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London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill

Volume 536: debated on Tuesday 29 November 2011

Consideration of Lords amendments

The amendments address a technical concern raised by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in the other place.

Hon. Members will recall that the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 provides for the making of advertising and trading regulations. Under the Act, all such regulations, including amending regulations, are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. The Bill, when we debated it earlier this year, would have amended the 2006 Act to provide that advertising and trading regulations, apart from the first set, could be made via the negative resolution procedure.

The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, in its report of 14 October, accepted the need to amend the 2006 Act to facilitate the amendment of the regulations via the quicker negative resolution procedure.

I wonder whether the Minister has heard of the controversy surrounding the sponsorship of the Olympics by the Dow Chemical Company. As we approach this Friday, the 27th anniversary of Bhopal, there is concern among Indian athletes and Indian parliamentarians about the issue. Will it affect the regulations? If, for example, Dow withdraws its sponsorship or is asked to withdraw its sponsorship, will these regulations affect that in any way?

The short answer is no. I am entirely aware of the controversy that the right hon. Gentleman mentions. I believe the Indian Olympic committee is meeting this week and plans to make a decision. I am told that it is not planning a boycott or anything like it, but clearly that is a matter for the Indian Government and their Olympic committee.

It is recommended that the Bill be amended to provide that the affirmative resolution procedure must be used unless the Minister considers it necessary, by reason of urgency, to use the negative procedure. As I made clear when clause 2 was debated in this House, it was always my intention that the negative resolution procedure would be used only when there was an urgent need to do so. As such, the Government were happy to accept the Committee’s recommendation and to provide the additional clarification, and tabled amendments in Committee in the other place accordingly.

The effect of these amendments is that advertising and trading regulations will be made via the negative procedure only if the Minister considers that that is necessary by reason of urgency. In such a case, the regulations will confirm, on their face, that this is the Minister’s view. They also provide for the corresponding procedure in the Scottish Parliament, for advertising and trading regulations made by Scottish Ministers.

What we mean by “urgency” is that, for reasons of time, it would be impractical to use the affirmative procedure and necessary instead to use the negative procedure. This is likely to be because the amending regulations have to take effect quickly, before the earliest date that affirmative regulations could practicably be made. In essence, then, the amendments simply provide further assurance that the negative procedure would be used only when there is an urgent need to do so, and as a result provides extra assurance to Parliament. That was always the intention.

I am pleased to support the Government’s technical amendments, which I think strike the right balance between parliamentary accountability and the need to be able to respond flexibly to urgent changes in situations. As we draw this process to a close, I will take the opportunity to commend all the officials who worked on the earlier legislation with me when I was Secretary of State and now support the Minister in taking it forward. This legislation is important for protecting the essential vision and ambition shared by Members on both sides of the House for our Olympic games. It relates to protection against ticket touting and the need to ensure the smooth operational running of the servicing for Olympic and Paralympic venues.

There are just eight months until the start of the Olympics. They are under budget, the venues and the Olympic village have been built on time and the torch relay has been announced. There is a real sense of excitement across the country. There may not be many other opportunities allowed by the long title or any other event to debate the Olympics, but I know that the Minister is always available to discuss matters of outstanding concern, such as that raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) and the legacy. I can assure the Minister that all those discussions will be in the spirit of the cross-party support that has been such an important feature of the preparation for the games.

Before my right hon. Friend brings her remarks to a close, may I pay tribute to her—she has rightly paid tribute to the Minister and the fact that the projects are on time—for all she has done over the past six years to help to secure the Olympics and to work with the Government on an all-party basis? We are very proud of what she has done.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his generous comments. I warmly support the amendments to the Bill.

The right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) rightly praises the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell), who praised the Minister, and I would like to praise them both for the excellent work they are doing.

It is interesting that we are debating two minor technical amendments to a Bill we debated not long ago. On Second Reading I pointed out that the explanatory notes stated that the Bill

“makes a small number of technical amendments to the advertising and trading, ticket touting, and traffic management provisions of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.”

We are now debating minor amendments to a Bill that itself made minor amendments to another Bill, but they are none the less important, because they reflect the spirit of what the Minister said when we debated the Bill. In relation to the advertising regulations contained therein, I think that we were all encouraged to hear that he is keen to introduce those as sensibly as possible. Indeed, on Second Reading he said that the advertising regulations would be treated with a “light-touch approach”. He later said that they would be handled “sensitively”, and on another occasion he said that they would be dealt with “proportionately”. We are grateful for all three assurances.

We are also grateful for the assurance that if, for example, the venue or timing of an event need to be altered, we have the ability to debate the matter in Parliament if those necessary changes relate to advertising. We all recognise that if, for example, a major burst water main causes a change in venue or timing at short notice, it is important, as others have suggested, that we have the power to ensure that we can continue to do what the Act is for: protecting the main sponsors of the event so that people do not leap on to a sudden change in order to introduce ambush marketing, for example. They are small amendments, but they are sensible and important and we certainly support them.

Lords amendment 1 agreed to.

Lords amendments 2 and 3 agreed to.

Terrorism prevention and investigation measures bill (Programme) (No. 2)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill for the purpose of supplementing the Order of 7 June (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill (Programme)):

Consideration of Lords Amendments

1. Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement at today’s sitting.

Subsequent stages

2. Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.

3. The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.—(Mr Newmark.)

Question agreed to.