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London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 8 September 2011

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee

Before I call the Minister, I wish to inform the House of an issue that will need to be dealt with. I understand that amendments to the Bill tabled by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) on Tuesday evening did not appear on the amendment paper. The reasons for this, which are currently unknown, are being urgently investigated. As this oversight has been discovered at such a late stage, I do not consider it appropriate to select the hon. Gentleman’s amendments. However, he can be confident that he will be able to raise his substantive concerns about the Bill during this afternoon’s proceedings.

Further to that statement, human error has obviously intervened in the matter, and it is the first time in 28 years—since I was first elected—that amendments which I have tabled have not been translated on to the amendment paper. It is a pity that I was on parliamentary business abroad yesterday and did not realise that there was a problem until first thing this morning, but I am happy that we will be able to discuss at least the substance of my amendments under the debate on new clause 2. I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for making that indication.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his co-operation, but as he has said, although this is a very rare occurrence, it is none the less of a nature that needs to be taken seriously and urgently investigated, and I am sure that the Table Office will inform him of exactly why it occurred.

New Clause 1

Goods vehicle operator licences

After section 16D of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, insert—

“16E Goods vehicle operator licences: waiver of procedural requirements

(1) This section applies in a case where, on an application to vary an operator’s licence under section 17 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”), a traffic commissioner is satisfied that—

(a) the variation applied for has a connection with the London Olympics,

(b) there would not, but for this section, be sufficient time to dispose of the application before the beginning of the London Olympics period, and

(c) the circumstances in which the application is being made are such that, but for this section, it could not have been made in sufficient time to be disposed of before the beginning of that period.

(2) The traffic commissioner may direct—

(a) that subsection (3) is to apply in relation to the application, and

(b) if the traffic commissioner proposes to hold an inquiry under section 35 of the 1995 Act in relation to the application, that subsection (4) is to apply in relation to the inquiry.

(3) If the traffic commissioner gives the direction under subsection (2)(a), the following provisions of the 1995 Act do not apply in relation to the application—

(a) section 17(3) (publication of notice by traffic commissioner);

(b) section 18 (publication of notice by operator).

(4) If the traffic commissioner gives the direction under subsection (2)(b), Schedule 4 to the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/2869), in its application to the inquiry, has effect as if for sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 1 there were substituted—

(3) The traffic commissioner may abridge the periods referred to in sub-paragraphs (1) and (2).”

(5) Section 23 of the 1995 Act (conditions as to use of operating centres) applies in relation to the licence as if the application were an application of which notice has been published under section 17(3) of that Act.

(6) Such variations as are made to the licence on the application, including by the attachment of conditions under section 21 or 23 of the 1995 Act (road safety and operating centres), have effect only during the London Olympics period.

(7) Subsection (3)(a) does not affect the liability incurred in respect of the application under regulation 3 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) (Fees) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/3000) (which requires payment of a fee on an application for variation for which publication is required by section 17(3) of the 1995 Act).

(8) The power to give a direction under subsection (2) includes power to vary or revoke the direction.

(9) In exercising functions under this section, the traffic commissioner must act under the general directions of, and have regard to guidance given by, the senior traffic commissioner.

(10) In this section, “operator’s licence” has the same meaning as in the 1995 Act (see section 2(1) of that Act).”’.—(Hugh Robertson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Hon. Members may recall that back in May, when the Bill was being scrutinised in Committee, Transport for London submitted evidence that called for further amendments. TfL argued that in order to ensure that businesses in London continued to receive goods deliveries and operators were able to arrange delivery times that were compliant with time restrictions for the games, amendments to goods vehicle legislation were required. I am very grateful to the Committee for its encouragement to bring forward changes, if necessary. The Government have considered the matter, and as a result I am introducing a small number of technical amendments to address the concerns that TfL raised.

Operator licences are granted by traffic commissioners, TCs, who are independent office holders and statutorily appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport. One matter that a TC is required to consider when granting a licence is the suitability of the operating centre where vehicles are usually parked and maintained. About 1,700 of the 92,000 goods vehicle operator licences in place contain conditions relating to operating centres, such as conditions concerning hours of use. There is an existing process by which operators may apply to vary the conditions of their licence. In most cases, the Government would expect operators to plan for the need for any variation and to seek it via normal procedures.

Traffic commissioners plan to write to all those operators who have environmental conditions on their licence, reminding them of the need to consider whether the Olympics are likely to have an impact that demands a variation, and to get their applications in now. Typically, for a straightforward case that involves environmental issues, it normally takes between 15 and 20 weeks for an operator’s application for a variation to be considered under current statutory processes, and traffic commissioners cannot short-circuit those procedures.

Despite such preparatory steps, however, the Government believe that, owing to entirely unforeseen circumstances such as the award of a short-term haulage contract or a short-notice change to an existing contract, some operators will need to seek a relaxation of their environmental licence conditions shortly before the start of the Olympic period.

Government intervention is therefore necessary to ensure that in such exceptional circumstances—I repeat that it is only in those exceptional circumstances—operators can apply at short notice for a variation to their environmental conditions, particularly in the hours of operation. As a result, new clause 1 would provide for an expedited process that removed the statutory requirement whereby a games-related application needs to be advertised by the operator who has submitted the application. It would remove the requirement for a traffic commissioner to publish the application; it would retain the statutory power of a traffic commissioner to hold public inquiries to seek further information to inform their decision; and it would remove the statutory requirement whereby the notice period for a public inquiry can be abridged only if the consent of all persons entitled to attend a public inquiry is given.

We have considered carefully whether it is proportionate and justified to remove those safeguards, and we consider that it is. Without short-circuiting existing procedures, there will be no way in which an urgent application, arising from unforeseen circumstances around the Olympic games, can be dealt with quickly enough.

Importantly, however, traffic commissioners’ powers to determine individual applications would be retained, including their powers to impose additional conditions to counter any environmental nuisance that might result. For example, they may want to stipulate that quieter vehicle operations be followed, such as restricting the use of lorry-reversing beepers. Retaining the discretion of traffic commissioners and their knowledge of operators and localities when considering individual applications would help to avoid any abuse of the temporary flexibility.

Amendments 3 and 4 are consequential to the changes that the new clause would bring in. Taken together, the measures—this is really the crucial thing—should help to ensure that, during games time, goods can be delivered and services provided, so contributing to the successful delivery of the London games.

In new clause 1, proposed new section 16E(1)(a) refers to the “connection” that a variation of an application has with the Olympic games. Will my hon. Friend expand on the guidance that will be given to traffic commissioners as to what a connection with the London Olympic games is deemed to be, in order to ensure that their decisions are based on the right criteria?

I take my hon. Friend’s point, but to a certain extent I should hope that any connection will be reasonably self-evident. It will refer to things that happen over the Olympic games period, a clearly defined period from 27 July to just before the middle of August, and it will clearly refer only to games-time activities, so I hope that in those circumstances it will be reasonably obvious to the traffic commissioner what they are dealing with.

We are pleased to support new clause 1 and the consequential amendments 3 and 4, because, as the Minister has clearly set out and, indeed, our constructive discussions in Committee reflected, new clause 1 and the consequential amendments would allow traffic commissioners to apply a shortened application procedure for haulage operators who want to apply for a change to any environmental conditions imposed on the location where their lorries are kept, particularly the hours that they may operate in and out of that location.

That flexibility is of enormous importance during the period of the games, as many haulage operators may need to adjust their operations in response to increased delivery restrictions in London, as well as in other areas of Britain where Olympic events are being held.

I will come on to this point when we discuss new clause 2, but it is my firm belief that although some of the operational necessities of the games may cause inconvenience for individuals and businesses, we should do all that we can to keep that inconvenience to a minimum. Again, there was a strong consensus on that in Committee.

New clause 1 is therefore a sensible measure that will make it easier for haulage operators to adjust to difficulties that they may experience as a result of the games. It forms part of a critical wider programme led by Transport for London to encourage individuals and businesses to change their travel behaviour and arrangements during what will be, by any measure, a challenging time for London’s transport system. I think that Members on both sides of the House are confident that London will rise to that challenge, and we are happy to offer our support.

May I begin by saying that I was mildly disappointed with the business managers—this is absolutely no criticism of you, Madam Deputy Speaker, or Mr Speaker—for selecting today of all days to debate this important Bill, given that many of us who are here would far rather be celebrating with our Paralympians as today is Paralympics day? Perhaps there will be an opportunity later today to do that.

The new clause and the consequent amendments are very important. During one of the excellent sittings in which the Committee took oral evidence from expert witnesses, I asked Mr Garrett Emmerson of London Streets, which is a Transport for London body,

“are you confident that we have sufficient powers, or that sufficient powers will be given to the right people, to deal with freight vehicles on our roads that are delivering to keep our city running smoothly?”

I stress the words about keeping the “city running smoothly”, because this is not just about ensuring that what needs to be done for the 2012 games happens. He replied:

“We have identified a major concern about the ability of freight operators to service the business community at key times during the games.”

He went on to say:

“A single-day event, such as the royal wedding, is a very different proposition from three weeks of a continuous event. For a single day, it is not a particularly huge challenge to say, “Well, actually, we can’t make a delivery on Friday; it will have to come on Thursday or Saturday.” But the sustained duration of this event creates a very different proposition for businesses.”––[Official Report, London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Public Bill Committee, 17 May 2011; c. 41, Q87.]

Because of those concerns, TfL and other bodies have been working hard to warn the business community of changes that will take place during the Olympic and Paralympic games, and to provide it with as much help and support as possible to alter its arrangements. That will of course impact on things such as deliveries to businesses. The examples are pretty obvious: pubs need beer, sandwich shops need bread and businesses need photocopier paper—the list is endless. Businesses that have planned will organise their deliveries to come at the right time. It is fabulous that TfL and others are giving plenty of notice to such organisations. Even today, TfL has had a session with more than 70 major freight operators to advise them that they should be working with the people they supply, so that those people, in turn, can plan accordingly.

The issue is what happens if a business has not been far-sighted and efficient enough to plan with its supplier the deliveries that it needs in order to keep going. My question to the Minister is whether those circumstances are envisaged in the language that is used in the new clause, which states that the variation applied for

“has a connection with the London Olympics”.

That is somewhat different from being influenced by the London Olympics. I assume from the Minister’s response to an earlier intervention that that interpretation is the one that he is using. However, that would not necessarily fall within his other comments that something should be “urgent” and “unforeseen”. In some cases, it might just be down to the incompetence of the person who needs the supplies.

The Minister says that he hopes the new clause is reasonably self-evident. I am not convinced that it is. If he gives a very clear explanation that it will apply to circumstances that occur because of the London Olympics, with all the caveats that he set out—of course the traffic commissioners will consider whether it really is necessary—that will solve the problem. I look forward to him giving that assurance when he responds.

I think I can be very brief, Madam Deputy Speaker. I give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. On that basis, I hope that we can agree to the new clause.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 1 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 2

Operation of Olympic Route Network

‘(1) Section 11 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) in paragraph (a) leave out from “unless” to end of paragraph and insert— “the following have been consulted—

(i) the highway authority, traffic authority or street authority with responsibility for each road designated in the order, and

(ii) members of the public living in the Greater London Authority area and in the local authority areas through which roads designated in the order run,”.

(3) In subsection (4) after paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) may not be made unless the consultation under paragraph (a) considered—

(i) proposals for the minimisation of disruption to the general public due to the operation of the Olympic Route Network,

(ii) proposals for informing members of the public in relation to the proposed Olympic Route Network and its likely impact on local and regional traffic,

(iii) proposals for maintaining road safety and preventing accidents which might result from operation of the Olympic Route Network,

(iv) proposals for allowing taxis licensed under section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, section 6 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 or under any similar enactment to use the Olympic Route Network in appropriate circumstances, and

(v) proposals for ensuring that the Olympic Route Network and related restrictions should be in operation for the shortest time possible in order to achieve the purposes set out in subsections (1) and (2).”’.—(Tessa Jowell.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I want to begin by expressing our support for the changes to the management of traffic, on which we gave undertakings in the bid book. Olympic lanes were a condition of bidding for the games, and they are vital in ensuring that we have a smooth flow of key people to and from events. In the bid book, as the Minister will be aware, we made a commitment to

“a designated ORN”—

Olympic route network—with Olympic lanes

“to speed the journeys of the Olympic family.”

My purpose today is to raise some of the operational issues concerning the upheaval—the welcome upheaval—in prospect for our city which, for those of use who are London MPs, will have been raised by our constituents. It is important that we work constantly until and throughout the games to ensure that any difficulties faced by Londoners and residents of other parts of the country that are hosting Olympic events are kept to an absolute minimum.

First, we need to make sure that even better information is provided about the ORN plans, remembering that an announcement made 18 months before the games must be repeated at very regular intervals right up until the games. Otherwise, people do not feel that they have been properly informed and will not understand how they have to reorganise their journeys and so forth, and that is not good enough. One of the lessons from the test events was the importance of not just telling people but telling them again and again in a spirit of support for minimising the disruption that they face. We must therefore review the effectiveness of the information strategy.

The Olympic Delivery Authority and Transport for London have done a really excellent job in consultation on the route, but that process, as the Minister will remember, has gone on for a very long time. There is a difference between mere consultation and information that enables people to manage their lives. Londoners and those from other parts of the country living on or near the ORN will at times undoubtedly face quite serious levels of disruption. Through distributing clear information widely and early, the Government and the Greater London authority can help all those affected to prepare, and not to get too angry but to feel that they were duly warned.

Businesses will not be able to receive deliveries in normal hours. Postal and refuse collection services for residents will be disrupted. Taxi and private hire drivers may face long delays and loss of custom. Local residents and businesses need clear and detailed information in as many different forms and languages as possible so that they can plan for the period when the Olympic lanes will be in operation. Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will take all necessary steps to review the quality of information and perhaps do a bit of testing of how widely the impact of the ORN is understood?

One of the issues that has been raised with me by residents is how long this Olympic lane is going to be in place—100 days, which far exceeds the duration of the Olympic games and the Paralympic games.

I am pleased to see the Minister shaking his head. However, the fact that I think, and my residents think, that the lane will be in place for that long is a worry. I agree with my right hon. Friend that information is vital to keeping local residents on board with what is going on, because I get a very small but significant postbag from those who are already complaining about the disruption they are facing and are likely to face.

I thank my hon. Friend, whose constituents have perhaps had to bear more of the dust and upheaval of the Olympic park construction than anybody else.

Yes, and we say hooray for the new multi-purpose football stadium in the Olympic park. Hopefully at least some of my hon. Friend’s constituents will think it is worth it. I know that the Minister will want to reply to her point.

The second matter of concern that people are beginning to raise is the impact of changes to traffic signals, and the fear that they will significantly increase congestion throughout London. I wish briefly to share a reminiscence with the House. When the evaluation committee came, we were all on our very best behaviour, wanting to persuade the International Olympic Committee that London was the place to host the games. I know that the Minister was very much part of that evaluation visit. We were coming down Gower street, which is normally an area of considerable congestion leading down to Cambridge circus and Trafalgar square. It normally takes about 20 minutes to get from the top to the bottom. As the bus turned into the top of Gower street, all that I could see, right down to the bottom, were green lights. I feared that that might seem implausible, so I suggested that perhaps we might see one red light on our journey down. The point is that the conditions that the evaluation committee enjoyed will not prevail during the games themselves. I hope that there will be close scrutiny of the impact of changes to traffic signals.

Will the Minister also undertake to work with the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Mayor of London to ensure that information about traffic signals is made public without further delay? That is necessary for precisely the same reason as my previous request: we need to prepare people for the degree of extra congestion that they may have to navigate around.

The substantive question on the new clause is whether we can minimise the number of people who will use the Olympic lanes. We know that 97% of those arriving at the Olympic park are expected to arrive by public transport. That is a very good thing, and it will certainly be a lot quicker than getting there by car, except for members of the IOC and athletes. We have to remember that Olympic lanes were specifically designed in the wake of Atlanta to make it easier for athletes to get to the Olympic park or their Olympic venue on time and to prepare properly for their event. We should constantly draw attention to who is eligible to use the Olympic lane, and to the fact that the rest of London will get to the Olympic park on the fantastic new transport in which so much has been invested. I am quite sure that the Minister and Members of all parties will set an example in the form of transport that they choose.

If there is a sense of two classes of travellers to the Olympic park—those whose journeys are hell and those who glide down the Olympic lanes—we have to anticipate that that will quickly become a source of tension, because London is that type of city. I know that the Minister, who has shown great sensitivity about such issues, will be aware of that, and I hope we will do everything we practically can, consistent with the undertakings that we gave, to mitigate the tension.

The third point raised by new clause 2 is on pedestrian crossings. The Opposition are asking the Minister to work with the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Mayor of London to look again at this issue. The latest projection—the Minister may want to correct this—is that more than 60 pedestrian crossings will be closed for months on some of the busiest roads. Although we understand the need for rapid transport between venues, it is important that we do not compromise road safety. In addition, we cannot have a situation in which significant parts of London are effectively divided in half, with residents unable to cross roads.

The fourth point in the new clause is on taxis and private hire drivers. Will the Minister agree to work with his colleagues, the ODA and the Mayor to examine whether it is feasible for taxis to use the Olympic road network in certain specified areas or at certain specific times? This is an important industry in London and the views of taxi drivers are important in shaping the reaction of visitors.

The right hon. Lady is absolutely right that getting taxi drivers in London on our side is crucial in the campaign for wider public support, but before she moves on to her fifth point, will she explain a little the language she has chosen to use? She is basically proposing that appropriate taxis should be able use the Olympic route network in appropriate circumstances, but what does she have in mind?

The language is flexible, because how greater flexibility is delivered is an operational matter for the ODA and Transport for London. A number of possibilities are covered. It might include access to the Olympic lanes for taxis early in the morning or late at night, when their use for Olympic transport is not at its maximum, or use could be restricted to black cabs—we would want to avoid suddenly having a whole lot of operators claiming to be taxis and therefore eligibility to use the Olympic lanes. Those are two examples of greater flexibility, and we would be grateful if the Minister, with the ODA and TfL, could examine them.

In respect of local businesses within Newham, I would be remiss if I did not say that if taxi cabs were allowed to use the Olympic route, registered minicab firms in the borough, which will need to find a way to profit from the games, may also wish to be considered. Should the Minister choose to look at the matter in the round, he could give greater consideration to the use of the Olympic lanes by private hire cars.

I am sure that the Minister heard my hon. Friend’s representation. However, the three or four points that I have made underline the complexity of the matter. That is why the new clause is drafted in general terms. I do not feel that the Opposition are in a position to be prescriptive, but we are inviting the Minister to engage in discussion. He is as aware as I am of the tension arising from this matter. One of the great joys of being a regular broadcaster on London’s Biggest Conversation, which has an enormous listening audience of taxi drivers, is that I get the red meat from them—feelings are very strong. We would not be doing our proper duty if we did not respond to that, demonstrate that we have done so, and used our best endeavours.

One of the matters that the right hon. Lady has not mentioned, but which is mentioned in the new clause, is consultation. The whole of the Greater London area is mentioned in connection with the potential consultation. I suspect, however, that as we get closer to the games, lots and lots of people in the area will have something to say and that we could end up with death by consultation. We could be overwhelmed. Will she clarify, therefore, exactly what she means by consultation, what form it would take and when it would happen? If she intends to press the new clause to a vote, some of us on the Government Benches might be sympathetic, but we would need further details.

Perhaps uncharacteristically in this place, we do not intend to press the new clause to a vote, subject obviously to the Minister providing satisfactory assurances on the points raised. The most important thing is that he raises them with the relevant authorities and that we find a solution to the growing concerns of Londoners about the prospect of Olympic lanes. This is but one example of very many that we will face in the weeks—47 now, I think—before the games. We have to be vigilant and focused on helping the relationship between the huge festival that is the Olympics and the daily lives and convenience of Londoners and London businesses.

In conclusion, I hope that I have—fairly briefly—made clear our concerns, which are reflected by Members who represent London constituencies on both sides of the House. I have had some helpful discussions with the Minister, and I am sure that we will listen eagerly to this reply.

It gives me great pleasure to support the new clause tabled by the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell). She said that she was not going to push the matter to a vote, but she might change her mind when she hears what has happened in my constituency over the so-called consultation—or lack of—on part of the Olympic network.

Mr Deputy Speaker, as was indicated by Madam Deputy Speaker earlier, I tabled a series of amendments and new clauses that, owing to a glitch, did not appear on the Order Paper, but which reflected the spirit of the right hon. Lady’s new clause. One of my amendments would have required that no road closure or restriction be operated outside the London Olympics period as defined in the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006. I tabled that amendment because we, in my constituency, are concerned about the disruption that will be caused to local residents and businesses well before the games start by the execution of improvement works at the Canford Bottom roundabout.

The right hon. Lady and others will recall that we discussed this matter on Second Reading on 28 April. I make no apology for returning to the subject today, however, because on that occasion I said that clause 4 would be helpful because it would enable the authorities to impose restrictions on side roads and local authority roads, thereby avoiding the need for the Canford Bottom improvements to be pushed through in defiance of local public opinion before the Olympics. That is how it was left on Second Reading.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) and I then went to see the Minister with responsibility for roads, who was extremely helpful and accommodating, and said that there must be a proper public meeting and public exhibitions of the proposals, which was not what the Highways Agency originally proposed. Unfortunately, the exhibitions and the public meeting did not take place until the last week or two of July. What concerned my hon. Friend and me at the public meeting was that even at that late stage the Highways Agency had not produced the data about the impact of the closures and the works on local people and local businesses. That meeting took place after the House had gone into recess, but to give due credit to the Minister, he intervened and said that he would not allow the contract for the works to be let straight away, because it was important that the data, which had been promised for months if not years, should be made available to my hon. Friend and me and to the local highways authority.

Two weeks later we got a letter saying that the data were now available—they had been put up on some website. Unfortunately, that same day, before the data had been examined by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole or me, or by the other people to whom it had been sent, we were told that the Minister was going to authorise the letting of the contract because he needed to be able to deliver the Olympic route. Under the terms of the Bill, it would not be necessary for him to have those works carried out at the Canford Bottom roundabout in advance of the Olympics, because he would have the power to restrict the local roads at the time and thereby compensate for any other traffic jams that might arise. We therefore faced a situation where the Minister, by his own admission, was contradicting what he had told my hon. Friend and me when we went to see him, namely that the issue of the improvements to the Canford Bottom roundabout was totally separate and apart from the London Olympics route network. It has now become apparent that the Olympic authorities are dictating the terms of the process and riding roughshod over local public opinion. They are also ignoring the representations made by the local highways authority, in so far as it has received sufficient information to enable it to make such representations.

This is a very serious issue. Many Members might not be familiar with the Canford Bottom junction, but it is on the main A31 trunk road where the road changes from being a dual carriageway going west, and it is subject to significant congestion and delay, particularly at peak times. It seems that it is the purpose of the Highways Agency and the Olympic Delivery Authority to ensure that the A31 runs fine, but in so doing to ignore the needs of the other users of that roundabout. When I say that more than 60,000 vehicles a day use that roundabout, I hope that that puts the situation into context for hon. Members. We are not talking about some local roundabout; a roundabout taking more than 60,000 vehicles a day is an extremely busy roundabout. Indeed, it may surprise Members to know that at peak times, two thirds of the vehicles using the roundabout are not using the A31 in both directions, but are using the minor roads going off the roundabout. That means that at peak hours in the morning, when 4,500 vehicles an hour use the roundabout, some 3,000 of them are using the local roads—that is, they are either coming in from one of the four local roads or egressing along one.

What is going to happen to those vehicles? The Highways Agency and the Olympic Delivery Authority are now saying that in order to construct the hamburger junction, which will involve more than 70 traffic lights—[Interruption.] I knew that my reference to the hamburgers would get the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster) excited again, as it did on a previous occasion.

For the avoidance of doubt, the hon. Gentleman will well recall that I asked him to give a definition of a hamburger junction on the last time he raised it. I fully understand, as will all Members, what a hamburger junction is, so we do not need it repeated today.

Absolutely. I cannot remember whether you, Mr Deputy Speaker, were in the Chair last time, but in the course of the discussion the right hon. Gentleman was guilty of making some rather poor-quality jokes about whether or not hamburgers were going to be sponsored in the Olympics and so forth.

This hamburger junction construction is a really significant issue. I am delighted to see that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) is now in the Chamber. He will, I hope, come down and visit this part of the network. If he does so, he will realise the implications of the prospect of total closure of all the side roads off that junction, day after day during five weeks when all four sections will be closed off. That will mean that in the peak hours, 3,000 vehicles an hour that use that junction now will not be able to use it. The consequences in terms of disruption to local businesses and local residents are absolutely beyond comprehension.

Last week, there was an incident on the road between West Parley and Longham—one of the side roads that leads ultimately into the Canford Bottom roundabout—as a result of which that road was closed. The traffic chaos, which extended well into the Bournemouth conurbation and had repercussions as far away as Poole, was enormous. There was a great deal of local anger, yet that was a closure that lasted only a few hours. What we are talking about now is a closure for 12 continuous weeks.

If this were happening in your constituency, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would have done exactly the same as me—raise the matter with the local highways authority. I put the point that if we can keep the main parts of the roundabout for the A31 running during working hours, why cannot we allow the side roads to operate—at least during peak periods or during the working day. The highways authority, Dorset county council, told me that it had been presented by the Highways Agency with some 10 different options for the construction of this hamburger junction. Those options ranged from closing off all the roads completely for 24 or 48 hours and doing the construction quickly, thereby minimising the expense and duration of the works but maximising the disruption to all traffic to, at the other extreme, closing none of the roads at peak times, with the works taking longer and perhaps costing a bit more.

As a result of the pressure of the ODA and the imperative to get this junction improved before the Olympic games—as I say, it is unnecessary, but it has now apparently been imposed on the roads Minister by his counterpart, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics—local businesses and local residents will suffer an enormous amount of disruption. In my submission, that is not consistent with the avowed intent of the Government, as expressed in paragraph 84 of the Bill’s explanatory notes, according to which:

“The Government’s aims in providing for, and enforcing, traffic restrictions required for the 2012 Games”


“to minimise the impact of the 2012 Games on local businesses and residents going about their everyday business.”

I have to tell my hon. Friend the Minister, and my hon. Friend the Minister responsible for roads, that those words ring extremely hollow in the Christchurch constituency, and in the neighbouring constituency of Mid Dorset and North Poole. I am sure that, in due course, when the residents of the Poole constituency, as well as the constituencies of Bournemouth East, Bournemouth West and North Dorset, realise the disruption that will be caused, the clamour for something to be done will become even greater.

In my view, prevention is better than cure, and it is not too late for the Government to intervene. They could say either that the construction works should not be carried out until after the London Olympics, or that they should be carried out using a different method that would enable the local traffic to flow, especially during peak periods. The consequences of the total closures to which I have referred will be completely disproportionate.

I have no doubt that if local people had known in advance about the data, which were supplied by the Highways Agency at the insistence of my hon. Friend the Minister only in the middle of August, there would have been uproar. They would have said that the plans were intolerable. Indeed, local businesses were not told about the proposed closures until the middle of August. They have now been told by EnterpriseMouchel, which works for the Highways Agency, that there will be road closures for 12 weeks from the middle of February 2012 until the beginning of May. That obviously includes the Easter period. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) is looking at me with incredulity at the prospect of major roads being closed for that length of time.

It is impossible to over-emphasise the gravity of the situation. I do not think that the Highways Agency or the Olympic Delivery Authority have any notion of the anger that is going to be generated when people see what is happening on the ground and realise that there was, and still is, an alternative. This is not like when a motorway has to be closed following a fatal accident, which is an act of God—or perhaps not. We know that this is going to happen, and we ought to be able to plan for it and bring in the necessary traffic management measures to ensure minimum disruption to the local traffic. However, because of the imperative of getting the work done before the Olympics, local businesses and residents are going to be put through an enormous amount of inconvenience.

I cannot even get an answer on whether it will be possible for pedestrians to cross from one side of the junction to the other during the course of the works. A detour of perhaps four or five miles will be required for motorists, through congested urban conditions. That will add hours to people’s journeys and do immense economic damage to the locality. When we discussed this on Second Reading, my hon. Friend the Minister said that that was the first he had heard of the problem. I hope that he will now look into the matter again. His Bill enables him to say that the works should be half-completed or curtailed before the Olympics. They do not have to be finished until after the games, and if that is the price of enabling local people to go about their normal lives without disruption, so be it.

Another point relates to the substance of whether the junction improvements are valid. Only when we obtained the data did the position become clear. Although the Highways Agency and others had asserted that everyone would be better off when the improvements had been completed, it was clear from the small print that, even during peak hours, vehicles coming off the eastern part of Wimborne Road West would experience greater delays than they do at present, and that the same would apply to Wimborne Road West in the evening and Ham lane in the morning.

As for off-peak periods—and, of course, much of the day is off-peak, given that the peaks are defined as two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening—it is clear that, contrary to all the assertions, delays on the local roads will increase. That too was not made clear during the consultation, and the Highways Agency—perhaps in the knowledge that the consequences of declaring openly what was going to happen would be adverse to it—did not communicate the effects to local people. This is a serious example of the need for consultation with the local highways authority, but either there was no such consultation or, if it did take place, the highways authority has not been listened to.

When I raised the matter with the traffic manager at Dorset county council’s environmental directorate, he told me that the proposals considered with the Highways Agency included 10 different options for dealing with the traffic. The issues that they took into account were disruption to the network, buildability, and value for money. I asked what the county council thought, and at that stage it became rather difficult to engage with it. I asked a specific question: did the council believe that the proposals to block access and egress from all four local roads for such a long period was reasonable, or did it place a disproportionate burden on local residents and businesses? I also asked it to look at the 10 possible scenarios, but I am sorry to say that I did not receive a very clear answer from the highways authority. I am not sure whether its members had really got their heads around the gravity of what is proposed. The area contains many major businesses, including aerospace manufacturing, and those businesses—not to mention people going about their own ordinary daily business—will be greatly inconvenienced.

If my amendments had been printed and selected, it would have been possible for the Bill to include the commitment made by the Minister earlier and repeated by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead—who is responsible for road traffic—that the disruption to local businesses and residents would be minimised. It is clear from what has happened so far in relation to the A31 and the Canford Bottom improvements that that commitment is not being fulfilled.

I hope that the Minister will relent between now and the beginning of the disruption that is due to start in February. As was established on the last occasion when we discussed the matter, any competitors or officials wanting to go to the Weymouth site will need to be there in good time. They will not want to risk a delay to their journey at the Canford Bottom roundabout, which, in any case, is probably a good hour and a half’s drive from the Olympics venue. Officials and media people may want to bear that in mind.

I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole is now in her place, and I hope she will join in the debate, in order to emphasise that this is not a party political matter, but rather a constituency matter of the highest order. We do not have the luxury of having any motorways in Dorset, and we do not have many trunk roads either, but we expect those that we do have to be managed and dealt with in a way that is much more friendly towards the needs of the local people than seems to be the case at present.

I said I would not speak at length and I have resisted quoting from much of the extensive correspondence I have had with the Minister and officials. I hope this debate—and, perhaps, the protests that will follow if the Government do not relent on the proposed 12-week closures—will bring home to them the fact that local people take this issue very seriously.

I endorse the points that are being made. The Olympic games are a wonderful opportunity for this country, but the impact on our area is beginning to be very considerable, and some of it is causing a great deal of resentment and fear among local businesses. In respect of these road works, due consideration must be given to our local economy and the way of life of local people.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention and her support for our line; we have been operating on this issue together. We have been in the dark for quite a lot of the time, but we have worked hard to try to cast some light on the issue.

There is much talk about the Olympic legacy, and perhaps the Minister will refer to that in his summing up. I fear, however, that the Olympic legacy in my constituency will be people saying, “The Canford Bottom roundabout should have had a proper improvement, but instead a half-baked hamburger junction has been incorporated that will not on any view solve the long-term traffic problems. That was the price that had to be paid for the Olympics.”

I think it is too high a price, and it is also an unnecessary price, because there could have been a little more consultation and rational thought about this matter. We could have delayed the improvements until after the Olympics and thus ensured that they would deliver real benefits to local road users, as well as to national road users using the important A31 network.

I rise to make a few brief remarks on new clause 2. I urge the Minister to ignore the siren voices calling for yet more consultation as we near the Olympic period. While the Opposition will not press their amendments to a vote, I fear that the Minister might choose to acknowledge their sentiments and take on board what they propose.

I am not generally a great fan of Transport for London, but I have to say that its consultation on the Olympic network has been exemplary. Phase 1 addresses the A12 Leytonstone to Redbridge roundabout. Although it is not in my constituency, it is an important London junction, and TfL has written to every resident and business within a certain distance, informing them of all the changes and proposals. It has also held three drop-in sessions, and that procedure has been repeated for every phase.

I represent the constituency in which the Olympic park is based, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I have a small but very significant postbag from residents who are not aware of things that are happening on their doorsteps and that affect their everyday lives, such as whether or not they can go down certain roads, which roads are closed and how much noise, inconvenience and dust will be created. Although I hear him saying on behalf of his constituents that the good people of Finchley are not in need of further information and consultation, the good people of Newham would be very grateful to be kept properly informed of everything that will happen over the next year and more that will affect their quality of life.

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention. I cannot comment on the ability of her constituents to absorb information, nor on the ability of mine to do so. What I am saying is that this new clause is unnecessary. It is not for primary legislation to dictate to Transport for London or the ODA exactly how and when they should consult. They are consulting on the major phases extensively and, unusually, TfL is doing that quite well. Members of the public and Members of this House may feel strongly about the consultation, but the consultation for phase 1 in central London is still open, and it will remain open for another week. All I am saying about this new clause is that the Minister needs to be careful not to burden the ODA with a raft of consultation and information requests that are ill-defined and will, at some point, allow people to say—

No, I am just making a general point about the quality of consultation on the priority route networks.

Under Mayor Johnson, TfL has been exemplary on this occasion. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) made a powerful case about consultation, and perhaps we should extend the purview of Mayor Johnson to Christchurch, as that might improve the level of consultation on my hon. Friend’s local council.

My point is not about the lack of consultation by the local council; it is about the lack of involvement of the Highways Agency.

I stand corrected. My general point is that the new clause, whether or not it is pressed to a vote, asks the Minister to take on board a raft of additional consultations. It asks us to consult and inform ad nauseam, yet it is ill-defined.

I have already said that I am not going to give way further on this, as I am making a general point. The Minister needs to be careful not to burden the ODA and the relevant authorities with ill-defined requests, ad nauseam, for information. Thus far, TfL has been exemplary and the Mayor of London has done an excellent job, and I urge the Minister to ignore the siren voices.

With respect, Mr Deputy Speaker, and with the permission of the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell), I shall deal with Canford Bottom roundabout first and then return to her new clause.

It is actually the military principle of securing one’s rear before one advances. There will be an unfortunate double entendre, if we are not careful.

It is a well-defined principle of the Olympics, or it certainly has been in the 15 or 16 months of our work on the Olympics, that issues lie where they fall. Thus, despite the fact that my Department—the one that the right hon. Lady presided over before the election—has primary responsibility for the delivery of the Olympics, where detailed issues arise they lie with the Department that is primarily responsible for them. So anything to do with the management of overseas dignitaries lies with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, anything to do with Olympic security lies primarily with the Home Office and anything to do with transport lies primarily with the Department for Transport. So I feel a little bit like a duck caught in the shooting gallery this afternoon.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) raised a great number of his concerns on Second Reading, and I undertook then to ensure that they were correctly raised with the Department for Transport. The note that I have been given assures me that that has been the case and, indeed, I believe that in his submission my hon. Friend acknowledged that the roads Minister has been closely involved. I suspect that the problem is that we have simply hit a brick wall, in that my hon. Friend does not want this particular scheme to happen but the roads Minister has given authorisation for it to proceed. There has been agreement that the work can proceed, and I believe that it is due to start imminently. The note that I have received states that the highways authority simply does not believe that there is a viable alternative.

I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch that I went to Weymouth to have a look at the test event at the beginning of August, when representatives of Dorset county council and the local authority were present. I did not get the opportunity to get held up at the Canford Bottom roundabout. The right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood will be delighted to learn that I set a good example and travelled by train, and so I did not have a chance to see this important roundabout. I must tell my hon. Friend that nobody in and around Weymouth, including Dorset county council, raised this with me as an issue in any way.

Indeed, if one problem came out of that visit—the regatta itself was brilliantly organised and the local authorities are doing everything that they possibly can to deliver a successful regatta at Olympic time—it was the worry that on the super Sunday in the middle of the games, when Ben Ainslie stands a chance of breaking the record for sailing medals at the Olympics, most of the south-west will decamp to Weymouth, thereby gumming up roads for miles around. It was for precisely that reason that they needed to make improvements to the road network. As my hon. Friend knows, one of the reasons why Weymouth will be a great venue is that it is a fantastic amphitheatre, but the town, which is small and has small roads, has a capacity of about 8,000, I was led to believe. Their concerns are rather the reverse and that we should do everything possible to increase access.

I simply do not know what more I can do at this point. It is not within my power as the Olympics Minister to halt these works and it never has been.

The roads Minister told me that it was not necessary to go ahead with these works prior to the Olympics, but he has effectively told me in a letter that he has now been ordered to go ahead with them because they form part of the Olympic route network. If my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and the Olympics can do nothing else today, will he confirm that as far as the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Olympic route network are concerned, it is not necessary to proceed with the Canford Bottom construction and improvements before the Olympic games? The route could be secured using the powers in clause 4.

I shall certainly check that for my hon. Friend and, if he wishes, write to him, but the information that I have in front of me is clear—inasmuch as I can read it—that these improvements are required to deliver the Olympics. It is as simple as that.

Why are the improvements required? How will they make a difference? At the moment, my hon. Friend’s powers under clause 4 would enable all the other sides of the roundabout to be closed off, for example. Indeed, local people have said that they would prefer that. They would prefer to have all the roundabout closed off to local traffic during the Olympic games than to have to put up with this disruption and the construction of what seems to be a white elephant project.

My hon. Friend will know, as he was a Transport Minister in the previous Conservative Government, that what local people want is not always the best traffic solution to achieve what people are trying to do on a national scale. We are committed to an Olympic route network—we will come on to that in a minute—and that was a commitment given at the time of the bid. As the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood has said, many of us are nervous about this, but it was a commitment we made when we signed the host nation contract back in 2005, and it is one that we are contractually obliged to deliver. We have taken advice from the experts—in this case, the Highways Agency—and I have a briefing from it among my notes. I have just received a copy of the letter that was written to the right hon. Lady by the Transport Minister. Both the briefing and that letter confirm that these works are necessary and that they will go ahead. I am sorry that my hon. Friend is so unhappy about it, but I do not see that there is a great deal that I can do.

Of course, my hon. Friend has to answer for the roads Minister, too, because that is the way this debate is going. My hon. Friend the Minister says that these works are necessary, but does he not agree that if we apply common sense we can see that it is possible to construct such a major new junction without closing the local roads for 11 weeks continuously?

The short answer is that I simply do not know, because I have not seen this roundabout. I am an amateur, not a traffic professional, and I think that even if I went there and had a look, I would not necessarily be sure that I would get it right. That is why we have agencies such as the Highways Agency to give us advice. That advice has been examined and tested by my hon. Friend the roads Minister, and he has written accordingly. I am afraid that I have no option—and would not take any other up—than to accept his judgment and advice. I am afraid that that is where we are. I accept that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch does not like it, but I am afraid that that is the way it is going to happen.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that he has overruled the roads Minister in insisting that this project go ahead?

No; absolutely not. I have not overruled the roads Minister in any way. I do not have that power, which does not exist.

Does the Olympic Delivery Authority have the power to instruct the Minister to give the go-ahead to the road?

I would have to check the requirements of the Act. The ability to set out an Olympic route network was laid out in the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, which the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood, the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster) and I were involved in passing five years ago. As the right hon. Lady has said, the power was introduced because there was complete traffic chaos at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in which competitors missed their events and officials failed to turn up at the right time because the city became gridlocked. That has been a feature of every Olympics since.

It is a requirement of the host nation contract to have an Olympic route network between all the key venues. That was given statutory effect in the 2006 Act, so the measure will almost certainly have its origin in that Act. There is a process of consultation between the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Highways Agency about how these things are to be enacted. According to the evidence before me today—the briefing that I have been given—that consultation has been done and a conclusion has been reached. I am very sorry that the two local Members—my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and the hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke)—do not like it, but it is one of those simple situations where there is a difference of opinion between local Members of Parliament and those trying to design the scheme. Given that the roads Minister has considered all this, having had countless meetings, and come to a conclusion, I do not see much point in prolonging this further because the decision has been made. The only advice that I can give to those Members if they wish to pursue this further is to do so with the roads Minister via an Adjournment debate.

On the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood, let me say at the outset that I entirely appreciate that the thought process lying behind it involves trying to minimise the impact of the Olympic route network on people living and working in the areas concerned. I am very grateful for her confirmation that she supports the general principle. All of us who have been involved in this process, either at the time of the bid or subsequently, recognise why this has to happen, but none of us is enormously enthusiastic about it, because we know exactly what the impact will be. However, it is a necessary safety measure to ensure that the London games are not afflicted by the sort of scenes we saw in Atlanta, with competitors missing the start of their competitions and officials not being able to get there to oversee them.

The importance of this issue was brought home to me at the weekend, when I visited the rowing squad out in Slovenia during the world rowing championships. It is very easy for us to minimise how important these events are to the athletes—the young men and women who are competing for us—but in many cases they have given up other careers and put themselves through an almost monastic existence for the four years running up to events. We owe it to them to make sure that this moment in their lives is as well organised as possible.

Before I address the four points that the right hon. Lady made, let me pick up the point that the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) made about the operation of the Olympic route network. I categorically assure her, on the record, that the network will not operate for 100 days—it absolutely will not. It is expected to operate for a couple of days in the lead-up to the games and for a short period after they finish to allow for the arrival and departure of athletes. It then will not operate between the Olympics and the Paralympics, and then the same thing will happen again. The horror stories about 100 days of chaos are very wide of the mark.

I welcome the Minister’s answer very much, but the figure of 100 days is in the ether, so to speak. A constituent wrote to me about this matter, quoting the ODA website. That is at the back of my mind, although as I stand here I do not have access to the letter, and certainly do not have access to the ODA website. I would be grateful if the Minister’s aides considered looking at the website to see how my constituents might have misread the information that they saw in front of them.

I expect, without knowing, that the hon. Lady’s constituents misread the information, because in some quarters it is being presented very badly. That is not a criticism of the ODA, although we will certainly look at what she says, but there is a certain amount of mischief making in all this. Many people who write and commentate on the games know that the measure will be extremely unpopular and unwelcome in some quarters, and are making the most of it. A lot of the 100-day scare stories come from that, which is partly why I am happy to put the record straight today.

Londoners in general are concerned that we might witness the horrible spectacle of queues of traffic sitting in proper lanes while International Olympic Committee officials are whisked past them in rapid-fire lanes at times when people are not going to the Olympics but are going about their normal, law-abiding business. We can all agree that in the area around the Olympic park there will be a lot of publicity and, therefore, understanding, but in the wider area of London there will be less understanding and less appreciation. Will the Minister assure us that he is doing everything possible to minimise not only the number of days, but the times when the Olympic lanes will operate, so that the inconvenience to Londoners is minimised?

Indeed, my hon. Friend can have that guarantee from me. There can be no better guarantee than the fact that, whatever we signed in the host nation contract, we all know that these measures have the capacity to cause considerable annoyance and irritation at a time when we would like the whole country to come together to celebrate a London Olympics, with the possible exception of the residents in and around the Canford Bottom roundabout.

We are determined to ensure that we operate the network with the minimum possible disruption to London residents. It will operate for only a couple of days before the games and a couple of days after to facilitate entry and exit to the city. It will operate during the games themselves only when the competition schedule is in place.

The final thing that is worth saying is that the Olympic route network occupies only a tiny proportion of the London network. I can give my hon. Friend the absolute assurance that we will do everything possible to ensure that the effect is as small as possible, commensurate with keeping to the obligations to the IOC that we undertook in signing the host nation contract back in 2005.

Let me run through the four points made by the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood. I agree that communication is vital and that this is not a question of one, straightforward leaflet drop. As we know, there are all sorts of reasons why such a thing could go adrift. The process has to be constant and ongoing—probably rather like a point in politics: only when one is heartily sick of hearing it is there any chance of its getting through. I agree that it is vital that we not only go through the consultation process, which we are doing at the moment, but back it up, back it up and back it up.

If it would reassure the right hon. Lady, and in keeping with the agreements we have over the scope of the project, I am happy to arrange for her to have a briefing from Transport for London, which I presume she sees as part of her shadow ministerial responsibilities, and from the Department.

To offer further reassurance, will the Minister tell the House whether I am correct in my belief that many aspects of the Olympic route network will require traffic regulation orders to be passed, and that passing a traffic regulation order requires consultation with the local public—an additional level of consultation?

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Indeed, had I read the speech that was prepared for me, I would have covered that point—I decided instead to try to be clever and go al fresco across the right hon. Lady’s contribution.

The right hon. Lady’s second point was about encouraging everyone to travel by public transport. It was made clear in a powerful part of the bid we put in to the IOC that these were to be a public transport games. As she will know, as a Minister I always travel by public transport and certainly will in the run-up to the games. Indeed, even now public transport is by far the quickest way to get to Stratford. I managed to travel from the west end to Stratford international station in 18 minutes the other night. Slowly but surely that point is getting through in Lausanne. I had some discussions on that when I attended the world rowing championships. The IOC members probably form a spectrum in that regard; many will use public transport, but some will probably take some more persuading. We will do everything we can to encourage them to use public transport.

A consultation on pedestrian crossings is going on at the moment. The detailed plans on changes to pedestrian crossings are being adjusted wherever possible in the light of representations that have been received. It is our intention to ensure that there is minimum disruption, not that a “safety first” approach is carried out. I can absolutely assure the right hon. Lady that that will be done.

The right hon. Lady’s final point was on taxis, and the Mayor said yesterday that he was looking at that very carefully. We are seeing what can be done at one end of the spectrum, by creating pick-up and drop-off points along the Olympic route network that will allow taxis to operate more efficiently. Information packs are already being prepared that will cover the ORN venues and other details about the games. They will be distributed to drivers to help them to operate as efficiently as possible and make the most of the commercial opportunities that will be available to them through the games.

I am once again grateful to the Minister for his point about black cabs, but I emphasise the point about private hire cars from local businesses around the Olympic site—certainly those that operate with a licence and are of good repute.

The hon. Lady makes the point well. The best thing I can do is offer her a guarantee that I will bring her remarks to the attention of the Mayor. It might be sensible for her to write to him as well, but I can certainly give her that assurance.

I have often resisted intervening on issues relating to the London taxi industry, but on this occasion I cannot. It is the only fleet of transport vehicles in London that is fully accessible to disabled people. It is an essential part of making it easy for people with disabilities to get to the Olympic site. When the Minister is discussing that with the Mayor, would he please emphasise that point and perhaps allow those vehicles carrying people with a blue badge or some form of identification that shows they are registered disabled to enter the Olympic priority network?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. It is a point well made. As he knows, it is international Paralympic day today—there is not always a direct correlation with the term and I know that people do not always like it. One of the commitments made at the time of the bid was to make this the most disabled-enabled games ever. This country, of course, is the home of the Paralympic movement. It is absolutely our intention to do everything possible to make the experience for disabled people attending both the Olympic and Paralympic games as easy and pleasurable as possible. The hon. Gentleman’s point about the London taxi fleet was well made. I agree with him entirely and will certainly raise it with the Mayor.

I will finish by thanking the right hon. Lady not only for her new clause, but for the spirit with which she tabled it. I absolutely agree with the thinking behind it. Indeed, had we been having this debate 19 months ago I would probably have done exactly what she has done today.

I hope that in my remarks I have been able to reassure the right hon. Lady that we will do everything possible. As I have said, certainly in the House, not least because all Members receive constituency postbags, we are all aware of the potential for the situation to cause very considerable unease, anger and disappointment at games time. We gave a commitment at the time of the bid, and we must carry it out, but it is absolutely vital that it is carried out in a common-sense and, dare I say it, minimalistic way, so that the impact on an already very busy and congested city is kept as small as possible. I hope that with that reassurance she will feel sufficiently reassured to withdraw her new clause.

I thank the Minister for his constructive response, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 3

Police resources

‘(1) Section 6 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (2) insert—

“(3) Any consultation under subsection (2) shall include a request from the Authority that the Commissioner or relevant chief constable provide an estimate of the number of police officers required to be deployed in order that the Olympic Delivery Authority may effectively exercise its duties under subsection (1).”’.—(Tessa Jowell.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The security operation for the games will be the largest peacetime security operation ever mounted in the UK, and it will place tremendous demands not only on the Metropolitan police, but on all police forces, as officers will be drawn from forces throughout the country. Of the 330,000 police shifts that are likely to take place during the games, about 70,000 are likely to be covered by officers from outside London.

In the wake of the disturbances that swept across London—when, similarly, we had officers from outside London supporting the Met—and other parts of the country, we have learned not just how important the number of police can be, but how vulnerable parts of the country and, indeed, of our city can be when there are simply not enough police on the street.

By the time the games come to London, London and national police forces will be significantly diminished. The Government’s gamble with police cuts means that there will be fewer police on the streets, putting the security operation and other police functions at risk.

By March 2012, the Metropolitan police will have 940 fewer officers than it had two years before, and throughout the country two thirds of the budget reductions will have taken place by the run-up to the games, meaning that there will be as many as 10,000 fewer officers available.

The Police Federation has raised concerns that forces outside London are struggling to find the finance and the man and woman-power to send officers to the capital, and that could heap further pressure on an already stretched Met.

In the light of last month’s events, what reassurances can the Minister give the House that the Met police force will be able to cope not just with the Olympic security operation, but with any public order disturbances that may come its way? Can he assure the House that police forces outside London will also have sufficient numbers to offer support to the Met police operation and to respond to disturbances that might occur at the same time in their own area?

If the Minister cannot with confidence give those assurances, will he undertake to meet ministerial colleagues to review policing capacity and capability in order to ensure that there is a sufficient number of police officers to fulfil the extensive commitments of summer 2012, remembering that the Olympics are preceded by the celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee?

The most important task of any Government is to ensure the safety of the people whom they serve, and next year presents an unprecedented security challenge, one that will have been made significantly harder by having fewer police on the streets of London. I ask the Minister to reassure not just the House but London that the security strategy, which enjoys cross-party support, can be delivered even with that reduced capability.

I do not want to tempt the Minister too far away from the core subject, the wording, the irrefragable basis of this marvellous, exquisitely crafted new clause. However, he is well known for being a man of great charm, decency and keenness to accommodate all views in the House—a characteristic that will almost certainly guarantee that he does not become Prime Minister for a few years, but that he will have a great many friends.

The point that concerns me very much on the issue of policing was raised in reference to the Olympics on the Floor of the House on Monday in connection with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill. I understand that we are not talking about TPIMs, but the Olympics. However, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) has raised the issue of police numbers and the potential shortfall.

As every right hon. and hon. Member in the House will know, the abandonment of the relocation principle was voted through the House on Monday night, although I have to say that all Opposition Members voted to maintain public safety and relocation. One consequence is that some of the most dangerous and potentially lethal terrorists in this country will be allowed to return to their home areas, which will often be in the heartlands of the Olympics. As we heard on Monday night, that will require enhanced police activity and oversight. Whereas under the relocation principle such people could be relocated away from their homes, they will now return to areas where they know people, in many cases where they were brought up, and where they have friends and family.

Understandably, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) did not go into a great deal of detail on Monday, but he did point out that there would have to be deeply enhanced police oversight. Whether that will be provided in any force other than the Met, we do not know. Logic suggests that it will have to be done by the Met. The Met is the only force that can draw down this sort of specialist oversight operation. If that happens, the demand from that draw-down on police officers from January and February next year, right the way through the diamond jubilee and the Olympics, will become intensely significant.

It is not the purpose of this debate to rehash all the TPIMs arguments. However, it is a shame that the hon. and gallant Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) is not in his place—he was here earlier—because on Monday, he pointed out that, having come to the issue completely open-mindedly, he could not understand why any Government would not wish to have this vital tool in their armoury. However, on the occasion the vote was lost. I ask the Minister whether he will speak to his colleagues in the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice specifically about the additional police numbers that will be required to oversee the operation of TPIMs in east London in particular and in the whole of the M25 area.

The Minister has military experience. He is the sort of young officer whom many of us would follow into the jaws of death itself. I imagine him on the bridge of some storm-tossed corvette, heading straight into the roaring sound of gunfire, while we plucky matelots gather astern to support him. On this occasion, I would like to see him lead the good ship of state into the safe haven of public security and away from the threat and danger that may be attendant upon east London, the Olympic area, the Olympic dream and the Olympic ideal.

Follow that! I should probably confess that the only time I ever went into the heat of battle on the back of a vehicle was in a tank with the lid firmly screwed down, so there is rather less chance of that than the hon. Gentleman suggested.

I will come to the hon. Gentleman’s points in a minute, but may I start by saying that I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) for tabling the new clause? As she is absolutely aware, having had this responsibility herself, the safety and security of games venues, the supporting infrastructure and the wider public environment next summer is a paramount priority for the Government and for everybody involved in the Olympic games movement. I should certainly, at the outset, place on the record my gratitude for the work that she did during her time in office to ensure that the security plan is in the position that it is today. I am happy to say to this House, as I have said outside, that I am as confident as one can be at this stage that we can deliver a safe and secure games.

In response to the hon. Member for Ealing North (Stephen Pound), I point out that we had the opportunity in Committee to question the assistant commissioner who is responsible for policing and security around London 2012. As I think we all agreed, he was probably the standout witness we saw. He was extremely persuasive and, as one would expect, well informed. There is no doubt that the fact that the security plan, operationally, is in such a good place is largely due to the work that he and others have done. I can absolutely assure the hon. Gentleman that there has been no question, either formally or informally, of the Metropolitan police raising the sort of concerns that he has just raised with me. In as much as it counts, I hope that he will accept that reassurance.

I apologise for interrupting the Minister, but I should like to place on the record—perhaps this will reassure the hon. Member for Ealing North (Stephen Pound)—the fact that I too have the utmost confidence in Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, who was not only an expert witness but gave every one of us who questioned him real confidence that he takes these concerns deeply seriously and also has the ability, the competence and the skills to ensure that the solutions are delivered.

I apologise for intervening again; this is not ping-pong. That is not even an Olympic sport; if it were, it would be called whiff-whaff, I am sure. I take second place to no man in my admiration for AC Allison, but the point is that he was talking about the situation then. Since Monday night, the rules have changed and everything is different. We now have the potential for the body to be infected by a virulent bacillus. Even Lord Carlile, who is not of my party, has said that these are potentially lethally dangerous people. The weather has changed, and we have to take that into consideration, despite the admiration that everyone in this House has for AC Allison.

I take the hon. Gentleman’s point. However, the events of Monday night did not suddenly come out of a puff of smoke. The police have had the opportunity to prepare for this, and they also have the ability, through their intelligence services, to look forward. On that basis, I can reassure him that neither formally nor informally, at any stage, has anybody in the Metropolitan police service raised this with me as a potential problem.

I thank the Minister for his good words, which go some way towards helping us to feel more secure. However, will he take back and ask directly the question about whether the relocation issues are now of concern to the Metropolitan police with the forthcoming Olympic games ahead of us?

I will certainly go back and ask the question. I am not sure that this will necessarily reassure the hon. Lady, but I would be absolutely amazed if I were the first person who had asked it. It is absolutely inconceivable that it was not asked by the Home Office during the preparation of the Bill. This has been a long time in the cooking, and there would have been ample opportunity for the Metropolitan police to say, at any stage during the process, that this was a problem.

This will be the last time that I seek to intervene on the Minister. I entirely take his point. However, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Osborne, a person of similar standing who is the co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, said in evidence to this House that relocation is by far the most effective mechanism. The Met is therefore considering it, and for the one person the Minister prays in aid, we can pray in aid a DAC who says quite the opposite.

At the risk of splitting hairs, I am not sure that there is a contradiction here. Whatever the DAC may or may not have said about what place he sees for relocation in the tools available to him, the fact is that it has gone now, post Monday night. The police have known that it was going for some time before this—and crucially, knowing that it was going, nobody has said that that will present us with an insuperable problem, or in my case, any form of problem, around London 2012.

One of the concerns expressed to me by individuals in the Metropolitan police is that since the London riots, in many London boroughs the police have been continuously working 12-hour shifts, with no rest days and no allowance for annual leave. That is at the current operational policing level. Given that the Olympics are coming up, will the Minister verify the position with the Met? My understanding is that it is cancelling all annual leave for the duration of the Olympics and gearing up for a similar operation during that time, and that will put great strain on the resources available to it not only in the Olympic areas but across London. That must give rise to a potential security problem.

I say to my hon. Friend that we should be careful, because I would be very nervous about saying anything that suggested that there was in any way, shape or form a security problem around London 2012. The messages that we give out here are followed in places beyond here, so one could get into quite dangerous territory. I am not without experience in this area—I spent just over 10 years in the armed services and know how to read a security briefing—and I say again that given the nature of the subject that we are dealing with, I am as confident as I possibly can be at this stage, 10 months out from the Olympics, that we can deliver a safe and secure games. Inherent in that is the necessity of striking a balance between keeping this city and those games secure and recognising that they will be a fantastic public spectacle that we want people to be able to move in and out of and enjoy to the maximum extent.

I will come to the precise police numbers required to police London 2012 in a moment, but the Metropolitan police have been involved at every stage of the planning and are confident, as I am, that the plan is deliverable and that the result will be a safe and secure games.

I think we can be confident about the security level of the games. Having inspected the park and the security arrangements, I think we will deliver a superb games. One of the concerns of Londoners, however, is the potential for criminals and others to promote their activities in the time leading up to and during the games, which could affect the police’s operational capability in London in that period. Has that been taken into account?

The short answer to my hon. Friend is that it has absolutely been taken into account. As I said, I will come on to the police numbers in a moment, which I hope will give him some reassurance, but I can give him further reassurance. He took part in the debate on Second Reading and has been closely involved throughout the Bill’s passage, so he will be aware that one clause in the Bill is the specific result of police intelligence and a request from the police. The maximum fine for ticket touting has been increased on the basis of intelligence received from Operation Podium. There is a constant process of updating legislation as required.

New clause 3 would require relevant police authorities, in such consultations with them as the Olympic Delivery Authority considered appropriate, to provide an estimate of the police deployments required to enable the ODA to fulfil its responsibilities under section 6(1) of the 2006 Act. I would say two things about the new clause. First, there have been and continue to be extensive discussions between all concerned parties—the police, the Home Office, the ODA, the Department, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and a great many others—on planned police deployments at London 2012 venues.

The right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood will also be aware, most practically because she has done this job, that as under the previous Administration the Government have pursued a policy of maximum transparency in communicating the look and feel of the safety and security of the London 2012 games. That includes public statements from the police on the expected requirement for policing the games, which at current estimates is up to 9,000 officers in London and 12,000 nationally on the peak days during the Olympic games. Naturally, those numbers will be flexed up or down as necessary in response to changes in intelligence and the threat environment.

The second point is much more technical—I am slightly more nervous about making it, and I hope the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood will take it in the way that it is meant. The proposed purpose of new clause 3 is out of step with the transfer of a wide range of games-time responsibilities, including security, from the ODA to LOCOG. At the Olympic park, that handover will be complete in January, so there is a technical problem with new clause 3, because by the time the measure has ground through the other place, it is likely that in any event, the security responsibility will largely have been handed over. In practical terms, if the new clause becomes part of the Bill, it would have either a very short shelf life or possibly no shelf life.

Accordingly and in conclusion, I once again thank the right hon. Lady for all the work that she did in government in drawing up the original security plan. I absolutely reassure her and other hon. Members that keeping the games safe and secure remains the Government’s overriding priority. A lot of things are important in and around the games, but security is the No. 1 priority.

I offer the right hon. Lady the opportunity to raise those and other concerns with Home Office officials as part of her routine briefings on the subject, as I did in respect of her previous proposal. As we discussed at Question Time this morning, I am aware that she has a meeting next week. If anything comes out of that that she feels has not been addressed satisfactorily, I hope she knows that she can come back to me, and I will do everything possible to ensure that she gets the right answer. On that basis, I hope that I can persuade her to withdraw the clause.

With those very helpful assurances, and on the basis that the House will want to keep these matters under review between now and the end of the games, which will be a year tomorrow, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1

Removal of infringing articles

I beg to move amendment 1, page 1, line 2, in clause 1, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 21 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (offence of contravening advertising regulations), omit subsection (4).’.

I think everybody will be relieved to know that these are two minor and very technical amendments—I see nods all around the Chamber at that.

Amendment 1 repeals a redundant provision in the 2006 Act. Section 21(4) provides that a person convicted of contravening the advertising regulations may be ordered to pay the ODA’s or the police’s reasonable enforcement expenses. The provision is redundant, because other sections of the Act—sections 22(9) and 28(7)—already allow the ODA and the police to recover their enforcement costs from people who contravene the advertising and trading regulations.

Amendment 2 amends the advertising and trading provisions as they apply in Scotland, so that they remain largely as operated by the 2006 Act but more closely follow the model of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008. The amendment has been requested by the Scottish Government, who consulted the police and prosecuting authorities in Scotland.

Although the amendments will result in a small and technical variation in the operation of the advertising and trading provisions in Scotland as opposed to England and Wales, they are not likely to cause significant differences in practice. Indeed, I hope that all hon. Members recognise that Scotland’s legal system is different from the one in England and Wales.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Amendment made: 2, page 6, line 15, leave out subsections (9) and (10) and insert—

‘(9) In section 37 of that Act (Scotland), omit—

(a) subsection (6), and

(b) subsection (11).

(10) At the end of that section insert—

“(12) In section 22, subsection (6) has effect as if there were substituted for it—

(6) An article that is held by a constable (having been removed by or delivered to the constable) shall be returned when retention is no longer justified by a matter specified in subsection (5)(a) to (c), unless—

(a) in the case of a perishable article, the article has ceased to be usable for trade, or

(b) the court orders the article to be forfeited under Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995.

(6A) Subject to subsection (6), the article shall be treated as if acquired by the constable in the course of the investigation of an offence.

(6B) An article that is held by an enforcement officer (having been removed by or delivered to the officer) shall be dealt with in accordance with sections 31A to 31E.”

(13) In section 28, subsection (4) has effect as if there were substituted for it—

“(4) An article that is held by a constable (having been removed by or delivered to the constable) shall be returned when retention is no longer justified by a matter specified in subsection (2)(a) to (c), unless—

(a) in the case of a perishable article, the article has ceased to be usable for trade, or

(b) the court orders the article to be forfeited under Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995.

(4A) Subject to subsection (4), the article shall be treated as if acquired by the constable in the course of the investigation of an offence.

(4B) An article that is held by an enforcement officer (having been removed by or delivered to the officer) shall be dealt with in accordance with sections 31A to 31E.”

(14) In sections 31A, 31B and 31D, the references to a magistrates’ court are to be read as if they were references to the sheriff.

(15) Section 31A has effect as if—

(a) in subsection (4), “before the end of the relevant period” and “at the end of that period” were omitted,

(b) in subsections (5) and (6), “before the end of the relevant period” were omitted,

(c) in subsection (6), in paragraph (b), for “section 143 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000” there were substituted “Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995”,

(d) in that subsection, paragraph (c) were omitted,

(e) in subsection (8), “or (6)(c)” were omitted, and

(f) subsection (10) were omitted.

(16) Section 31E has effect as if subsections (5) to (10) were omitted.”’.—(Hugh Robertson.)

Clause 9

Commencement and duration, extent and application, and short title

Amendments made: 3, page 14, line 34, in clause 9, leave out ‘8’ and insert ‘[Goods vehicle operator licences]’.

Amendment 4, page 15, line 1, leave out ‘and 2’ and insert—

‘, 2 and [Goods vehicle operator licences]’.—(Hugh Robertson.)

Third Reading

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I wish to start—I mean this genuinely—by thanking all those involved in the passage of the Bill. I thank Members on both sides of the House who served in the Bill Committee. It has been a reasonably pain-free Bill, and the discussions that we had in Committee were constructive and genuinely improved the Bill. I would therefore like to put on the record my thanks to all Members who played a part in that.

I say a particular thank you to the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell), who has played a unique role, as I have said on a number of occasions, in the winning of the London games and their subsequent delivery. She continues to be a great servant of the process—if she does not mind my using that term—through her work on the Olympic Board and across London promoting the games. It would have been easy for lesser people following the general election to have felt that they were not involved in the way in which they wished and to have left the process. It is greatly to her credit, as a person and a politician, that not only has she not done that, but she has put her shoulder to the wheel so enthusiastically. She has made a great many friends by doing that—she had a great many already—and earned the gratitude of many people on both sides of the House and across the Olympic movement.

I also thank, as always, the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster)—the third of the holy trinity involved in the process from the beginning—for his help and support. Finally, I thank the officials of the House, the parliamentary counsel and the officials in all three Departments concerned. Although there is cross-party support for the principle of the Olympics, a lot of difficult, technical issues are involved in laying on the world’s greatest sporting event, and it is not always easy for officials to bring it all together. Throughout this process—I am sure that the right hon. Lady would say the same about the 2006 Act—we have been extraordinarily well served by our officials. I am grateful to them for their work.

I thank the Minister for his kind words of thanks to the Bill Committee members. It was the first Bill Committee of which I have been a member, and I enjoyed it very much. He has alluded to the technical difficulties that officials must confront, and I want to bring to his attention a set of technical difficulties relating to the sharing out of media accreditations to the British media. It is a cause of great concern to me that local media, particularly in London—the city on whose good will the success of these games depends—are being shut out. Will he join me in calling on the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport to look closely at the decision by the British Olympic Association to deny media accreditation to such fine local London papers as the News Shopper?

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. He speaks from a powerful position, not only as a London Member of Parliament, but as a former journalist. As he is aware, responsibility for the accreditation of local media outlets lies with the BOA. In the short time between now and his raising this with me in the Lobby during the previous vote, I have checked the current position. I suspected that accreditation is massively over-subscribed, which is what he indicated to me. That said, I understand the logic of giving as many passes as possible to the international media and national news outlets, but he is right that it has to be balanced with local media outlets, many of which have been extraordinarily supportive of the games and on whose doorstep they are taking place. There is a possible second channel for non-accredited media, and considerable provision is being made for those who cannot get formally accredited. The Mayor of London has done an enormous amount to help that take place. The best thing that I can do now is to give my hon. Friend a promise to write to the BOA about the matter. I will particularly investigate the position regarding London media, because this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. I will come back to him with an answer.

I want to second the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Joseph Johnson). The BOA seems to assume that local journalists granted accreditation will attend every event. Obviously, there is a limit on overall capacity, but clearly our local papers just want to cover the events in which athletes from our boroughs are competing. It ought to be possible to arrive at a flexible arrangement that enables our local London papers to do that. I would be grateful if the Minister were to take that point on board.

Suffice to say that the point has been well made. I can only say to my hon. Friend that I will give him the same undertaking that I have given to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Joseph Johnson)—that I will write to the BOA to take that precise point up and see what I can do. The only minor caveat is that because this is a London games, the demand for media accreditation spots is vast. There will be a level of public interest that I do not think we have remotely started to get our minds around. Spots will be tight, but I will absolutely do all that I can.

Let me assure the Minister that there is cross-party support for the points made by the hon. Members for Orpington (Joseph Johnson) and for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell). I know that the Newham Recorder will be watching Christine Ohuruogu with interest as she races towards the tape in the final for her gold. It would be a great pity if the local press were not allowed to be there to cover such an event. As local newspapers, they frankly do not have the capacity to attend every event and would have to be clear and specific about the events that they could give time to.

As always with this process and, indeed, protest in this case, the cross-party support is evident, and I shall reflect that in the letter that I write to the BOA.

As I set out on Second Reading back in April, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 gives us the overarching legislative framework needed to deliver the games successfully. This Bill simply provides a number of technical refinements to the 2006 Act, ensuring that we can address the few minor and technical issues that have arisen as games-time planning and preparation have become increasingly sophisticated. The general principle behind the Bill remains the same as in the original 2006 Act, which is to deliver a great games.

The Bill amends the 2006 Act by giving the ODA the power to store articles that have been seized for contravention of the advertising and trading regulations, subject to a number of carefully framed rules set out in the Bill, and we are freeing up police resources so that they can be focused where best needed. As we have heard today, we have also sought to ensure that the process works equally well across the different policing regimes in England and Wales, and in Scotland. The provisions that we are passing today will also allow us in exceptional circumstances—and only in exceptional circumstances—to alter advertising and trading regulations more quickly.

We have also increased the maximum penalty for the touting of games tickets from £5,000, as set out in the 2006 Act, to £20,000 on the specific advice of the police. We believe that that strikes the right balance. The traffic management provisions in the Bill will ensure that the transport plans covering the Olympic route network and the areas around games venues can be delivered and effectively enforced. I also confirm that I have clarified the role of the Mayor of London when it comes to agreeing penalty charge levels for Olympic-purpose road traffic contraventions. Last week, I formally directed the ODA to consult relevant traffic authorities—in as far as it has not already done so—on the penalty charge levels for Olympic contraventions, and in doing so have sought to address the points made by the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood in Committee.

The final group of provisions that we are enacting addresses the concerns expressed by Transport for London about the relaxation of licence conditions for operating centres. That said, the key point that has come through in every stage of the Bill’s progress is the way in which these measures will be applied. I confirm to the House today that it is absolutely the Government’s intention to take a proportional and reasonable response to the enforcement of all the powers contained in the Bill.

In conclusion, it is fitting that today’s debate coincides with international Paralympics day, which takes place in Trafalgar square—we may just be able to catch it. This is the first time that the event has ever been hosted outside Germany, although we have a great tradition of pioneering Paralympic sport in this country, dating back to the original Stoke Mandeville games in 1948. Today’s event in Trafalgar square will give the public a great introduction to the 20 Paralympic sports, with demonstrations from elite athletes. As I said earlier, I hope that as many hon. Members as possible will show their support for this fantastic event.

Every time the United Kingdom has hosted the Olympics, we have left the Olympic movement stronger than we found it. That is not just something that it is easy for Ministers to say; if one looks back at the history, one will see that it is genuinely the case. The original bid that we put before the International Olympic Committee promised to deliver a deep legacy for the games. This will be the first Olympics where we plan the event and the legacy as one.

Right across the country, in many different schools and communities, much is happening. The east end of London is being transformed and social change is being delivered through volunteer programmes and Olympic-themed community projects—a promise that we made to the country and the world back in 2005. Being in the middle of delivering a show like this, it is sometimes easy to concentrate on things that do not go as well as they could, but there is a huge amount for this House and this country to be proud of as we begin the final run-up to these games.

I firmly believe that this Bill gives us the powers to proceed on a strong legislative footing—one that I do not think has been equalled in any previous games—and I would particularly like to thank this House for the role it has played in what I believe will be a truly great and, I hope, outstanding Olympic games.

I begin by expressing our strong support for the Bill and, very particularly, our gratitude to the Minister for his handling of it with characteristic open-mindedness, receptiveness and a sense of the shared passion that comes from involvement in this incredible project. This is a technical Bill that builds on the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, but it has done much more than that. I believe that it is has been enriched and shaped by our consideration in Committee and on the Floor of the House. It has been enriched by something important—the fact that we are all representatives of the communities that we serve. We might come from different political standpoints, but we share a belief in the power of communities to act for good, and we have a shared ambition for the people whom we represent. I believe that the proposals on advertising and trading standards in the 2006 Act will be implemented, because we know and understand, as representatives, the importance of proportionality.

We have seen an increase in the maximum penalty for ticket touting, which is very much an expression of the fairness that is a prerequisite for people across London and across the country to feel that they are part of this great Olympic event. I think that all Labour Members—we seem to be rather diminished, but we count the quality for the purposes of a debate like this one—are grateful to the Minister for his response to the points we raised today about the Olympic route network. He reflected his understanding, as did other hon. Members, because we are all representatives of the people whom we serve.

This is a staging post on a journey that will see many major hurdles needing to be negotiated before we get to the closing ceremony of the Paralympic games in a year’s time. What the Olympics reflects, in a rather unique way, is a choice that the Government made. It is a choice between remaining in the comfort zone by staying away from controversy, difficulty, bad headlines and all the risks that the Olympic games can bring or rising to a once-in-a-lifetime challenge—even though that is a rather over-worked phrase.

I feel extraordinarily proud to have been involved in different ways throughout the whole process, and the Minister, too, has been involved for most of that process. I am grateful for the way in which the Government have taken over the responsibility for this greatly cherished project and have continued the tradition of openness and collaboration.

We have all been privileged to work with some of the best people in the world, who have delivered under the leadership of John Armitt, David Higgins, Dennis Hone and Godric Smith. All those outstanding people have seen the Olympic park transformed from a contaminated wasteland with corrugated iron huts into the largest urban park to be created in Europe for 150 years. The fact that this has been delivered a bit below budget and a bit ahead of time is a really wonderful advertisement for UK plc. Everyone who has taken part in that can be proud of their achievement to date, including the people who cleared the ground, the people who carried out the demolition and the people who ensured that 99% of the resulting materials were recycled rather than going to landfill. Every one of the 40,000 people involved, including the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) and other Members here today, can be proud of those achievements.

It has always been our ambition that the Olympic games should be about more than 60 days of Olympic and, in particular, Paralympic sport. The focus has been on the legacy, and we can now see it out there in Stratford. Many of us will go to the opening of the Westfield shopping centre, which will bring desperately needed jobs and inward investment to that area. It will begin to change the economy and the prospects of the constituents of my hon. Friends who represent the six Olympic boroughs.

We can also see the legacy in the wonderful venues that will provide state-of-the-art competition venues and facilities for the local community for decades to come. Less visible is what we hope will be the other part of the legacy: communities that are more optimistic and ambitious about their future and that have a greater belief in the possibility of their own achievement. In the long run, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will have an important job in safeguarding the structural legacy and ensuring the commercial investment, both of which will deliver opportunities for local people in those boroughs, whose experience must be measured as part of all this.

In our own ways, we are all inspired by the 2,000 young athletes who are now training hard for 2012. There are 2,000 of them, because not all the teams have yet been selected, and a large pool is being drawn from. Their dedication, their ambition and their willingness to get up at all hours, make the journey and focus their lives on the possibility that they might just make it into the 2012 team should be an inspiration to us all.

This project has been beyond party politics. All of us who have been involved in it have been privileged to hold that responsibility as guardians for the nation. I am enormously grateful for the generosity of the Minister, the Secretary of State and the Mayor in including me and my party in the planning for the games. We can be confident that that cross-party tradition has been very well continued. It is now only a matter of months before the games kick off and, although that might not provide such unalloyed pleasure as the conclusion of today’s debate, we are all up for it.

As the Minister has said, today is international Paralympic day, and until 8 pm there will be a series of demonstrations in Trafalgar square involving Paralympians and young would-be Paralympic athletes. One of the Paralympians said to me this morning, “Just remember, when people talk about the Olympics, we mean that it is the test event for the Paralympics.” Let us make sure that we go and give the Paralympics all the support that they deserve.

I am conscious that many Members are anxious to get to Trafalgar square, so I shall be very brief.

This is in danger of becoming a cross-party love-in. I entirely agreed with the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) when she praised the Minister and the Secretary of State, and I also agreed with the Minister when he praised the right hon. Lady. We have done the same on a number of occasions, and it has been justified.

Above all, the right hon. Lady can be proud of having genuinely ensured that the debate was beyond party politics from the outset. As a result, there has been detailed consultation across the parties in both Houses, and many of the tensions that could have arisen have not done so. That has enabled the bodies which we have given the task of building the stage and putting on the show—the ODA and LOCOG—to get on with the job, and, as the right hon. Lady said, to do it phenomenally well, delivering below budget and ahead of time.

I am absolutely convinced that, in less than a year’s time, this country will put on the most fantastic sporting and cultural extravaganza that there has ever been, and what is so good about the Bill is that it has provided yet another opportunity for parliamentarians in both Houses to engage with that exciting prospect. I hope that, in a few final remarks, the Minister will remind all parliamentarians that there is still a great deal that they can do to help to ensure that we deliver something else that is critically important: not just a fantastic extravaganza, but a legacy for businesses, tourism, education and culture as well as a legacy for sport.

When the Minister discusses press accreditation with his colleagues, he may wish to talk to the Secretary of State for Scotland, who I know has concerns about accreditation for Scottish newspapers. He could also remind people that newspapers seeking accreditation can do themselves a lot of favours by promoting activities relating to the Olympics and Paralympics in their local areas. I know that the British Olympic Association is looking at the amount of coverage of local activities in particular newspapers, and I think that more could be done in that regard.

I believe that we will deliver not only a great extravaganza and the legacy of which we have spoken in this country, but something that is never, or at least hardly ever, mentioned in our debates: a legacy for other countries. One of the important elements of our bid was the overseas work that we proposed to do. It is amazing to read the statistics showing how many people have been able to train as coaches in other countries, and how many young people throughout the world have been able to engage in sport, because of the Olympics that will take place here.

I am delighted that we have had an opportunity to debate the Olympics and Paralympics yet again. I am also delighted that this country’s Paralympic team is training in my constituency, where two weeks ago I saw some fantastic young people doing amazing things. My only regret is that goalball—which has become my favourite Paralympic sport—will not be demonstrated in Trafalgar square tonight, but I encourage any Member who has never seen it or heard of it to have a look at it. It will be the top best-seller when the tickets go on sale, as indeed they have just done.

As the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr Foster) pointed out, there is a danger of this debate—and, indeed, other similar debates—becoming a bit of a love-in. In the 10 years that I have been in this House, I have always been a great believer that Members must work together with other Members. My constituency neighbours have tended not to be from my political party, but I have worked closely with the hon. Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck) and the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) on a range of issues. However, I always have some concerns when there is a little too much consensus in this House on particular issues, not least because the very essence of politics should be choice. In the current debate, it is important that certain aspects of the scepticism felt by many millions of Britons outside this House are also put on the record.

As the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) will remember, I shadowed her when she was Minister for London in 2004, before we got the Olympics on 6 July 2005, and I was somewhat sceptical about the benefits that the Olympics were expected to bring to our city. Since then, there has been a tumultuous change in the global economic outlook, which has only served to reinforce some of my concerns, especially in respect of the escalating costs of this project. In advance of our getting the Olympics, we were told it would cost about £2.5 billion. That sum has now risen to some £9 billion. In light of those particular statistics, some of the boasts that have been made about working within budget are, in my view, somewhat hollow.

The hon. Gentleman might like to refer to the Hansard of May 2005, where I made it absolutely clear that, were we to win the games, the budget to build the venues in the park that had been submitted as part of the bid book would have to be revisited. We did increase the budget, because our ambition for regeneration was much greater after we won the games. Some 75p in every £1 spent on building the park was spent on regeneration. The site would have been contaminated waste land in perpetuity had we not won the games. We have accelerated regeneration. In six years, we have done what would otherwise have taken 60 years. That has brought benefit to London. It has brought jobs to London and has been good for the economy of London, way beyond just having 60 days of Olympic and Paralympic sport.

As a courtesy to the right hon. Lady, I will obviously look at the Hansard for that time, but there is no doubt that this was sold on a very different financial basis, and it will cost not only the general taxpayer, but the London council tax payer, a significant sum of money for some decades to come.

I share the widespread view that the Olympics are a great opportunity to showcase the city that I love—I am very proud to represent the heart of the city—and that they will be a spectacular success. Both the Olympics and the Paralympics shortly afterwards will be a wonderful show. I do have concerns about the issue of the legacy, however, and I suspect that similar debates to that which we are currently having were held in the Greek Parliament in advance of the Athens games in 2004, the Australian Parliament in advance of the 2000 games, and other Parliaments and Federal buildings before other Olympiads took place.

We all know that it is very easy to have great ideas about the legacy going forward. I am well aware of that; I walked through the site where the Olympics will take place before we even won the bid, and I recognised that there were tremendous opportunities for regeneration. I am concerned, however, about whether we will be able to sell that legacy and whether it will be achieved in the way that we have in mind. We will not know that when we look back in the third week of September next year; we will not know the answer until 2020 and beyond. I therefore hope we in this House continue to address the possible prospect of our having a white elephant of a site out in east London. That would be a crying shame not just because of the amount of money being spent on it, but because of the opportunities that might be missed.

I hope that we will ensure that this debate does not end today and that we will not draw a line under things after the Olympics have finished. It will be incumbent on all London Members of Parliament to hold future Administrations very much to account to ensure that that proper legacy, which is the raison d’être for holding the Olympics in London, is put in place.

May I give my hon. Friend some reassurance on this point, because it is very dangerous if the idea he alludes to is allowed to take root? There is absolutely no chance of our being left with white elephants on the park after the Olympic games. The single biggest frustration in my life at the moment is that two London premier league football clubs and one in a lower league are competing to take over the stadiums after the games. That represents an entirely different situation from those in Beijing, Athens and Sydney. The aquatics centre, wonderfully designed by Zaha Hadid, will provide an Olympic-sized swimming pool in a part of London that has simply never had one before. We have just concluded an amazing deal, at more than half a billion pounds, to sell off the private sector part of the athletes village. The public sector part has already been sold to Triathlon Homes. The velodrome, probably the most iconic building on the park—we did not spot that at the beginning—will become a new home for British cycling, which is one of our most successful sports.

Order. I understand that the Minister wants to get his points on the record, but we have to be careful here. He is making an intervention, not a speech.

I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker, if I offended you, and I absolutely take the point you make. I shall simply say that the broadcast media centre is out for contract at the moment and there is fantastic interest. We have the largest new urban park in Europe and a half-a-billion-pound shopping centre. This is a pretty convincing package.

I accept that it is a convincing package. The Minister will be aware of what happened in my constituency with the somewhat missed opportunity of the redevelopment at Paddington basin. A huge amount of work has not resulted in a great success; it has not been the iconic place to live and work that it might have been. I therefore hope that all hon. Members will recognise that the end of the Paralympics is the beginning of the story. Making a great success of the legacy will be in everyone’s interests, not least of those in the constituency of the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), given where it is located, and of people who live in the constituencies directly affected.

I was a Greenwich councillor when we first had the idea to redevelop the local peninsula, which eventually led to the building of the Greenwich dome. Without these iconic projects and without public money—people often forget that we got a lot of investment from Europe to decontaminate the site at north Greenwich—it is sometimes impossible to regenerate very expensive contaminated sites. However, once we take the brave decision, as we did in east London and in Greenwich, the regeneration takes place, and we now have one of the most iconic entertainment centres in Europe.

I accept that, although in many ways the hon. Gentleman makes my point for me. There was a sense in the immediate aftermath of 1 January 2000 that that area was going to be a white elephant and it was the private sector, in the form of the group belonging to Philip Anschutz, which had the vision to drive that area forward that made a difference. But it took some years for that to fall into place, which is why we need to keep an eagle eye on exactly what happens on the Olympic site from next September to ensure that 2013, 2014 and 2015 are not wasted years. They need to be years when we ensure the continued improvement of that site to make it an attractive place to live and work, and, potentially, an entertainment destination site well beyond that for West Ham United fans. One hopes that it will also be used for other athletics events and perhaps as a large-scale entertainment site, given the transport links in place.

I wish briefly to discuss the elements of the Bill that have been debated, about which I have expressed some of my reservations. We have had a useful debate about policing. This is a matter for not only the Metropolitan police, but the intelligences services, which are playing a huge role in this field and will continue to do so. One should not underestimate that in the context of the security implications of these Olympics. Equally, as my hon. Friend the Minister pointed out, we could learn from elements of previous London Olympiads, particularly the 1948 games—the austerity Olympics. We are living in a time of greater austerity and one hopes that some of those lessons for a cost-effective games can also be learned.

I have publicly expressed my concerns about some of the issues to do with the large number of people who will be transported from the hotels in Park lane in my constituency to the Olympic village and the fundamental impact that that will have on traffic during late July and August next year. One accepts that for Heads of State and leading individuals there are, of course, security implications and they will need to be ferried in such a way, but it seems that many thousands of people will be getting this sort of treatment—a whole lot of hangers-on in the IOC and the sponsors. I would like to see the Minister playing a role in trying to pare down that number to the basic minimum that takes account of security implications.

May I assure the hon. Gentleman that the 1948 games may have been the austerity games, but people were able to find their own amusement in those days? The fact that my parents clearly did so—I was born in the middle of them—shows that life may have been austere, but there was a little bit of fun to be had in Fulham.

If the hon. Gentleman was born in the middle of those games, it says something about the gestation period in that part of SW6 during 1948.

I did not want to be overly negative, but as Members of this House we have a platform and, according to anecdotal evidence, at least, a lot of Londoners are increasingly rather lukewarm about this Olympiad in spite of the relentless publicity and propaganda being put out by the BBC, as the preferred broadcaster, and by the ODA, and it is important that those issues are put on the record. None of us wishes not to have a highly successful games. We signed up for them and it is right that we should make them a great success, but given the austerity period in which we are living, I do not think that every last i and t of the contract we signed with the IOC needs necessarily to be adhered to exactly. We potentially need discussions slightly to renegotiate elements of it, particularly the rather lavish hospitality package for quite a few individuals coming to the city, especially if they are going to disrupt the day-to-day life of those living here.

I, like everyone else, wish the games to be a great success. It is good when we can work together on such a basis, but it should not crowd out the idea that concerns about the games are being expressed by many Londoners and many people outside London. Let us make sure that we make them a spectacular success and focus on the legacy for the decades to come.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.