemen for work experience. We are trying to set up a similar agreement within the Government Olympic Executive. If I remember rightly, although this happened some months back, there was an allocation of tickets through one of the service charities—I think it was Help for Heroes.
Most encouragingly, through the Battle Back programme, a number of servicemen—although not yet servicewomen, but I hope that that will change—have got on to the Paralympic training programmes run by a number of sports as part of their rehabilitation. A couple of months ago, I met two young men in Manchester—one of whom was injured in Iraq and one of whom was injured in Afghanistan—who are training with British Cycling for the Paralympic team. That was impressive and incredibly inspiring, because instead of dwelling on the unfortunate nature of what had happened, they had found a way to move forward through sport. I took Lord Coe to Headley Court last summer, where we found a young Scots Guardsman who had had both his legs and his left arm blown off, and who was hoping to compete in the Paralympics as a javelin thrower. Lord Coe, who despite being a runner knows a bit about javelin throwing, was able to take him through it. I think that he is now about seventh in the world. There is every expectation that as he gets fitter and better, he will have the opportunity to compete in the Paralympics. I am sure that Members from across the House wish all people in that position well.
The 2006 Act sets the legal framework within which organisations such as LOCOG, the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Mayor’s office are empowered to deliver the games. It also provides the legislative means through which we will meet Government commitments given to the International Olympic Committee on how the games and the games environment will be managed. The Act includes powers to regulate advertising and trading in the vicinity of Olympic and Paralympic venues, and to manage traffic on the Olympic route network and around games venues. It also makes the touting of Olympic and Paralympic tickets an offence.
As we move into the operational phase of preparations, building on the excellent work of LOCOG, the ODA, the Government Olympic Executive and others, the Bill brings forward amendments to ensure that the original intention of the legislation can be effectively delivered in practice. This is entirely normal as the delivery of an Olympic games moves through its cycle, and the amendments are small in comparison to those made before previous games. The Bill is limited in scope: it is confined simply to amending sections of the original Act and contains no new issues.
Although I accept, as the Minister says, that the Bill makes minor amendments to the legislation that came in some five years ago, does he share the concern that has been expressed by some constituents, with which I have sympathy, that because of the nature of the agreement with the International Olympic Committee, we risk having almost a state within a state in the vicinity of the Olympic park during August 2012? There will be rights of seizure of infringing articles, essentially to protect the interests of the sponsors who, I accept, have put significant amounts of money into the games. Does he share the concerns about the undermining of fundamental liberties that we all take for granted because of the agreement with the IOC to stage the Olympics here in the UK?
I think the best way of answering that is to say that I note the concerns. There is a fine line, and we knew what we were getting into when we bid for the event in 2004. All of us who supported the bid recognised that there would be one or two uncomfortable moments over matters such as that, but believed that it was worth having those uncomfortable moments for the greater good that would be generated.
We will be the only city in the modern Olympic cycle that has hosted the games three times—we did so in 1908 and 1948, in case Members get caught out at the pub sports quiz. The Olympics will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase this country in a way that almost nothing else can provide. I touch wood as I say this, but there is every chance that they will be a fantastic shop window for this country—not only for our ability to deliver major construction projects but for how we host people, for our tourism industry, for businesses and for sport in this country.
We need only look at the number of sports events that are coming to this country in the wake of London 2012 to realise that the good of hosting the Olympics is incalculable. That is even before we consider the fact that the Olympic park site was the largest industrial wasteland anywhere inside the M25 and it now has a brand-new Westfield shopping development springing up on its doorstep, the largest shopping centre built anywhere in Europe and the only one in which Westfield is investing outside the Australian sub-continent. We can also consider the traffic and transport changes. The price is that when we are staging a world event of such a nature, we have to have restrictions to preserve the £700 million that sponsors have put in. I absolutely acknowledge that that is a little bit uncomfortable, but I think it is a price worth paying for the greater good.
I accept that the 1908 and 1948 Olympics were nothing like as commercialised as next year’s will be. Such commercialism probably goes back to the Olympiads in 1984 in Los Angeles and 1996 in Atlanta. There is a sense that there has been creeping power in the hands of large commercial interests, with ever more draconian measures being put in place. For example, particular brands of soft drink will be barred within a particular radius. Has that always been the case in the modern Olympic era since there has been more commercialisation, or have commercial interests used an increasing amount of strength to ensure that we have the draconian measures that we will debate today?
There is no sense at all that the requirements of the London Olympics are any more draconian than has been the case in immediately preceding games. The starting point for that train of events was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which were an advertising free-for-all. One sponsor paid a huge amount to the organising committee to be a tier 1 sponsor, or whatever the equivalent of that was, and then its immediate commercial competitor took one of the teams out for a press conference and emblazoned it with the company’s logos. Those Olympics, with all the ambush marketing around them, led to some of the regulations that now exist.
I am personally very comfortable with the regulations, because the great success of the London Olympics has been in raising more than £700 million from commercial sponsors. That is a remarkable effort in the teeth of the type of recession that we are hopefully just coming out of. To get that amount of money from big multinationals, we have to give them some confidence that their brand is being protected. That is why they have invested the money.
Such regulations are not a particularly Olympic phenomenon. Exactly the same things happen at almost every other major sports event, including a host of events that we are trying to attract to this country. They happen at cricket world cups, and I am pretty sure that they happen even at highly commercial events such as the Indian premier league. Exactly the same regulations apply at football World cups. They are standard, and they are in place to protect the vast amounts of sponsorship income for such events.
In answering my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr Field), the Minister referred to the ability that the games give us to showcase British success stories. He mentioned in particular the remarkable achievements of the construction projects, particularly on the Olympic park site. Does he agree that it is a shame that visitors to that site will not be able to see the names of the British companies that have constructed the venues and done such a fantastic job? The regulations prevent advertising of the companies that have completed the venues.
That is an interesting one. I think it is pretty much a fact of public record who has built the various stadiums. The construction company responsible for the Olympic stadium, for example, has done a fantastic job, as anyone who has been down there will say. I would be very surprised if that company thought it was getting squeezed out of the action, because everybody will know who it is. There may well be a stone somewhere or other that records who built the thing—I do not know—but my hon. Friend is right that the company cannot emblazon the outside of the stadium with advertising logos. If it had wanted to do that, it could have applied to be a tier 1 sponsor, and it has not done so. I guess that is because it thinks the building speaks for itself, and having watched it appear from start to finish, I have to say that it does.
Any more takers for interventions? Then I will get back to the 2006 Act and the Bill. This amendment Bill addresses three main matters: advertising and trading, ticket touting and the enforcement of traffic management regulations. Regulating advertising and trading near Olympic and Paralympic games venues is a requirement of hosting the games in the host nation contract. Parliament recognised during the passage of the 2006 Act that tailored provision was needed for the games, both to act as a stronger deterrent to ambush marketing and illegal trading and because existing powers alone were not adequate for such a major event.
The 2006 Act set out the broad framework for regulations that would provide the details. We need those regulations not only to fulfil the guarantees given to the IOC as part of the bid but to protect public space, so that spectators can access venues and we can maintain a celebratory atmosphere around the games. Following the ODA’s general notice about the regulations in June 2009 under the previous Administration, my Department launched a consultation on the proposed draft regulations on 7 March. The regulations will be reconsidered in light of the responses to the consultation before being laid in Parliament in draft and subject to the affirmative procedure later this year.
However, the 2006 Act provides the ODA and the police with powers to enforce the regulations, including the power to seize articles that are used to contravene them. We want to amend the Act to provide that any article seized by either ODA enforcement officers or the police is dealt with by the ODA instead of the police. The effect of that change will be that during the games, police time will not be spent filing and dealing with seized property. I hope that everybody can see the sense of that—the police will have better things to do. Instead, officers designated by the ODA, who are likely to be enforcement officers from local authorities who are familiar with dealing with street trading and advertising offences under existing law, will deal with breaches of advertising and trading regulations and handle any articles that are seized. Protection, and I hope a sense of proportionality, will be assured by the fact that the ODA is a statutory corporation established by the 2006 Act and, crucially, is subject to the direction of the Secretary of State.
Can my hon. Friend tell the House the extent to which the ODA will have control? Olympic venues are not confined to east London. They cover the whole of London, and Olympic football events will be held all over the country and the sailing will be down in Weymouth. Where will the ODA limits apply, and what will happen to people who cross those boundaries?
My hon. Friend asks a very good question. The key thing in dealing with people in that respect is applying a sense of proportionality. The regulations are designed to address big, corporate ambush marketing stunts, not individuals who through some error, act of omission or forgetfulness, or otherwise through no fault of their own, take the wrong thing into a venue. They will simply be asked to hand that over, as is normal.
Any venue that is an Olympic venue will be affected—effectively, there is a curtain around every venue, meaning not just the park, but anywhere that an Olympic event takes place. All football stadiums used for the football competition are covered. Outside London, the venues for sailing at Weymouth, for rowing at Eton Dorney, and for white water rafting at Broxbourne, and the mountain biking venue, are covered. If that is a pub quiz question, I think I have got the lot.
I apologise if I did not make that clear. The enforcement officers will, if possible, be drawn from local authorities precisely because those people have the expertise. We are in the process of working out the full costs of that as part of the consultation.
Local authorities are having their budgets slashed by this Government. Will the Minister therefore make the argument for additional money to be given to the affected authorities because of the additional costs that they will incur in implementing this measure?
Provision has been made in the budget for extra support to be given to local authorities for a variety of services—the Mayor has control of that budget and the local authorities affected are happy with the settlement, which may surprise the hon. Gentleman. There is contingency funding precisely for any large bills. If a case is made, and if we think there is real hardship, we could look at using that.
There is a distinction between the costs that the hon. Gentleman originally asked about—the costs for enforcement officers—and more general costs. Some of those general costs are covered by the extra funding made available, but others are not, precisely because local authorities knew what they were getting themselves into when they made bids for those events. They knew what the likely cost would be at the bidding stage. It would be ridiculous for anyone who made a bid, for example, for the Olympic sailing event, to say that they did not know that there would be some associated security costs.
Will the Minister clarify the situation in respect of powers of seizure over individuals, rather than powers to deal with corporations? Essentially, is the ODA stepping into the shoes of local authority enforcement departments, or will it use powers other than those that would be exercised by a local council officer?
The answer to that is, “Not quite.” The powers would normally be exercised by the police. Obviously, because of the considerable security obligations on the police at the time of the games, which my hon. Friend will understand, we have decided in the Bill to pass responsibility for enforcement officers to the ODA. The ODA will use only trained people who understand what they are doing and who will act proportionately. The suggestion is that those people are most likely to come from local authorities, which have such enforcement officers anyway. They have the necessary expertise and—I hope—sense of proportionality to carry out those functions satisfactorily.
The Minister spoke of the ODA being the enforcing authority in respect of ambush marketing, but then spoke of the venues. However, the ODA controls the venues, so it would not need the power to enforce. There is therefore an inherent exclusion zone around the venues. How big is the exclusion zone in which the ODA protects against ambush marketing?
If I understand my hon. Friend correctly—he can ask again if I do not answer him—the venues are not controlled by the ODA. The ODA hands the venues over to the London organising committee as part of the preamble to the games. At the time of the games, there is a clean area around each of the venues, for all the reasons we have discussed. If there are any contraventions of the advertising regulations in those clean areas, the enforcement officers come into play.
Infringing articles seized will be dealt with in accordance with clause 1, which sets out rules on how long articles can be held, when they must be returned, and conditions that must be met before they may be disposed of. Clause 2 will introduce a quicker procedure for making any amending advertising and trading regulations. The first and hopefully final set are out for consultation now.
Finally, the 2006 Act does not give us the ability to amend the regulations quickly once they have been made, but requires the ODA to give lengthy notice of any regulations at specified times before they come into effect, and provides that they must be laid in draft and approved by Parliament before being made. Effectively, that means that we are unable to alter the regulations in exceptional circumstances, for example if a games venue or road event changes at the last minute for security or other reasons. To resolve that, we propose to change the procedure used for any amending regulations under the 2006 Act to the faster, negative resolution procedure. The procedure for the principal regulations will remain as it is now.
On ticket touting, the games will be the largest sporting event this country has ever staged, with around 11 million tickets on sale. Unfortunately, ticket touts may seek to exploit the opportunities that that presents to profit at the expense of genuine sports fans. That is why the 2006 Act made the touting of games tickets, by which I mean selling or offering to sell tickets in public or in the course of business other than with LOCOG consent, an offence that attracts a maximum fine of £5,000.
The Bill contains a provision that will increase the maximum penalty for touting of Olympic and Paralympic tickets from a fine of £5,000 to a fine of £20,000. That increase is driven by the support of the Metropolitan police as a way of providing a more effective deterrent to the touting of Olympic and Paralympic tickets. In effect, it means that the police have recognised the threat of organised crime, rather than individual ticket touts, to the London Olympics. In doing that, we are not criminalising any new conduct; we are simply increasing the maximum penalty available to the courts in response to the obvious threat that touting poses to the games and to the UK’s reputation.
Visitors will come to the Olympics and Paralympics from all over the world, and we want to encourage them to do so. We would not want their visit, or their memories of the experience, tarnished by being confronted by strings of ticket touts, as has happened at some previous games. We intend to make the disincentive very strong and want to send a clear signal to touts that their activities will not be tolerated.
I should emphasise that this measure is aimed squarely at touts. Nothing in the law at present, or as a result of this change, prevents those who have games tickets from selling them at face value to family and friends. LOCOG will also run an official ticket exchange—this answers a point that was made earlier—so that people who find that they can no longer use tickets that they have bought legitimately can dispose of them.
Therefore, the law-abiding public have absolutely nothing to fear from this measure. The people who will—I hope—think twice are people and organised gangs who might be tempted to engage in touting and whose threat has been identified by the police. They should get the very clear message that the Government and the police take this matter seriously, and that the financial penalties for this conduct are severe, and indeed sufficiently severe to disincentivise them.
This is a key issue for the large numbers of people who have purchased tickets in the proper way. During my search for tickets—I hope I am successful in the ballot—I noted that a large number of unofficial websites are attempting to market tickets in advance of anyone receiving them. Clearly, they will seek tickets from those who are successful in the ballot. What action can be taken against those organisations and companies and to get those sites removed from the web?
Two things come to mind. During my time as a Minister, I have become aware that some of these sites encourage people to subscribe even though they do not have any tickets at all and the whole thing is a blatant con trick. I recall the tragic case of some New Zealanders who came over for a rugby match at Cardiff Arms park on the basis of a set of tickets from one such website. It was a complete sham, but they had travelled all the way over here and gone to pick up their tickets, only to find there was nothing there. The point about the Bill is that it will enable us to take more effective action. A disincentive of £20,000 to someone perpetrating large-scale commercial ticketing fraud is likely to be much more effective than a disincentive of £5,000.
I apologise for missing the beginning of the Minister’s speech, but this is the issue on which I want to ask a question. Can I assume that when the allocation of tickets by ballot is made—and I am one of many hoping to be lucky—the data on who has been allocated tickets, especially large numbers of tickets, will not be made publicly accessible, in order to prevent the abuses that he and others have mentioned? There is a chance that—as with the telephone hacking—people could obtain that information and start illegally reselling tickets. Some assurance about the security of the process would be helpful.
I can absolutely give my right hon. Friend those assurances. The firm conducting the ticketing operation was selected precisely because it was able to give those assurances. Nobody wants any breach of security, and the ticketing process has several features—although I do not want to go into details—that will make it extremely difficult for people to operate in that fashion.
May I press the Minister on the illegal use of the internet? Although some sites may have been closed down, I expect that 10 times as many opened up the next day. What specific measures have been taken and what publicity is planned to ensure that what happened to the New Zealanders does not happen to other people coming to this country?
The short answer is that that is what the Bill is intended to do. The advice from the police is that there is a threat that organised gangs will target the London Olympics precisely because they will be such a prestigious global event. It is that threat that warrants the increase in the fine from £5,000 to £20,000. That threat has been identified in a way that was not apparent when the original Act was passed, and the advice is that a much meatier fine is required to address it.
A key issue for the games is the effective movement of the games family to and from venues. Before Members seek to intervene, I should point out that that does not mean the IOC; it means the athletes and the officials who need to get to the events. At the risk of going back to the pub quiz, the Atlanta games in 1996 had a significant problem with athletes and officials being able to get to events on time. We can imagine the frustration of any young man or woman who has trained for some 20 years to reach this seminal athletic moment, but cannot get there in time because of a traffic jam because the host city cannot shift people around the city to order. The 2006 Act allowed for the creation and enforcement of traffic management measures specifically for the games to enable their smooth running and to deliver journey time commitments made to the IOC on the movement of athletes and other games family members.
These included powers to create an Olympic route network, and I am grateful for the work done by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) when he was a Minister to enable the ODA and local traffic authorities to make traffic regulation orders for defined Olympics purposes, and for the ODA to set levels of penalty charges, in accordance with guidelines and subject to consultation and approval. The Act also relaxed, for London Olympic events, the restrictions on the making of special event traffic orders.
The A31, which is the main route to the Weymouth venue, has a bottleneck at the Canford Bottom roundabout. The Highways Agency proposes to replace the roundabout with what is described as a hamburger junction. Can my hon. Friend assure me that that work is not time-sensitive to the Olympics, given the powers to which he has referred? At the moment, the Highways Agency proposes to go ahead without proper consultation on this sensitive issue which could waste a lot of taxpayers’ money.
After some six years with this brief, I thought that I had come across almost everything, but the Canford Bottom roundabout and the hamburger junction are new to me. I would be interested to learn whether the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood is an expert on either of those issues. The best thing would be for my hon. Friend to write to me and, with the Department for Transport, I will try to provide him with an answer.
With all due respect, my hon. Friend has been in Parliament long enough to know that other Ministers cannot jump into debates and I will stick by the commitment I have just made. Everybody knows that the traffic issues in and around Weymouth are testing, to put it mildly, and if my hon. Friend writes to me, I will make sure that he gets an answer.
I thank the Minister for his kind words. When we launched the Olympic network consultation some years ago, there was general acceptance by the public—apart from an outcry in the Evening Standard, which was quickly contained—that athletes and officials need to be assured that they can be where they need to be. The only concern was the potential for abuse by those who think that they are more important than they are. Can the Minister reassure us that only those who are entitled to priority through traffic management will get it?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention and for the initial work he did on this issue. I can give him that absolute assurance. In the early days of the Committee on the original Bill there was a lot of talk about Zil lanes for plutocrats and other such things. The message has now got through that this is a necessary measure to ensure that we can deliver athletes and officials to events on time so that they can take part in the games. I am about to come to the necessary enforcement measures, which were due to be in traffic legislation that never made it on to the statute book. We thought that this would happen in 2006, but it did not and it is now being tightened up as part of this Bill.
As with the Bill’s other provisions, since 2006 further detailed planning has been undertaken and further information has become available, leading to a number of technical amendments that are needed to ensure that the intentions of the 2006 Act can be properly implemented. The first of these, in clause 4, will expand the power conferred on the ODA and traffic authorities by the 2006 Act to make temporary traffic regulation orders at short notice for Olympic purposes, as set out in the 2006 Act, by removing the usual requirement to make such orders for immediate changes to traffic, especially for Olympic purposes. On the point made by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse, clause 5 will allow for civil enforcement in relation to contraventions of those notices, and will clarify the provisions allowing the ODA to set the levels of charges, including penalty charges, for the enforcement of orders made for Olympic purposes both within Greater London and outside.
No final decision has been taken, but I can assure my hon. Friend—if this is what is worrying him—that it will be proportionate. There is quite a large ceiling in the 2006 Act. It is fair to say that this point caused us some concern back in 2006 on a cross-party basis. The application of charges will be proportionate. I think that this clause was called the granny clause, because nobody wants a little old lady straying briefly into one of these lanes by mistake and then getting hammered by an enormous fine.
One of the principal concerns of residents in my constituency is that the whole of Harrow and Brent could be turned into a very large car park for the duration of the games, with people coming from outside London, from the north and north-west, parking their cars and getting on the Jubilee line to Stratford. What regulations is the Minister proposing to allow the local councils to implement appropriate parking controls to prevent that from happening?
No such provisions are proposed in the Bill. I could see that being quite a controversial power to grant. It is a matter for the local authority, and if it thinks that there is such a threat, it should take action. However, I hope that I can put my hon. Friend’s mind at ease by saying simply that the central tenet of the transport ban is that these are public transport games, and that the connectivity to the Olympics site is now fantastic, either via the Javelin train at King’s Cross—the area most likely to see the problem he mentioned—or through the upgrades to the tube lines. As I said, however, we suspect that the vast majority of visitors from outside London will probably come in to King’s Cross St Pancras and transfer on to the Javelin train. One can get to Stratford in seven minutes from there. I thus hope that the availability of public transport, and the ticketing system itself, will ensure that that problem does not occur.
If my hon. Friend came to Stanmore and Queensbury when Wembley station was in operation, he would find that all the residential streets are jam-packed—people come off the M1, park as soon as they can, and get on the Jubilee line to go to the stadium. The suspicion is that that is precisely what will happen for the duration of the games. At the moment, the local authority in Harrow has failed to take any action, and I am concerned about whether the Bill gives any special powers to enable the local authority to act for the duration of the games, rather than having to impose draconian measures for longer .
There is no such measure in the Bill. I would need to take the advice of the drafting clerks, but my hon. Friend is putting before me a general problem that arises when there are large-scale sporting events. I am not sure, therefore, that it would not fall outside the scope of a Bill that is purely for the Olympics. All we could do with the Bill—and I am not even sure we could—would be to provide measures for the period of the Olympics and Paralympic games afterwards. What he raises sounds like a more general problem driven by sporting events at Wembley stadium and elsewhere. If the problem is worrying local residents—I presume he would not have raised the matter otherwise—it is for the local authority to take action.
On the general point about the extent of the Olympic route network, especially the alternative network, which includes the north circular in my constituency, can the Minister confirm what traffic impact studies have been undertaken? Obviously, a commitment has been given to suspend all roadworks on the network, but what about in the neighbouring areas? If there is a problem and traffic is diverted, we need to ensure that the surrounding streets can cope with that diverted traffic, so we need measures to ensure that all roadworks in the area are suspended.
I can confirm that part of the commitment on the Olympic route network is that there will be no roadworks on that network. It would be slightly self-defeating otherwise. However, the Mayor, with whom we have discussed the matter at great length—we also discussed it with his predecessor—is aware that London’s reputation hinges on keeping the city moving during this very busy period, when the eyes of the world will be upon us. Everybody involved knows that a logjam would have serious national implications, so roadworks will be suspended on the ORN and, I hope, in the areas around it.
I seek some reassurance. While we are on the question of reputations and the Jubilee line, will the Minister have a quick word with his former hon. Friend the Mayor of London and ask him to get a grip? The Jubilee line’s reputation at the moment will be a huge disincentive for anybody thinking about using it to get to Stratford. It is a really important artery, but its reputation is suffering more and more each week.
I can absolutely give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. I know that the Mayor has for obvious reasons made the smooth running of the Jubilee line during the Olympics one of his top priorities. We are aware of the need to ensure that it runs efficiently.
Clause 7 makes the necessary provision for civil enforcement in relation to moving-traffic contraventions—for example, banned U-turns and no-entry routes—in Greater London, including the procedure for setting penalty charge levels for such contraventions. This provision is needed because the 2006 Act was drafted on the assumption that the moving-traffic parts of the Traffic Management Act 2004, to which the 2006 Act refers, would be implemented in time for the games. That has not happened, however, so we have introduced the clause to fill the gap.
Clause 8 makes the necessary provision for civil enforcement in relation to moving-traffic contraventions outside Greater London on bus lanes, the definition of which will include “games lanes” on the ORN. Again, this includes the procedure for setting penalty charge levels for such contraventions. As with clause 7, this provision is needed to fill the gap that would otherwise be left by the non-implementation of the moving-traffic parts of the 2004 Act. Finally, clause 6 addresses the current limitations on the special event powers in section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation (Special Events) Act 1984. Although all these were relaxed to some extent by the 2006 Act to allow for road closures for London Olympic events, this clause further relaxes them to enable other types of restrictions to be imposed by an order under section 16A of the 1984 Act, such as parking controls or one-way streets. Clause 6 also allows for civil enforcement in relation to the contravention of such orders. There will be events during the games where the special event powers are usually used, such as for the marathon, and using familiar powers will make the process run more smoothly. That is important.
In conclusion, I began by saying that the enormous progress made in preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic games is a cause for national celebration.
I apologise for intervening during the Minister’s conclusion, but I wanted to catch him before he sat down. Will he say something about the public disagreement over funding between the British Olympic Association and LOCOG? I suspect he hoped that this would not come up, but it was a surprise to many of us that it had not been resolved. If there is surplus money to made out of the games, why is it not going back to the taxpayers, in particular the council tax payers of London who are paying more than the rest of the country?
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention—I nearly got through, didn’t I? I am glad to say that the dispute between the British Olympic Association and LOCOG, which was covered extensively in the media, has now been resolved. If there is any profit from the games, it will be divided by a formula that is set out in the host nation contract, which means that 20% goes to the International Olympic Committee, 20% goes to the national Olympics committee—in our case the BOA—and 60% is invested in community sport.
I started doing this job in opposition in 2004, and it is fair to say that in nearly six years on the beat I have not seen a single budget forecast for the games that produces an outrun profit. Without revealing too much of the inner workings of the Olympics budget, I fear that the worry has been on the other side of the equation—that we might not be able to balance the thing. That is now not an issue; the budget is balanced and will work well. At one stage I thought that the whole dispute was a slightly arcane argument about a minor part of the contract and a profit that will most likely not exist, so I was slightly perplexed as to why it had become such a big issue. Frankly, I think that it became a big issue because there was so little else to write about, as the construction and the organisation of the games were otherwise in such good shape. I am delighted that the thing has now been resolved and that we can all concentrate on rather more sensible matters.
As I also said at the beginning, the increasingly refined planning work that is now being carried out had identified a small number of technical issues that needed to be addressed to ensure that the legislation passed in 2006 worked as intended. It is also my intention—an intention that will be shared across this House—that the enforcement of the measures in the Bill and the 2006 Act will be sensible and proportionate. The issues that the Bill seeks to resolve are minor and technical, but they are also essential to providing the building blocks that will underpin a truly memorable games-time experience. On that basis I commend the Bill to the House.
Let me begin by saying that the Opposition are delighted to support the legislation. I thank the Minister and his officials for the opportunity to be briefed ahead of this debate. As he clearly indicated, the provisions in the Bill will allow us to discharge the obligations that we undertook when, five years ago in Singapore, we won the right to host the Olympic games. I also welcome, as he did, the extent to which we have managed to maintain the contract for cross-party support for the Olympic games. For eight of the 10 years of this project I had the privilege of being the Minister with whom the buck stopped. It is not often in government that one is dealing with a project one knows will extend beyond a general election, and which therefore must be beyond the interests of the governing parties at the time, and held in trust for the people of this country. The Olympics are one such project.
Let me turn briefly to the provisions in the Bill, which the Minister dealt with in considerable detail. The Bill builds on the 2006 Act, which was passed by the Government of whom I was part, updating and refining that legislation in light of operational understanding based on the enormously impressive planning, modelling and further consultation that has taken place since. The Bill updates the legislation in relation to advertising and trading regulations—crucial for public confidence—increases the maximum penalty for ticket touting, and deals with the management and enforcement of the Olympic route network and the additional traffic flows that the Olympics will create. This legislation represents another piece in the overall jigsaw of a multitude of measures that have been put in place to address the complexity of the logistical planning for the event and the degree of discipline required for operational delivery.
As we know, the Olympic park was the largest public sector building project in the whole of Europe. In its success lie many of the tests that should be applied to future developments on such a scale. However, even at this stage, before the park is finally complete, we can have growing confidence that it is a statement about the confidence and competence of UK plc. I pay tribute, as the Minister did, to the leadership of the Olympic Delivery Authority, and in particular to John Armitt and David Higgins. Their partnership needs to be remembered for many years to come, as they are the people who made these Olympic games possible. I would also like to include all the staff of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is, quite frankly, the best public service organisation that I have ever had the privilege to work with. Every single member of staff should take credit for that. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to those who were my officials—they are now the Minister’s officials—in the Government Olympic Executive. They have done an outstanding and professional job in dealing with some of the difficult issues with the LOCOG budget and in maintaining both budgetary control across government and logistical consistency.
There is still some time to go, so this is not a moment for over-congratulation on the achievement, but we can take satisfaction from the extent to which the UK Government, working with their partner agencies, have done a reasonably good job of confounding the chorus of scepticism that usually accompanies such major projects. Just to recap on progress, as the Minister said, this great project—the biggest and most complex construction project in Europe—is, at this point, on time and under budget. The building work across the park is almost complete. Two or three weeks ago the final piece of turf was laid in the field of play in the Olympic stadium. I will return to this point, but I believe that the final sod came from Scunthorpe—a powerful statement about how the whole of the UK has contributed to the effort in the Olympic park.
At the end of July the Olympic Delivery Authority will hand over the stadium, the aquatic centre, the handball and basketball arenas, the international broadcasting centre and the main press centre. The white water park at Lee valley is now complete, and the work at Stratford station will also be completed. The anticipated final cost of the construction and development of the park now stands at £7.3 billion, with around £500 million of contingency available. However, another tribute to John Armitt and David Higgins is the fact that something like £780 million of savings have been made.
I should also like to refer to the importance of sustainability in the park, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) has made many speeches in the House. When I last visited the park, I realised that the wetland area looked just as it did on the PowerPoint presentations that I used to make five or six years ago. That is a measure of just how professionally this project has been realised. Trees have been planted that were indigenous to the lower Lea valley 200 years ago.
I would also like to remind the House that once the games are over, more than 2,000 great crested newts will be repatriated from the sanctuary further up the Lea valley that they have been given during the construction process. I am not sure whether that fact will become an issue in the forthcoming mayoral contest, but there will be a post-games moment of celebration with the newts’ homecoming.
The passion of our former hon. Friend, the former Member for Brent, East and former Mayor of London, for newts and many other great issues relating to London is well known.
One of the disciplines that has shaped the Olympic project has been confounding what would otherwise have been inevitable. This shows the importance of the Government working with the private sector and other agencies, because it is only the Government who can turn the tide in relation to those inevitabilities. The first example is the importance of bringing benefit not only to London but to the whole of the United Kingdom. A report that I commissioned showed that, had we done nothing to diffuse the benefits around the UK, the disproportionate benefit through displacement from other parts of the country would have been in the region of £4 billion. That would not have been new growth, but displacement to London, with a net additional growth benefit to London. It was because of that that, in the early stages of letting some 1,000 contracts, members of the Olympic Delivery Authority and many of us who are here today toured the country beating the drum to raise awareness of the need to bid for Olympic projects.
There was a considerable degree of success. To illustrate that point, the basketball arena—the largest temporary structure ever built—was constructed by a firm in Glasgow; Neath provided the steel for the aquatic centre, which will probably be the iconic symbol of our Olympic park; Bolton provided the steel for the Olympic stadium; Doncaster provided the steel cabling for the roof of the stadium; and the turf came from Scunthorpe. So 1,000 companies around the country, two thirds of them small and medium-sized businesses, won contracts to help to build the Olympic park and the Olympic village, with hundreds more involved in the supply chain.
I shall now turn to the second “inevitability”. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) is a passionate advocate of the benefits for the people who live in the five Olympic boroughs, including her own constituents in Newham. There was a great fear that the Olympics would be an oasis that had very little relation to the five boroughs, and that the opportunities provided by the games—not only the construction process and the availability of jobs, but also the legacy—would simply pass the communities of the east end by. We are still to be judged on how far we have succeeded in that regard. The risk of falling behind the expectations of local people in east London must be a continuing spur to us all to ensure that those expectations are realised.
By the time the park is complete 30,000 people will have worked in it, 20% of whom will be residents of the six host Olympic boroughs, including Barking and Dagenham. That is well above the original target of 10% to 15%, but we must always believe that we can go further. Local people will have access to more than a third of the apprenticeships, and will be well placed to qualify for the more than 50,000 jobs that will be created in the area once the commercial development is complete. New homes will be built, and Stratford City—the UK’s largest retail centre—will be open in 2011.
For those who are sceptical about regeneration, it is worth placing on record the fact that half the original investment in the Westfield centre has now been recovered through the part-sale of the asset by Westfield to a pension fund and other investors. That is regeneration in action. That is what east London needs, but it would not have got it if we had not won the right to host the Olympic games. The Minister talked about engaging the rest of the country. We have seen the enthusiasm for tickets, and it is important that we recruit volunteers from around the country and that the regional benefits of the games are widely enjoyed.
We are pleased to see that the Bill’s provisions on advertising and trading during the games are pragmatic and reasonable. It is also sensible to reduce the burdens likely to fall on the police during the period, particularly given the pressures that they will have to cope with as a result of the cuts in their numbers in 2012. The provisions in the Bill are only a small part of the overall proposals on advertising and trading, many of which are being dealt with through secondary legislation and consulted on at the moment. I am confident that the Government are doing what is necessary to ensure that the regulations are appropriate, allowing the majority of businesses to continue to operate as normal and allowing freedom of movement for people coming to the games. We welcome the proposal to raise the maximum penalty for ticket touting at the Olympics from £5,000 to £20,000. The fact that tickets for the opening ceremony in Beijing were on sale at five times their face price provides all the persuasive evidence that we need that this provision is important.
We will obviously seek to probe further in Committee into the application of the provisions. The key determinant of whether they will be seen as draconian and disproportionate, or appropriate for facilitating the smooth running of the games, will be the way in which they are applied in practice. When the Bill comes to Committee we might give further consideration to how the non-legislative aspect of the application of these powers can be achieved.
We know, of course, about the controversy associated with the Olympic route network, and we have all made it clear that this is a prerequisite of becoming a host city. The choice of whether to have it is not one available to us—a point of which the people of London need constant reminding. Those people also need to be persuaded by the evidence of the reasonable way in which this will be policed.
When the Minister winds up the debate, will he consider whether the final approval of the violation charges for abuse of the Olympic route network should lie not with the Secretary of State but with the Mayor of London, which would be more directly consistent with the Mayor’s other powers? The potential fines might be controversial across London and for Londoners, so it is right for the elected Mayor of London to have a say over the level at which the charges are set.
In just 456 days, Britain will host the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic games. Already in the Minister’s speech and in the interventions we have heard so far, representations have been made for those in our country who should enjoy special consideration. I think everybody will want to see that special consideration, whether it be to injured members of the armed forces or others, properly respected. I hope the House will also acknowledge the close anniversaries of winning the right to host the Olympic games and the terrorist bombings on London, which followed the day after our great success in Singapore. I hope there will be a place to recognise and honour the victims of 7/7 and those whose lives were changed for ever.
In 456 days’ time, 4 billion people will turn on to watch the opening ceremony in the Olympic stadium in east London, and we will have the chance of a lifetime to demonstrate what it is about our great city of which we are so proud, as well as our competence and our capability to deliver for the people of this country and visitors from around the world the largest peacetime logistical operation. I believe that we can have every confidence in looking forward to that. Perhaps the most important way of maintaining that confidence is to maintain a degree of humility at the privilege bestowed on us and at the responsibility we have on behalf of the international Olympic movement. We should remember that, in doing this, we are helping to honour the dreams and ambitions activated by the prospect of the Olympic games for every single citizen across our country.
As a London Member of Parliament, as a mad sports fan and, indeed, as an owner and friend of newts—they cropped up in the previous speech, and they are not a monopoly interest of the previous Mayor—I am delighted to take part in this Second Reading debate. In acknowledging the commitment of previous Ministers in bringing the Olympics to London, I would particularly like to pay tribute to the present Minister for Sport and the Olympics, who told us in his opening speech of being six years on the beat. He is certainly a reassuring presence as he helps to guide us through the preparations for the Olympics.
Earlier this week, I got into the mood and experienced the emotions associated with the Olympics. I experienced frustration, anxiety, disappointment and then a final adrenalin push as I wanted to get to the end of the line before time ran out. Obviously, I am referring to applying for my tickets to attend the Olympics. We shall get a taste of national celebration tomorrow with the royal wedding, and we look forward to the Olympics when we will again have the opportunity to raise this country’s flag and be proud of what we can produce.
Next year’s Olympics and Paralympics will provide a great opportunity for the people of London and of this country to celebrate sportsmanship and sporting excellence—sportsmanship of which, sadly, we saw too little evidence in last night's champions league semi-final. The dedication and focus of athletes from across the world will set a fantastic example to young people. The investment that this Government and the previous Government have put into new facilities across the country will revive interest in fitness and games at every ability level and inspire the next generation of sportsmen and women, as well as promote a generation of more physically active people. In my neighbouring constituency of Broxbourne, the Lee Valley white water rafting centre is already open to the public, in advance of what will prove to be an excellent facility for canoeing and kayaking.
Furthermore, 2012 will provide an opportunity to celebrate Britain, our culture and our values. As we welcome thousands of visitors to London, we have an opportunity to showcase what it means to be a free country, which can ensure that an event of great size runs smoothly, successfully and enjoyably—without resorting to overbearing methods or controls. The world is watching, British taxpayers are watching and London council tax payers are certainly watching, and we must make certain that all those who support the Olympics can be proud not only of the performance of team GB, but of the manner in which the games are held and our infrastructure copes.
There are real challenges to achieving that. Some will seek to sell tickets illegally, as has already been mentioned, or fob people off with fakes, thereby cheating fans and supporters out of their money and tarring the spirit of the games. Some may try to advertise around Olympic grounds and spaces in a way that unfairly and misleadingly associates their products with the games, tricking those who view them into thinking that the companies or individuals involved are sponsoring or are officially endorsed by athletes or the Olympic games. We saw an example of that at the recent World cup, when orange-clad women were advertising the beverage that they wanted to push. Such ambush advertising is unfair not only on consumers, but on those who have donated and contributed towards the holding of the events that we will be able to experience and enjoy next year. We can look at the criticism of monopoly branding, but we should recognise the immense financial impact of the games—as the Minister said, £700 million is no mean amount of money, which has helped to reduce the burden on taxpayers.
Those representing London constituencies—I see several of my hon. Friends in their places—will be especially aware of the need to ensure careful planning and flexible powers, so that the sheer size and scale of both the Olympics and our city do not interfere with our commitment to provide accessible sites and quick transport links to and from Olympic venues. This needs to be done proportionately, without inhibiting the free flow of normal business in and around London.
The Bill will help to ensure that our 2012 celebrations will be unmitigated by those challenges in a way that is simple, efficient, targeted, transparent and affordable. The Bill contains simple solutions such as increasing the maximum fine for the unauthorised sale of tickets from £5,000 to £20,000—a serious deterrent to those who would take advantage of other people’s enthusiasm for the games—without creating any new offence or a complicated set of procedures. The Bill will give the responsibility for dealing with property confiscated under advertising and trading regulations to the Olympic Delivery Authority enforcement officers, allowing them to make use of powers and procedures tailored for the period covering the Olympics, removing an unnecessary burden from the shoulders of the police.
The key principle, as has already been mentioned, is proportionality, particularly with respect to clause 1, which concerns the removal of infringing articles. As we know all too well, labels are part and parcel of the everyday lives of young people in particular, and the labels on their clothes and the bags that they carry around might technically fall into the classification of infringement. I hope that the Minister will reassure us that proportionality will be applied. I am not talking about planned and organised ambush advertising in contravention of the rules; I am talking about inadvertent advertising by people who attend the games with labels all over their bodies and the articles that they are carrying.
When I referred to proportionality, I did not mean just that officials should not seek to prosecute such people—indeed, we would not expect them to do so—but that the games should not get off to a bad start with the confiscation of articles. For instance, a young person might be carrying the latest man bag with a label emblazoned on it. We should bear in mind that, while it may be appropriate in some respects for local authorities to carry out the task of enforcement, they are, sadly, sometimes guilty of over-zealous application of new powers.
Obviously I explained the position very badly in my speech. Not all enforcement officers will come from local authorities. The ODA will naturally look to them when recruiting officers, because they have some expertise, but anyone who is suitably qualified can do the job. As for the point made by the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), who is not in the Chamber at the moment, I have been told that under the contract that will be in force, local authorities will be reimbursed for the cost of losing officials if they are selected to act as enforcement officers.
I am grateful for that clarification. Certainly all available expertise should be used, but I hope that there will be proper and clear guidance so that the public are aware of the application of those powers in advance, and can be reassured that we mean it when we speak of proportionality. I am thinking particularly of the seizure of articles to prevent future contravention of the rules. We do not want people to lose their possessions through inadvertent contravention because they did not know the rules. Common sense must be applied.
The measures in the Bill are efficient. They allow the ODA to make decisions quickly about traffic control, and enable ODA officers to respond speedily to any emergencies that require unplanned traffic control and road closures. I am sure that all Members welcome those powers, which will free up the police to focus on protecting the public and preventing serious crime. We are all aware of the extra risk of human trafficking and terrorism posed by the games.
The measures are also properly targeted. They will facilitate flexible application and enforcement of traffic control and advertising notices in specific, well defined areas, tailoring the force of notices to the times when those areas are being used for Olympic events. The north circular road runs through my constituency, and it is renowned for being viewed at a very slow pace by people sitting in traffic jams. I am pleased that the improvements introduced by the Mayor will be in place and that the roadworks will have been sorted out in good time for the Olympics. However, the north circular has a direct impact on my constituents and people in neighbouring constituencies, and although the improvements have helped road safety, it has been acknowledged that they will do little to deal with current congestion, let alone the additional impact of the Olympics. It is important for the traffic management orders to be dealt with proportionately and carefully to minimise the impact on my constituents and others in the area.
Crucially, the Bill will make the procedures surrounding the Olympics more transparent. The rules governing the way in which seized property will be treated, and how and when it will be returned or disposed of, are set out in detail in new sections 31A to 31E. I welcome that transparency, but I feel it should be taken further. Guidance should make clear to those who may consider advertising, trading or using their vehicles in a way that ignores the Olympic notices what penalties they can expect and how their cases will be treated.
At a time where we are making necessary cuts in expenditure to revive our economy and make it secure, the House should note that the amendments in the Bill are affordable. The ODA has estimated that it will incur only an additional £22,000 in costs by taking responsibility for confiscated property, a move that will save the police considerably more money. The loss of business revenue expected from the provision of amended advertising regulations along the games road race route is expected to be no more than £15,400, which is a small price to pay for the maintaining and enhancement of the integrity and success of our Olympic and Paralympic games.
This is a common-sense Bill which responds practically to the challenges that accompany the privilege of hosting the games. It does small things to ensure that the big and positive effects of the games—economic, social and sporting—are unhindered. It will, I believe, protect the interests of the many people who want to enjoy the games without losing time and money to those who seek to take advantage of what will rightly be a national celebration, surpassing even tomorrow’s national celebration to become the greatest show on earth.
This is not my first speech on the Olympics. I remember being in the House on the day that London won the Olympic bid, and describing my pride in the fact that it had been chosen and my excitement at being the Member of Parliament representing the area where the Olympic park would be based. Just in case any Government Members imagine that the Olympic park is an MP-free zone, let me state emphatically that it is not.
I am not sure whether any Members who are in the Chamber today have visited the Olympic site, but I agree entirely with what the Minister said earlier: the progress that has been made in turning what was effectively an industrial wasteland unto a beautiful park has been amazing. I am not the type of woman to wax lyrical about beautiful buildings, but I must say that I have become quite misty-eyed when looking at the buildings that we have managed to produce in the Olympic park. If Members have not been there, I urge them to go. It really is rather beautiful.
Before I deal with the provisions in the Bill, let me, as the local Member of Parliament, put the debate in context by speaking of the communities who will be most affected by the games, and who were promised when we placed the bid that they would benefit from them. I will not go into a long and detailed explanation or a statistical analysis of the poverty in London—a London which, despite City bonuses and high incomes, is also a place of real economic deprivation and hardship—but we should bear it in mind that the Olympic park is sited in the fourth poorest part of London, next door to Hackney and Tower Hamlets, which are respectively the poorest and second poorest parts.
The bid for the games was predicated on the leaving of an important legacy for my constituents and those of my hon. Friends representing east and south-east London constituencies. The bid document stated:
“By staging the Games in this part of the city, the most enduring legacy of the Olympics 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 I did not and still do not believe that it is unachievable. The games present us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real and positive difference to an entire community in what is arguably the poorest area in the country. It is for that reason that the Olympic and Paralympic games must not be simply 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 much money and not achieve a lasting and positive legacy would be obscene. In years to come, the success of the 2012 games will be judged in two ways. It will be judged by the people’s experiences of the games during the fortnight—the warmth of our welcome, the quality of the competition, the slickness of our organisation, and the sheer excitement of the moment as we cheer our Olympic hopefuls to victory. Most importantly however, especially in the east of London, the games will be judged by what they leave behind—by whether or not they have managed to kick-start a sustained regeneration and renewal of that part of the poorest area of the country. The test applied by local people will be how many new homes and jobs have been created, and how much prosperity has been generated.
We made some big promises on those matters to the International Olympic Committee; indeed, many say the ambitious vision we offered for the future was what led to our winning the bid. We made equally big promises to the people of east London about what it would be like to host the Olympics and what the long-term benefits would be, and we now need to make sure we fulfil those commitments.
The people of the east end, including the people of my constituency, talk to me about how excited they still are at the prospect of the games coming—and they are excited. Young children have been engaged rather well in the process of putting on the games. Children at schools in my constituency have come along to watch the building process as it happens, and they feel part of it. That excitement is still with the local people I represent—and, fortunately, local polling evidence supports that too. I must tell the Minister, however, that there is still a slight feeling of unease in the constituency. People are becoming worried that the games might steamroller them, instead of helping to advance their interests, and they wonder if the promises we made for the future will actually be realised, and whether the benefits will remain after the Olympic torch has moved on. That is the context in which we are discussing the Bill.
I note the Minister’s assurance that the Bill does not make any significant policy changes, and that it is designed to deliver the intentions behind the original legislation. In the main, that is a good thing, although I admit to having been a somewhat critical friend of the former Government as we created the framework to deliver the games and its legacy. I am also pleased to note that the consultation on the Bill runs until 30 May, and I look forward to considering the results. However, I am sure Members will agree that the sensitivity and intelligence with which the provisions are implemented will be of greater importance than the details of the provisions themselves. It is crucial that local communities feel respected and engaged in all the planning and arrangements before the Olympics, to ensure that there is genuine access to the good things that they expect to come afterwards.
I understand that the consultation results will be published on the 2012 website, and I hope that they are made available very soon after the close of the consultation period, alongside a plan of action, so that those who will be most affected will know what is to happen. To be honest, I do not think that a notice on the website will achieve that end. I therefore ask the Minister to ensure that the fabulous local campaigning newspaper, the Newham Recorder, is involved so that it can fully inform its readership and my constituents of the results of the consultation and what actions might stem from it.
The Bill’s provisions on advertising, trading, ticket touting and traffic management during the games period appear to be pragmatic and reasonable, and I wholeheartedly support the increase in the maximum fine for ticket touting from £5,000 to £20,000 and gently ask if we think that that is high enough given the potential profitability of illegal touting. If we do not think it is high enough, might we put in place an elastic higher end to cover those who might profit more than hitherto expected from such illegal activity?
Businesses in Newham—particularly small and medium-sized enterprises—have not all felt that it is easy to participate in the supply chain. They still see London 2012 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity however, and I do not want any unreasonable or poorly designed measures to undermine it for them, or to lead to their incurring additional costs. I would hate to see them embark on a course of action that they then have to change or abandon because it does not accord with the branding rules or other measures we might introduce at a later stage. As the Minister has acknowledged, the Olympic branding regulations are complex, and local businesses located in the regulatory zone that are not official outlets could have their goods seized if their activities contravene them. I understand the need for the regulations, but local traders could find themselves in trouble simply by selling Coca-Cola to thirsty visitors.
I can immediately set the hon. Lady’s mind at rest on this point. There is a very tight exclusion zone around the venues that will absolutely not stretch into the areas in which many of her local businesses operate, so there is no chance at all of that happening. Also of course, all these regulations will be well publicised before the event. I do not think there is anything new in this set of amendments that would cause difficulty. Businesses do have to pay close attention to the provisions of the original 2006 Act, which includes a series of relevant measures under which if they were to start to advertise their business on the back of London 2012, they would almost certainly contravene regulations. Those regulations were contained in the original Act however, not in this set of amendments.
I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification. I agree that there was substantial debate on the previous regulations, but local businesses have raised issues with me to do with what brandings they can use outside the exclusion zone and whether that might contravene the rules. I understand that no official advice has yet been issued. If it has been issued, I would be grateful to be told that I am wrong, but if it has not yet been issued, I urge that it should be so and that it should be publicised in order to prevent future misunderstandings that could generate local resentment.
Traders are also anxious to see the detail of the fair compensation that will be available to them if their businesses are adversely affected. When the Minister sums up, I would be grateful if he could give an indication of when that information might be made available. It says in the consultation that tackling unauthorised trading within the regulated zones will probably be undertaken by council staff experienced in dealing with similar enforcement issues, but the level of unlawful trading, especially in the Olympic zone, is likely to be far higher than ever experienced locally before. I understand that additional funds will be made available to provide for enforcement officers, and I hope that those officers will come from local councils. It is essential that local enforcement officers are employed in order to ensure that there is appropriate sensitivity in the enforcement of regulations at the games—that refers to a point made by the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes).
I also expect that the enforcement officers will need additional support from the local police. Given that we are facing cuts of 8% to the local police force in 2012, I would be grateful if the Minister could guarantee, either today or at a later date, that that support will come from the local force. It is from the local force that I would particularly like to see the support coming.
We know that the designation of the Olympic park zone is likely to displace illegal activity to the adjoining areas. That will potentially have an impact on pedestrian safety and on legitimate established traders, with implications for council and police resources too. Again, I ask that finance be put aside to deal with that effectively.
London’s bid for the 2012 games was brilliantly conceived and executed, and was predicated on a long-term legacy. In order to shape those outcomes, the reality needs to live up to the words, and there is still much more to do. The scale and nature of worklessness in Newham, where nine jobseeker’s allowance claimants are chasing each vacancy, means that there is a need for additional support if local people are to develop the skills to take the jobs that will become available. I welcome the positive results from initiatives such as the Workplace project in Newham but I, like my hon. Friends in east London, have long argued that more needs to be done to ensure that the entire Olympics project creates new kinds of jobs, not only in construction, important though that is, but in hospitality, media, retail, sport and other sectors. Both local and central Government, including all Departments, must continue to work together to exploit the once-in-a-lifetime chance of marketing the area internationally during the games to bring long- overdue private sector investment and create prosperity in our region.
I wish briefly to discuss other things that are on offer but that we are perhaps not exploiting, and these relate to the tourist trade in east London. The area must be ready to play its part in London’s offer to tourists from all around the world. The Olympic site, Stratford City, Canary wharf, maritime Greenwich, Brick lane, The O2, Greenwich peninsula and the Royal docks are obvious jewels in east London’s crown that are ripe for marketing to businesses. We also have some less obvious tourist assets, which are perhaps unknown to many hon. Members and to many Londoners but which include: the Asian one-stop wedding shop in Green street, in my constituency; and the creative hubs at Three Mills, where “Bad Girls” was filmed, Whitechapel and Leamouth. The east end of London has a great history and a vibrant and hugely diverse local culture. It is well placed to attract the various types of, and the share of, tourists from this country and abroad, if only people knew about it.
I am grateful for your indulgence in widening the parameters of this debate, Mr Deputy Speaker, so that I can advocate properly on behalf of my constituents, and I offer a final thought in summation. The history of recent Olympic games offers many lessons. It shows that hosting this type of global event can renew local areas and transform the life chances of the people in them, as happened in Barcelona; it can leave underused stadiums, as happened in Athens or Sydney; or it can lead to local populations being priced out of the attractive new housing, as happened in Atlanta. The experts are clear that the legacy momentum is the single most important factor determining the extent to which the games drive the transformation of the host city, with a significant element of that legacy needing to be delivered before the games begin. So the Government need urgently to take these lessons to heart. They must get a move on and galvanise the actions needed to secure the long-term benefits from the games if we are to emulate the success of Barcelona, as we should all sincerely hope we are able to do.
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Earlier today, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) told the House that spending on the Government art collection would be frozen for the next two years. However, in a written answer given to me by the same Minister I was told that spending on new works of art for the Government collection would total £298,000 for the next two years. Could you arrange for the Minister to come back to the House to clarify what the true position is?
It is not a matter for the Chair to do that. The hon. Lady has rightly put this on the record and I am sure that the Government will have taken her comments on board. If clarification is needed, I am sure it will be forthcoming. I now call Mr Don Foster.
I am not only particularly grateful to you for calling me, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I am particularly pleased to follow the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), who represents one of the Olympic boroughs and, as such, has rightly adopted a critical friend approach. What she could not disguise was her enthusiasm for and excitement about the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, which my party shares. Liberal Democrat Members were delighted to be supporters of London’s bid and we were highly pleased with its success. We continue to be full supporters of the work that is going on and we are absolutely confident that not only are we going to have a brilliant sporting and cultural extravaganza in London and elsewhere in 2012, but that it will bring a lasting legacy to all parts of the United Kingdom.
I am also pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell), who was right to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to all the staff who have worked in the Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. They have done fantastically well to ensure not only that the games look almost certain to be on budget and on time, but that they deliver the sporting and cultural extravaganza that we are looking forward to seeing. It would be remiss of this House if it did not also thank her for the work that she has done during the major part of the period leading up to the bid and since. Although she was successful in achieving many things, two stand out in my mind: the setting up of an organisation that is delivering so well and, in particular, the work she was able to initiate to ensure that we are using these Olympics to inspire young people, not only in this country but all over the world, about sport; and the remarkable but undersung achievement of obtaining, for the first time ever, permission from the IOC for another type of branding—the Inspire mark. It has inspired many people to undertake activities linked to the 2012 games that might otherwise not have happened, and she deserves full praise for that.
The right hon. Lady was right to say that there is cross-party support for the games and it would be wrong of me not to illustrate that by saying how delighted I am that this Minister has responsibility for the 2012 games. He not only provides a very safe pair of hands and is extremely knowledgeable but, as he rightly says, he has been round the block on this issue for as long as many of us have. This excitement is not confined to us in this Chamber, but it is shared all the way around the United Kingdom. That is demonstrated by not only the fantastic success of the ticket sales, which I shall discuss further in a moment, but the very large number of people, which is far in excess of the number we need, who have applied to be volunteers—games makers—for the Olympics and Paralympics. That illustrates people’s real enthusiasm. In retrospect, we got one thing wrong: I am referring to the fact that at the moment many people do not know whether or not they have been chosen to be games makers and, thus, whether or not they should have applied for tickets. I know that a number of these people would have preferred the games makers to be appointed ahead of the ticket application process, but I say that with the benefit of hindsight.
We are proud supporters of the Olympics and the Paralympics and we support the measures in the Bill. We are all huge fans of the wonderful and brilliant briefings that we get from the House of Commons Library. The one on this Bill is no exception. In its opening sentence, it makes it very clear that this is not a major Bill but merely one that
“makes a small number of technical amendments to the advertising and trading, ticket touting, and traffic management provisions of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.”
You have been very generous, Mr Deputy Speaker, in allowing people to range on much broader subjects than this not very major Bill, which deals with a few technical amendments.
Those amendments are important, none the less, but before I deal with them, let me say that I am particularly delighted that the Bill’s title includes the word “Paralympics”. As the former Secretary of State and Minister with responsibility for these matters, the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood will know, during the passage of the 2006 Act, on which many of us spent many happy hours, it was necessary for me to table an amendment to ensure that the word “Paralympics” was included in the title and got the same prominence as the Olympics. My zeal for the Paralympics at that time has paid off more recently because the British Paralympic Association has agreed that it will base its pre-games training camp in the wonderful city of Bath and the fantastic facilities of Bath university’s sports training village. To follow the tradition established by the hon. Member for West Ham, I can reveal that that news was announced in my wonderful local newspaper, The Bath Chronicle.
The measures in the Bill—to stick to your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker—deal with advertising and trading provisions, as the Minister has rightly said. The 2006 Act sought to ensure that we have measures in place that meet the IOC requirements and that, crucially, protect the important sponsors for the games from things such as ambush marketing. Any Member who has seen the draft version of the relevant regulations, which, as we have heard, are out for consultation, will be pleased, I am sure, that the proposals offers a light-touch approach while meeting our obligations. It is sufficient to deter illegal activity while avoiding the heavy-handed approach that has marred some previous games. I was delighted to hear the Secretary of State confirm in answer to a question earlier today that the measures will be used “sensitively” whereas the Minister, using a different phrase, has said in this debate that they will be used “proportionately”. I think we would all agree that whether the approach is light touch, sensitive or proportionate, that is what we want it to be—we want all three.
It was probably not sensible for the 2006 Act to suggest that the police, with their myriad other concerns, should be responsible for dealing with goods confiscated from illegal street trading, so it makes sense for that responsibility to be transferred to the ODA. Notwithstanding the large number of interventions that the Minister had to deal with about who the ODA officials would be—I suspect that largely they will be trading standards officers from local councils—the Bill deals only with who will look after the confiscated goods and the rules for handing them back.
Another reason it makes more sense to move that responsibility to the ODA is that the rules used by the police for handing back such goods are incredibly bizarre and come from a Victorian era. The rules that these measures are based on—the ones used by trading standards officers—are much clearer and much simpler and will therefore be easier to follow. It is right that we should have clear rules about when goods—even vehicles—must be handed back and the Bill provides them for us.
It also makes sense to have measures in place to ensure that we can deal with changes made at short notice to games venues or the timing of events so that we can continue to meet our obligations to the IOC and our sponsors. Given that Parliament has already agreed to such procedures for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, I see no reason why we should not be doing exactly the same for London 2012.
The need for contingencies for last-minute changes to venues or event timing applies equally to transport and the Olympic route network. That is what these small technical measures deal with. It makes sense to address traffic regulation orders, traffic regulation notices and special events notices to ensure that everything that can be done is done to keep London moving during the Olympic and Paralympic games. As other Members have said, particularly the hon. Member for West Ham, we must be ever vigilant to ensure that everybody in London is aware of the implications of the imposition of the Olympic route network. The last thing we want is a lot of bad publicity from people claiming that they were not given notice that their regular car parking space would disappear for a few weeks during the Olympics and Paralympics, or from a corner shop that finds that trade drops remarkably because people cannot stop outside it. The right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood said that Londoners are well aware of the need for such measures, and although that may be true, every single person needs to be given plenty of notice not only of why these changes are important but of what the impact on them will be.
Incidentally, I also welcome the huge amount of work that the ODA is doing on traffic demand management, which is rarely talked about in these debates. It is all very well to put in place all the measures to find routes, but we have to remember that businesses in London must continue to operate. It is crucial that we work with those businesses and try, for instance, to persuade them to move the operation of their business to different times so that they are not moving around at a time when we need the route network and other roads in the vicinity to get people to and from the games.
As we have heard, the final measure in the Bill concerns ticket touting. The games provide a wonderful opportunity for many people to see a wide range of both Olympic and Paralympic sports performed by the best athletes in the world. For many games goers, this will be a real opportunity to engage with sports that they might not necessarily know much about. Having seen a demonstration of one Paralympic sport from the British Paralympic team, training in Bath, I am convinced that it will be the new hit sport in the United Kingdom. If any right hon. or hon. Member has not yet come across goalball, I strongly recommend that they go and find out about it. It is an amazing event with three people in a team who simply have to get a ball into the net of the opposing side. The only twist is that all the participants are totally blind and judge how to play entirely by hearing the sound of a bell inside the ball. It is fast, furious and exciting, and given that Channel 4 has the rights to film the Paralympics, I hope it will focus on that sport and that it will become a national winner.
As so many people are going to be excited by the games and are going to want to apply for tickets, not just in the recent round but in subsequent rounds—1.8 million people have applied, the statistics show that many of the sports are sold out, 20 million applications have been made for just 6.6 million tickets and more than 50% of the 650 sessions have been oversubscribed—pickings will be ripe for ticket touts unless we take appropriate action. Given the experience of previous games, for example the allegations in Beijing in 2008 that meant that not only outsiders but Olympic officials and the families of competitors were caught up in ticketing scams, it is absolutely right that we should do everything we can in that regard.
I referred in an intervention to the excellent work of Operation Podium, which has already closed down a large number of illegal sites and will no doubt continue to do so. It was interesting that people working on that project said categorically that the £5,000 fine was insufficient to deter the ticket touts. More recently, the Minister has said that we need to do more about this issue, as has the Home Secretary. I think it is absolutely right that we are increasing the fine from £5,000 to £20,000. I am told that in a top-flight football match it is possible for ticket touts to get away with about £100,000, so a £5,000 fine will be seen merely as a business expense whereas a £20,000 fine will make it much more likely that touts will stop and think.
I think that what is proposed in the Bill is absolutely right and that the level is right, but I say gently to the Minister that if we are doing this for the Olympics, why are we not beginning to do something about all the other sporting events? The Lawn Tennis Association is already asking us why, if we can do this for the Olympics, we are not applying it to Wimbledon. I know that there are complications because we desperately want to get the legitimate, secondary ticket exchange market operating more effectively. I know it is not easy, but the House has to spend a bit more time discussing what we are going to do about ticket touting.
It is absolutely critical that for the Olympic and Paralympic games we have a robust, efficient, speedy and effective ticket exchange scheme. Many people who bid for tickets in what was meant to be a marathon not a sprint, but which ended up being a marathon with a sprint ending, have overbid because they did not think they would get the full amount. A lot of people are going to be worried about having a lot of tickets on their hands and will not want to use ticket touts but to do things legally, and we have to assure them that a system is in place. It is regrettable that details of the official ticket exchange scheme have not yet been made fully public and it is important that that is done at the earliest opportunity.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I can see the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) twitching in her seat, given her private Member’s Bill, so I thought it might be helpful if I cleared up this point. We have brought the regulations forward in response to a specific threat that has been identified by the Metropolitan police as part of Operation Podium. We also asked the police about ticket touting more generally and they have not identified a more generalised threat. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, this issue was considered by the previous Government and the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport in the previous Parliament and they both said that there was insufficient evidence of the need to go for a more general ban on ticket touting.
I am grateful to the Minister for that response. I apologise to the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson)—I hope that she is going to say a little more about this issue and I think she was absolutely right to bring forward her private Member’s Bill. On its Second Reading she referred to this very specific point and no doubt she will expand on that in a few minutes.
As I have said, the Bill contains a relatively small number of technical adjustments to the largely excellent 2006 Act and it has my full support. The right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood said that we had 554 days, I think it is, before the Olympics begin, but I will be getting excited sooner because the torch parade will begin 70 days before that. That is when the real excitement will begin for what is going to be a wonderful sporting and cultural extravaganza in this country, bringing real and lasting benefit to businesses, sport, culture, tourism and many other aspects of our life. I am confident that it is going to be a great spectacle that will have a lasting benefit and I think that these small additional measures will ensure that it will be even better than it might otherwise have been.
I am very pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster), who I wish had been able to attend the Second Reading of my private Member’s Bill, as I would have had another supporter in the House for what I was trying to achieve.
I welcome the Bill, which makes some very sensible amendments and additions to the 2006 Act. I am pleased that the Government have so far demonstrated that they are as committed to delivering a vibrant and memorable games as the previous Government were, even if they are not quite so keen on parts of the legacy side of things. I am referring specifically to the free swimming and the school sports partnerships, which have been scrapped.
I am going to take this only so far, as this has been a consensual debate thus far and I do not want change that. I am absolutely prepared to take criticism from the hon. Lady about this if she will tell me what she would have cut from the sports budget had that not been done.
Order. I have allowed latitude but I do not want us to get into a political row. This has been a good debate so far and I am sure that the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) will think about how her speech is going to continue.
I did not intend to expand on that point, but if I had responded, without your intervention, Mr Deputy Speaker, it would have been only to say that such decisions were above my pay grade.
I want to place on record my praise for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority for the excellent way in which the preparations for the games are coming together. It would also be remiss of me not to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) again on the integral role that she has played in securing the games. The fact that we have them here in the UK in the first place is one of her greatest achievements. We talk about legacies, and that is her legacy to the country from her time as the Olympics Minister.
As we have heard, this week saw the close of the application process for the tickets. I had planned to apply for tickets but then decided that I would wait and test out the resale forum that the right hon. Member for Bath was just asking for more details about. I am interested in seeing how that works, and hon. Members might be aware why I am so interested in that issue. I believe that that mechanism could be rolled out to tackle ticket touting across the board for all major sporting, cultural and live entertainment events, as I suggested on Second Reading of my Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill. I am sure that the Minister and other hon. Members will not be surprised that it is on the subject of ticket touting, and therefore clause 3 of the Bill, that I wish to concentrate my comments today.
I agree wholeheartedly with the provision to increase the fine for those prosecuted under section 31 of the 2006 Act. I know from my own meetings with officers from Operation Podium that touts caused serious problems at the Beijing games, and it is absolutely right that the Government and the police should do everything within their power to ensure that the same does not happen here. As I told the House on Second Reading of my Bill in January, those officers from Operation Podium told me, when I met them to discuss my Bill, that a fine of £5,000 would be seen as an occupational hazard by the real hard core of touts, particularly as it is possible to make that much profit or more on a single ticket to one of the premium sessions, such as the opening or closing ceremony.
The right hon. Member for Bath has mentioned Wimbledon, which happens every year but for which debenture tickets have been known to sell at mark-ups of £10,000 each. The Olympics takes place every four years, but it is not in the UK every four years or even every 40 years, so for many of our constituents, even the relatively well-off ones, being able to go to them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It would therefore be no surprise whatever to see tickets going at astronomical mark-ups. That prompts the question that my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) asked—whether even a £20,000 fine would be seen as nothing more than an inconvenience to some of the hardcore, criminal, organised touts. However, I understand that Ministers have to draw the line somewhere, and I am fairly confident that £20,000 is sufficient to deter the touts at the bottom of the pyramid—the kind of chancers who might ordinarily get half a dozen tickets to a gig to sell on. I hope that when big operators are caught, the prosecution will assess the offence as a lifestyle crime and claw back more substantial amounts of money by using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Perhaps the Minister can clarify that issue in his closing remarks.
The next key part of the drive to stamp out touts from the Olympics is to remove their market as far as possible. By that I mean making sure the public know that tickets they buy from anywhere other than the official website—and, from next year, I believe, the official resale or exchange forum—have been sold to them illegally. For many, although not all, this will serve to change their attitude to buying from a tout. Of course, the task of changing attitudes might be difficult, because touting for almost every other form of live entertainment, as we heard in response to the right hon. Member for Bath, is still allowed and condoned by this Government—as it was, it must be said, by the previous Government. Indeed, some Opposition Members came along to the Second Reading of my private Member’s Bill to say that they thought ticket touting was a classic case of the free market in action and that touts were nothing more than entrepreneurs. It is good to know that the spirit of Baroness Thatcher is still unashamedly alive on the Tory Back Benches, but it makes one wonder whether the Minister might have a small Back-Bench rebellion on his hands today.
However, I notice that some of my main adversaries during the debate on my private Member’s Bill are not present today. Perhaps the Minister has already neutered their free-market tendencies—I hope that they are recovering well. Presumably, they might say that Olympic tickets are indistinct from tickets to a 200-capacity U2 gig, and are an asset to be traded like any other. Either way, I am pleased that the amendment is being made today and that touting’s parasitical nature and criminality are being taken seriously by both the police and the Minister.
During the course of the conversations that the Secretary of State and his ministerial colleagues will have had with police and officers on the inclusion of clause 3 in this Bill, I hope that they will have been sufficiently convinced of the egregious nature of ticket touting to engage with me now and look for ways of ensuring that fans of other sporting and live entertainment events will enjoy similar protection. After all, Ministers must have been very convinced by the evidence presented to them, as we have already heard.
A Home Office press notice on 10 March stated, in a direct quote from the Home Secretary:
“The focus of the government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy. It will not be spoiled by ticket touts.”
That is great, and I could not agree more. Allowing touting, either by not legislating or by not enforcing that legislation, would be hugely detrimental to ordinary fans who want to get along to the games. We know that because we can see how detrimental it is every night of the week in towns and cities up and down the country to fans who want to go to gigs, matches, festivals and shows.
In the Home Office press release, Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the national Olympic security co-ordinator, stated:
“We do not want our Games blighted by touts....Touts are part of organised criminal networks, often involved in other crimes, and we are committed to dismantling them layer by layer.”
The Minister intervened on the right hon. Member for Bath to say that that relates in particular to the Olympic games, but I have been presented with evidence showing that those criminal networks are not only set up to take advantage of the Olympic games, but that they already exist and are taking advantage every time a bout of tickets goes on sale.
I made an undertaking on Second Reading of the hon. Lady’s Bill to look at that issue again, notwithstanding the advice of the Select Committee and, indeed, the position we inherited from the previous Government. It was made abundantly clear to me that there was no such evidence. She told me on Second Reading that there was evidence, but when I asked the Home Office directly I was told that there is no evidence of a more generalised threat. There is evidence of a specific threat towards certain high-profile events, of which the Olympics are one.
I do not want to get into an argument with the Minister—heaven forbid—but when I met officers from Operation Podium and from the Met’s team on money laundering, I was told that they had evidence and that they were dealing with touts on a large, organised criminal basis and in relation to all touting. They said specifically that they were working towards the Olympics, and there have already been arrests under Operation Podium, but this concerns gangs that were already operating and making large sums of money; the industry runs to £10 billion.
I could not agree more with what Chris Allison said, but it is interesting to note the difference between the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on this issue. The Minister committed on Second Reading of my Bill to looking further into the matter, and I am pleased that he has done so, as obviously his conversations have led to clause 3. I hope that Ministers now see that there is a problem. The Minister is still saying that the problem relates specifically to the Olympic games—
“Specific high-profile events”: that recognises that the problem could go beyond the Olympic games. If the Minister does not mind, I will take what he just said as a very positive sign that perhaps my campaign could still catch hold, and I could go some way towards convincing him of the need for further legislation.
I am aware that the hon. Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) spoke to the Secretary of State’s office on 17 March about setting up a meeting with representatives from the live entertainment and sporting industries, him and myself to discuss this matter. I believe that he is yet to receive a response to that request, but I hope that it will find its way into the Secretary State’s red box soon. Many prominent entertainment and industry professionals are very keen for a chance to put their case to the Secretary of State, and could perhaps bring the further evidence that he might require on the criminality, and how widespread the problem is, not only for major sporting events but for festivals and music gigs.
To conclude, I support the Bill and its aims wholeheartedly and look forward to it reaching the statute book in good time, preferably before people get to hear whether their ticket applications have been successful, because they may then be tempted to tout them. Clarification on whether the Bill will be passed before people find out whether their ticket applications have been successful would be very helpful. As I said, I hope that in the course of arriving at clause 3 the Government’s position on touting more generally will have shifted sufficiently to mean that they will now engage meaningfully with me and other hon. Members from both sides of the House who want more action to be taken to protect fans of all live entertainment, sporting and cultural events from exploitation by touts.
One of the noticeable features of today’s debate is the largely all-party spirit in which it has been conducted. The Minister has been though this for many years, in opposition and now in government, and forms a formidable trio alongside the right hon. Members for Bath (Mr Foster) and for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell). I pay tribute to all three for the way in which they have maintained the all-party consensus on the subject.
One of the Secretary of State’s smarter decisions was to reappoint the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood to the Olympic Board, which I suspect was largely because of her non-partisan approach when in government, which she has continued in opposition. She has left us, however, with the ultimate sports quiz question: “Why did the last sod come from Scunthorpe?” I do not know the answer to it, but I suspect that it may not just be a sports quiz question; it may appear in lots of comedy shows. Perhaps the Minister can inform us of the answer when he winds up the debate. Anyway, the right hon. Lady has left the question tantalisingly there.
The games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that has resonated through the debate. Everyone recognises that point, and those who are hostile to the games seem to be fading away as the Olympics get closer and the obvious enthusiasm for them continues. As a London Member, I am proud of my city’s ability to put on the games, and my constituents are beginning to join in the enthusiasm around them.
The games present a huge opportunity for London, and for the United Kingdom as a whole. I am sorry that the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) is not still here—[Interruption.] Oh, she is still here, but she has moved on to the Opposition Front Bench. She spoke about the way in which her constituency has been regenerated, and I look not just at her constituency, but at the east end of the capital, of which I am a part. For it to be regenerated for £9 billion is a pretty good deal, because it involves not just that £9 billion, but what it is levering in, and the regeneration that the Minister and the shadow Minister mentioned. I join them in paying tribute to the way in which the Olympic Delivery Authority has brought that about.
I remember John Armitt saying that there was never a better time to build the site, because he had a competitive materials market in which to operate and plenty of labour at the time. We should be grateful for large mercies in that respect, but he took his opportunity and has done a great job. The stadium was, I think, completed a few weeks early and on budget, which is tremendous, and all those concerned are to be congratulated.
I congratulate also the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games on its continued meticulous planning over the past few years. Its attention to detail has paid off, and it culminated in a very successful ticketing exercise. I am hugely impressed by the statistics, which show that more than 20 million tickets have been applied for by 1.8 million people, and that it is the biggest ticketing exercise ever undertaken in the United Kingdom. That is sensational stuff, it bodes well and I, like others who have spoken, will be very surprised if there are empty seats in virtually any stadium during the games. I will not follow the right hon. Member—my right hon. partner—for Bath in his enthusiasm for specific sports, but some will obviously be more attractive than others.
While I am on the subject of LOCOG, as chairman of the all-party London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games group I welcome its co-operation with that group. Thanks to LOCOG, the House has had briefings which many Members have attended; indeed, it has been probably one of the best attended all-party groups. We have had meetings on volunteering, ticketing and the Paralympics, and we have an upcoming meeting on the education programme, a very important briefing on 23 May on the torch relay route and another briefing planned on the cultural Olympiad. It is thanks to the co-operation of LOCOG that the meetings have been so successful, and I also congratulate the Minister and his Department on the seamless transition before and after the election, which has been maintained throughout.
I welcome this important Bill. It might be a small, logistical and technical Bill, but its impact will create ripples across everything that is being done, so in truth everything that has been said today has been in order, because of the Bill’s knock-on effect. For many years I was involved with the British Paralympic Association, whose headquarters were in Croydon. The association has now moved, and I am well aware of its difficulties involving advertising and trading, and the fact that after the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 it had to cease trading because of the use of the Olympic and Paralympic symbols. It is relying on a grant for the period of the games, and one of my concerns is that afterwards it will have to start raising funds again but will have lost its database and its hard core of sponsors and suppliers who have helped it over the years. I recognise, however, the importance of the advertising and trading features in the Bill.
I recognise also the importance of the traffic management proposals. The Minister said that these are “public transport games”, but that was a reference to public transport access to the games. The knock-on effect in the rest of London will be quite profound, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) pointed out. London is very sensitive to traffic. It will flow quite normally during a holiday period, but just a small bottleneck can have a huge and profound impact, causing jams throughout the capital, which often knock on into the outer suburbs.
I therefore welcome the proposals in the Bill. The use of the Olympic lanes will be very important. Perhaps the Minister could clarify when they will be introduced and removed, given the knock-on effect. I believe that there is to be a moratorium on roadworks throughout this period—in fact, I think, for most of next year. Can he confirm that?
The Minister is nodding, so there is no need for him to deal with that when he winds up.
Let me draw to the Minister’s and the House’s attention the report by the Foreign Affairs Committee entitled “FCO Public Diplomacy: The Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012”, which has quite a cross-over into the Bill. Unusually for a Select Committee report, it is fairly uncritical of the Government because it expresses the belief that they are on the right track in enhancing the perceptions that the rest of the world has of Britain—a responsibility of the Foreign Office.
It is interesting to learn that in the world’s perception, the UK is seen as
“fair, innovative, diverse, confident and stylish”,
but we are also seen as
“arrogant, stuffy, old-fashioned and cold.”
The games present us with an opportunity to change the world’s perception of this country. We want to be seen as a welcoming, diverse, tolerant and generous nation, and the games give us a huge opportunity to illustrate that we are just that. At the Barcelona and Sydney games, people were able to change the world’s perception of those countries to their benefit, whereas the Beijing games, with the surrounding human rights issues, and Athens, with the lateness of the construction programme, formed an adverse perception. Germany’s hosting of the World cup hugely enhanced the world’s perception of that country.
I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is a football supporter, but does he remember the similarly good impression of this country that Euro 96 gave to football fans across Europe? I remember the event quite well; it was a football odyssey that portrayed British football grounds and football supporters in a good light.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is a risk involved in this. If we get it right, it enhances perceptions; if we get it wrong, it is very dangerous. All it would need is a serious traffic snarl-up or a security issue for the world to form a very different perception of Britain. That is why the measures in the Bill are rather important. The way in which we deal with an adverse situation will be very significant. Let me give a small illustration. The situation with the trapped Chilean miners was a disaster for Chile, but the Chileans turned it round completely in the way that they dealt with it and got the miners out. If we have a difficult situation during the Olympic games, how we deal with it will be as important as ensuring that it does not happen in the first place. One of the proposals in the Select Committee report is that a rapid rebuttal unit should be established to deal rapidly with an incident during the games. That is important, and I believe that it is in hand.
The Olympic games present a huge opportunity. The world can come together and, just for a few days, speak with one voice focused on a single event. I understand that we will have nearly 100 Heads of State coming here next year, which in itself presents a logistical exercise in how on earth we deal with them. Let us show the world that we can do this in style. Let us demonstrate that we can put on a good show and show the world that we are tolerant, diverse, welcoming and generous—great British values that are of huge importance. It is well within our ability to do so.
I am delighted to speak in this debate as a Member of Parliament from one of the host boroughs, the London borough of Tower Hamlets. I join other hon. Members in welcoming the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) highlighted the positive sentiments and great pride that were felt by people around the country on the wonderful day when we celebrated winning the Olympic bid. The bid highlighted London’s diversity, dynamism, creativity and youth. It will be remembered for the wonderful, imaginative image that Britain showed the world of a city that is incredibly exciting, a place that is incredibly welcoming, and a place in the east end that is famous for its heritage, resilience and character.
Many of my constituents in Bethnal Green and Bow can see the Olympic stadium at the end of their streets, and the games have already started to impact on their lives. Many communities in London rightly expect to have a central role in the games, and they deserve a stake in the Olympic legacy, whether in the areas of employment, environmental impact or sport. My constituents, like me and other people from the host boroughs and across London, feel passionately about the games and want them to succeed. We are proud to be a host borough and to host the Olympic park, and look forward to showing the world the east end of London at its best.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) has recalled Labour’s original vision of the games as an engine for physical and social regeneration in the east end. It is a great opportunity to showcase a vibrant and proud London, and the great opportunities that it has, especially for young people. We hope that the games will inspire them for the rest of their lives, and that in years to come many of them will recall next year’s Olympics as the thing that inspired them to become sportsmen and women and to make their country proud.
There are of course deep concerns. There are well-founded concerns in my constituency over the recent cuts to school sports funding, youth facilities, and community and elite sports facilities. Some of the organisations that are losing funding are working to get volunteers engaged in the Olympics.
Just to be absolutely clear, there are no cuts to elite facility funding. The money that the previous Government pledged to UK Sport, which deals with elite facilities, has been honoured in full. Community facilities, which are delivered through the whole sport plans, were protected by raising the amount of money that sport gets through the lottery.
I thank the Minister for that response, but he should consider visiting my constituency and some of the organisations that will be affected by the cuts. As I was saying, one of the organisations—[Interruption.] If the Minister will let me, I will finish my sentence. One of the organisations that I visited recently, which is engaged in preparing young people to be volunteers, is losing funding and will struggle to get people into those opportunities. There are many other examples of funding cuts that are affecting young people. Perhaps the Minister can reassure me that funding will not be cut—
Order. I am going to help reassure the hon. Lady. We are dealing with the Bill and I have allowed a lot of latitude for Members to stray off it. However, we should not be scoring political points when dealing with the Bill. By all means, the hon. Lady may mention her constituency and the benefits of the Olympics, but I will not allow this to stray into a political row that has nothing to do with the debate.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
There is great concern in my constituency about the need to ensure that the opportunities that will be offered as a result of the Olympics, such as the 100,000 job and volunteering opportunities, can be taken up by local people. Although that is not specifically related to the Bill, it is important to those of us who represent constituencies in the east end of London that local people, particularly young people, can receive such benefits, especially given the current unemployment situation. I hope that more effort will be made to encourage and support young people and others to get into those jobs.
I turn to policing and enforcement, on which I welcome many of the clauses in the Bill. In the face of the resource constraints on local police services, can the Minister assure us that there will not be additional pressure on the police in constituencies such as mine, and that every effort will be made to ensure that they are properly supported?
May I also ask the Minister for clarification of the level of input and support that might be required from local authorities such as Tower Hamlets in the logistical and preparatory work, including on policing, alongside the work that will be done by the ODA? That is particularly significant for my constituency, because the local authority is facing major cuts—some £72 million over the next four years. I hope that the Bill will not mean any hidden costs for host boroughs, but I know that there are concerns about how the costs will be met.
I reiterate the point that other Members have made about ticket touting by welcoming the suggestions in the Bill to do with penalties. All possible measures should be exhausted to ensure that those who are involved in organised crime and seek to exploit local people are properly fined and punished.
I turn to the subject of traffic regulations. People in my constituency understandably feel let down and disappointed by the changing of the Olympic marathon route away from the east end areas of Tower Hamlets and Poplar and Limehouse. Despite that change, local people will still experience some of the disruption associated with the games during the weeks when they are taking place, and I hope that their sentiments are recognised. I have had hundreds of letters from constituents, particularly young people, who feel that the change was a betrayal of the original commitments, and it is right that that sentiment is recorded today.
Tower Hamlets is the only host borough that will not be hosting any of the games. It is a source of great pride that the other host boroughs will host events, but there is a great deal of disappointment in Tower Hamlets. I hope that the Minister will take on board the need for every effort to be made to ensure that people in constituencies such as mine are engaged in the games and have the opportunity to take part in other ways. The marathon was going to be a free event available to people in one of the poorest boroughs in the country. I hope the Minister takes that on board.
As other hon. Members have cited their local newspapers, I ought to do the same to keep in tradition. The East London Advertiser, one of the great east end papers, which recently had to move from my constituency, ran a spirited campaign, working with local young people, London Citizens and TELCO—the East London Community Organisation—to try to get LOCOG to change its mind. Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful, but local people might have an opportunity to organise and hold an alternative community marathon so that they can be involved. I hope we can rely on support for that from the Minister and from LOCOG if that goes ahead.
LOCOG has responded by welcoming that campaign and by trying to create other opportunities for the area by way of early access to job vacancies and so on. However, unfortunately, those initiatives fall short, and I hope the Minister takes on board some of those points so that we can have a proper legacy and make the most of the Olympics. Showcasing Brick lane and business opportunities are welcome, but as many young people have pointed out, there is more to the east end and Tower Hamlets than curry houses.
The hon. Lady can help on legacy by championing the school Olympics principle locally, which I have been doing recently. That is a tangible way in which MPs, as community leaders, can make a big difference and encourage a legacy for young people.
Colleagues and I are working with LOCOG on that, and a number of schools have engaged, which is welcome. However, the hon. Gentleman will understand that a host borough which expected a high-profile event, was willing to put up with disruptions and so on, and was so optimistic, was clearly greatly disappointed when the proposed marathon route was cancelled. Given the poverty in the borough, and its enormous enthusiasm, much more could be done. We have just under 500 days before the Olympics, and opportunities could be seized in that time. I therefore ask the Minister, and LOCOG and other agencies, to use the final few months to do everything they can to create a genuinely lasting legacy.
On pollution and the environmental consequences of the games, given the previous Government’s clear ambition and focus on employment, the reduction in pollution and investment in public transport, recent reports have caused deep concern. I hope that we will be reassured that every effort will be made to ensure a reduction in congestion and that there are no unnecessary disruptions to local people as they move back and forth from work and so on during the weeks of the Olympics.
In conclusion, I reiterate my support for the Bill, but I felt it important to emphasise the wider issues of employment and the sporting legacy and others that affect constituencies such as mine. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the many people who live in constituencies such as mine. They are incredibly excited and passionate about it, and they want a chance to get involved. I hope that, as we move towards the games, the Government will ensure that the people of London have the chance to make the most of these wonderful and exciting games.
The Olympic and Paralympic games are events like no other. To have them happening here in London is a once-in-ae- lifetime experience. I may be biased, but I believe that London is the best city in the world and I am confident that we will deliver a world-class games.
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. Although London is the best city in the world, Manchester comes a close second and I am sure that the success of those games bodes well.
The hon. Members for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) and for West Ham (Lyn Brown) talked about the pride felt at winning the bid, and that was shared across London and the country. It will be an opportunity to show what London and the UK can do. The Olympic games is the ultimate sporting event in the world, bringing together competitors from almost every nation. It is synonymous with the almighty struggle to be the best in each sport, as encapsulated in the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.
Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games in London provides an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the best of what our country can offer—a world-class sporting event, fantastic venues and accommodation, open and welcoming hospitality, and creativity and quality from the opening ceremony to the overall look and feel of the event, including the marketing, food and drink and merchandising available. Get it right and the London Olympics and Paralympics will provide the very best advertisement to the world of why London, and the UK as a whole, is the place to be for business, hospitality, tourism, sport and entertainment.
But the games are also about creating a lasting legacy, not just in east London but elsewhere in London and across the country. There will of course be many physical legacy elements from the games. The Olympic park will give an exciting new impetus to east London and will generate new housing and business opportunities. All Londoners will benefit from the improved transport links that have been put in place for the games.
However, to get the most out of the games, we also need to focus on the non-physical legacy aspects. In particular, we must ensure that the good work that has been done to encourage children to participate in sporting events linked to the Olympics continues and helps to foster a renewed interest in sport before, during and after the games. In London, and especially in the Hounslow area of my constituency, we have a significant and growing problem with childhood obesity. The best legacy we could have would be a long-term increase in the number of young people taking part in regular sporting activities. The Mayor of London’s Get Set programme aims to address this and I am pleased that the majority of schools in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow are already signed up to it. Schoolchildren can focus on how they can demonstrate the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect, and the Paralympic virtues of courage, determination, equality and inspiration. The programme is also continuing to develop sporting ambassadors, which has been successful across the borough of Hounslow.
As a London MP, I believe that it is important to get local Londoners involved. The volunteering scheme has seen all ages and backgrounds offering to take part in what is a great community cohesion scheme. It is also important that London residents benefit from the games as they have contributed to the cost. I hope that people across London—and especially in west London—feel those benefits.
The Bill builds on and strengthens provisions put in place in the 2006 Act and addresses some important matters. On advertising and trading, it is vital that we safeguard the look and feel of the games and avoid the potential for the over-commercialisation of the event. I welcome therefore the measures to extend the powers to seize unauthorised and fake merchandise. Many companies have contributed to the success of the games by developing official products and services, and their rights need to be protected, so we cannot allow ambush marketing to infiltrate the areas around the venues. We also need to take a sensible approach to implementation and focus on the mass sale of merchandise, not on seizing items of clothing worn to the event.
The presence of ticket touts is unwelcome. I am sure that the increase in the fine to £20,000 will help greatly to deter them. The ticket sales approach for the Olympics was a new one to most people, and such was the desire to attend the games that many people registered for significantly more tickets than perhaps they could afford, so I was glad to hear from the Minister that it will be possible for people to resell tickets at face value to family and friends without the prospect of being criminalised. Given the issues near the deadline, it would be good to provide the opportunity to buy tickets to those unable to get the ones they wanted.
My hon. Friends the Members for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) and for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) talked about traffic management, which is critical to the games’ success. The sheer size and scale of the games is daunting. It has been suggested that the Olympics is equivalent to hosting 26 world championships simultaneously, so it is a huge challenge to implement. Clearly a top priority is to ensure the safe and smooth-running of the games. That is critical for the games family and spectators. At the same time, however, we must also keep London moving and working smoothly for residents, workers and businesses. It is not just the east London area directly around the Olympic park that will feel the impact of the increase in people; there are competitive venues and training camps across London, and the route to and from Heathrow airport, which runs through my constituency, will also form a significant part of the Olympic route network during the games.
Companies such as Fuller’s brewery in my constituency have expressed concern that they need to have as much notice as possible of the details of planned road closures across London. For example, significant changes to working practices, such as night deliveries, might be required to keep our pubs fully stocked with beer, and it will take time to develop new contracts for drivers and resolve issues such as noise in residential areas. We should also consider those who drive in and around London and the possibility of allowing cars still to come into London, perhaps between 7 am and 10 pm. It would be worth ensuring that those who work and need to use the roads can still do so.
I am sure that local authorities will be involved in the detailed planning of traffic management and road closures, particularly where there are known traffic issues. Everywhere in London has them to a greater or lesser extent. An issue for me will be along Chiswick high road, where the right turn into Sutton Court road coming off the A4 will be closed, forcing more traffic on to the high road. I will be speaking to my local team to ensure that they are considering the matter closely and not creating traffic problems in areas around London.
In summary, I welcome and support the Bill. The London Olympics and Paralympics provide us with an outstanding opportunity to showcase the best that we have to offer to the world, and I look forward to 2012 with great excitement. Let us make these the best games ever and show what can be achieved on such a great scale. Let it help young people aspire to go on and do great things; let us create a strong feeling of Britishness and community cohesion; let us do all we can to create a strong, lasting legacy for the whole of London; and let us use this as an opportunity to get more people re-engaged or involved in community and competitive sport, creating stronger communities, a greater team spirit and a healthier nation.
It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod) in speaking about the important Bill before us today. I rise as someone who, in a former guise, served as the Conservative Olympics spokesman in the Greater London authority, during the formative period when much of the work was initiated. I was also the deputy chairman of the GLA’s economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee for four years. We were responsible for the scrutiny of the Olympics and the development of the whole process.
I well remember the initial scepticism felt by most people in London when we began bidding for the games. That changed to wild enthusiasm when we heard the wonderful news on 6 July 2005, which followed that brilliant presentation. I compliment Lord Coe and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister at the time, who did so much excellent work to ensure that we were successful. However, we then woke up on 7 July to the horrors of the bombings on London transport and the security alert. That made us think of what could happen during the Olympics if we are not properly prepared, serving as a terrible early warning for everyone.
I well remember the early concerns about the site. The hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) encouraged people to visit the site. I have been there on many occasions, the first time when there was absolutely nothing there. It was an industrial wasteland, and one needed great vision to imagine what would happen in the interim period—something that has indeed happened, and which I welcome. We had concerns about financing the Olympics and in particular about the budget. We should remember that the redevelopment of Wembley stadium was an absolute fiasco. At the same time, we were considering the development of a vast range of venues. It is therefore extremely good news to everyone concerned that the completion of the various venues is coming in on budget, or possibly even below budget.
We were also concerned about the cost to Londoners. I well remember the previous Mayor announcing to the assembly that the cost to a Londoner would be no more than the daily cost of a Walnut Whip. The only problem is that the daily cost of a Walnut Whip over 25 years is likely to lead to diabetes and long-term health issues, which is precisely the problem that London is facing in having to pay for the games over an extended period. Londoners have also felt a great deal of frustration, particularly in west and north-west London, at having to pay for the cost of the games, while those living close to the edge of east London are experiencing the benefit, yet incurring none of the costs. That will be an important issue later.
We were also concerned that the costs had escalated, so it is good news that the budget is coming in the right way. The other concern that I would like the Minister to consider is the fact that national lottery funding was diverted to assist the games, as a result of which national lottery funding for large areas of London was removed. We were promised at the time that this funding would be returned from the profits from the subsequent land sales. We must not lose sight of that opportunity.
Part and parcel of this whole process has been the regeneration capability in that part of the world. The legacy of the games will not be just a sporting one, but a real legacy for the lives of east Londoners in particular. The key challenge will be to ensure that we do not allow what are, quite frankly, rabbit hutches to be put up at the Olympic park, leading to low-cost housing, thereby building in all the problems that were once part of the east end and which we are now addressing. I trust that the powers that be will ensure that that does not happen.
The venue development has been a wonder to behold. The fact that the venues are coming on stream much more quickly than expected and will be ready for public use and test events as early as this summer is an excellent testimony to all the hard work done by the ODA and LOCOG. I remember grilling the leadership of the ODA and LOCOG and feeling comforted that we had such excellent people at the helm making all this happen. I am delighted that the decisions taken by the appropriate people at the time to employ those people has borne fruit, and we should pay tribute to them.
Turning to the Bill, I want to raise an issue relating to the sporting events. We should remember that most people think of the Olympic games as consisting of the swimming, for about a week, and then the athletics. We are talking, however, about a broad range of events—about 26 of them—taking place throughout July and August, and into September, in the Olympics and Paralympics, that can create an explosion of great sporting legacy for the people of this country and encourage young people, in particular, to take part in sporting events that they would never have dreamed of taking part in.
I pay tribute to the ticketing arrangements so far. When I signed on to the website to bid for my tickets, I was sceptical about whether it would work. I found it very easy to access and to use, however, and the people who designed the process should be complimented on it. It is sad that there were problems on the last day, given the extended period of time in which people could apply for tickets. The fact that the advertising would lead to an increase in the number of people applying at the last minute was predictable, and it is sad that there was overloading of the system towards the end. However, I think that we have got the ticketing arrangements right.
I have one fear in that regard, which is that, if we are not careful, we could see rows of empty seats at the qualifying events, which are being sold at lower prices. I know that many sessions are oversubscribed, but I suspect that that will not apply to the qualifying events. I hope that schoolchildren across London will be given access to any such unsold tickets, so that they can have an opportunity to attend some of those undersubscribed events. That would have the dual purpose of filling the empty seats and encouraging young people to participate.
I take the point made by the hon. Member for West Ham about the fines for ticket touting. I draw a distinction between people who have bought tickets and pass them on to friends or family if they are unable to use them, the tout in the street who is trying to make a turn on tickets, and the seriously organised individuals who are making this a business. The proposal in the Bill to raise the fine to £20,000 is welcome, but I would ask the Minister to consider in Committee introducing a much higher upper limit, particularly for those who are turning ticket touting into a business. We could perhaps fine those involved in organised ticket touting £100,000, with tiered levels of fines for those involved in the various other aspects of the activity, and with clear guidance as to how the fines should be implemented.
On travel arrangements, we must remember that London has to keep moving and that other sporting events will be taking place while the Olympics and Paralympics are going on. There will be a full programme of premier league football throughout most of the period of the games, as well as champions league matches and a wide range of other sporting events taking place across London. We must remember that spectators going to those events will not want to be inconvenienced by the fact that the Olympics and Paralympics are taking place. The potential closures of roads and lanes presents a risk to regular drivers, as they could be seriously inconvenienced, particularly if they are not aware of the arrangements that are in place.
Let me repeat a point I mentioned in interventions. There is a massive danger that large parts of London, particularly west and north-west London, become glorified car parks for people wishing to use the tube network for the last part of their journey to the Olympic venues. I believe consideration needs to be given to encourage local authorities to introduce temporary measures for the period of the Olympics, rather than imposing potentially draconian measures unnecessarily throughout the whole year. Experience around the Wembley stadium area suggests that residents are severely inconvenienced when a minor event is going on at the stadium and draconian traffic control measures are implemented. Local authorities should be given the opportunity to address that issue in a particular way.
I believe we have the potential to run a very successful and brilliant event in 2012. I think we have an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the east end, for the whole of London and for sport in general. I look forward to the newly re-elected Mayor inviting his predecessor, Mr Livingstone, to come along and play a part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic games, as we celebrate London at its best.
I want to make just a few brief remarks about the ticket tout element of the Bill, which I fully support. People like myself who have applied for tickets often sit with fingers crossed, hoping for the best. Like others, I applied for more tickets than I would like in the hope of being lucky in the ballot and getting enough to go to watch what I would like to see. We are told that any tickets we do not want should be given back for re-sale. I am a little concerned, however, at the capacity of the website to deal with all this, as extra tickets will all be returned in a very short time. We saw what happened at the deadline earlier this week. That reinforces my concern: when people want to send their tickets back, if the web capacity is not able to handle it, they might take them elsewhere and hand them to touts.
Like many Members, I am a keen sports fan and I have been to many sporting events. Time after time, fans run the gauntlet of people outside the venues wanting to sell or buy tickets. True sports fans, or indeed music fans, might not have been able to get tickets for an event, yet the touts always seem to have a fistful of tickets.
I applaud the Bill and the increase in the fine, which I think will help to eliminate the problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) commented on the increase in the fine, and I wonder whether we could increase it to £20,000 per ticket touted, which would be a severe deterrent, particularly to serial touts. As I said, my only concern is that the web capacity for ticket reallocation be sufficient to prevent people from getting fed up and selling their tickets to whoever it might be who then stands outside the grounds, selling them at a premium. That is my only concern; otherwise, the Bill is excellent.
I wish to address my relatively brief remarks to clause 4, which deals with traffic and is entitled “Orders and notices relating to temporary prohibitions etc. on roads”. Under paragraph 15 of the schedule to the Olympic Route Network Designation Order 2009, the A31 from its junction with the A35, going east to junction 1 of the M27 is part of that network. It includes junctions, slip roads and roundabouts. Under section 11 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, the Secretary of State is allowed to designate roads
“for the purpose of facilitating travel… to and from London Olympic events”
and for “other purposes connected” thereto.
I have a number of questions to put to the Minister, particularly about the interaction of this order and proposed works to the Canford Bottom roundabout, which is a notorious junction in the vicinity of Wimborne. It is encountered by people travelling west on the A31 after a period of travel on a single carriageway and it then continues with a single carriageway on the other side. Four other roads join it, so there is an intersection of six roads around one roundabout. I can confidently predict that at this time, on the eve of a bank holiday, it will already be clogged with traffic, particularly in a westerly direction. That is the situation during the holiday season, and of course the Olympic games will take place at the height of the holiday season next year.
Although we in Dorset are delighted that the Olympic sailing venue will be in Weymouth, for my constituents in the east of Dorset, Weymouth is at least an hour’s drive away in normal conditions. We are not talking about a local venue, but about a venue some distance away.
The Minister and the Government have said all along that the intention is that the activities of local people and businesses should not be disrupted by the establishment of the Olympic route network. What concerns me is the interaction between these proposals and the Government’s proposals to change the layout at the Canford Bottom roundabout. There has been a long-standing campaign for a flyover at Canford Bottom, but it would cost well over £10 million and is apparently unaffordable in the present circumstances. The Government have therefore produced an alternative proposal to replace the roundabout with what is described as a hamburger junction. There was a consultation meeting in my constituency on the subject at the end of last month. A hamburger junction is something of a rarity in my part of the world, and when I asked where one could be found, I was told that the closest was in Cardiff. Replacing a roundabout with a hamburger junction is certainly a novel approach.
I wish that I could. When asked to describe it at the meeting, the officials said that they preferred to refer to a “plan”. However, I understand that it is a junction that looks like a hamburger. The main A31 carriageway—the meat in the hamburger, as it were—would go through the middle, and there would be light-controlled crossings for the four side roads. That is what is described by the Highways Agency as a hamburger junction. I hope that in due course the right hon. Gentleman will be able to have one in Bath, but perhaps before he commits himself he should have a look at the one in Cardiff to see whether it works.
Members’ interest in this subject is becoming apparent, but, as will be appreciated, the people who live close to the proposed junction are even more interested in knowing whether it will achieve the objective that the Highways Agency says that it will achieve, which is to improve the operation of the junction on the A31. What worries local residents is the possibility that their ability to cross from one part of the constituency to the other—into Wimborne—will be impeded by the junction, because extra priority will be given to through traffic at the expense of local traffic.
In order to tease out such issues, there would normally be a fairly long period of consultation on a major highway proposal such as this. The project will cost £5.7 million. However, the Highways Agency tells me that there will be only a three-week window of opportunity for written representations, starting immediately after the local elections. The explanation seems to be that this junction needs to be changed as part of the ODA’s remit to ensure that the Olympic route network delivers people from London to Weymouth within a specified time frame.
I am enthusiastic about clause 4 as it will enable the ODA to ensure that emergency action can be taken to deal with congestion around the Canford Bottom roundabout or anywhere else on the network without the need for major roadworks to be rushed through between now and the time of the Olympic games. In responding to the debate, I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to assure me that the construction of this hamburger junction is not a crucial part of the Olympic route network, and that the network will be able to deliver its objectives even if this hamburger junction is not constructed. My constituents are sceptical about this solution; they think it may be the wrong one. They are concerned that it might be a cheapskate solution to a very serious problem, and that it would put back for many years, if not decades, the prospect of having a proper flyover at that junction. I hope we will get some clarity on this, and that I will be able to go back and say to my constituents with the authority of the Minister, “It doesn’t matter whether or not we have a bit of delay in the consultation process. It doesn’t matter if the construction of this hamburger junction as a replacement for the roundabout starts after the Olympics. It does not have to be completed before the Olympics.” That would remove one of the major causes of suspicion among my constituents, which is that this solution is a means of trying to ensure that a few Olympic officials can travel through Dorset more quickly than they might otherwise, at the expense of the long-term inconvenience of local people.
When my hon. Friend ably opened this debate, I noted that he kept emphasising that these traffic management measures are designed to facilitate competitors and officials getting to the venues. As he will know, Weymouth is a long way from Canford Bottom—more than an hour’s journey away—and I think a wise competitor or official will base their residence much closer to Weymouth. I therefore wonder what timetable might be put in place for the operation of this Olympic route network on the A31 during the games. Is it going to operate for 24 hours a day, or is it going to operate only when it is actually needed and competitors or officials are travelling to a venue? I ask that because at present it seems as though it is designed to enable all the Olympic organisation hangers-on to be able to travel at speed in their limos from London to Weymouth, when everybody else is being told that they will have to travel by public transport. I hope my hon. Friend will be able to give us some assurances on that.
This point is also of relevance in respect of the proposal to close off the junction at the Merley roundabout, which leads towards Poole. My hon. Friend will understand that if one closes a junction on a busy highway and prevents people from turning towards a major destination such as Poole, it will lead to considerable inconvenience for local people. It would be helpful to have an assurance that that inconvenience will be limited to times when it is absolutely essential to facilitate the transport of officials and competitors to the sailing events in Weymouth.
Paragraph 84 of the explanatory notes to the Bill states that one of the Government’s objectives is
“to ensure the safe and reliable movement of athletes, officials and other members of the Games Family”—
capital “G”, capital “F”.
What causes me a bit of concern is what we mean by the “Games Family”. Does it mean Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all, with the exception of local residents and potential spectators? Who does it mean? Paragraph (b) states that the objective of the Government is
“to deter workers and spectators from driving to the venues”.
One way of deterring those people from driving to Weymouth is to ensure that the existing congested roads are kept around the Canford Bottom roundabout and that they are improved only after the 2012 Olympics.
The Government also clearly say that they want
“to minimise the impact of the 2012 Games on local businesses and residents going about their everyday business.”
That is why I have sought the opportunity of this debate to seek these assurances. There is an argument for saying that clause 4 should be amended in Committee to make it clear that these traffic regulation orders are to enable the objective of moving athletes and officials around on the road network to be met more easily and that the wider “Games Family” should not be used as an excuse for inconveniencing people with the orders under this clause.
When some of my colleagues saw the reference in the Bill to pedlars they thought that I might wish to direct some remarks in that direction and to ticket touting. I could easily do so, but I wish the focus to be on the constituency issue to which I have drawn the Minister’s attention. I would not want to detract from that particular matter, but I am sure that people will be able to look more closely in Committee at whether there is proportionality on the touting offences. I would like the Bill to contain something that makes it clear that people who sell their tickets, particularly any from LOCOG, will be penalised and will not be able to claim privilege when confronted by the forces of the law. I suspect that, as has happened during previous Olympic games, quite a lot of the people who are privileged to be given free tickets then sell those tickets for their own ends and the tickets get on to the secondary market. I hope that the Minister will give us an assurance that the provisions on touting will also apply to all Olympic officials and that there will be no opportunity for them to avoid the full force of the law if they are found to have contravened the Bill.
I hope that I have been able to put the Canford Bottom roundabout on the map, so to speak. This Minister is responsible for the ODA and so I hope he will realise that this is a significant issue and will be able to assure us that the best solution for the Canford Bottom roundabout is not dependent on its implementation before the Olympic games and the sailing events in Weymouth.
With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to contribute to the conclusion of this debate. Since last year’s general election, I have at no time felt a sense of relief that I am no longer the Minister responsible for the Olympics, but when I realised that I will not have to find a solution to the agony of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) over the hamburger junctions, I may for that alone have had a small moment of gratitude.
As we conclude this excellent debate, I am sure that hon. Members from all parties will want to thank Mr Deputy Speaker—your predecessor in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker—for his patience and for the latitude he gave to so many speakers. That does not suggest any degree of indifference among Members to the small number of technical changes proposed in the Bill, but rather an appetite for further opportunities to debate in the House the exciting prospect of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We have covered a wide range of important issues that will have a material bearing on public enjoyment and the enhancement of the UK’s reputation as we host these games. My hon. Friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) has developed great understanding and expertise on the subject of ticket touting. My hon. Friends the Members for West Ham (Lyn Brown) and for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), who represent Olympic boroughs, gave moving speeches, full of passion, about the impact of the games. It is very easy to forget that impact, but they can see the faces and hear the voices of the people whose lives are diminished or enhanced by our hosting of the Olympic games. We should never forget that there are people in Newham and Tower Hamlets dealing every day with more disruption and disappointment as well as preparing for the excitement of being at the centre of this great global event. Many hon. Members also referred to the importance of maintaining confidence in the manner in which these small technical amendments will be applied in practice.
I thank the hon. Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) for his leadership of the all-party group on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. As he rightly said, it embodies the enthusiasm across the House for the prospect of the games in little over a year’s time.
We know that this event will change our country in a variety of ways, some of which we can predict, some of which we cannot. We are hosting these games because we want to see more young people—indeed, people of all ages—taking part in and competing in sport, because we want this to be a celebration for the whole of the UK, because we are proud of our city and our country, and because we think we can showcase this great event to the world. We are hosting this great event because we want to see it bring lasting change. Much of that change will be in the private experience of villages, towns and cities around the country and of individuals who resolve to do different or perhaps greater things for themselves and their families as a result of their participation in the games.
Let us not forget when we visit the Olympic park, as I hope all Members will, that we will see before us change which without the Olympics would not have happened for 30 years. The tough job of turning that into a lasting legacy and bringing in inward investment, new jobs and new confidence will begin when the last of our visitors goes in 2012.
Finally, I would like to thank the Minister, the Secretary of State and the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster) for the way in which they have worked to maintain the cross-party agreement on the Olympics which it has been so clear from this debate the House wants.
With the leave of the House, I will close the debate, which has been interesting. I am extremely grateful to hon. Members for their contributions and for debating the issues in the Bill in such a helpful and constructive manner. Let me run briefly through the questions and issues that have been raised. In an intervention, the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) asked me to confirm that the cost of enforcement officers will be reimbursed by the ODA via contracts with local authorities, and I can confirm that.
May I thank, once again, the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) not only for her positive contribution this afternoon, both at the start and the end, but for her contribution to this process from start to finish? I think there is wide recognition inside the Olympic movement that had it not been for her championing of this event at the very beginning we might not have been standing here debating it this afternoon. For that and so much else, we thank her. The comments that have been made today should tell her all she needs to know; her efforts on this front are genuinely appreciated across the House and in the wider world.
The right hon. Lady raised a number of points, the first of which was about how the regulations are applied. I think that we are at one on this issue. Indeed, the body of opinion across the House is very clear: the regulations need to be applied sensibly and proportionately and we will look at all the ways in which we could do that. As she correctly said, communication of what is required is absolutely key to making them work. We will consider whether it will be the Secretary of State or the Mayor who has the relevant powers. In nominating the Secretary of State, we were simply following the guidance set out in the original 2006 Act. Of course, a number of the powers concern things that take place outside London, so there is that element to consider. We will certainly make sure that Transport for London and the relevant local authorities are fully consulted. On the right hon. Lady's point about the victims of 7/7, I think that all of us who were in Singapore will have that seared on our minds for ever. That point was well made.
My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes) talked about a number of sports events in and around his borough. He will no doubt be delighted that next door we have also now secured the world canoe championships for 2015, which is yet another world-class event to look forward to. He asked about proportionality and the enforcement of regulations. I can confirm that the regulations will make express provision to exclude those who inadvertently wear logos to events. Clearly, there is a fine line to tread, because if a lot of people who “inadvertently” wear a logo all meet up in the middle there will be a replay of what we saw in South Africa, so the provision will require sensible application, which it will get.
The hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) as always made her case powerfully for her constituents. She was the first person to mention her local paper and I should think there is no better advertisement for the Newham Recorder than her. She asked about the £20,000 fine, which we will consider. Let me make it clear that the level of the fine was signposted in the original Act. With the £20,000 figure we are simply following the advice of the Metropolitan police and if that advice changes we will be prepared to alter the fine. The ODA will undertake an extensive campaign to publicise all the regulations for local businesses. There is already quite a lot more detail than there might originally have been on the London 2012 website. I hope that will help, but if the hon. Lady feels there is a further issue to address, I hope she will come back to me.
For the first time in the six years that we have been debating this issue I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr Foster) managed to get through an entire contribution without advocating Bath university over Loughborough, which is the normal course of things. I thank him for his contribution and for his support for the project. We are also grateful for the contribution that his party is making through one of its former leaders to the promotion of the school games. He emphasised the importance of communication about the Olympic route network and he was absolutely correct. Work has already been started by TfL in London and by the ODA outside it. I am told that already 60,000 letters have been distributed on the issue and 12 drop-in sessions have been held. That communication will continue as we move forward.
If the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson), my favourite sparring partner on ticket touting, thought that I was a little fierce earlier, I will put her mind at rest: I have a very open mind on the matter. There are arguments on both sides, as she knows and experienced during debate on the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill she promoted in January. The key thing is the level of threat identified by the police. After the debate in January, I asked about that again. I was told that a specific threat had been identified, but that it related to specific events, of which the Olympics is one such event, hence the need for this legislation. However, we will keep an open mind on this as we move forward.
The hon. Lady asked about the timing of the Bill’s progress and of ticket re-sales. It is very difficult to give assurances on the timing. If we get it out of Committee according to the time scale currently envisaged, we hope that it will then proceed to the other place, where there is quite a legislative logjam. The plan was to try to achieve Royal Assent by the end of the year so that the preparatory work can be done to set things up, but I fear that the timings will not quite work. We will try to get the legislation through as fast as possible.
I wish to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) not only for his speech and his enthusiasm for this project from the start, but for his chairmanship of the all-party group and the sensible and helpful way in which he has supplied advice and guidance as the process has gone on. I do not know how many Members know this, but he has also personally been extraordinarily generous and helpful to potential yachtsmen and women trying to contribute in 2012 and to our rowing squads. I thank him for that as well as for his help to the British Paralympic Association. He really has been a true friend to this process.
My hon. Friend asked about the Olympic route network, among a number of other things. The idea is not to have it open any longer than is absolutely necessary. We all realise that it will be disruptive to some extent or another, so it will be open only when necessary and expedient for the efficient delivery of the games. I thank him finally for his Select Committee’s report on public diplomacy. He said that he thought that 100 Heads of State might attend, but the last estimate I saw indicated that there will be more than 150, such is the popularity of London, so there will an opportunity for considerable public diplomacy.
The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) spoke, and I am sorry, because she is absolutely key to the delivery. Huge benefits are accruing to the east end of London through the Olympics. There are 12,500 people currently working on the site who would not otherwise be there. Next door, in Stratford, the largest shopping centre in Europe is being built. The Olympic park will be the largest new urban park developed anywhere in Europe. There are huge training and employment benefits for people in the east end. I absolutely understand why she wants to fight as hard as she can for her constituents and get as much as she can for them, but it would help the process of delivery if she was prepared to advocate more positively the benefits it will bring.
We all know the current public funding position. The Government have fought very hard to deliver the Olympic games budget and keep it intact, and we have been successful in doing so. We will do exactly what we have promised to do, but local people must also play their part. I hope that the hon. Lady will step forward and be slightly more positive about this in future.
As far as policing is concerned, up to £600 million is available for policing the Olympics and a further £238 million is available in contingency funds, so there is, or should be, no shortage of money available.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod) talked very passionately about the legacy for sport and exercise of this whole process. That was a key part of the bid in Singapore and she is absolutely right to highlight it. She made the same point that my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate made about the proportionate application of the regulations, and I hope that I have given her some reassurance on that front.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) mentioned in an earlier intervention local authorities and traffic problems. We can confirm that local authorities have such powers already, which they can use if they perceive that there is a problem. I confirm that the national lottery will be repaid on receipt of the land sales. I thank him for encouraging people to attend some of the less well-known events. Indeed, the early evidence from the ticketing process is that that is exactly what has happened, so I thank him for his advocacy of it.
My hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Andrew Bingham) made the point about the resale capacity of the website, and he is absolutely right. With the exception of the relatively small blip on Tuesday night, the website has performed extraordinarily well. As my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South said earlier, this is the largest ticketing exercise that this country has ever undertaken, and there was one tiny minor blip at the very last minute which was quickly corrected, so it has been a fantastic success. The resale issue is crucial—the Government are absolutely clear about that—if we are to have tough ticket-touting regulations.
Finally, I turn to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) and the Canford Bottom roundabout. Despite some encouragement from both sides of the House, I am not going to get into that issue this afternoon. I am going to stick to the line that I gave him during the many interventions that he tried me with earlier, not least because I, like him, am not entirely sure about a hamburger junction. We wondered whether it might be round and where the filling might be—all the various possible permutations.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers) was here earlier, and the best we can offer is that we will look into the issue and get back to my hon. Friend. We are not entirely clear that the Canford Bottom roundabout alterations are directly funded through the Olympic transport budget. Local authorities are carrying out a series of projects of their own accord in order better to host events, and it may well be that the Canford Bottom roundabout improvements are one such example, but we will find out and let him know.
This has been a good debate with many interesting contributions from all parts of the House. At the beginning, I said that the provisions in the Bill serve to ensure that the original intentions of the 2006 Act can be delivered. The commitments given to the International Olympic Committee on the restriction of advertising, trading, ticket touting and traffic management all play a major part in the delivery of a safe, successful and memorable games, and this Bill goes a long way to ensuring that those assurances can be effectively delivered.
I think that I speak for the whole House in putting on the record our thanks and gratitude to the many people who have worked in the many organisations that are seeking to deliver this project. The Olympic Delivery Authority has worked such wonders with the construction and, as several people said, finally laid to rest the ghost that we cannot deliver major construction projects on time and below budget.
The organising committee has met the various organisational challenges. Indeed, only fairly recently, one major media figure said to me, “It’ll be ticketing. That’s the one that’ll go wrong,” but that is yet another challenge that the games have met and—so far, as far we know—conquered.
The legacy is a difficult issue, and nobody would pretend otherwise. Everybody naturally talks it up a lot at the start of a process, but it can be quantified and formed only as we reach the end of the process. We are in the middle of the process at the moment, but I think that there is a real shape to the legacy now.
There is an enormous amount to be proud of in terms of what has been constructed on the park, what will be left on the park and in the surrounding area, and its effect on Olympic and Paralympic sport in this country, on people who play sport in their communities, on school children who will have the new schools Olympics, and crucially—we always tend to forget this—on 10 million young children in 20 countries throughout the world who have been touched by the really innovative and powerful international inspiration programme. So, to all the people who have been involved in the delivery of the project and, indeed, to our own civil servants and the Government Olympic Executive, I put on the record our thanks.
We meet at a good time in London’s Olympics: the budget has held, the construction effort has gone well and is 70% complete, the organisational challenges have thus far been met and the legacy is taking shape. The right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood was absolutely right to say that it has gone well thus far, but let nobody forget for a moment that construction is at its peak and a large number of challenges are yet to be met if we are to deliver a successful Olympics. Complacency is no part of the process, and there is a great deal to do, but at this moment the London 2012 project is in great shape. I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a Second time.
London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill (programme)
Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),
That the following provisions shall apply to the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill:
1. The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.
Proceedings in Public Bill Committee
2. Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 19 May 2011.
3. The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.
Consideration and Third Reading
4. Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.
5. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.
6. Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading.
7. Any other proceedings on the Bill (including any proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further messages from the Lords) may be programmed. —(Mr Goodwill.)
Question agreed to.