House of Lords
Thursday, 18 June 2009.
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Bradford.
Death of a Member: Lord Dahrendorf
Kenya: British Army
My Lords, the Army has measures in place to minimise the impact of its activities on wildlife, tourism and the local economy in Laikipia. This is standard practice wherever British forces undertake overseas military training.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Of course, we are all keen to ensure that the Army has good training opportunities in the countries in which it trains and that its reputation is highly positive. However, the Army has recently greatly extended what it calls its Grand Prix training activities in Laikipia, which is an important centre for wildlife and biodiversity and an important tourism destination. Should not the Army be doing more, through consultation and local partnerships with bodies such as the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, to create a strategy to ensure that wildlife and tourism sustainability is pursued through stewardship schemes and the like?
My Lords, I welcome the noble Lord’s acknowledgement of the importance of this training to us and to the Kenyans who also participate in that area. It is right that we have recently extended the amount of training in that area. We take very seriously our obligations to the local community and local needs in terms of wildlife conservation and tourism, which is important there. We have individual agreements with ranch owners, we are members of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum and we try to liaise with local people on these issues. At present we are negotiating an extension and a change to our memorandum of understanding with the Kenyans in order to incorporate all that we need to do to make sure that we are a positive contributor in that area and that we take into account all the issues that have been mentioned.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation charity that does a lot of work in Kenya. While I agree that the British Army could do a lot more to improve its communications with the local community as to its operations in northern Kenya, is the Minister aware that it has contributed enormously to the infrastructure there through the improvement of airstrips and roads to several of the community conservation initiatives in the region? Next week it will be providing a huge amount of support for the Lewa marathon, which is one of the largest events in that region raising money for wildlife conservation projects.
My Lords, I am pleased to have confirmation of the positive contribution that our Armed Forces can make and are making in that area. We provide a great deal of local employment, we have medical exercises that improve immunisation in the area and we carry out many engineering works such as those that have just been mentioned. Overall, this positive contribution means that there is a great deal of synergy between our needs and those of the local area.
My Lords, training in this area is critical to many of the challenges that we might face in the world in future and we are very conscious of the need to maintain training. As I mentioned, we are negotiating adjustments to the memorandum of understanding with the Kenyans to reflect the increased training that we are doing and intend to continue in the near future.
My Lords, I welcome what the Minister has said about the new MoU with the Government of Kenya. Does she recognise that the Laikipia area has the largest collection of diverse wildlife in Kenya outside the Masai Mara? That is why it is so crucial. In the renegotiation of the MoU, will the Ministry of Defence pay particular attention to access to water supplies in that area for the wildlife?
My Lords, I have been briefed on what we are doing about water supplies. We are making a positive contribution by drawing water from rivers and having purification facilities there. This is an extremely important area for wildlife and conservation. We have been exercising in Laikipia for many years now and it is interesting that, while wildlife generally in Kenya is under great pressure, the wildlife population in Laikipia is increasing. That shows that there is good co-ordination, which we must build on.
My Lords, following the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, about the quality of the land held for training purposes in the UK, will the Minister assure us that the Ministry of Defence is not hoarding more land of such natural beauty than is necessary for training purposes?
My Lords, I am sure that we are not holding more land than is absolutely necessary. Training is important and we have to be able to do it in a range of circumstances. Our training needs are clear. We have a good training programme and we are conscious of our obligations to everyone.
Asylum Seekers: Democratic Republic of Congo
My Lords, failed asylum seekers are returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo only when we and the independent courts are satisfied that it is safe to do so, taking full account of the circumstances of the individual applicant. The Court of Appeal has upheld the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s finding, based on all the evidence, that there is no general risk to failed asylum seekers returned to the DRC.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, but there will be many in your Lordships’ House who find it bizarrely inadequate. I sympathise with the Minister for having to stick so closely to his brief and to close his mind to the large body of evidence that is available among those who work with asylum seekers all over the country. Does he agree that the Home Office can continue to say what he has just reported it saying only because of its consistent refusal to take any steps for itself to discover what actually happens to those whom it hands over to Congolese authorities as marked people at N’Djili Airport in Kinshasa? Will he agree to meet soon with me and no more than two or three others so that he can hear some of that evidence at first hand—evidence to which his department and a succession of asylum and immigration tribunals have shut their ears?
My Lords, the first thing to say is that I and members of the UK Border Agency would always be willing to meet the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester and others to discuss these issues and get more information on them. The Country of Origin Information Group draws on all sources— Foreign Office, NGOs, in-country sources, anyone who has reports—to make its decisions. I was aware, for example, of the claims made in the Guardian but we have looked into those and we have found no substance in them. Our people in country have looked and found no substance. On 3 December 2008 the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling about a previous claim that someone had been ill treated there and that failed asylum seekers were at risk. It just could not find a case for that and absolutely supported the previous court judgment.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware of reports that those who have sought refuge in the British embassy, as they seemingly had to do to report on further abuse, have in fact been arrested by the authorities in the DRC? The Government seemed unaware of publicly known information about abuse of judges, as is shown by some of their Written Answers, so how confident can we be, following on from the right reverend Prelate’s question, that the Government are properly monitoring this situation, or are they in fact simply closing their eyes and hoping?
My Lords, I can assure the House that we are not closing our eyes and hoping. As I say, we actually have a group—the Country of Origin Information Group—that specifically looks at these issues and it draws on information from everybody. Not only that, the chief inspector has set up an independent panel of experts, formerly the Advisory Panel on Country Information, and they are reviewing this, and indeed the COI service is currently revising our DRC code. This was last published in January 2009, so we are constantly updating it, and that will be issued very shortly following these versions. These are allegations and we have tried to investigate them all. When the courts have looked at this they have supported what we have discovered, which is that it does not mean that we cannot send people back to that country.
My Lords, in his initial Answer the Minister said that no one was sent back until the Government and independent courts were satisfied that there was no general risk to returning failed asylum seekers. Can the noble Lord assure us that the individual conditions of a failed asylum seeker are also taken into account because there are very differing receptions accorded to people according, for instance, to their religious or political alignment?
My Lords, the noble Lord asks a very pertinent question. I can assure the House that our current guidance is very much done on an individual basis, and each person, each asylum seeker, has an individual case manager who looks at it on an individual basis. So, for example, although we will not take a blanket approach that we cannot return anyone to a particular country, once it has been accepted that is all right to do so, we might well have an individual who for various reasons we will not send back. That will certainly be done. We do not accept that we can make a presumption about every asylum seeker of a particular nationality who presents himself, unless there is something that has made us accept that—for example, at the moment we do not return to central and southern Iraq. We just do not accept that. We look at a case on an individual basis and we will send them back if we feel they are not real asylum seekers.
My Lords, does the Minister agree that this situation is nothing new? Surely it has been going on for many years because successive Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo have not had full control of their territory. Warlords have been very strong in certain places. Remnants of other armies from other states have come into the country and there is a great deal of chaos.
My Lords, I think that all noble Lords will agree that it is a very unfortunate nation, as it has been through various guises since the mid-1960s. That is just very unfortunate. Although fighting is going on in the east of the country, for example, we return people to Kinshasa, which is 1,000 miles away from the particularly violent bit at the moment. That is similar to returning someone to London, say, when the fighting is going on in Morocco. That gives a flavour of the distances involved. Yes, there have been real difficulties. As I say, however, these things are looked at and monitored all the time. We would not send people back if we felt that they were at risk and we had evidence of that, because that is not what we do.
My Lords, is it not right to say that each person who is returned requires papers, passports, visas and other documents in order to return to their country? What arrangements are made to ensure that the documents are secured? Presumably we cannot just return people if they do not have the proper authority
My Lords, I missed the first part of the question but I think it was to do with the need for proper documentation. That is a real issue because we often have difficulty trying to pin down exactly which country a person comes from. It does delay the process but generally we manage to achieve it—we get the paperwork and documentation in place. Once the case officer assesses that it is safe to return a person then we move down that route. Ideally we let them do so voluntarily. We give them a support package of money to help them when they are back in their country to get set up and go. But if they will not go voluntarily and do not need asylum—many do not and are here as economic migrants—we believe that it is absolutely right that they should be returned to their country. Millions of people around the world would love to live in this great country of ours and we cannot just open the door and let them flood in.
My Lords, is there a memorandum of understanding between our country and the DRC to ensure that no harm comes to these individuals? The Minister’s reply was not very convincing because he did not say whether there is a precise monitoring system in place to see what happens to them. There are in-country reports, but how often are they updated? We should also bear in mind that the latest report from Amnesty International has barely had a look-in at the Home Office.
My Lords, I had hoped that I dealt with that in my answer on COI. The latest one was in January 2009. It is now being updated and will shortly be coming out. We do not send teams to monitor. However, when we add everything together with our sources in-country—whether from the Foreign Office, NGOs, agencies, whoever it might be—if we feel there is a risk, we will not return the person. That is just not what we do.
My Lords, we all know that increased physical activity is necessary to help to enable people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The Government recognise that we have a role, as part of our strategy to tackle obesity, to support individuals and families. Our policies are focused on helping people to make healthier choices and to create an environment that promotes healthy weight. We have made additional funding available to support a range of physical activity opportunities and we have launched Change4Life.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that comprehensive Answer and for the promises that she has given to the House. However, is she aware that every year about 30,000 people die from obesity and that there is a link between exercise and obesity, as the experience in Denmark and the Netherlands shows? People in the Netherlands cycle 12 times further than people in the UK and the obesity level in the Netherlands and in Denmark is two and a half times lower than ours. Can my noble friend tell the House a little more about what she is doing to encourage her departmental staff to cycle more and walk more, and will she encourage other departments, particularly the Department for Transport, to provide facilities for cycling?
My Lords, a great deal of activity is going on around cycling. I pay tribute to my noble friend for being, as it were, the lithe Lord for cycling in your Lordships’ House and encouraging cycling in general and for parliamentarians as well. We are already implementing as part of our obesity strategy a number of initiatives to encourage NHS staff, for example, to recognise the benefits of cycling. We are working right now with our trusts to plan a major promotion of cycling. We are investing £140 million in a three-year programme to increase cycling, which is being delivered through Cycling England. The investment will improve cycling infrastructure through dedicated cycle lanes, increase bike parking and promote the benefits of cycling, although we cannot do anything about the fact that there are more hills in the UK than in the Netherlands. It will also promote cycle training. There will be 146,000 children trained to use bikes safely and we aim to have 500,000 children trained to use bikes safely by 2012.
My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the science is quite straightforward on this subject? Exercise is important for the cardiovascular system and in controlling cholesterol and the redistribution of fat, but the essential thing with weight reduction is eating less. Is she aware that we have in the Chamber a splendid visual aid in the form of the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior? He decided to take off two stone in weight and did so by doing something that did not cost anything—he simply ate less. We are what we eat.
My Lords, the noble Lord is exactly right and he presents a challenge to the rest of us. We know that physical activity is a key driver in dealing with obesity, but we also know that people need to eat less. The point that I made in my opening remarks is that we know that these are personal choices that people have to make and that the role of government is to encourage them to do that. I missed my walk this morning because I was reading my brief; I will have to catch up on it later.
My Lords, it is the turn of the Lib Dems.
My Lords, having assumed that we are not going to restrict ourselves to a totally sedentary lifestyle, will the Minister give us some guidance on what the Government will do about making casual and enjoyable exercise more readily available to those who, for instance, live in inner cities and want pleasant parks to go to? What drivers are being taken from within government to make sure that casual exercise is readily available to the ordinary person without their having to put their hand in their wallet?
My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point. That is why this is a cross-government exercise. We are working with DCLG, for example, on issues around parks and leisure facilities. We are also working with other government departments to make sure that the planning system recognises the need for people to be able to walk on pleasant roads and streets. This is a very long-term programme. Our ambition is to be the first major nation to reverse the rising tide of obesity. That is a long-term aim and one for which we all have a personal responsibility.
My Lords, the noble Earl is absolutely right. I do not know what specific progress has been made and will write to him. My understanding is that, in the training provided through schools, children will not be trained unless they are wearing helmets.
My Lords, will the Minister accept that there are deeper questions behind the important ones of diet and exercise with regard to this matter concerning people’s sense of self-worth? These may be about social equality and the quality of community life. People are also what they believe.
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate points to a very important matter. We have seen television programmes such as the Jamie Oliver programme in Rotherham, where it was clear that a lot of barriers to healthy eating and exercise were to do with people’s self-image and managing their income. This is a societal problem; the right reverend Prelate is right.
My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the embryonic NHS forest and the aim to plant 1.3 million trees, one for each employee in the NHS, to bring greenery into the heart of the patient and to provide opportunities for exercise to combat obesity? I declare an interest in one of the partners, the Forestry Commission.
EU: Alternative Investment Funds
My Lords, the Government support the principle of a harmonised regime for alternative investment products, to help to develop the single market and to provide a framework for dealing with potential systemic risks on a cross-border basis. The current proposals contain flaws. We will continue to work constructively with our partners in the EU to secure improvements.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. However, especially given his great experience in this sector, he may be a little complacent about the threat to London’s competitiveness which will result from a transfer of regulatory powers to Brussels. In particular, can he confirm that the Government would be able to prevent the enactment of some of the more protectionist features of this ill drafted directive, such as those prohibiting delegation of portfolio management outside the European Union and requiring private equity funds and investment trusts to appoint UCITS-style depositories, which is wholly unnecessary and alien to our British way of doing things?
My Lords, the draft directive was produced without the customary consultation. The equivalent UCITS directive, which applies to a smaller industry, had three rounds of consultation before it was published. As a result of the pace at which the draft directive has been produced there are, as I said, flaws. There are misunderstandings about the role of depositories and the calculation of leverage. Some provisions appear to conflict with the concept of subsidiarity. I am confident that we will be able to help improve the directive. To that end I am meeting people in the Commission and with other countries in the EU, including Sweden this weekend ahead of it taking up the presidency. We are also working very actively with the industry. We have had meetings with more than 100 managers of alternative investment funds and private equity to make sure that we understand their views and we are working with them to assemble arguments.
My Lords, important as this draft alternative investment fund managers directive is, does my noble friend recognise that there are other extremely important issues on the European Council agenda? In particular, does he welcome the very positive remarks made by the Irish Europe Minister, Dick Roche, on the radio this morning looking forward to a successful outcome of the negotiations concerning the Lisbon treaty, thus enabling it to be ratified in all member states and to come into force before the Barroso Commission goes out of office, which will be of major benefit to all the peoples of Europe?
My Lords, I regret that I did not hear the radio interview. I was taking note of the preceding question—I was walking to work while the interview was being broadcast. However, I take note of my noble friend’s comments and the encouraging sentiments that he expresses.
My Lords, has the Minister read the new book by Marta Andreasen, the former chief accountant of the European Union, which reveals that accrual accounting and double-entry book-keeping remain strangers in that land? Do the Government not agree that the British people will become even more angry with their political class if they learn that even a part of our financial industries has been taken over by the Eurocrats?
My Lords, the noble Lord’s views on these matters are well known. We are seeking, as we already have with other directives, to strike the right balance between the benefits to UK investors and the companies in which these funds invest of enhanced regulation and supervision while not in any way conflicting with the concept of national responsibility for supervision. Indeed, the Prime Minister will make that point forcefully at the European Council meetings in Brussels today and tomorrow.
My Lords, perhaps we might revert to the Question on the Order Paper, eccentric though that appears. Is it not the case that the Minister can be a great deal more robust than he has been so far in these exchanges? Not only is the context for this particular industry global, not European—it is global co-operation which is required—but it is an industry where, unusually, the United Kingdom is not merely larger than any other; in this particular sector, it is larger than all the others put together. Therefore, it would be wholly wrong for us to agree to any European directive on this matter that we are not satisfied is 100 per cent right.
My Lords, I would not wish noble Lords to believe that I am not being robust on these matters. I recognise the importance of the UK as a centre for hedge fund management; over 80 per cent of hedge funds in Europe are managed from the UK. We are also the regional centre for private equity management, and I am working to make sure that the views of the industry are well understood. I believe that our knowledge and awareness of the issues and our capacity to provide detailed understanding to address some of the flaws that lie in the directive will lead to a positive outcome. I can best do that through constructive engagement with our colleagues in Europe, rather than being unnecessarily confrontational.
My Lords, there appears to be growing confusion about the differences of view between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England on banking regulation. The governor said yesterday, in his Mansion House speech,
“If some banks are … too big to fail, then … they are too big”.
Does the Chancellor agree?
My Lords, the issue of the banking community’s size in respect of the domestic economy, and then the size of individual banks, is one to which we are giving considerable attention. We shall be producing a White Paper on the future of financial markets in early July, which will address that issue. In the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Mansion House speech last night, however—which I thought was, truly, an exceptionally good speech by the Chancellor on the steps that he has taken to protect our economy—he set out his own broad views, which are that the critical factors to protect us against bank failure are good governance, good risk control, appropriate regulation and constant supervision. In that context, I am sure that diversity in the scale of our banks can still be a source of strength for our economy.
Arrangement of Business
Business of the House
Timing of Debates
Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2009
Dunfermline Building Society Compensation Scheme, Resolution Fund and Third Party Compensation Order 2009
Amendments to Law (Resolution of Dunfermline Building Society) (No. 2) Order 2009
Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Order 2009
European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2009
Motions to Refer to Grand Committee
Olympic Games 2012
My Lords, I am delighted to have secured the opportunity to debate the progress being made towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am grateful that so many Members of your Lordships’ House are contributing—a sign of the importance that this House places on the Games and sport. I look forward to benefiting from noble Lords’ rich and diverse experience. First, I declare an interest as chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games or LOCOG, as we are known.
January of this year saw us pass the halfway point from winning the bid to the Olympic opening ceremony. Next month, on 27 July, the nation will mark three years to go. Now, more than ever, we are under the microscope. Since being awarded the right to host the Games, we have made solid progress. I place on record my thanks to the efforts of the Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Development Agency. The Games are the biggest and most complex sporting event in the world to stage, and we are precisely where we need to be at this point.
In May, when the International Olympic Committee’s Co-ordination Commission visited us, it acknowledged that every one of our milestones has been met. So let me take noble Lords on a short romp across that landscape. We are a Games with sport and athletes at their heart. We are on track to deliver a compact Games with swift and safe transport and we are building new permanent structures only where there is a long-term and sustainable legacy. All our venues in the Olympic park are on, or even ahead of, schedule and being delivered within the public sector budget set by the Government three years ago.
The task of cleaning and clearing the Olympic park site will be complete by July. The construction of the Olympic stadium began three months ahead of schedule last May and it is already a defining feature on the east London skyline as the first sections of its roof are put in place. The roof of the aquatics centre is taking shape and the foundations of the velodrome are near completion.
Last week, I was honoured to join Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at the official opening of our completed sailing venue at Weymouth and Portland. In the organising committee we have confirmed almost all our venues and have already recruited all our sport competition managers, who are working closely with the international federations to ensure that the sports facilities and planning remain on track.
The other major project within the Olympic park is the athletes’ village where, again, work is on schedule, thanks to the judicious use of the contingency provided by the Prime Minister, then Chancellor, in 2006. LOCOG’s £2 billion operating budget for staging the Games remains unchanged and is privately funded, as I never grow tired of reminding your Lordships’ House. Nearly a third of this figure comes from domestic business sponsorship. To date, we have raised around half a billion pounds, a figure unsurpassed by any previous organising committee. We announced our 20th business partner earlier this week and our commercial teams are still engaged in a lively and vibrant marketplace.
Our decision to sign up our domestic partners early was important, as this provides our independence as well as the clarity and certainty of purpose as we move from a planning organisation to one that focuses on delivery. It also helps that these partners make the most of their sponsorship. Good examples of this are Lloyds TSB’s Local Heroes, Adidas adiZone outside gyms, and EDF’s Team Green Britain, which noble Lords may have heard about this week.
As I have said, we are moving swiftly from life as a planning organisation to one that focuses on the delivery of an enormous range of services needed to stage the Games. Let me give noble Lords an insight into the scale of these operations. They include: athlete services, accommodation, catering and transport for 10,500 Olympians, 4,000 Paralympians and 15,000 officials and coaches; venue operations such as security and waste removal at 40 venues; spectator services and ticketing for 9 million people who will come to watch the Games; press and broadcast operations, ranging from results services to internet platforms for the 20,000 accredited journalists; workforce services to recruit, train and clothe thousands of staff and up to 70,000 volunteers; a Cultural Olympiad and education programme enabling thousands of community organisations, schools and local authority colleges to be inspired by and engaged in the Games; and our creative teams are working hard to choreograph ceremonies that reflect the best of the United Kingdom.
Of course, no organising committee alone can deliver a Games. Partnership is crucial. I thank Tessa Jowell, the Minister for the Olympics and my colleague on the Olympic board, for her unstinting work and her efforts across government. I am grateful too to the Mayor of London, as well as the London boroughs, which are working with us to provide the services and support systems required to keep the city running for residents and visitors during the Games. This level of practical partnership is extraordinary and has been achieved in large part through the continuing cross-party political support for the Games. In another place we are indebted to Hugh Robertson and Don Foster, and in your Lordships’ House to the noble Lords, Lord Davies of Oldham, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Addington, and my noble friends Lord Glentoran and Lord Luke. Indeed, many noble Lords are working at the coal face of London 2012, bringing their expertise to shape and deliver the Games. This House can, in particular, take credit for raising the profile of sport on the political agenda.
The extraordinary surge of support for our efforts, following the herculean efforts of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Beijing, demonstrates that the success of the Games will be judged as much on Team GB and Paralympics Team GB’s performance as our ability to stage the Games. My noble friend Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, and the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, chair of UK Sport, are spearheading the preparation and delivery of those teams. With little more than three years to go, we all need to focus now on what we can do to deliver medal success for them in 2012. Alongside them, the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, is concentrating on ensuring the sporting and regeneration legacy of the Olympic park. While there are too many in your Lordships’ House to thank by name today, the speakers list bears eloquent witness to their support. There has been a step change in public attitude since the Beijing Games last year. The organising committee is focused on staging the best Games that it can, so that people will be engaged, involved and inspired by them. Its primary job is to ensure that the Games produce remarkable sporting achievements and experiences on the field of play to inspire young people and demonstrate that sport matters and is for them.
We are also using the power of the Games to create other ways for the country to be involved and inspired. The first two major projects for the Cultural Olympiad are well under way, with artists taking the lead in a project to commission 12 new pieces of art by 2012. “Stories of the World” will bring together 59 leading musicians and galleries. Nearly 5,000 schools and colleges are involved in the London 2012 education programme, Get Set, and 56,000 young people are competing in the London 2012 Make Your Mark Challenge enterprise competition. We are working with graduates to support Teach First. Hundreds of projects have already signed up to take part in the London 2012 open weekend, celebrating three years to go on 27 July.
Every month I visit projects in one of the nations or English regions, and I am astounded by the extraordinary creativity and enthusiasm that communities up and down the country are now witnessing—a direct result of having succeeded in Singapore. On each of these visits, what I am asked most is, “How can I get involved? What can we do?”. This is why we are the first organising committee to have developed, with the IOC’s support, a way for non-commercial organisations to be part of the London 2012 experience. We have created the Inspire brand, a special mark for sports clubs, schools, local authorities and community groups to use. The Inspire programme will allow millions of people to become part of the London 2012 experience, and help to deliver a sporting and cultural legacy, such as Street Games—whose Inspire programme, Legacy Leaders, is designed to improve access to sport for young people in disadvantaged areas—and Animation Decathlon, a project that works with young people to create outdoor and interactive multimedia as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Today I am delighted to announce that 175 projects, over 100 of which are part of the Cultural Olympiad, have been recognised through the Inspire programme and carry the sought-after Inspire mark.
In conclusion, I say once again that the responsibility rests with all of us to maximise the benefits from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is a time for us all to reaffirm our support for this project and believe in it: believe in the progress that we are making; believe that we will achieve our goal of a memorable Games that will touch everyone in the UK and inspire young people; and believe that the Games will leave lasting and sustainable legacies. I know from first-hand experience across the country that the enthusiasm, creativity and excitement are there in abundance.
My Lords, is it not extraordinary that in the noble Lord’s remarks about the 2012 Olympics he has said not a word about the security problems? Is it not a fact that the vicious people around the world who plan terrorist attacks must regard the London Olympics as one of the prime future potential targets? Why has he not said anything about those preparations?
My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord’s intervention. Of course, the security of the Olympic Games underpins all our thinking. It is a critical issue. It is discussed regularly by the Olympic board and we now have an Olympic Security Directorate under the direction of the Home Secretary. I assure the noble Lord that the question of security is always very close to all our deliberations and, in fact, is on the agenda for the Olympic board meeting which I shall attend this afternoon when I leave this place.
We all share the responsibility of encouraging young people and organisations to make the most of this opportunity so that, when we look back in 2013, we will be able to say, “We made our country proud”. I look forward to today’s debate and thank the House once again for its continuing support and for the benefit of its reservoir of experience. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, as, unfortunately, I shall not be able to be present at the end of the debate, perhaps I may take this opportunity to ask the noble Lord to accept my very deep appreciation at his agreement to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragic murder of 11 Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972. The Jewish Committee for the London Games is delighted that Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to mark this tragedy at the 2012 Games, and the committee is very grateful that the noble Lord has agreed to this being done.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for staging this debate. He may recall that, when we won the bid for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, I dropped him a note saying something along the lines of, “It’s great to know that you can still come in first”. I congratulate him on the progress that is being made by the organising committee on time—ahead in some cases—and, one hopes, on budget.
That said, I want to concentrate on arguments that are going on among the national bodies concerning two sports: shooting and the equestrian events. There is serious concern among those bodies about the venues chosen for those events. Shooting at Woolwich and the equestrian events at Greenwich may provide fantastic televisual locations but both have serious safety issues and little or no perceivable construction or sporting legacies—something stressed in our bid.
Shooting around its national home at Bisley and equestrian events at, for example, Badminton, would have left far better legacies and provided better facilities for competitors and spectators, arguably at lesser cost. LOCOG rejected British Shooting’s independent assessment of the cost of developing a stand-alone site next to Bisley, which would have been around £30 million, some £12 million cheaper than the option at Greenwich. Accommodation was not an issue. Near to Bisley, Surrey University and planned development by Royal Holloway College to Olympic standards would have taken care of that. The proposed centre would have left a magnificent legacy, as well as having room for more spectators, for training in military marksmanship, for GB, England and Paralympic training, and normal commercial use. Information in this folder from the National Rifle Association was provided to both LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority. If the noble Lord, Lord Coe, does not have a copy, I shall be happy to provide him with one.
What lies at the heart of this debate is as simple as it is worrying. The allegation is that the decision by the Olympic Board on venues for shooting and equestrian events was based on reports commissioned by LOCOG from KPMG and the construction consortium, CLM, which contained partial, selective, misleading and inaccurate information about alternative venues such as Bisley, and ignored totally possible scenic sites such as Windsor Great Park. The only way to clear the air is for LOCOG to make full disclosure to this House and to the public of the unedited KPMG and CLM reports and associated papers used to decide these unsafe and unsuitable venues, together with details of associated construction and all other costs. The Audit Commission may be able to help on this. This will better ensure the success that we all want for shooting and equestrian events and all the other events in 2012.
My noble friend Lord Berkeley, who unfortunately cannot be here, has asked me to raise a point about the use of rail freight to take the construction materials to the site. There is good experience in the building of Heathrow Terminal 5. The extra use of rail freight there cut down on the number of lorry journeys made to and from that site. There is a state-of-the-art logistics terminal on the site, but for the Olympics to gain all the credit they need, some better attention ought to be given to the sustainability aspect. The Rail Freight Group, which my noble friend chairs and of which I am a member, estimates that, through the use of rail, road deliveries to the Stratford site could be reduced by 50 per cent from an estimated 600 to 300 trucks a day at peak, and by 800,000 road deliveries over the whole construction period. Rail produces five times fewer emissions compared with road, and such savings would help the green image the Olympics are hoping to achieve.
My Lords, everything to do with the London Olympics is a story. One of the most fascinating was the recent Sunday Times story about Type 45 destroyers stationed in the Thames during the Olympics to protect the Games. Under those circumstances, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on keeping his cool throughout and on initiating today’s timely debate. Progress on building the venues and preparing for the Games has been remarkable and I congratulate him and his colleagues at LOCOG and the ODA.
As has been clear from the start, one of the key reasons London won the 2012 Olympics was the way in which it promised legacy. The Olympics would be the catalyst for the regeneration and development of the lower Lea Valley, the site of the Olympic park. I want briefly to highlight the opportunities and threats surrounding the regeneration and tourism legacy of the 2012 Olympics.
Securing the legacy of the Olympics is a massive task and has myriad aspects. Many organisations are involved—not just LOCOG, the ODA, the Mayor, the GLA and the DCMS, but also the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, VisitBritain, the BOA, Sport England, the Legacy Trust and the LDA. Now a new kid on the block is being established to ensure the legacy for the Olympic park and Stratford City—the Olympic Park Legacy Company, chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, who is eminently qualified for the job, with a chief executive, Andrew Altman, likewise well qualified, having been deputy mayor of Philadelphia.
However, although the Olympic Park Legacy Company will cost £1 million per annum to run, it seems that this body will have no capital budget and will be there entirely to sell the virtues of the park to prospective occupiers. The mayor described its purpose as a vehicle to enthuse private enterprise to finance the legacy. I sincerely congratulate him on having the foresight to set up a legacy vehicle for the park, but is it really going to raise the money? The company will have particular responsibility in respect of the Olympic venues. This legacy company will have a wonderful new park the size of Hyde Park with no finance for its upkeep. It will have a beautiful stadium dedicated to athletics, which will be reduced from a seating capacity of 80,000 to 25,000, but no legacy tenants or finance for its upkeep, other than the £10 million lump sum promised by the mayor. Possibly there will be a national skills academy for sports and leisure industries and/or the English Institute of Sport on the site. There will be an aquatics centre, which will be a beautiful building but hugely expensive to maintain, costing £1 million per annum, but with no existing revenue funding. There will be a media centre, which may become the site of a new university.
On the upside, there is a phenomenal transport legacy for the Stratford area, a well designed athletes village—with a deal, we hope, shortly to be finalised with a consortium of registered social landlords—a splendid velopark, the upkeep of which will be funded by the Lea Valley regional park for the next 21 years and, it seems, there will be a new academy located in the village.
It is not difficult to see that unless there is strong leadership, the legacy is unlikely to materialise in the form promised. All that would be a challenge to any company, but more especially one that lacks its own sources of finance and has to negotiate with such myriad bodies. I have no doubt that the ODA and LOCOG will deliver to time—indeed, perhaps ahead of time—and within budget, but we on these Benches have real concerns about some aspects of the legacy. Should not the ODA be more explicitly involved in the delivery of the physical legacy ultimately in terms of adaptation of the venues, and so on? Should not its brief and lifespan be explicitly extended? There are question marks about the power of the legacy company. It is clearly taking over some functions from the LDA, but which ones precisely? Will it own and be able to dispose of land? How much autonomy will it in fact have? Then there is the question of what will be its relationship to the strategic regeneration framework for the area and the five surrounding boroughs.
We had an extremely useful symposium earlier this week organised by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and the noble Baroness, Lady D'Souza, about the Olympic legacy. The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, was there, too, extremely helpfully. The Barcelona Games were described as the gold standard in terms of legacy. Mark Bostock of Arup made a very interesting contribution in asking what will happen when the curtain comes down on the Olympics. He emphasised that we must look beyond the park and its immediate environs and see the park fitting into the lower Lea Valley and beyond.
The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and the five boroughs have articulated such a vision: Water City, which would encompass a much broader area including Poplar, the lower Lea Valley and Canary Wharf. Will the Olympic Park fit into this? Will the new six neighbourhoods, which will expand into the surrounding areas, fit into that vision? How will the legacy company, with its limited territorial spread, achieve that? The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has also made a powerful case—I am sure that he will again today—for a social entrepreneur to be on the board of the legacy company. The composition of the board will be extremely important.
The British tourism framework review document published earlier this year, as well as arguing for a full agency to promote English tourism, makes a powerful case for more government support to take full opportunity of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The Government anticipate that the London Olympics will provide a major boost to the sector. The framework review makes the case that we cannot successfully promote the UK as a tourist destination in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics without additions to VisitBritain's promotional budget.
My noble friend Lord Lee and I have been on the warpath for at least two years, but the Government seem to be completely deaf to pleas for more funding to promote Britain as a destination in the run-up to the Olympics. The Sydney Games were exploited by Australia as an overall marketing event, as well as a hugely successful global sporting event, but they had government money to help them. It is hardly surprising that the industry does not understand the logic of cutting funding for tourism marketing in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. If further funding is not received, Britain will almost certainly miss the opportunity to maximise the economic and social benefits that the tourism industry has on offer. I very much hope that the Government will change their mind.
My Lords, it is a great privilege and pleasure to make my maiden speech on a topic of such importance and one about which I feel so passionate. I should like to begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on the immense progress he has made in delivering the Games to London. I am sure that his outstanding leadership from those early days in Singapore will continue to deliver a very successful Games in London in three years’ time.
Since winning the right to stage the Games, much of the talk has been around regeneration and facilities, both of which are very important. However, I should like to focus for a few moments on the impact of the Games on people’s lives and young people in particular. In Singapore in July 2005, the noble Lord, Lord Coe, when winning the bid, said that if London was successful we would,
“use the power of the Games to inspire young people to choose sport”.
Having spent my life working in sport, I can testify to the immense power it has to change lives. Nelson Mandela said that sport spoke to young people in a language they understood, that it was an instrument for peace, building bridges and breaking down barriers between young people across the world.
So how do we deliver on that promise up to 2012 and, perhaps just as importantly, beyond? Internationally, UK Sport, working with the British Council, UNICEF, LOCOG, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympics Association and the Youth Sport Trust, is delivering international inspiration. This programme, targeted at 20 developing countries across the world, is aimed at changing the lives of 12 million young people. We are working in India to give young women the self-confidence and self-esteem to play their full part in society through their engagement in sport; we use sport to attract young people so that we can assist in delivering very challenging messages around HIV and AIDS in Zambia; we have introduced for the first time disability sport in Azerbaijan, a concept which is now built into their national physical education and sport strategy. It is critical that the UK uses the momentum of the Games to reach out to the youth of the world. We hope, beyond 2012, that the case for sport as an international tool for development will be both understood and continue to be invested in over the years ahead.
Here in the UK we have seen an unheralded revolution in school sport and a reintroduction of physical education and school sport into both our secondary and primary schools. I hope we can use the power of the Games to consolidate sport at the heart of school life. Through the work of the Youth Sport Trust, we know that quality physical education and sport can help schools achieve better academic standards. It can certainly improve ethos and behaviour, even in the most challenging schools in the most difficult areas of this country. It can definitely have an impact on improved health and well-being, including emotional and mental health. It can indeed tackle issues of social inclusion and community cohesion. Surely one of the greatest legacies we could see from London 2012 is school sport embedded in the heart of every school. I would argue that school sport is more than a game. Physical education and sport are not an optional extra but a way of building a new youth culture that is so needed in this country.
Finally, I turn to those young people who will compete in 2012. When we achieved our finest results for 100 years in Beijing—fourth in the Olympics and second in the Paralympics Games—it was heralded as a great success. The Olympics and Paralympics arena is a theatre of dreams. It is a place where ordinary people battle against all sorts of odds and, through hard work and perseverance, achieve their dreams. It is their journey, not the medal, which inspires us all. UK Sport is building a world-class system that will give us great pride as we see our athletes achieve in 2012. I hope that beyond 2012 we begin to appreciate that our elite sportsmen and women are not just about national pride but about setting an example for every young person in this country to achieve their personal best, whatever their circumstances and however difficult their journey.
London 2012 is a unique, galvanising force, a catalyst for unprecedented focus and activity. The legacy could be that we lay the foundations for generational change. Let London 2012 not be an end but a beginning for sport in the UK and for the unity of the youth of the world.
My Lords, I, too, thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on introducing this important debate. In my view, there is no better person to do it. He may be tired of hearing this from me, but I will say it again anyway; I was the only MP to defy the boycott and go to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, and I saw him win his gold and silver medals for the 1,500 metres and 800 metres. I contend that I did not go to Moscow; I went to Olympia. At the same Olympics, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, also won a silver medal as a cox in the men’s rowing eight, and also deserves our greatest acclamation. It is very nice to see them sitting cosily in the Chamber today.
It is a particular pleasure for me to speak after the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, has made her maiden speech. I have known her for many years and I believe her to be one of the most inspirational women in sport. She is a former international netball player and lecturer at the University of Loughborough. I could go on and on about her many achievements, but time is against me. Suffice it to say that we now have in this House someone who will raise the bar on sport, and I welcome her with open arms. Long may she take part in debates on sport, and instead of being guest speaker at the All-Party Group on Sports may she now become a full member and make her contributions felt there, too.
As noble Lords have mentioned, the Olympics are a great opportunity to increase participation in sport throughout the United Kingdom. One of the recent interesting developments has been the decision to enter a Great Britain football team for the first time in more than 40 years. This decision, thankfully, has the support of the other football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their support is historic in itself.
In the short time available to me, I should like to pose one or two questions. When winning the bid in Singapore, a commitment was given that this would encompass the whole of the United Kingdom—I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, is listening to every word of this—including all its youths. Yet I am hearing some disturbing reports that the volunteers are being recruited almost exclusively from the south. I understand they are being told that they must pay their own travel and accommodation costs, but this is difficult for youths in the Midlands and the north to sustain in comparison with their London and other southern counterparts. I would be very happy to hear the noble Lord, Lord Coe, in his winding-up speech, or the Minister when he replies, give an assurance that this is not the case.
In addition, I understand that the organisers of the London Marathon will organise the Olympic marathon, but there seems to be no tendering process to allow other potential organisers—for example, those who organised the Great North Run—to participate in that decision.
I am also concerned about the Olympic Delivery Authority not being as transparent as one would hope in the tendering of contracts. One Commonwealth country that provided the trees for the Beijing Olympics was allegedly prevented from giving the same services to the London Olympics, although they were offered at a discounted price. I understand that a representative of the company is raising the matter in another forum, so I shall leave it there.
Finally, I attended the Munich, Moscow, Atlanta and Athens Olympic Games, so, as noble Lords may imagine, I give my wholehearted support to the noble Lord and his team, as I am sure they will galvanise our great sporting nation to deliver a highly successful Games in the true Olympic spirit.
My Lords, I share with others around this Chamber a huge appreciation of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for giving us this opportunity today and for the leadership and inspiration that he has given to this whole enterprise. You may ask why a Bishop is taking an interest in all of this. Let me tell you that the vast majority of the Stratford site lies in my diocese. We are now calling ourselves “The Olympic diocese of Chelmsford”.
I remember that on the evening we successfully won the Games, I was in East Ham, licensing a new priest in a packed church. The sense of excitement across that community over the Games coming to east London was palpable. It was a great evening of celebration. Sadly, the following day the bombs went off in central London and we had a rather more sober evening in Southend that night.
I asked myself on that evening, “What can we do?” As a result of that, we, together with all the dioceses in London, and working hand in hand with our ecumenical and inter-faith partners, appointed an officer, Canon Duncan Green, with the full support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to co-ordinate with the Games. Moreover, the House may be interested to know that the hard hat chaplaincy to the site is provided also by one of my priests. I gather his ministry among the workers on the site is much appreciated.
The House will know that the London borough of Newham is one of the youngest and most diverse urban communities in Europe. One of the things that the churches and faith communities will be concerned with is to encourage young people to engage with the Games, especially in those communities. I was particularly appreciative of an excellent and inspirational maiden speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, on the same sort of theme. I very much hope that, in the vexed question of security that surrounds these Games, we will not end up with the local young people looking in on an event that they do not have access to. I am very encouraged by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, about the need for volunteers and their training. There are huge opportunities for an international and young community to participate. Anything that we can do in the churches and faith communities to help with that, we will gladly do.
The second aspect of our involvement in the Games is the business of hospitality. The world is coming to east London and the United Kingdom. The London Borough of Newham already has 120 languages spoken in it. The world is already there. It is a wonderful place to have a great international event. If there are ways in which we can enable that community to spread its hospitality, to make its welcome felt around the Games, that, too, is important.
Thirdly, I want to say something about the legacy. One of the things, dare I say, that churches and faith communities know something about is community building. The legacy will be vital. It is not just a physical legacy, important though that is—and it is lovely to see the site developing in the way that it is. It is also in the sense of ownership of the community of what is going on. Clearly, we need leadership, but that has to be balanced so that we do not get the sort of leadership where local people feel that there is a great juggernaut being imposed upon them about the shape of their future. I was very heartened by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, about the partnership process. It is crucial that the partnership takes with it not only the local authorities but the networks that make these communities effective. Ultimately, the test of the Games for these communities will be in the legacy, and we know from past experience that that can sometimes be difficult. We want them to have memories for their lifetime, particularly for the younger generation to carry forward, but we also want them to feel that a new chapter is opening up for their community as a consequence of this investment.
Finally, I think that the Games are coming at just the right moment for our national life. Here we are in the middle of a recession and people are anxious about their future. Might not 2012 be a great moment for a celebration of our national life and to give our country a boost? Whatever we can do to make these Games succeed, we must all bend our energies towards it.
My Lords, I declare my interest as chairman of the British Olympic Association and in so doing I thank my noble friend Lord Coe, on whose LOCOG board I also serve, for securing the debate. My noble friend exemplifies the truism that the success of London 2012 will be based on seamless co-operation between the main stakeholders, whose job it is to provide the athletes with lifetime memories of a great Games. In that context, I warmly welcome this debate, in which the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, has made her maiden speech. The contribution that she and UK Sport, which she chairs, have made to the success of British athletes is exceptional.
Since Beijing, the British Olympic Association has built strong working relations with UK Sport, culminating in a joint presentation at our annual meeting yesterday. I can assure the House that, despite press leaks to the contrary, the BOA’s finances are robust. The investments that we made last year in a wide-ranging restructure of the organisation allow us to move from a magnificent result for Team GB in Beijing to a platform for success in London 2012 and beyond. This will not be a 100-metre sprint; it is a marathon. I do not deny that at times during 2008 I felt as if I was rewiring a plane in flight, but with the success of Team GB in Beijing we reached the next destination on our strategic path. The seamless co-operation that we have achieved with the support of LOCOG and UK Sport is a major step forward along this road.
Now we are working together to ensure that Team GB is fully funded. In his 2006 Budget, Gordon Brown committed to fund a six-year programme to support British athletes to the value of £600 million, a figure that the British Olympic Association, UK Sport and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport saw as necessary to deliver the full potential of our Olympians and Paralympians in London 2012. Sadly, last year that commitment was underfunded by some £50 million, while the lifetime budget of government spend on civil servants working in the ever growing Government Olympic Executive increased by a sum approaching the shortfall. In line with our obligations to the International Olympic Committee charter, the BOA will continue to seek ways to provide all Olympic sports, including the winter sports, with the best financial platform possible for the athletes to compete at their best level at the Games. This is essential not only for their success but, as the noble Baroness said, for the inspiration that sporting success delivers as a catalyst for wider participation among young people across the country. We must work together to ensure that priority spend is on athletes.
Where urban regeneration is concerned, the Government should be congratulated on their support for the vision first laid out by the British Olympic Association under the leadership of my predecessor, Sir Craig Reedie, and the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to use the Games as a catalyst for the regeneration of one of the poorest parts of London. As a result, the Games will bring an unprecedented level of investment to regenerate and reinvigorate the East End against a timetable that, uniquely, no political party can abandon or delay, for the world’s finest athletes will be ready to compete after the opening ceremony.
To match the success of the work on urban regeneration, we now need to turn our attention to a fully funded sports legacy. With the same spirit of the all-party support and co-operation that was a feature of the historic debate in your Lordships’ House—those who participated in it provided the Cabinet with evidence of the unanimous commitment of your Lordships to bring the Games to London—we now need to address a sports legacy that goes beyond what has been described as a patchwork quilt made up of a multitude of well intentioned and sometimes excellent individual programmes to a focused set of policies to ensure that the Games leave a sporting legacy throughout the country for the able-bodied, the disabled and, in particular, young people. It is their talent that needs to be identified and developed to the full, so that their children one day can look back and say that, had the Games not come to London, their generation would never have seen the necessary upgrading and construction of new sports facilities across London and the rest of the United Kingdom, a nationwide rollout of new play areas and playing fields and the full engagement of clubs, schools and local authorities in this effort to enhance and capture the enthusiasm of young people through competitive sport.
To that end, today I am delighted to accept the invitation from Kate Hoey, the Mayor of London’s Commissioner for Sport, to work with her on the London Community Sports Board to deliver this vision for Londoners. Building on the work with which I have had the privilege to be involved as Minister for Sport and MP for Lewisham East, we must get inner-city kids out of gangs and into teams. Sport can play a key role in taking kids off the escalator to crime. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has taken a lead on sports legacy in London. I hope that all political parties can come together in a common cause to make sure that we achieve a step change in the provision of both Olympic-level performance and active participation in sport and recreation, not only in London but throughout the country.
My Lords, I join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for giving us this unique opportunity to debate both the challenges and the opportunities of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The noble Lord has become synonymous with the event, both through his outstanding leadership of the bid and now through his central role in the organisation of the Games.
There is no doubt that the challenge of organising the Games in an efficient and cost-effective manner has been made significantly harder by the economic downturn. It is a simple reality that a number of public/private partnerships have not materialised and that more funding will be sought from the taxpayer. It is encouraging that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, mentioned that all the ticks were in the box, but there still will need to be substantially more funding. It goes without saying that no money should be wasted.
However, it is equally important that, even amidst these pressures, LOCOG and the Olympic Development Authority should not lose sight of the reason why London decided to bid for this event in the first place. As every speaker has mentioned, this is all about the regeneration of a specific area of east London—the transformation of that community for its young from the twilight of social and economic deprivation into a modern, thriving, prosperous hub. Even under intense financial pressure, each key decision must be informed by the paramount need to leave a legacy in this part of London.
Barcelona offers a classic example. Until 1992, the Catalan capital was known as the city that turned its back on the sea. The programme of urban regeneration in preparation for the Olympic Games there effectively rebranded the city as one of Europe’s most glamorous destinations and the extensive economic benefits are still being reaped almost two decades later.
London 2012 will certainly provide 16 days of outstanding sport, yet the Olympics will be judged in London as an unqualified success only if the event leaves a clear and measurable legacy for this great city. Part of the legacy will clearly be the physical infrastructure, but an important element of it should be created in the hearts and minds of Londoners who are exposed to the benefits of sport and healthy living. Can the Minister comment on whether Olympics-based programmes are being promulgated throughout London’s schools and sports academies, using the spirit of Olympism to excite and inspire young people?
I shall touch briefly on the post-Games use of the main Olympic stadium. I welcome the construction plan to remove the upper tier and reduce the capacity to 27,000 after the Olympics. There is still a danger, however, that instead of a large white elephant with a capacity in excess of 70,000, the city may be left with a smaller, but still substantial, white elephant. Will the Minister provide us with an update on the latest discussions with prospective tenants?
I understand that various football and rugby clubs have looked at the stadium but have been disappointed by the reality of a permanent athletics track around the playing area. Obviously this would have an impact on spectators getting closer to the players, as is customary in rugby and football matches. I fear that this will result in it being difficult to find a permanent tenant for the Olympic stadium. Plans to create a permanent sports academy under the east stand are to be welcomed, but perhaps the Minister could let us know of alternative plans to use the structure after the Games.
There are a number of major challenges facing the organising committee of such a major sporting event, but perhaps none is greater than the need to meet the demand for transport, accommodation and, of course, security for both athletes and spectators. Does the Olympic transport plan include plans to make better use of the Thames?
This is a unique opportunity for London. I share the vision and the call of my noble friend Lady Campbell of Loughborough, in her outstanding maiden speech, that this is a unique galvanising force that, we hope, will have a lasting impact on our young people’s lives.
My Lords, I declare my interest as recorded, particularly my membership of the advisory board of the British Olympic Association. I strongly support everything that my noble friends Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan have just said. I have two sets of necessarily hard-edged points and questions for the Government to answer, on the growth of government bureaucracy in relation to the Olympic programme in the run-up to 2012 and on security at the Olympics.
First, there is too much Olympic bureaucracy—I am referring to government bureaucracy here. It is growing too fast, it is too costly and the money that is being spent on it should be spent on athletes, not on office workers, or should not be spent at all but saved, in our present economic circumstances. Among all the LOCOGs, ODAs and BOAs—the bodies that necessarily and excellently populate this stage of Olympic preparations—there is another, much less well known body: the GOE. What is this? I stumbled upon this hitherto secretive body, which the Government never announced publicly in any blaze of publicity. It is the Government Olympic Executive. Anxious to learn about this, I asked a series of Parliamentary Questions on its role and staffing that were answered, in his characteristically assiduous way, by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham. He kindly told me in a Written Answer on 20 May that the Government Olympic Executive had precisely 91.9 full-time equivalents working for it, reporting to the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It was broken down into various teams, he told me, in charge of build and finance, staging, legacy, operations and communications—all this at a cost in 2008-09 of £7 million. I suspect that, since then, that has grown substantially.
In another Answer on 19 May, the same Minister kindly stated that,
“the GOE requires oversight of the entire 2012 programme”.—[Official Report, 19/5/09; col. WA 304.]
I am a bit concerned about the use of the word “requires” there and the civil servants who drafted it; I wish that we had the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, that great grammarian, in the Chamber to look at that use of the word. That, however, is the word that was used.
The GOE has oversight, so the Government say. It is therefore responsible if anything goes wrong. So I sat back and thought, “Well, those are the answers. I now know what the situation is”. Subsequently, though, I found out that at exactly the same time that those answers were being considered and composed by the civil servants, a substantial Olympic presentation was given by officials from the self-same Government Olympic Executive to the interested Olympic parties in London on 13 May 2009, where they were told that the number of staff involved was not the 91.9 of the Government Executive but, rather, that there were—wait for it, my Lords—782 “focused staff”, to use the language of the presentation, in government departments and non-departmental public bodies concerned with the Olympics. Of those, a staggering 81 are working in communications. What on earth can the cost of all this be?
On the matter of cost—this is a restricted debate so I do not have time to go into this in greater detail—I have learnt that, for example, five civil servants from the Government Olympic Executive are going to be sent to Vancouver for the Winter Games. It is reasonable to ask why. How much should this cost? Is the Minister aware that our skiers face major financial constraints in preparations for going, and that Winter Games are about athletes, not visiting civil servants? After all, I do not think we are going to see much snow in London in 2012. If I were the Permanent Secretary at the DCMS, I would be a bit nervous of the heavy boots of the Public Accounts Committee in the other place approaching my door, wanting to look at expenditure on this sort of thing. A future Conservative Government, if elected, will need to get to grips with this staggering bureaucracy and misapplication of resources.
I turn to security. I hear continuing murmurs from those concerned that there is still a lack of proper security co-ordination, which must be sorted out soon. Who, under the Home Secretary of the day—or perhaps these days I should say “the Home Secretary of the week”—is the named official or police officer with ultimate overall responsibility for the co-ordination of Olympic security? Is there such a person? If not, why not? The Minister owes us an answer to that question.
Do the Government yet have what is known in the trade as a CONOPS—or, to deconstruct that ugly abbreviation, an integrated concept of operations—that is fully worked up with regard to Olympic security? It has been suggested that one does not yet exist. When will a statement be made, which has long been promised, about the introduction of such an integrated plan—setting aside, of course, those things that must necessarily be kept secret? We need urgent reassurance from the Government on stopping the growth of bureaucracy and expenditure, and on promoting a proper security plan.
My Lords, like other noble Lords today, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his colleagues on the wonderful achievements with regard to our progress on the Olympics. The timing is particularly good because it follows hot on the heels of an event earlier this week, organised by my noble friends Lord Mawson and Lady D’Souza, on the Olympic legacy. I declare an interest in that I was an original member of the Culture and Education Committee for the Olympic project.
Given that we are about to stage the world’s greatest sporting event, it is appropriate that the emphasis is on ensuring that the spectacle is the best it can be and that our athletes compete to win and do us proud. It is also hugely important that community-based sporting initiatives are put in place, as has already been mentioned, that will have a lasting impact on the health of the nation. We should not underestimate the potential of the cultural Olympiad to transform and contribute to the mental and physical well-being of the UK as well; the cultural programme also offers us the opportunity to derive economic, social and cultural benefit from the Games. Many of the comments made by my, perhaps I may say, new noble friend Lady Campbell about the transformative potential of sport apply equally to arts and culture.
As we heard in the excellent debate initiated last week by the noble Lord, Lord Bragg, the arts, cultural and creative sector in London employs more than half a million people, second only in size to the financial sector. There are still a huge variety of jobs and opportunities for inventive, creative entrepreneurs. Part of the legacy of the Cultural Olympiad should be that more young people are made aware of the range of opportunities in the sector and the potential for employment, for self-employment, for learning and for developing transferable skills.
There is ample, documented evidence of the medium to long-term benefits of facilitating the growth of the cultural economy—creativity and culture have been the drivers of a number of large-scale regeneration projects, as we have already heard. For example, I should mention Barcelona and those here in this country in Newcastle and Gateshead, Glasgow, Walsall and of course in London King’s Cross and Bromley-by-Bow.
Arguably, London does not need to boost its international reputation as a city of culture, steeped as it is in history and also confident in its engagement with global modernity and contemporary culture. In the East End of London, artists and creatives have habitually played a vital role in regeneration and renewal. Artists have been and still are central to east London’s renewed vigour and attraction, with a greater concentration of visual artists located there than anywhere else in Europe. It is home to a vibrant, inventive and increasingly ethical fashion and design industry, and in addition there are filmmakers, theatre and dance practitioners and so on. I would urge those involved with the Legacy Trust to ensure that artists and practitioners are also invited to contribute their insights and energies to that project.
I note the progress made so far with the cultural programme, which in spite of some initial disappointments, looks set to be much more inclusive than appeared to be the case at the outset. The responses to funding programmes, as already mentioned, have been substantial. However, I do not feel there is any room for complacency on this issue. There are still many people both in the East End and outside London who do not see these opportunities and do not see a role for themselves in the Cultural Olympiad.
The Arts Council of England is endeavouring to support a wide range of projects and work by levering funds from a range of sources and collaborating with other organisations—for example the BBC—on delivering major projects. The Arts Council is also working on the Unlimited programme which will, I think, be a very good juxtaposition to the Paralympics in particular. More widely, the Unlimited programme will be the UK’s largest ever celebration of arts and disability, culture and sport. Another flagship project already mentioned is Artists taking the Lead, which again hopes to reach across the country to involve many people outside London.
I hope that the cultural programme will help to ensure that the Olympics really do reach out across the UK, but there are still some big questions to be addressed, especially in terms of the strategic vision for the cultural element of the Olympics, and what happens afterwards with the cultural legacy. On the matter of legacy, who has oversight and who is in a position to assess the strength of cultural legacy plans across the country? Where does the ultimate responsibility for the Cultural Olympiad and its aftermath lie? How are cultural legacy plans envisaged? If there are 50 projects, does that mean 50 different visions of what constitutes a sustainable legacy for the sector? How are the plans for cultural legacy integrated into the overall vision for the legacy of the Games as a whole?
On my list of desirable aims for the cultural programme are: laying the foundations for a much more diverse cultural workforce, particularly in leadership roles; a solid core of arts organisations beyond “the usual suspects” with the resilience and flexibility to see them through troubled times; new effective and equitable partnerships and models of partnerships that cross art forms and disciplinary boundaries, linking, for example, science and sport; an overall strengthening of the sector through the recognition of what culture and creativity can contribute to the UK socially, economically and culturally; and to set a new benchmark for the quality of and commitment to the Cultural Olympiad in future Games.
Lots of excellent art projects will be great and will give a feel-good factor, but what about the expectation raised, and how can we go a bit further to ensure that there is a real, sustainable, integrated cultural, social and economic strategy?
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for initiating this debate as it gives me the opportunity to raise two new issues which are separate in context but aligned.
First, I want to refer to the medical and healthcare provision for all the client groups associated with the Games; and, secondly, to deal with the problem of women being trafficked into this country for the purpose of prostitution during the course of the Games.
I have been fortunate to have heard a number of presentations by LOCOG on the planning process for the healthcare requirements for the Olympic Games, and it is difficult to imagine until it is spelt out the magnitude of the work that is entailed. We have heard about the need to work with a whole range of partners such as the ambulance services, designated Olympic hospitals, NHS trusts, PCTs, government bodies and other agencies, as well as the development of a number of medical teams covering every specialism and ensuring co-ordination for response and delivery.
I was truly impressed by the preparation to date in providing healthcare provision across all 102 Olympic sites, for 250,000 accredited people, 9 million visitors, and not forgetting 400 horses. I therefore offer my congratulations to all those who are working in that field. But as chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, my concern is that there is adequate sexual health provision. Evidence from the Sydney Games shows us to expect a big increase in demand for sexual health services with a corresponding increase in sexually related diseases, mainly among casual workers, making it important that prevention and health promotion services are in place now.
There is clearly a need for a co-ordinated sexual health plan to detail the priorities for London health services. An ad hoc committee was established of which I was a part, but after discussions with the medical director for the Games, I am very pleased that it is now officially a subgroup of the London Sexual Health Commissioning Board. Its aim is to provide a positive legacy to other big sporting events on how to plan appropriate sexual health services and prevent the spread of infections.
I now turn to the trafficking of women for the purpose of prostitution. Last December, in my role as chair of the Women’s National Commission, I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Coe, to express our concern and the concern of the women’s sector regarding the potential for increased violence against women associated with the Olympics. There is clear evidence from other Games of a correlation between major sporting events and an increase in human trafficking. In reply, the noble Lord, Lord Coe, indicated that a member of his office would be in touch to discuss this further, but I regret to say to him that we never heard another word since, and we look forward to that meeting.
Britain is a Mecca for the low-risk, high-profit industry of human trafficking which centres upon London. The Olympics is expected to have a major impact on the sex industry across London and the south-east, if not further afield. Since London was named, there has already been an influx of contractors into the area. As the site develops, an increasing number of agency workers—predominantly male—are being accommodated in the locality. Already, according to the Metropolitan Police, host and neighbouring boroughs are reporting anecdotal evidence of an increase in applications for licences for massage parlours and saunas. Such premises are understood to operate as quasi-legal brothels.
It is not only the people employed in preparing for the Olympics in London who are expected to inflate demand for prostitution, but also the tourists and indeed the athletic community. We need to learn from international colleagues what they have learnt about combating human trafficking, for there is no question that established trafficking networks are composed of astute, discrete and sophisticated organised criminal operators who will seek to maximise their profits during the period available.
The women’s sector is proposing that the organising committee takes the following action for the 2012 Olympics: conduct an immediate risk assessment that is informed by consultation with local and regional experts, and through this develop a comprehensive preventive strategy to address women’s safety and especially trafficking for sexual exploitation; undertake a women’s safety audit; undertake public awareness campaigns about trafficking targeted at contractors, athletes and spectators; issue strong statements on the intent of the organising committee to make the Games safe for women; and, as part of the legacy of the Games, to extend the capacity of those projects which support women who have been trafficked and have been sexually assaulted.
The Women's National Commission was commissioned by the Home Office to assist with the development of the national strategy on violence against women. Using our considerable expertise, we would welcome an opportunity to discuss these issues and work with and make further representations to the organising committee. The Olympic and Paralympic values of friendship, equality, respect, courage, determination, excellence and inspiration will be severely compromised and sullied if trafficking and sexual assaults are associated with the event. It would also be shameful for this country. I hope we can have a guarantee that it will not be allowed to happen.
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on securing this debate. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, on a splendid and typically passionate maiden speech. She has done more than any other person in this country to bring sport back into schools. I am sure that she will make a significant contribution to debates in your Lordships’ House, not just on sport, we hope, but on wider issues as well. I also commend both LOCOG and the Government for the progress that has been made not just on the physical work for the Olympics but on the legacy: sporting, educational and physical. There is no doubt that London will have a more significant legacy programme than any previous Olympic Games, and all those involved are to be congratulated on their commitment to it.
There are two strands to the legacy: domestic and international. The noble Baroness spoke about international inspiration. I declare an interest as chair of IDS, UK Sport’s international development charity, which has some involvement with International Inspiration. International Inspiration does what it says on the tin. It is already inspiring hundreds of thousands of children and young people throughout the world not just to play sport but to play a more positive part in the society in which they live. The work that it is doing in India with girls from marginalised communities, in getting them back into school and getting them to realise their potential to be more than housewives stuck at home, is truly inspirational. The work that it is doing in Brazil with street children whose main outlook and opportunities tend to revolve around gangs is also truly inspirational. Everyone involved in that programme should be congratulated on it.
Domestically, as the noble Lord, Lord Coe, set out, there is also considerable progress on legacy. However, I do not think that everything is quite as rosy as he implied. My passion about sport is to use it as a tool for personal development and education and to get children who are not succeeding in life to succeed via the medium of sport. In that capacity, I am chair of sport at the Prince’s Trust, as I have been over the past 12 years. During that period we have worked with tens of thousands of young people, unemployed young people and children who are failing at school. By working principally with the professional sports clubs, we have helped to turn round the lives of many of those children and young people.
When we learnt that the Olympics were coming to London, the trust, like many other NGOs in this area, was very excited about it. It was even more excited when, in April 2007, it was approached by the DCMS to discuss a potential major funding partnership with government. A figure of £30 million was mentioned, to be split between the trust and the Duke of Edinburgh awards. The trust therefore developed the concept of the Active Generation fund and the Active Generation programme, which, through the trust’s work, would be used to support at least 10,000 more young people who are not in education, employment or training to become economically, socially and physically active and to play a positive part in their communities.
Unfortunately, since that point, the funding promised has completely failed to materialise. It is the trust’s view that LOCOG and the DCMS have not managed to create a coherent campaign behind which the third sector could unite to deliver legacy ambitions. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, spoke about the Inspire programme. The Inspire programme has many strengths but it also has some weaknesses. The Inspire mark is a splendid thing, but there are problems associated with it. First, it does not bring any funding, so having it brings the kudos of the mark but not any practical support. If you want to start a programme from scratch, the Inspire mark does not get you there. The trust will now seek to do the logical thing—to go out and get funding from the corporate sector, in association with the Inspire mark, so that it can develop the programme that it cannot now develop through government funding.
However, there are some problems. First, the trust is told that it cannot approach Olympic sponsors, so they are ruled out. Secondly, it is told that it cannot approach non-Olympic sponsors, because they are not Olympic sponsors. So, as things stand and as the trust understands it, there is no prospect of getting corporate support. It is a Catch-22 situation. Having the mark gives you kudos and makes it easier to raise funds for a programme, because it is linked to the Olympics, which are sexy, but, equally, having the mark means that you cannot go to the people from whom you can get the funds. It is a real issue. I am not saying that it is an insuperable issue and I am not raising it simply to whinge, because I am sure that there will be a way through it. However, if we are to maximise the benefit that the Olympics can bring and inspire a whole new generation not just internationally but at home, we have to get this kind of model sorted out. I believe that we can and I believe that the Olympics in London can deliver the best Olympic legacy ever.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for leading this important debate. It is a very helpful time to have this discussion, because a great deal has happened during the past year and new opportunities are now presenting themselves, which allow us all to move on and to deal with the concerns that some of us have been expressing for some time. I would therefore like to concentrate my thoughts on the opportunities presented by the Olympic legacy, particularly as it relates to the East End of London.
Two days ago, your Lordships’ House held its second symposium on the Olympic legacy. So what progress has actually been made since the first symposium, 12 months ago, as a result of our activities? First, the Government have listened to our concerns. A Minister who understood the legacy issues has now worked with east London leaders. The then Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, understood that the local is a key component of the Olympic legacy in east London; she understood that the Olympic project is not something that happens behind an 11-mile blue fence about which people are simply consulted but that strands of gold need now to be wound into the Olympic project from the surrounding communities. East Londoners need to feel real ownership of the Olympic site when the biggest show on earth leaves town.
We have built a number of small parks in east London, across the road from the Olympic site. I know what happens to the investment in such places if people do not feel that they have a real stake in their future. The Minister showed that she understood this point and that legacy is not just for local authorities but for local people who have been encouraged to feel involved with the project. The Minister realised that this important component of legacy had been missing.
The Secretary of State, following our conversations earlier this year, began to use the tools available to her in government to bring resources and freedoms from government structures to begin to make this real. For example, she led negotiations with the five host boroughs for a multi-area agreement, based on the idea of convergence—that is, that the quality of life and economic health of east Londoners should be brought up to the level enjoyed by the rest of London, that east London should no longer be a drain on the capital’s economy and that the Olympic project should be a spur to this ambition.
So now east London is on the point of an agreement between central and local government. This will have a major positive impact on the skills and employment prospects of east Londoners, on the housing policy changes needed to make east London a place where people can choose to stay and raise their families and on investment in the public realm. It can be a place where residents are proud to live and proud to show visitors from across the world.
The Minister also began to understand that the Olympic project was not the only show in town in the Lower Lea Valley and that the many other public sector structures that litter the valley—more than 40—must now come together around a common vision and clear leadership. Hazel Blears has now moved on, as Ministers have a habit of doing, and east London leaders hope that John Denham will maintain the momentum and ensure that this important agreement is concluded quickly.
The second important thing that has been achieved in the past year by central government, together with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is the appointment of the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, to chair the Olympic Park Legacy Company. The noble Baroness brings great experience and enormous new vigour to the legacy task and we welcome her to east London. She also clearly understands the need to harness the energies of central government, London government, local government, social entrepreneurs and the communities in which they work. She clearly sees that the development of the Olympic park is key to the physical, social and economic transformation of east London. This presents us all with exciting times ahead.
We now need a clear, wider vision for the Lower Lea Valley and east London, within which the Olympic project sits; we need a vision that is deeply rooted in the history and geography of the place, for what we are together creating is a new metropolitan district of London. Many of us call it Water City, because water has driven the economy of east London for 2,000 years. Take a boat trip up the five and a half miles of waterways that span the Lower Lea Valley, as I did recently with the then Secretary of State, and you will understand, as she did, the significance of what some of us have been saying on the matter. What we need now from the public sector is less politics and more continuity and practical action on the ground.
All of the above are important steps forward since the debate that I led in January 2008 in your Lordships’ House and the Olympic legacy symposium that I organised in June last year. A year ago, leadership was seen as the key to success. What has made the difference this past year has been clear, strong leadership from one or two individuals in government and local government and from those to whom they have given authority to act. We are in a period of political turmoil. We must not lose the gains that we have made. We need to apply clear vision and leadership to keep up the momentum.
At the close of the second Olympic legacy symposium two days ago, I announced the creation of an all-party parliamentary group on urban regeneration, sport and culture. The purpose of the new APPG is to discuss how we can use major events to transform the lives of those who live in the surrounding areas. In particular, the APPG will bring together the four major cities that have already hosted or will be hosting such events: Liverpool, which was the European cultural capital in 2008; Glasgow, which will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games; Manchester, which hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002; and London, which will host the 2012 Olympic Games. I hope that the APPG will provide your Lordships’ House with an opportunity to examine in greater detail the practical work of social entrepreneurs. There is an important discussion to be had here about how you do legacy in practice.
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Coe on obtaining this debate. I congratulate him a great deal more on all that he has achieved for the Olympics in the past three years. It has been a truly stupendous achievement. I apologise, therefore, that I am going to devote my six minutes to the bits that I am not happy with. When I declare my interests as captain of the House of Lords rifle shooting team and a member of the NRA, my noble friend will know what is coming.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan said that it was crucial that the Games leave a sporting legacy throughout the United Kingdom. I am told that my noble friend Lord Coe said that we should not waste money on temporary venues, that there ought to be legacy and that venues should be cost-effective. If he did not say it, he should have done. Many other noble Lords today have mentioned legacy. Legacy is one of the foundation stones of the Olympic movement. Why, then, does LOCOG persist in putting the shooting at Woolwich and the horse riding at Greenwich? These two venues will cost in excess of £100 million. Both will be utterly destroyed immediately after the Games, leaving no legacy of any description. Alternative venues outside London would cost tens of millions of pounds less and would leave permanent legacies for both sports.
What my noble friend Lord Coe said on the subject in his opening remarks concerned the concept of a compact Games. That is an important and powerful concept, and I entirely agree that it is a noble and proper ambition. Indeed, the Greenwich site is so compact that it will not be able to fit many spectators. However, even the great virtues associated with a compact Games must at some stage bend before the disadvantages that they bring to the two sports concerned here.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan, when he contributed to the debate on a Question that I asked in the House last week, mentioned the benefits of being part of the Olympic experience. My noble friend was involved, as I was, in rowing, which is a high-energy, convivial sport, fuelled largely—and ahead of its time—by bioethanol. Shooting is not. It is a contemplative, careful sport. Self-control, self-discipline and concentration lie at the heart of it. People involved in shooting competitions will not participate in an Olympic experience before their competition has ended. Afterwards, they would love to join the party; but it is very much a facing-inwards sport, and there is not much to be said for siting them in an Olympic village until their competition is over.
Various objections have been raised to the proposed siting of the Olympic shooting at Bisley. We are told that these are based on reports prepared by KPMG and others that have not been released. All that has been released is a series of half-truths and innuendos that have made it extremely difficult for those involved in shooting to raise reasonable arguments against the proposals. The sort of things that are fed out are those that the noble Lord, Lord Davies, repeated when he answered my Question. He said that there were problems with providing accommodation. LOCOG knows perfectly well that there are no problems with accommodation. There is surplus available, to Olympic standards, at two local universities—there is no requirement for any additional build. The perpetuation of these inaccuracies, if I may kindly call them that, is due entirely to the failure of LOCOG to publish the reports and indulge in a proper, open debate on the conclusions that it has reached. I wish it would: it is a stain on the otherwise brilliant escutcheon of LOCOG that it chooses to act in this way.
Objections remain to the siting of the Olympic shooting at Woolwich. As far as I know, the safety objections have not been met. The shotgun shooting will spray lead shot over a wide area, much of it currently occupied by housing. I do not know whether it is proposed that people should be moved out of that housing for the duration, or that we should have enormous safety fences. I do not think that safety fences would work: you would probably have to build a 60-metre sand barrier or something of the sort to protect people from the shot. It is not clear how that will be dealt with. Nor is it clear how all the lead shot will be cleared up afterwards, or what the costs will be, notably in transport and landfill tax. It is not clear that it is acceptable to block all entrances but one to the local hospital at a time when there may be considerable need of it. There are real issues that must be dealt with concerning the siting of the Games shooting at Woolwich, and even more so with the decision not to site it at Bisley.
Shooting is as popular a sport in this country as golf, but it has many fewer facilities. It is a wonderful training for young men in particular, because it trains them in safety, concentration and self-discipline. Of all the Olympic sports, shooting is in most need of legacy.
We have now reached the three-year point, when reality must intervene over ambition. It is a time to be open, face the truth and change tack, if that is necessary, as I believe it is. As I said, my noble friend has achieved great things. He does not deserve this blemish on his record.
My Lords, I add my thanks and congratulations to LOCOG and the ODA for the first-class job they are doing in preparing for the Games. I remind noble Lords that I am chief executive of London First, a non-profit-making business membership organisation that actively supported the London Olympic bid. Many of us supported our country’s bid largely for the legacy. I will briefly mention two legacy points before focusing on the core benefits to east London.
First, CompeteFor is the web portal developed to promote contracts arising from the 2012 Games: 75,000 UK businesses, mainly SMEs, are registered. Some 3,000 opportunities have so far been placed on the system, but surprisingly only 80 by LOCOG itself. Will the noble Lord reaffirm LOCOG's commitment to making Olympic opportunities available in this way?
Secondly, I support and encourage the mayor and Westminster Council's efforts to improve the urban realm in the West End ahead of 2012, part-funded by the New West End Company. Refreshing central London's fabric will enhance our offer to visitors in 2012 and thereafter. In east London, I join my noble friend Lord Mawson in stressing the need for the Games to catalyse the wider regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley, which includes some of the country's most deprived wards. The area boasts industrial heritage and strong, diverse communities but also has deprivation, low employment and physical degradation. Transformation means improved transport, better connectivity, revitalised landscapes, cleaned up waterways and provides a countercyclical stimulus to the economy, supporting local employment.
From December to April, unemployment in Tower Hamlets and Newham rose by around 20 per cent. That is a cause for despair normally; but the equivalent figures for both London and the UK are more than 30 per cent. The Olympics may already be cushioning the recession's impact.
Despite the downturn, London will grow by a million people in the next 20 years, many housed in east London. We must invest for existing and new communities to create a new city quarter. But so far legacy has been on lips rather than at the boardroom table. We need leadership, vision, infrastructure and a one-stop shop for investors. First, as regards leadership, the ODA is building Games facilities and LOCOG will stage-manage the event, but a third leg is needed for this stool. Who is arguing for an electricity meter in each of the athletes’ apartments rather than in each block, making them more legacy-ready? Amid the furore about the supposedly burgeoning Olympic budget, who advocates modest extra investment now to provide better value and better 30-year outcomes?
But here comes the cavalry. I am pleased to welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, into her new role as chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. Knowing the noble Baroness as I do, I am certain that she will seize the challenge off-park as well as on, whatever her formal remit says. Without doubt she will be a formidable champion. Her leadership can help to forge a common vision for what the Olympics can do for the East End. What might the Lea Valley be in 30 years? A tourist destination? Green homes and business, interspersed with allotments? An international business quarter, built on fine transport links to the continent? This vision should balance clarity of planning purpose with freedom to deliver and to change our policies if they do not work. The future should not depend on ongoing public subsidy but should be anchored around major private sector investment, like nearby Stratford City, where the Westfield development is anchored by high profile Waitrose and John Lewis stores.
My third point concerns infrastructure such as bridges, sewers, electricity, fast broadband and schools. Without infrastructure, why should developers invest? Why will businesses or families choose to locate here? Surely the Department for Communities and Local Government, the mayor and the five boroughs can align and prioritise funding around the Olympic Park to maximise this one-off investment? As part of this alignment, the London Homes and Communities Agency needs freedom to achieve its goals more effectively by commissioning infrastructure.
Finally, who will sell the sizzle of the Lower Lea Valley? Who guides investors through the alphabet soup of agencies, rules, boundaries and landowners? Thirty years ago, the LDDC fulfilled this role in Docklands. Now multiple organisations are falling over each other to offer parts of that role for the Lower Lea Valley. They all need to agree to work under one roof, or accept referrals from a shared one-stop shop. I remain optimistic. At three years to go, London's legacy planning is ahead of that of any recent Olympics, but we can do even better.
My Lords, it is a joy and a pleasure to be given this opportunity to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Coe, give a work-in-progress description of the bid, about which we were all so delighted to hear some years ago. This is also an opportunity to hear noble Lords’ concerns. I do not have similar concerns. I am a joint president of London Councils with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. Together, we speak on behalf of the councils with great temerity from time to time.
I wish to quote from a briefing that I asked for to help me. The first paragraph states:
“Londoners are firmly behind the Olympic Games—but there are still major areas to be addressed if the Games are to deliver the legacy that the capital’s residents want. London Councils’ research demonstrates a high level of public optimism about the 2012 Olympics, whilst highlighting some key issues that the Government, LOCOG and other stakeholders need to address”.
That is a reasonable statement and I see that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, nods his head. I approach this matter with a benign, not malevolent, attitude. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, will remember that the first two years of his undertaking his present role were fraught with difficulty, argument and some ridiculous statements. However, we have now reached the stage where I believe that most people in this country, if not all of them, want the Games to be a success. What we need to do to make them a success is, of course, open to argument.
My wife Margaret always told me that she never forgot attending the 1948 Olympics, where she saw Maureen Gardner and Fanny Blankers-Koen and other great runners. I remember living in Newcastle at the time and seeing Arthur Wint and McDonald Bailey. There is a latent interest in and desire for sport in this country. Some speakers have talked about inspiration. That is what we have, especially after last year’s Olympic Games. I do not think that I spoke to anyone during those Olympics who was not imbued with enthusiasm. People were disappointed if some of our champions lost but they were given a taste of what the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his noble friend Lord Moynihan must have enjoyed for many years.
I happen to be a founder member of the Lea Valley Regional Park. I have scribbled down the name “Ron Pickering”. I see the noble Lord, Lord Coe, smile because Ron Pickering was a great inspiration. You get the idea that you are participating ever so slightly by watching an event or attending it. It is a marvellous to say after an event, “I was there. I was part of it”. I think that everybody in the country wants to be able to say in 2012, almost regardless of the results, “I was there”. What they will bring to the table is enthusiasm, and I am delighted to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, speak so cogently about the involvement, desire and support of business in this part of the world.
London Councils has, of course, asked me to raise a number of matters. I simply want the noble Lord, Lord Coe, to know that none of them will be fresh. They will all be known to and have been argued with him. I have scribbled down these problems: whether transport will be adequately dealt with, congestion, inconvenience and security. That last concern was quite properly mentioned; I cannot believe that any point I raise is not already on the agenda of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his committee. There is also a great point about additional resources. That is because London Councils is already contributing £625 million to the bid, and it is concerned about the extra costs that it might have to pay.
It ought not to be taken for granted that London Councils will simply absorb the costs that emerge. There needs to be some mechanism. It also wants the legacy to be more clearly defined than it has been up to now. We know what legacy means, but the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and the Minister would do well to pay attention as quickly as possible and say in detail, “This is what the Games will bring”. We also need a better sense of communicating what is going on to the general public, not just in London but in the country. I imagine that there is a job to be done, perhaps in the second part of the six-year battle that has been going on, to make the people of London and of the country better aware.
I am told by London Councils, from its research, that 44 per cent of Londoners want tickets for events. In my mind, that is almost a sell-out whether they get them or not; I am also told that there are 9 million tickets available for various events, so this is a massive showpiece. Above all else, the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his colleagues are capable of inspiring millions of people to feel better not only about the Olympics but about being in Britain, and I wish them well.
My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of modern foreign language skills, and their role in underpinning the quality, reputation and smooth running of the 2012 Games. I declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Group on Modern Languages, which aims to promote the benefit of languages in education, skills, employment, competition and culture. The Olympic Games have all those, rolled into one great big opportunity not just for improving delivery of the event itself but as part of the continuing economic and social legacy.
As many noble Lords will know, the stereotyped image of British people being bad at languages and reluctant to learn is, sadly, reflected in the dramatically reduced numbers of young people opting for languages at GCSE despite London and, indeed, elsewhere in the UK being richly multilingual communities. At the same time, research indicates that the UK economy could be losing between £9 billion and £21 billion a year through lost contracts because of a lack of language skills in the workforce, while survey after survey shows employers saying that they want to recruit people who can speak more than one language. Various languages programmes and projects are being rolled out in the run-up to the Olympics, but I would like to see them much more closely aligned with what goes on at key stages 3 and 4 in schools, in order to encourage and incentivise more pupils to stick with languages.
I would also like more of a sense of urgency in LOCOG over planning for language services, particularly in identifying where to find the 300 professional interpreters who will be needed. The assumption seems to be that they will be people who have worked at previous Games or for the IOC. Although that is partly true, the age profile of English mother-tongue interpreters is a serious concern, and there is a real possibility that the needs of the 2012 Games might not be met. The GLA also needs to be less complacent about where it will find the 1,000 language specialist volunteers who are expected to help.
The official Olympic languages are English and French; additional working languages in 2012 will be Arabic, German, Russian and Spanish. Teams from 205 countries will be here, so the number of actual languages in use will run to dozens. The all-party group is supported by CILT, the National Centre for Languages, which is working hard to help LOCOG deliver a multilingual Games. For example, it is running a competition for 13 to 21 year-olds to make a film clip about languages and the Olympics, which I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, has agreed to judge. Another idea might be to tell 13 year-olds in London schools now that if they commit to including a foreign language in their GCSE option choices, they will be guaranteed a place in the 70,000-strong volunteer force or, perhaps, could meet up with an international athlete of their choice who speaks that language.
From a business perspective, planning now is vital. Regional Language Network London is doing sterling work to help prepare businesses through its Welcoming the World programme. Help is available for businesses that need to translate signage or brochures, or to train staff to deliver outstanding customer service to international visitors. Transport, health and the emergency services will all need language skills too. I ask LOCOG, the GLA, the Government and the Olympic Legacy Company to all look at whether they are doing enough now to get information about these resources to businesses, particularly SMEs.
We do those in the next generation a great disservice if we allow language skills to diminish, because they will most certainly lose out to their multilingual peers from other EU countries who will be at a competitive advantage in the job market, whether they want to be doctors, hotel receptionists, retailers, tour guides or sports coaches. What is more, learning and speaking other languages is fun; it gives pleasure and a great feeling of achievement. What better match could there be than sport and the Olympic Games for showcasing what we can do?
My Lords, I shall focus my contribution to the debate on the north-east of England. I declare interests as being a resident and in having businesses up there, and in having a great interest in and passion for that great region of this country. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Coe for his inspirational leadership of this whole project.
It is one of the less endearing qualities of the British temperament always to complain about the rain without giving thanks for the sunshine. When I had the opportunity to visit LOCOG’s offices down at Canary Wharf, I was shown the great work going on at the Olympic site, which is absolutely spectacular. We tend to hear of things only when they go wrong and forget to celebrate things when they go well. It is wonderful to be party to this debate and to pay tribute to all of those involved in ensuring that it is going extremely well. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, on her maiden speech. As someone who only recently gave a maiden speech in your Lordships’ House, while mine was instantly forgettable her contribution will endure in the memory much longer—and rightly so, because it was inspiring.
My focus on the north-east of England is in its having some heritage behind it in its sporting traditions. Not only has it produced some outstanding Olympians and athletes—Jonathan Edwards, Steve Cram and Brendan Foster—but it is the home of the athletics stadium in Gateshead and of the Great North Run, the most popular half-marathon in the world, which regularly attracts more than 50,000 participants. That cultural part and that sporting heritage are extremely important.
For understandable reasons, the Games are awarded to a city rather than a country. That can sometimes mean that people in peripheral regions can think it is nothing to do with them and that this is a London show. I had been a bit guilty of thinking that until I had the opportunity to visit the offices of LOCOG and receive an excellent presentation on what is happening in the north-east and, I am sure, in many regions around the UK.
In the north-east, 220 schools and colleges are registered in Get Set, LOCOG’s education programme, to take the Olympic and Paralympic values into the classroom. Twenty sporting facilities in the north-east have been included as potential pre-Games training camps in LOCOG’s official guide, which has been circulated to all foreign teams, 200 national Olympic committees and 165 national Paralympic committees. These include the Tees Barrage, which the noble Lord, Lord Coe, had the opportunity of visiting last year. It is a spectacular facility. They also include Hartlepool Marina, the Glenn McCrory International School of Boxing, and one should not forget the great Gateshead International Stadium. One live site is already in place in the region in Middlesbrough. A live site is, I have discovered, a place where large screens will be erected, so that people can view the Olympics.
Seven Inspire projects have been given the go-ahead in the north-east. These are local or regional projects inspired by 2012 which have been given LOCOG’s Inspire mark—a version of the 2012 brand. The most exciting project in the north-east is one which links 2012 with getting people active and healthy to avoid type-2 diabetes, of which there is a high incidence in the north-east of England.
At the handover from Beijing, 22 special 2012 flags produced by LOCOG were raised in town halls across the region and 38 cultural events were held as part of the open weekend in September. We are now working on the London 2012 Open Weekend. In all these matters, some outstanding work is going on—not least by Jonathan Edwards who is a leading figure in the north-east and carries great credibility in drawing attention to the region and making sure that it is not left out of London 2012. Knowing that he is a major part of the Olympics gives us a great deal of confidence. I should also point out that a great deal of work is being undertaken by the Nations and Regions Group. There is a co-ordinator for 2012 under One North East.
The Olympic motto is, “Faster, higher, stronger”, and perhaps I may conclude with some suggestions as to how we could do more. First, there is the economy. Some £6 billion of contracts are to be awarded. There is a real concern, particularly given the economic downturn, that regional businesses, including construction businesses, are not necessarily aware of the opportunities that are there. More could be done.
My second point relates to volunteers. This has already been referred to in the debate. There will be 70,000 volunteers taking part. It would be great to see many volunteers coming from all the English regions, particularly from the north-east.
My final point relates to the cultural aspect of the Olympiad. There is a great opportunity to promote the culture of the north-east of England and to have great cultural events. As someone who has for a long time been associated with a campaign to return the Lindisfarne Gospels to their home in Durham Cathedral, there to be reunited with the bones of St Cuthbert, I believe that 2012 should have a landmark cultural event. It is time for the Government to undo the injustice by which the gospels were removed from the north-east during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII and return them to the region. That would set a great example by bringing together tourism and highlighting the fact that the Games are not just about London—this is actually about the whole country. It would also grasp the attention and imagination of the people of the north-east. I commend that idea to the House.
My Lords, as the last Back-Bencher to speak, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on securing this important debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bates, on his ingenuity in working the Lindisfarne Gospels into a debate on the Olympics and Paralympics. He is continuing a strong tradition in this House in that regard. I, too, very much welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, whose accomplishments are legion and whose maiden speech today could not have been more welcome or on a more appropriate topic. If her speech is a sign of things to come, she will be an enormous addition to your Lordships’ House. I hope that she and I will become close allies.
Just over half way through our preparations, it is fantastic to see the amazing work taking place in the Olympic park. I had the pleasure of visiting the park again last week and marvelled at the breathtakingly efficient way that the ODA, under the able leadership of John Armitt and David Higgins, is completing an incredibly complex task. The big build is most certainly in great shape. I also know that LOCOG will stage a great Games and the noble Lords, Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, have given us a very clear sense of that today.
However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, said, there are three legs to this stool, and I want to focus on the Olympic legacy. I declare my interest as the newly appointed chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. I should like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that the issues of running-cost budgets and an adequate capital budget for the company are very much alive and under discussion with the Government. I have been given absolutely every encouragement to believe that we have been given the tools to do that job, which will be completed quite quickly. Many issues have been raised by noble Lords about the legacy. Rather than taking up more time, I should like to offer all noble Lords who are interested an opportunity for an early meeting to update them on the progress of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and to take on board a number of their concerns.
In Singapore four years ago, when London’s bid was presented to the IOC, the focus on young people and legacy was inspirational. I defy anyone who saw the film that accompanied the bid to say that they failed to be moved by it. The IOC found it totally compelling. A major part of the job is to make sure that the legacy we promised gets delivered.
The 2012 Games must create a transformational legacy for east London, creating a new neighbourhood for the city, reconnecting communities, creating sustainable jobs, encouraging enterprise, particularly social enterprise—the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, drew attention to this—and providing new homes, all in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom.
Clearly, the Games will leave a powerful legacy for sport, with five new world-class venues in east London, many more venues across the UK and a fabulous boost for the participation of people of all ages. The park itself and our magnificent stadium—a living stadium—should provide a major attraction for local people and visitors eager to continue to celebrate the Games and to continue their interest in sport long after the 2012 Games are over. It will have athletics at its core, so that London can continue to attract the best talent from around the world to come and compete here. I say to the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the stadium will be taken down in the way that has been suggested. We are simply working through options. There are smarter things to do with the stadium. I should like to consult widely with the sporting community to get to that point.
The legacy company, together with the five host boroughs and the very active voluntary sector in east London, will play a crucial role in turning these commitments into reality. Although my writ runs only to the boundaries of the park, in reality we cannot simply redevelop the park without clear links to the surrounding neighbourhoods and without clear reference to the wider plans for the Lower Lea Valley. The noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, has been a steadfast advocate for this type of approach and we are working carefully to ensure that the legacy master plan that is currently in preparation achieves this. The master plan is crucial because it will guide local people, public authorities and private investors for many years to come about how the park and its wider surroundings will be redeveloped, about the level of our ambition, and about, if I may steal a phrase from UK Sport, a “no compromise” approach to quality and sustainability. Between now and Christmas we will sharpen our thinking about this important master plan. I particularly want to build on and connect with some of the fantastic work done by local groups in that area of east London, about which the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, has told us on many occasions, so that the final plan makes perfect sense to the sporting community but primarily to those people, particularly young people, whose lives are likely to be most affected by it.
I would like to have spoken for longer today about the legacy lessons that we can learn from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and what happened in South Kensington and Exhibition Road. After the Great Exhibition, of course, the Crystal Palace was relocated from Hyde Park to its current location. We have many lessons to learn from the Great Exhibition about the magnificent educational and cultural legacy that it left for London. It took the formidable Prince Albert 40 years to get that right. It will take us probably about the same length of time, but we must not have any less ambition for our project than Prince Albert had for the Great Exhibition in 1851.
A task for the legacy company will be to use all the park’s assets to create a unique living park of sporting and recreational excellence that is a magnet for visitors, a boon for the economy, a showcase for sustainability and a focus for performance. It must be a precious and loved asset for local people and a new piece of our city that is fully integrated into the surrounding neighbourhoods. The task will be a long one—as I said, it took Prince Albert’s royal commission 40 years—and it will require commitment and investment from partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors. But the legacy that we must leave for sport, for east London and for the wider community will be enjoyed for generations to come. That legacy must live up to and surpass the promises made to the IOC, because those promises were made to the people of east London themselves.
My Lords, this is one of those debates where the cliché that everything has been said but not everybody has said it comes ringingly to mind. I feel that it has been as good a broad-brush approach to everybody involved in the Olympics as you will get virtually anywhere. Almost every aspect of the Games and their unique legacy has been represented in your Lordships’ House. When I first saw the plans and model for London 2012, I realised that, if the Games went ahead, there would be virtually no downside for the physical space that they went into. Having lived in a flat fairly close to it, I always felt that the area had some potential, but mainly as a set for the more unpleasant type of second-rate gangster movie or a film about an apocalyptic future. Some people will tell me that I missed something very nice, but I did not see it. It was somewhere that needed investment; it had to come.
I have tried to generate a degree of passion in speaking about the idea of the Olympic Games as something that brings everything together. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, whom I welcome to the House, has topped anything that I could say today with the idea of sport as something that can give focus and meaning to lives and as something to aspire to, look back on and support. The whole way through, the idea of a sporting legacy focuses particularly on the elite but, if it is really to succeed, it must be far broader. That is something that the Games have already achieved. They have already made people in government, other than those already in touch, consider sport properly.
As one who had this portfolio for many years, before the Olympics were taken on board, I distinctly got the impression that people thought, “Sport’s an awfully good thing, but it’s nothing to do with me”. It was pushed aside. However, when the Department of Health has publications that mention the Olympics in its physical activity agenda, suddenly the Olympics have already achieved something important. I think that the Minister for Sport should be in the Department of Health, if not heading up his own ministry, with his own seat in the Cabinet. Regardless of how well the committees and odd connections within government work at the moment, I would like there to be a stronger sports—or, indeed, Olympic—presence, with a department backing it up directly. It should be attached to the Cabinet Office, with civil servants from the DCMS and the Department of Health, and it should have education connections. Things may be working now, but any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and it would be very easy to break that chain with a little political pressure here and there.
Much of what we are talking about in the Olympics’ ability to achieve a legacy will be to do with how far they go beyond their immediate groups. As I said, any original thought here was immediately trumped by everybody who spoke before me, but I have come to the conclusion that this should be mentioned. The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, got there before me. He said that the Olympic Games are being held here only as a result of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, which proved that Britain, after several quite spectacular failures and mismanagements, could deliver a major project on time and make it a success. Other major projects have occurred and others will, but how do we tie them in? This is probably one of the few questions that I can fairly deliver to the noble Lord, Lord Davies. What are the Government doing to make sure that we have something that is ongoing, beyond 2012, and that new Commonwealth Games and new sporting events are tied into the same sort of structure, making sure that there is an ongoing legacy for all of them? The idea is bigger than the Olympic park and it is that idea that must carry on. The fact that we can get government engagement with sporting activity is much more important even than this event. We must take it on from there.
I think that it was Ken Livingstone who expected X number of years of argument and screaming, with a wonderful party for the Olympics at the end. I forget the exact phrase. We have got rid of most of the arguments, but I now address the one running sore about the Olympics: Bisley. I do not know exactly what was said in the document that rejected Bisley as a permanent site, but I have tabled a Question to find out. I ask the two noble Lords who will be at the Olympic Board meeting today to ask the board please to publish this information and come back with it so that we can find out. I fully accept that there may be good reasons for rejecting Bisley, but the noble Lords who have spoken today deserve to know what they are, even though they may not agree with them. I have always felt that as many events as possible should be held within the main park and that they should be held outside only if this cannot be done. Everybody deserves to know the reasons. I encourage those noble Lords who are yet to speak to ask about this. The noble Lord, Lord Davies, of course has a huge advantage. If we get a good answer, I will remove the Question that I have tabled for a week today. We can carry on and deal with this problem, but it is one of the few outstanding matters to do with the construction.
The ODA deserves much credit for having made the building of the Olympic park quite boring. We are on time and within budget. We are ahead of budget. It is working. I wonder how many journalists sat there with their practised themes of “Waste of money” and “We can’t organise anything” in a huge run-up to decrying our achievement. They cannot do it. If they could, politicians might have had a slightly easier time over the last few weeks because it would have absorbed their energy, but they have not. The ODA has delivered more or less everything so far on time and within budget.
I also encourage the Olympic movement as a whole not to be frightened of admitting it when one or two things go wrong, as they will. We should remember that 75 per cent in any exam is still a damned good pass. I ask those involved to engage more with us in the political scene, as we have had to dig out too much information. I have had that discussion—or occasional row—with the Olympic movement and I say again: let us know more about what is going on.
Can the noble Lord, Lord Davies, tell us how much encouragement is being given to sporting bodies to increase their legacy participation rates? Are models being prepared and, if so, which are the best ones to take forward? Have they gone in-house or outside? I have spoken about this subject on numerous occasions. The noble Lord, Lord Davies, and I can probably banter about what is going on here but there are some extremely good models. Once again, I mention the Go Play Rugby programme. Get Into Football is another good scheme; it is less focused but more general. What are the best models for these sports to take outside? Which ones have worked best in the past and which do the Government think have the best development potential outside the Olympics? If we know that, we can encourage Ministers and hold them to task. We need to ensure that there is continuation of effort and that those who are encouraging people to back up the legacy in terms of involvement have a model to work to. Can the noble Lord reassure us on that point?
Finally, the Olympics seem to be shaping up to be a tremendous success. Let us enjoy that success, having got involved with the entire process leading up to it, and then make sure that the ideas are lasting and are taken forward to the next project, or aim and objective. If they are not, we will be throwing away at least some of the legacy.
My Lords, first, I must mention my father, who, with the late Lord Exeter, as members of the International Olympic Committee, struggled for many years to try to bring the Olympics back to Britain. How proud he would have been of the efforts and success of my noble friend, whom I thank for introducing this important debate. I congratulate him on his leadership and his impressive and continuing enthusiasm for the cause. I also congratulate from these Benches the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, on her excellent maiden speech. I look forward to hearing her in the future.
I applaud all those delivering the Games for their successes in the development of the Olympic village and other Olympic sites—in particular, the outstanding and ongoing transformation of the Lower Lea Valley. In addition, I state the obvious: policy on the Olympics is not Tory, Labour or Liberal but British. We on the opposition Benches have a responsibility to hold the Government to account for the decisions that they make. We should support and encourage those concerned when we believe that they are doing the right thing, but we should also probe and challenge when we believe that there is room for improvement.
As we all know, parts of the journey towards 2012 have not been straightforward. The Government’s budget miscalculations are common knowledge: the budget has soared from approximately £2.3 billion to £9.3 billion, leading to unprecedented raids on good-causes money from the National Lottery; over half the contingency fund has already been spent delivering only a third of the Olympic programme; there have been funding cuts to sports such as shooting and water polo due to the £50 million shortfall brought about by the Government’s failure to raise a single penny from the private sector; and, most significantly, there is a continuing absence of a fully costed, and probably extremely expensive, security plan. My noble friend Lord Patten had some extremely effective questions on security, which I hope the Minister will be able to answer.
In February this year, the Home Office produced the safety and security strategy for the 2012 Games. Now that the strategy has been in place for four months, can the Minister say whether all key security appointments relating to the Olympics have been made? If not, why not? This is an important point because the Government regard the delivery of the safety and security strategy for the Olympics as very much the delegated responsibility of the ODA and LOCOG. I have been hearing concerns that the specifications for the security projects of these organisations, which were set following a threat assessment by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, are not being adhered to. Is that true or is it perhaps a “not yet” situation?
I should also like the Minister to say whether the delay in producing the safety and security strategy means that there is less time for embedding security and resilience technologies at Olympic sites. There will of course have to be a reliance on a large number of police officers coming in from around the country. We already know that the Metropolitan Police will be under significant stress, with each borough having to accept a 2.5 per cent reduction in policing 12 months prior to and six months after the Games. The Metropolitan Police Authority has to recruit 10,000 extra specials to compensate for this extraction. Can the Minister say what progress it has made? My concern, if many officers have to be brought in from outside London, is that there will be little capability to meet any—although of course one hopes that there will not be any—attacks outside the Olympic areas. Also, what about the security of the sailing events at Weymouth and, indeed, the rowing at Eton?
A related issue is the Government’s security budget for the Games. Senior police officers have expressed concern that security costs will escalate beyond the £600 million allocated, pushing the entire Olympic budget over the £10 billion mark. Can the Minister say what the £600 million set aside by the Government actually includes? Does it, for example, include the cost of deploying not only the police but all other emergency responders? What is the true cost likely to be?
Despite that, I have no doubt that we will deliver an excellent Olympic park. The build will be completed on time and construction of the venues by the Olympic Delivery Authority is on track. In addition, as my noble friend Lord Coe said, organisation of the Games by LOCOG is on track to raise the £2 billion needed to stage the Games; it has, this week, signed up its 20th commercial sponsor. Surely the Olympics will attract a great number of tourists and it is hoped that our Olympic teams will be successful as well.
One major thing for which the Government are responsible is the legacy, but so far they do not seem to be achieving very much. The Olympics were won on a commitment to use the Games to inspire a whole generation to take up sport. Nearly four years on, the Government have yet to deliver any coherent plans to deliver this mass-participation sports legacy.
Does the Minister share the opinion of my noble friend Lord Moynihan that participation in sport is tremendously important to society, especially to the young and especially in the light of recent statistics that show that children now spend just two hours per week playing sport, compared with the 45 hours per week that they spend in front of a television or computer screen? The Government’s own statistics predict that, by 2050, 90 per cent of schoolchildren will be overweight. Participation in sport has the ability to change social patterns, improve health and transform lives. The likes of double Olympic gold medal sailor Sarah Ayton OBE and double Olympic gold medal swimmer Rebecca Adlington OBE pay testament to this fact. It would be criminal to deny such brilliant opportunities to the rest of British youth, especially when, through the Olympics, we have such potential for positive exposure and state-of-the-art facilities at our disposal around the country. My noble friend Lord Bates emphasised all the multifarious activities in the north-east of England.
Apart from the mass-participation legacy, there is also the issue of delivering a physical legacy for each Olympic sport. It has become clear that this will not be delivered in every case—for example, in shooting and equestrianism. Every person in the UK is contributing to the £9.3 billion public sector budget for the regeneration of east London, which is why the Olympics must benefit people throughout the country as well. A sporting legacy is not just an aspiration. It is a matter of basic fairness, both to Londoners living near the Olympic park and to people who do not happen to live near the new facilities that are being built.
Can the Minister confirm that, in the equestrian events in Greenwich Park, there will be no moving or cutting down of trees? There is a rumour going round that they are all going to be moved or removed altogether. I hope that that will not be the case. What plans are in place to make sure that, once the athletes’ village has been sold off, money is ring-fenced so that taxpayers can see the maximum return on their investment? What extra efforts are being made to seek buyers in the first instance? For example, I understand that there is still no anchor tenant for the Olympic stadium.
Overall, I am afraid, this paints a sad picture of the importance that the Government place on their legacy responsibilities, evidenced by their lack of concrete progress. Can the Minister tell the House what advances have been made to drive a genuine grass-roots legacy for sport off the back of the 2012 Games? The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games give the whole nation enormous opportunities for progress in so many areas. Let us hope that they can be exploited to the full.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Luke, used the word “sad” in his summing-up—a singularly inappropriate stance when we look at the progress that has been made since London won the right to host the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, led the team whose inspired presentation won the bid against what we all regarded at the time to be the odds in Singapore. It is difficult to believe that four years have passed since then and we are only three years away from the Games coming back to London.
Progress has been made. Although I listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Luke, said, and one or two other critics of certain aspects of the progress and development of the Games, I take sustenance and joy from the fact that the vast majority of contributors to this debate have followed the noble Lord, Lord Coe, in his opening presentation, exemplifying optimism with regard to the future and genuine and proper pride in what has been achieved already. That is the prevailing tone of this debate.
Of course, there are issues still to be resolved and we have to address ourselves to the points of criticism. I will attempt to meet the most forceful and important of those as I develop my speech, but I want this debate to be recognised for what it is—one which displays hope and genuine confidence with regard to the future, based on some extraordinary achievements since the bid was won a few years ago. That is why I appreciated the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Bates, that it all too easy to suffuse ourselves with criticism. I recognise that the Opposition has a duty to put the Government under scrutiny, but it ill behoves us to undersell achievement when in fact achievement is what we need to present to the nation.
We have made very significant progress, as reflected in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, covered most of the ground that I would otherwise have felt obliged to cover in terms of achievements. All five major venues—the stadium, the aquatic centre, the Olympic village, the velopark, the international broadcasting centre—are under construction, either on or ahead of schedule. I know that at present the site has a rather daunting blue fence around it, keeping out all comers except those authorised for entry. It is a construction site, so of course it presents that face. But once construction has moved ahead, we will be on the brink of developing an Olympic park which will be the glory of that part of London and will match the glories of our great parks in London, which were bequeathed to us in centuries past in different circumstances and socioeconomic conditions. Let us recognise the size of this potential achievement and appreciate the work that has been done.
Let us particularly appreciate the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, in her maiden speech. She comes to us, as we all know, with very substantial achievements with regard to sport. I have not the slightest doubt that she will make a contribution which we will all value in the future. Today she emphasised the importance of the development of sport in schools. Of course it is right that our biggest legacy to the next generation will be enthusiasm and opportunity for sport. That means in schools now we must use the Olympic Games as the inspiration and, for the future, we must commit to ensuring that sufficient resources are made available for schoolchildren to get a requisite amount of sport.
The Government are proud of their record in these terms, and we are pleased to be associated with the considerable work that the noble Baroness has done in promoting this necessity, which was reflected in her speech. Not only do I agree with everything she said, I also want to bring to the House’s attention that school sport will be celebrated across the country at the end of this month. Over 10,000 schools are taking part in National School Sport Week. This is only the second time that we have done this and it is a reflection of the fact that we are catching the imagination of schoolchildren and also providing the opportunities for them to play their full part.
I want to mention in this context how important it is that we awaken the enthusiasm of children and adults in the locality. I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford for emphasising the fact that the boroughs immediately adjacent to the Olympic site have a great deal to contribute in terms of their welcome. I bear in mind the point he made about the number of languages which are spoken and that the welcome could be given in those terms. I accept entirely what the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, says about how important it is that we put emphasis on language training and skills. We must have those available when the world comes to London in 2012, and that was an important and insightful contribution.
I recognise that there are several pinch points, the sharpest of which was introduced by my noble friend Lord Corbett and referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on the question of Bisley. I answered a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, about why Woolwich has been chosen against Bisley. It is on the basis of a carefully researched report. I do not want to reiterate all the various points again, particularly as the noble Lord made it fairly clear that he was not convinced by my argument.
Have the Government got anything to hide with regard to the KPMG report, which was the basis for the decision in favour of Woolwich? No. That has been made quite clear in the other place by my right honourable friend Tessa Jowell in her role as the Olympics Minister. When we can publish that report without compromising sensitive, ongoing commercial negotiations, we intend to do so. We have not the slightest hesitation about making sure that that report is published in due course, but in everything, there is an evaluation about competing commercial opportunities. That is why we cannot release the report at present.
My Lords, I will look at that particular section. I was talking about the KPMG report in general. If the noble Lord is saying that there is value in one particular section being published, that may or may not be possible. The point is that the judgment was arrived at knowing full well the obvious claims of Bisley. That is true of other sports. The same issues obtain with regard to Greenwich and the horse-riding events. Of course, we all know Badminton and Burghley. We know that we have existing facilities considerable distances away from London.
What has to be balanced is the fact that these are the London Games, won by London as a city against other competing cities. There is obviously, therefore, an intention to concentrate as much of the Games as possible within the confines of London, as close to the Olympic village as possible. That is for the benefit of spectators and athletes and reflects the fact that it is a London bid won by London. There are bound to be compromises and difficult decisions. The decision on which I have been challenged most vigorously today is one that we reached on the basis of very careful research and on judgments that will stand the test of time.
A number of other points were raised. First my noble friend Lord Pendry and then the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford raised the question of voluntary support for the Games. We need 70,000 volunteers. It is absolutely clear that we hope to attract a substantial number from the local boroughs, making their contribution to the celebration of an event happening in their area, but we will need volunteers from all across the country. We will certainly need volunteers who display the language skills mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins. That work must go ahead. I emphasise that we are fully charged of the necessity of involving the country in those opportunities.
The Games are the London Games, but there are opportunities for the country in voluntary support and—the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones—tourism. Of course we want large numbers of tourists coming to London, but we want to capitalise on that by ensuring that people who have come from all over the world appreciate the other joys of the United Kingdom and its tourist opportunities beyond London. That means that we have to make strenuous efforts to upgrade our tourist facilities as much as we can. We have to increase our marketing. We must see that 2012 is a unique opportunity for the tourist industry and of course the Government will play our full part in helping the industry to realise those benefits.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, while modestly recognising the successes of those who have contributed directly towards the development of the structure of the Olympic Games, was a little carping about finance. He knows very well that the financial failure is not a matter of government finance, it is not the plans that we have had for contribution from the lottery; it is private industry which has not been able to produce the resources that we had hoped. That is not entirely surprising when the United Kingdom, as is the rest of the world, is suffering grievously in recession at present.
I was grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, for saying that in that part of London, the impact of the recession has been cushioned by development for the Games. I emphasise that there is a very substantial amount of activity associated with the development for the Games in east London. I also emphasise that the Olympic Games budget looks relatively healthy. I know that noble Lords will identify those marginal elements where there are weaknesses, but the £9.325 billion, which has been the subject of constant scrutiny ever since it was established as the budget, remains on target. The Games remain on target to come within that figure.
No, my Lords. I am emphasising that there is no cause for concern about the budgetary support for the Games and the ability of the Games to fall within the budget provision. Nor is there any cause for pessimism about the position of the Games in this recessionary period in relation to the local economy. The contracts are being handed out. Considerable progress is being made. To take the most obvious thing locally, there is a significant, multi-million pound investment in the area, which will guarantee one dimension of the legacy that will not be directly attributable to the Games but would never have occurred if that uplift in the east London economy were not occurring because of the Games. The Games are creating thousands of jobs, along with apprenticeships and training places, just at that time that we need them most. Significant numbers are coming from the locality, but that also reflects a significant investment injection into London. Westfield is investing £1.5 billion in the Stratford City retail-led development adjacent to the Olympic park.
This is therefore a developing picture of considerable success in what the Games can represent for the local economy, as well as their greater significance for the wider economy. Of course, I have listened carefully to the issues raised about legacy, which are very important for the Games. I am grateful that the position that my noble friend Lady Ford holds gave her the opportunity to assure the House on those matters. There is not the slightest doubt that we are better placed to fulfil a legacy from the Games than any Games of recent years.
The example of Barcelona has been quoted, quite rightly, because that is the best example of the past two or three decades, if not longer. London can easily surpass that legacy on the basis of the very careful preparations we are making, both in terms of the physical position and in terms of the legacy with regard to sport and the participation of our people.
With regard to the physical legacy, I heard what the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, said. It is the case that we have not as yet identified who will take on the Olympic stadium. As he knows, the stadium will be reduced in size from its Games position of over 80,000 down to a capacity of 25,000. That rules out certain kinds of legacy. You will not get Premier League clubs interested in a stadium of that size. There are a whole range of possible legatees, however, who will be willing to sign a contract. We do not have great anxieties with regard to the facilities in those terms. We are of course taking care to make sure that the Olympic park and its surroundings provide one of the great legacies for the nation and for London in particular.
I take on board all the criticisms that have been voiced today. We will look at those with the greatest degree of care. I would, however, like to make an obvious point that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Coe, was too modest to make in his opening speech. When the International Olympic Committee’s co-ordinating commission visited London two months ago, it came to assess the progress that we have made. The commission’s chair, Denis Oswald, said that,
“the transformation that has taken place in the Lower Lea Valley is nothing short of astounding and this area will be a great legacy for the people of London and the UK”.
That is a judgment three years before we mount the greatest sporting spectacle that the world anticipates every four years. We shall have every confidence that that is exactly what we are going to do.
My Lords, when the founding father of the Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, mapped that seamless path between sport, culture and education 120 years ago, he was right then and he is right today. He would have been heartened by the quality of the debate that has dignified this place over the past few hours.
It was a wonderful debate. It contained passion and insight and, if I may so, the questions, and the forensic nature of those questions, were of the highest order. It is normally the province of the Minister, but with leave of the House I will, if it is thought to be reasonable, write separately to noble Lords about the specific issues that were raised, particularly around the organising and staging of the Games.
It would be remiss of me not to join noble Lords in the compliments that were paid to the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, for a very fine maiden speech—the first of many, I hope. I am delighted also to be joined in this place by my former university tutor.
It would be remiss of me to alight upon any speeches in particular, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, summed it up when he said that the bulk of people in this country want this project to be a success. He also said “I want to be there”. I can do no better than echo those words. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
My Lords, it is fairly unusual to have two dozen speakers for the second debate on a Thursday afternoon but it shows the importance that this House places on the issues involved. The only sadness is that we have so little time to explore them.
There are many questions which arise in this debate but let me start on a point where there is unity throughout this House. That is to praise the courage and professionalism of the British troops who have fought and have been under fire in Iraq over the past six years. Their effort and dedication has been magnificent, part of which I saw for myself when I visited Basra last year. I saw then everything I wanted to see, given the security position at the time, and was certainly able to put all the questions that I wanted to ask. I thank the Ministry of Defence for that opportunity, although I have to admit that on one occasion I was helped by an unaccountable rumour that I was in fact the First Sea Lord.
The truth is that the invasion of Iraq was deadly serious in intent and deadly serious in its impact. The price that was paid for the invasion was extraordinarily high. One hundred and seventy-nine British service men and women have been killed and several hundred others badly or severely injured. The number of Iraqi dead has been much greater. At a conservative estimate, the figure is 100,000 but many would put it much higher. Many of those killed were also tortured and the reign of terror has had a traumatic effect on ordinary Iraqi lives—so traumatic that an estimated 2 million refugees sought shelter in surrounding countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, while another 2 million sought refuge elsewhere in Iraq itself. The war created the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948.
Of course, there have also been gains. A new democracy is, one hopes, emerging. The internal security position has, one hopes, permanently improved. Certainly, the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein has been replaced. We need to weigh those advances against the price that has been paid. There is no agreement on whether they justify the action that was taken.
The decision to go to war in Iraq was almost certainly the most controversial political decision taken in post-war years. Many opposed the invasion from the outset. They took part in the massive demonstrations in London and elsewhere and they maintain that opposition to this day. Others—and I was one of them—supported the action that was taken and relied on the information provided by the Government. What unites us today is the need to know the truth about the decision to go to war and, even given that decision, whether some of the appalling later results could have been avoided.
Among the questions that need to be answered are the following. We need to know whether the Government misled Parliament and the public by overstating the evidence there was of weapons of mass destruction. It does not seem to me that the report from the intelligence community that it knew little about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons since 1998 justified the claim made by the Prime Minister at the end of 2002 that our knowledge was “extensive, detailed and authoritative”. We need to know just how the decision was made inside Government—what advice was proffered by the Foreign Office and whether that information was put before the Cabinet. We need to know what planning there was for the aftermath. The invasion is one thing; occupation is quite another. We need to know what action we have taken to help the refugees who have been created by this conflict. Too often they are the people who have been forgotten. There is an assumption that, as the security position improves, they will all return to Iraq. But frankly that is not the case.
Earlier this year I went to Syria on an IPU delegation. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, was also part of it. In Damascus we interviewed some of the refugees who have been living in Syria for the past few years. We need to face the fact that there are people there who have no intention of returning to Iraq. They have nothing to return to. Their memories are memories of murder and of violence. They are the survivors of torture and of kidnapping. They are men and women who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. That is why a resettlement programme in other countries is being organised by the United Nations refugee agency. We need to know whether Britain is playing its full part in this. The evidence from Syria was not encouraging. Our help in resettlement was not only behind the United States, which is to be expected, but behind Canada, Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands. We need to know whether we are meeting our obligations.
In essence, we now need closure on a political decision that by any measure has bitterly divided this country. That was why I initiated a debate in this House 18 months ago, calling for an inquiry and saying that I knew of,
“no other way that the lessons from this conflict can be learnt”.—[Official Report, 24/1/08; col. 338.]
That is why, four weeks ago, I tabled the Motion that is being debated today.
In one very substantial way, the story has moved on, with the Government at long last conceding the case for an inquiry; so the crucial question today is not whether there should be an inquiry but whether the inquiry that the Prime Minister announced on Monday meets the widespread and legitimate public concern. In my judgment, it does not; it is in essence a political response, and as such it runs the risk of satisfying no one.
What has the Prime Minister said? He said on Monday that the proceedings will be held in private, which he justified; that there should be no attempt to “apportion blame”; that the committee should include no senior military figures and no experienced politicians; and, of course, that the report should not appear until after the next general election. Perish the thought that the public should be influenced by its findings.
The inquiry is to be held in secret as, according to the Prime Minister, this is the best way of getting “full and candid” evidence. That is an extraordinary reason, coming as it does a week after the Government proclaimed that only openness and transparency would serve the public interest. However, it is worse than that. If this inquiry is to achieve any kind of closure, it has to satisfy a wide national constituency. It needs to satisfy: the relations of those killed in Iraq; those who have been injured; people like me who supported the war that we were not deceived; and people who opposed the war, who should at least be satisfied that this was an honest undertaking. It needs to satisfy the people of Iraq, who have taken the full force of the action, that the cause was entirely legitimate.
I give four reasons why the inquiry as presently constituted will not achieve those goals. First, a secret inquiry of the kind announced by the Prime Minister on Monday simply will not satisfy the public. The Government say that this was the procedure of the Franks inquiry in 1982, but that was 27 years ago. Times have changed, as the Government up to this week have proclaimed constantly. The plain fact is that an inquiry behind closed doors is not what the public expect at the end of the first decade of the 21st century.
I also observe in passing that the Franks inquiry, even at the beginning of the 1980s, did not satisfy everyone. The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, a familiar face here now who was then a Member of the other place, called it,
“an establishment cover-up and a whitewash”.—[Official Report, Commons, 18/1/83; col. 180.]
while none other than the late Lord Callaghan said that the committee,
“chucked a bucket of whitewash”,
over the issue. I do not deny that when there are undoubted issues of national security, the committee will want to go into private session, but surely the presumption should be the very opposite of what is proposed. It should be that evidence is given in public unless there are overwhelming reasons of national security to do the opposite. That is the test.
We hear today that, somewhat typically of this Government, a letter has gone from the Prime Minister to the chairman of the inquiry and includes, it is claimed, concessions. We are told that the chairman will be allowed some sessions in public, but we already knew that. That was exactly what the Leader of the House of Lords said to me in response to direct questions in this House on Monday; it can be seen in the pages of Hansard. We wait to hear what the Minister says on the Government’s latest position on this, but I suggest that it needs to go beyond reheating Monday’s Statement. We need to know whether the presumption is for openness or secrecy. That is the crucial question which the Minister should answer.
Secondly, I am frankly astonished by the blandness of the Prime Minister's statement that the committee will not “apportion blame”. The truth is that there may well be blame to be apportioned. Even Ministers agree that the planning for the aftermath was utterly inadequate. Are we to say that this was entirely and exclusively the fault of the United States? If Britain was also culpable, blame may well be apportioned, and so it should be.
Thirdly, I am concerned by the make-up of this committee and the absence of military and political experience. If the Government are to quote Franks, it should be pointed out that this was a committee with massive political experience that included Merlyn Rees and Harold Lever, the late Lord Lever of Manchester. The Prime Minister ignores such experience and says that he wants the committee to be as objective and non-partisan as possible. I think he shows a lack of understanding of what happens in such inquiries. As the Select Committee system in this House and the other place shows, politicians are entirely capable of setting party positions to one side.
Then there is the Prime Minister’s later comment that he is relying on the advice of,
“people who have not been involved in commenting on this issue over the last few years”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/6/09; col. 27.]
Frankly, I find that strange. Are we to believe that no members of his chosen committee has expressed any view on the most controversial foreign policy decision for more than 60 years? If that is the case, I am not sure that I want a committee composed of such totally disinterested figures.
The timing of the publication of the report until after the next election of course gives the whole game away. I never met anyone, including those I met in the Army, who believed in the Government’s previous excuse that it would be wrong to hold an inquiry while there were still troops in Iraq. In any event, I am not sure on the basis of what the Government propose how you can be demoralised by a secret inquiry. The Government know perfectly well that this inquiry could and should have been held months ago. They now have the responsibility to find some way, either by an interim report or perhaps by dividing the report into two, of delivering at least some of the results before the public are called on to judge their period of government.
The debate in the other place on the Franks report in January 1983 contained a fundamental point. The terms of reference of the committee of inquiry were agreed by the Opposition—indeed, they were changed because of a request by the Leader of the Opposition—and the membership of the Franks committee was agreed by the Leader of the Opposition and by all the principal parties in the House of Commons. We are entitled to know why there was no serious attempt to do this on this occasion and to find some consensus on the way forward.
An inquiry into the Iraq conflict should have provided the nation with an opportunity to learn the truth and the lessons that could guide future conduct. If we go along the present course, that opportunity will be lost. I hope the Government will recognise that the inquiry that they have set up does not command the confidence of much of the British public, and I very much doubt whether it commands the confidence of Parliament.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, for once again giving us an opportunity to discuss Iraq, and I join him in expressing his appreciation of the quality and dedication of all our magnificent troops, of whom we are all justifiably proud.
I made many speeches in this House before, during and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I argued consistently then, as I believe now, that the invasion was legally, politically and morally justified.
It was legally justified because Saddam Hussein failed to comply with 23 separate obligations under a series of resolutions—including Resolution 678 in 1990, through Resolution 687 in 1991, which contained the detailed terms for a final ceasefire, to Resolution 1441 in 2003—under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which uniquely provides for the use of coercive force and authorises collective military action. After Resolution 678, there were in all some 16 Chapter 7 resolutions. Twelve years after the UN had given him 15 days to disarm, Resolution 1441 gave him a final opportunity, which he did not take. Resolution 1441 may have been necessary for political reasons but surely not for legal ones.
It was politically justified because this rogue regime was a huge threat in its volatile region and, through that, to us all. Moral justification is a matter of judgment open to different personal views. As the result of a very close professional involvement with Iraq in 1990 and 1991, I have kept a very close interest in that unhappy country. Even those with reservations about military action acknowledge the terrible nature of that regime, where the merest suspicion of dissidence brought horrible deaths to individuals and their extended families. I consider it a moral action to have relieved the Iraqi people, the region and the rest of the world from the threat of this regime.
There are various lessons that we should learn from our experiences with Iraq. I will try briefly to enumerate some of them in the time available. First, decisions about the timing of an interim ceasefire should not be left solely to soldiers, even to those as distinguished as Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, because they got it very wrong, with tragic consequences not least for the Shia and the Marsh Arabs, who suffered so terribly at the hands of the vengeful Saddam.
Secondly, a very long Chapter 7 UN Security Council resolution, containing detailed terms for a final ceasefire—as did Resolution 687—should not remain flouted for some 12 years before taking decisive military action to enforce it. Thirdly, the State Department, where detailed plans had been meticulously prepared, described at the time by one insider as “the greatest detailed plans for civil reconstruction since the rebuilding of post-war Germany”, should have controlled the post-conflict situation, not the Pentagon. It was a tragedy that these were never put into effect. To be brutally frank, Secretary Rumsfeld triumphed in Washington over Secretary Powell. Many other mistakes flowed from this, such as dissolving the army and going too far with de-Ba’athification.
Fourthly, not enough recognition was given in advance to how the horrors of Saddam’s regime had brutalised and exacerbated tensions between the Sunni, Shia and Kurds. Fifthly, I argued in April 2003 that it was a mistake not to take action against Moqtada al-Sadr then, when he was clearly responsible for the murder of another Shia cleric. To have dealt with Moqtada then could have avoided many subsequent problems.
I end by saying that I am delighted that the committee of inquiry, chaired by the excellent Sir John Chilcot, will soon begin its work. Although there are calls for a public inquiry, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has outlined today, I think it is right that this committee should follow the pattern of the Franks inquiry, which is the nearest parallel for this kind of exercise. However, it is my understanding from the Statement on the committee and its terms of reference that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made in the Commons that Sir John Chilcot could take some evidence in public, if and when he judged that appropriate and desirable.
It is reported that the Prime Minister has now made this explicit, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, indicated. Would my noble friend the Minister confirm that my understanding of the original situation is correct and that Sir John Chilcot has the discretion and the competence to hear evidence in public when he judges it right to do so?
My Lords, I, too, join in the thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, for introducing this debate, which is of such great importance and has been made of even more importance by the Statement of the Prime Minister about an inquiry into the Iraq war.
The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, put the case very strongly for this particular inquiry being held in public. He made a very powerful point in saying that the assumption must be that, wherever possible, the inquiry should be in the open and that, only in circumstances where the material is so sensitive that it could risk the interests of national security, should there be a willingness by the panel to accept in camera discussions rather than those which are open to the public.
We live in a world today that is dominated by the internet and by bloggers, bleaters and tweeters. We have a very large young generation that will not trust anything that is not made as open as possible. We have to carry credibility with this inquiry. Frankly, in our society today, a secret inquiry will carry virtually no credibility at all. I powerfully and strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has said.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, who knows a great deal about these matters, talked about the various resolutions that she believes made the war legal. In that case, it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister went to such lengths to try to get a second resolution at the United Nations, which he obviously believed was crucial to making sure that the war was perceived internationally and globally to be a legal war.
Those who will be most affected by this inquiry are the families of the service men and women who, in their brave and devoted service, lost their lives. It is their families, relatives and friends who need to be satisfied by this inquiry. That means that we owe them nothing less than an inquiry that is as open as it possibly can be. In that context, it is not only about the losses of life. It is not only about whether the war was legal. It is highly relevant that no lesser person than the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, in 2004 gave his considered view that the war was not legal or legitimate.
Having said that, many of us also have a deep sense of sadness that our country, one of the beacon countries of democracy in the world, the mother of parliaments, should have engaged in an illegal and illegitimate war. It is crucial therefore that this inquiry demonstrates whether that judgment is right, because it affects all of us.
The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, asked a number of questions. I will add one or two more. First, when was the decision made for the United Kingdom to be involved in the invasion? The memorandum sent by Sir David Manning to Condoleezza Rice, the United States Secretary of State, in which he declared that the Prime Minister was fully on board for the change of regime in Iraq—incidentally itself not legal under the United Nations—was dated 18 March 2002. This implies that the decision to become part of the invasion of Iraq was made long before the debate and discussion in this country and, perhaps most importantly, long before the inspectors were able to report back on the completion of their mission, which, as all of us know, was in effect never completed because enough time was never given by the allies who were determined to invade Iraq come what may.
The second big question is how the intelligence about the weapons of mass destruction, and, equally important and even more misleading, the intelligence that was supposed to show links between the Government of Iraq and al-Qaeda, was put in the public realm and whether it had the support of the intelligence community. The references to the links with al-Qaeda have been shown to be totally hollow.
I want to make a final point, but I shall abbreviate my remarks for lack of time; although my noble friends Lord Lee and Lord Addington will be asking further questions, particularly about the military aspects. Much of what happened in the Iraq war was based on the assumption by Her Majesty’s Government that they had to follow the United States whatever it said or did. I remind those who, as I do, care deeply about the Anglo-American relationship that the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill and perhaps also that between Mrs Thatcher—the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher—and Ronald Reagan were characterised by frank and candid exchanges in which from time to time the British made it clear that they could not go along with something, as Mrs Thatcher did over the invasion of Grenada. When will our Governments again accept that this country has the right to be heard, and not least when its own service men and women are at risk? Including in this debate, I hope we bear it in mind that we, too, have the right to make judgments and to be listened to.
My Lords, I respectfully applaud the fact that this debate has been arranged, as I respectfully applaud the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has placed this matter before the House. I fear that the arrangements for an inquiry into the Iraq war and its terms of reference are patently unacceptable. The absence of powers of subpoena is a grave flaw. The imposition of total secrecy by the Prime Minister is inappropriate. The explanation that it will ensure, for example, that the evidence of serving and former Ministers will be as “full and candid as possible” lets the cat out of the bag. The condition that the committee,
“will not set out to apportion blame”
is truly absurd. It means that if the committee considers that the previous Prime Minister and the Cabinet were to blame, it is not entitled to find accordingly. It is also extraordinary that nowhere in his Statement has the Prime Minister faced up to the fact that the question of law concerning the legality of the invasion of Iraq was at the heart of the matter. Why cannot that issue be explored in public, and before the next election? Let me explain the point briefly.
One starts with the advantage of the magisterial lecture of Lord Alexander of Weedon QC entitled “Iraq: The pax Americana and the law”, delivered under the auspices of Justice on 14 October 2003. Lord Alexander was one of our greatest lawyers and this was possibly one of his finest speeches. He laid bare the speciousness of the arguments of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom in favour of the legality of the war. A text of the lecture is now readily available on the web at www.justice.org.uk. For what it is worth, I would mention that shortly after my retirement as a Law Lord, I was for a brief while the chairman of Justice. On 18 October 2005, I paid tribute on behalf of Justice to Lord Alexander’s exposure of the illegality of the Iraq war.
It was necessary for our Government to find a justification for their action in international law. The Security Council was plainly opposed to the use of force. The only argument available to the British Government was to fall back on Security Council Resolution 678 passed in 1990 for the purpose of expelling Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The sole reason for harking back to it was that it was impossible to obtain Security Council approval for the use of force against Iraq in 2003. Resolution 678, passed in 1990 in a wholly different context, had no relevance to the international position regarding the use of force against Iraq in 2003.
For many legal arguments, some support can be dredged up. While there was limited support for our Government, the overwhelming view of international lawyers was that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Lord Alexander’s criticism of our Government’s position on the critical matter of international law at issue is quite devastating and fully justifies his view that in their search for a justification in law, the Government were driven to scrape the bottom of the legal barrel. I am in full agreement with what Lord Alexander said about the legality of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Government’s contrary view is plainly absurd and wrong, but the Prime Minister’s decree prevents this debate being aired before the next election.
For the avoidance of doubt, I make clear that my conclusion is based on two issues. First, I was brought up to admire American constitutional traditions, and I still do. There is nothing anti-American in my stance. Secondly, I respect the operational conduct of our brave troops on the battlefield of Iraq.
My Lords, I join in congratulating my noble friend Lord Fowler on initiating this debate. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Steyn, that his comments, which I listened to with great interest, may be the reason why the former Attorney-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, had such difficulty at the time giving a legal opinion to justify the war. It is one of the issues that I hope will come out in the inquiry. My noble friend Lord Fowler rightly started by paying tribute to those whose lives have either been lost or shattered as a result of the Iraq war. We certainly owe them and their families, who will bear the scars for the rest of their lives—some 400 have made the ultimate sacrifice or have been very seriously wounded—a proper inquiry into the events.
There is no doubt that in both Houses this is a deeply controversial matter. Very serious allegations have been made at every stage of these proceedings and at the moment we have not set up in quite the best possible way an inquiry to meet the various proper requirements that I know the House has in mind. The Prime Minister has clearly got into a big mess about it, and the news today is that he has now written to Sir John Chilcott suggesting that he can invite public hearings as well, which means that he is adjusting the position. I see that the Conservative Party has said that if it is not satisfied, it will table a debate in the House of Commons next week. I think that that would be a great pity because I would much rather see this resolved in the proper way.
The Prime Minister said the day before yesterday that he has clung closely to the Franks banner, and Franks is what we have got. What we certainly have not had from the start is the way in which Franks was set up, and the noble Lord, Lord Butler, with his diplomacy and technique, will know something about that. Moreover, there is a complete absence of cross-party consultation. The Franks inquiry was set up in response to two Questions for Written Answer, one tabled by Michael Foot, the Leader of the Opposition, and the other by Joe Grimond, emphasising the fact that there had been close cross-party consultation before it was set up. It is tragic that that was not done here. The Prime Minister said rather lamely that that was because they were Written Answers and that he was making an oral Statement, but what he did not point out was that there was then a full day’s debate on the Floor of the House on the setting-up of the inquiry.
I accept that the people the Prime Minister has proposed are very distinguished public servants, but whether the balance between academics and public servants fully meets the need for non-partisan public figures is open to question. The Prime Minister said that it would be impossible for anyone in the House of Lords actually to serve on the committee. I notice that four Members of this House—Lord Watkinson, Lord Barber, Lord Lever and Lord Merlyn-Rees—served under Lord Franks and I do not think for a moment that they were too partisan in their approach to the responsibilities they took on as full Privy Counsellors.
If this is to be a proper inquiry, the Prime Minister’s lack of consultation has done no service to the people who have been asked to take part. The Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons said that they looked like a hand-picked group that the Prime Minister had privately chosen for his own purposes. I make no allegations against these distinguished people, but they have not been helped by the way in which this has been embarked on.
As to the suggestion that if it were held in public it would be impossible to be candid, perhaps some of your Lordships heard Major General Tim Cross today making it absolutely clear that he would regard it as his duty, having commanded troops in Iraq, to be fully candid and in public about the shortcomings that he saw. Sir John Walker, the former chief of defence intelligence, was yesterday quoted in the Evening Standard as making clear that, on the present basis, it seems the inquiry is to be in private only to protect the past and present members of the Government, and that every member of the Armed Forces would feel it their duty to be fully candid and in public.
On the timing, the Prime Minister said he was advised that it would take about year. Who on earth advised him? Who on earth knows how long it can possibly take? The advice was that the Bloody Sunday inquiry would take six months. As it is now in its eighth year, that has not proved very accurate.
My only recommendation—there are a range of issues that other noble Lords will wish to address and I do not wish to delay the House—is that it is absolutely essential that the inquiry is split up in some way, perhaps through interim reports dealing with the separate issues. They are quite separate issues so why not start with the terms of reference for the Franks inquiry and how responsibility was exercised in the period up to the start of the war. That would be a good subject for the first interim report before we get into the issues around the appallingly inadequate resources deployed in the war. They were a fraction of what we used for the much more limited objective of liberating Kuwait. A fifth of the forces deployed to liberate Kuwait were used to try to occupy the whole of Iraq and overthrow the regime. Very serious allegations arose over the decision about going to war, including that delays were made in procurement of equipment because we did not wish to give any signal that we intended to go to war when in fact the decision had already been taken. A whole range of issues needs addressing and a proper inquiry, conducted as far as possible in public, is absolutely essential if they are to be properly dealt with.
My Lords, I strike a note of scepticism and discord. I recognise that the Government are honouring an obligation and have to proceed, but I am profoundly unconvinced that the exercise will be worthwhile. It is something of a pipe dream to believe that the inquiry as planned, or any inquiry, will lead to closure. I cite in evidence the letter page of the Guardian yesterday, where so many people have already made up their minds and their responses are already predictable. I recall that when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, was appointed there were paeans of praise about a man wholly incorruptible and fearless, and yet when his report was published and it was considered to be not the one people wanted, it was called a whitewash. Many critics of war do not want a sober analysis; they want an apology andthe heads of Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell on a platter.
I chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee which produced the report. We looked, as far as we were able, at many of the documents. I hope that the Government will at least look at our special report and re-examine our experiences if they are concerned—as they say they are—about improving the powers of Select Committees.
The responses to the Government’s announcement are already mostly critical. On the membership, I agree that there should have been a serious attempt at party consensus. It is wrong that there is no person with serious military experience on the committee. So far as secrecy is concerned, Hutton was in public but was nevertheless called a whitewash. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, that the presumption should be in favour of a public hearing and I hope my noble friend the Minister will confirm that the chairman will have considerable discretion. It is to be hoped that there will be a presumption of openness.
The precedent of Bloody Sunday is not a happy one. Eight years on, with almost £200 million spent, it has been a bonanza for lawyers. It is perhaps cathartic, but it is likely to have little effect. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that if the committee really wants to be almost entirely in public it will be able to do so.
Much of the ground has already been covered, both in the US and in this country. On intelligence; is there any suggestion that relevant information was not supplied to the Butler inquiry and the Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry or that they did not have all the relevant information to reach their conclusions? As to the pre-planning, it is absolutely right in my judgment—and I met Richard Perle and a number of the neo cons—that we relied too much on people like Perle, who were claiming that our forces would be greeted as liberators, without any serious thought to the aftermath. Of course the dismantling of the security structures, the police and military forces—the de-Baathification—has turned out to be a mistake.
So far as the law is concerned, the Attorney-General made a difficult decision. He must have consulted widely, as is normal, before it. There are equally cogent arguments on the other side. It may be that the weight of international legal opinion is on the other side, but is the committee, without any lawyers, to interpose its own legal judgment for that which has already been made? That is surely absurd. There is no legal expert on the committee. Even if there were, that decision, right or wrong, was made in good faith.
As to the military, there must have been many lessons learnt and inquiries held within the Army. Much will depend on resources, on manpower and on equipment; much of it is technical. There should certainly be a military member of the committee. Much of the problem is contextual; what people knew at the relevant time. As a former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I received briefing from the same individual as the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister, in my judgment, honestly reproduced what he had been told. Mistakes there were, of course, but mistakes of honest judgment.
The political issues include our relations with the US and the European Union; the resources, civil and military; the over-reliance on exiles, Chalabi and others; the intelligence, which was shared by most of our sister intelligence agencies who came to the same conclusion; the misreading by the neo cons of 9/11; and, equally, if perhaps not mentioned, questions of governance and whether it was prime ministerial government or Cabinet government. It was clearly a political judgment; it should be judged politically and not by a committee, whether in secret or public, of the great and the good.
It is inconceivable to expect closure. I predict that the likely response will be relief for the Government, disappointment for the public and cries in unison of “whitewash”, “cover up” and “charade” from the press and from those who currently criticise the Iraq war.
My Lords, you can put some of the great and good into a shuttered room and present them with files and documents into which they can dig and delve, and you can send an occasional witness into the gloom to give evidence in secret. No doubt they will emerge after 12 months, blinking into the light like the political prisoners released from jail in Beethoven’s Fidelio, but I suspect that the chorus they will be singing will not be regarded by the public as an ode to freedom and enlightenment. The alternative is to hold a proper public inquiry, where evidence is called, examined and tested, on oath and in public, for the commissioners to come to proper conclusions that everyone can consider and assent to.
On Monday this week in another place, Sir Menzies Campbell asked whether the inquiry will have the power not just to ask for witnesses but to compel them to attend and put them on oath so that their evidence may be verified against that background. The Prime Minister’s reply was to say:
“I know that the Liberal party wanted it to be held in public, but I think they know also what happens when there are public inquiries. That means lawyers, lawyers and lawyers, whereas people can feel free to give evidence and give it frankly about what we want to hear—that is, the lessons that we can learn from the war”.
Pressed further on whether there would be a power to compel witnesses to give evidence on oath, he said:
“The terms under which evidence will be given is a matter on which we will comment and report later, but I am absolutely sure that everybody who gives evidence will have to tell the truth to the committee. They are under an obligation to do so by the committee’s terms of reference”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/6/09; cols. 33-34.]
Can the Prime Minister be capable of such naivety? The whole point about an oath being administered is not that it is an appeal to someone’s god but that it opens a person to criminal prosecution for perjury if he does not tell the truth.
I can think of a number of instances of this. I was involved in the court martial of the paratroopers three years ago for the death of an Iraqi in Maysan province, when witness after witness came from Iraq and gave evidence. Some women complained that their clothes had been ripped off them, some of them claimed that the deceased had been hit by rifle butts and so on. When subjected to detailed cross-examination and reminded that they had taken the oath on the Koran, they all retracted what they had said; we got to the truth. As the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, who has to be congratulated on introducing this debate, said, we need to know the truth.
The Baha Musa court martial, in which I was also involved, revealed unacceptable and disgraceful conditioning that was being carried out in the British Army regarding the way that prisoners were handled. A senior colonel from the legal department arrived at Basra airport and saw groups of prisoners sitting on the ground in the sun with their hands bound and with blindfolds over their heads. When he made a fuss about it, all the way up to the Ministry of Defence, he was told, “Well, the Attorney-General says it’s all right, and if you think any better then you should be the next Attorney-General”. Of course, the House of Lords held that the Human Rights Act applies to soldiers in the field, but that has not helped the career of that particular officer.
The Baha Musa inquiry into the death of a single person and the circumstances surrounding it was announced in May last year. There have been directions hearings; it is to open on 13 July; evidence will start in September; and it is expected to last until June or July next year. That is for a single death. The concept that the inquiry that has been announced by the Prime Minister will take in the order of 12 months is, obviously, not worthy of consideration. It is a serious matter to start an inquiry, but we are concerned with extremely serious issues that have to be determined in public. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, for bringing this matter forward. I know that we will return to it again and again.
My Lords, I also pay tribute to our brave service men and women who have done their duty in very difficult circumstances. I hope and pray, with everyone else, that Iraq, which is still the most dangerous place on earth, may yet turn out to be better than we feared.
I intend to focus on only one aspect of the invasion of Iraq: the intellectual and moral framework in which the original decision to invade was made. The intellectual framework for decisions about military intervention, which has been developed in the West through the Christian Church and now forms the basis for UN thinking about intervention, sets out a number of questions that have to be addressed before an intervention can be morally justified.
The first question is: is there lawful authority? In the Christian tradition, that means the highest authority available for resolving disputes. In the international sphere, in most circumstances, it means the United Nations. Here, a very important distinction arises between what is legal and what may be ethical. They usually overlap but they are not always coterminous. As we know, a debate continues to rage about whether the invasion was legal. Already today the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, has said that she believes it was legal while the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, has argued that it was not. My point is that what is legal may not be enough. The fact is that there was no significant international consensus, and those opposed were not just the usual suspects but serious heavyweight players such as Germany and France.
A useful comparison may be made with the intervention in Kosovo. That did not have a specific authorisation from the Security Council but, as Michael Quinlan, whom we honoured this morning at his memorial service at Westminster, pointed out, it differed from Iraq in at least four pertinent respects: the intervention was directed to halting an immediate and manifest humanitarian outrage in full swing; it was not a regime-changing invasion; it was supported by the great majority of countries in the region and a wide international grouping of major countries; and it was validated soon afterwards by the United Nations itself. Not long before, the UN Secretary-General had publicly recognised that the Kosovo situation was a threat to international peace and security.
The second question concerns just cause. The original stated reason, as we know, was the possession of WMD by Saddam Hussein. In my opinion, it was a very reasonable belief at the time that he had such weapons, even though up to that point the inspectors had not been able to locate them. Taken by itself, though, this was not a good enough reason for intervention. Other criteria had to be met as well and other, perhaps less destructive, possibilities might have worked out to be intellectually and morally better. There was an alternative to intervention: deterrence and containment, which had been working well. Very often, in a world where there is a choice of evils, we have to put up with a less than perfect solution. We have to live with a problem, containing it rather than solving it, because trying to solve it in one fell swoop would unleash even greater evils.
The third question is whether every possible step to achieve a resolution by peaceful means had been tried first and found to fail. I think perhaps that had actually been met. The fourth question is about the very difficult political and military judgment over whether the evils unleashed by the war would outweigh the good that might be achieved.
That is very closely linked to the fifth and last criterion which is so crucial: how do we define success in these kinds of terms? If it is purely in terms of a military victory, then that indeed was very speedily gained. However, political leaders in the USA and the UK have only very recently woken up to the fact that ought to have been in the forefront of their minds right from the outset, that the struggle in the modern world is primarily one against terrorism and success in that strategy means ensuring that terrorists do not gain and hold the hearts and minds of those in whose name they say they carry out acts of terror. Counterterrorism is primarily a battle of hearts and minds in which military force has an important but subservient place. That was very far from the thinking of those who took us into the conflict in the first place and is one of the reasons for what I continue to regard as a very tragic misjudgment.
So my focus in this debate has been on the continuing relevance of the intellectual framework for considering the morality of military interventions, which very much needs to be borne in mind whenever such interventions are considered in the future. I believe that, judged by those criteria, the legal and ethical implications, which are not always coterminous, were not thought through significantly, while the actual meaning of success in the battle against terrorism was not thought through at all.
My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord Fowler for introducing this remarkably timely debate. The legal aspects have been mentioned by many speakers already and that is what I want to concentrate on, not only to look back on the past and find out what did happen, but also to consider its effect on the future. It is clear that the suspicions about the apparent mishandling of the legal advice has left long-term damage to the perception of the office of the law officers and the Attorney-General. That needs to be looked at very carefully and we cannot do that unless we get to the bottom of what really happened.
What was the continuing role of the then Attorney-General? It ought to have been that he and his department were closely involved in the months and indeed years running up to the invasion. When one got close to it, what was he actually told by the then Prime Minister? We know from the inquiry of the noble Lord, Lord Butler—he is here and will possibly tell us a little more—that his inquiry found it necessary to say that the then Prime Minister had been disingenuous in relation to the handling of the intelligence. That became very important because, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, has adverted to, there were enormously deep issues on the legality.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, who sadly cannot be in his place, first of all boldly and correctly advised that regime change was not a justification for the war—in America it is widely believed to be a justification—but we have not seen the full advice on that. Also, Tony Blair as Prime Minister quite rightly persuaded President Bush that it was necessary to try and get a further resolution from the United Nations. The position here was entirely different from the situation in the Falklands and that in the first Iraq war. In the Falklands we had a right to defend ourselves under Article 51 of the United Nations charter—I was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Michael Havers at that time—and that was always the keystone of our position. That also applied in relation to the first Iraq war and the position of Kuwait, but of course it was then reinforced by an actual United Nations resolution.
When that could not be obtained, it seemed that the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, sought to fall back on some form of Article 51 justification on the basis that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was able with the aid of some improved Scud missile or in some such way to drop a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon that could cause mass destruction, either over the Israelis or on to our bases in Cyprus. It was never very clear exactly what it was, and we do not really know what the then Attorney-General was told. We do not know exactly what advice he gave, and we do not know exactly what was told to the Cabinet, though it seems to have been extremely little. We ought to know those things.
Sometimes an obfuscation is raised: it is sometimes said the tradition is that the law officers’ advice is not revealed. That has nothing whatever to do with this case. It is always open to the Government, who are the client, to waive the privilege. Although the law officers, for practical reasons, are the gatekeepers, the privilege is that of the client, and the client is the Government. The Government should make it perfectly clear that they waive their privilege. This inquiry must get legal assistance if it needs it, and it probably does need it. It must look into this carefully and give us a full report. Nothing else can satisfy us.
My Lords, the last time I spoke on this issue was in another debate on a Motion commendably tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Fowler. I spelt out then my views on what I saw as the failure of the Iraq occupation after the conflict. My noble friend Lady Ramsay has also drawn attention to the important post-conflict failure and to the profoundly important failure to build consensus, particularly in the region itself. I do not wish to repeat that; I have said it before and written about it, and I really do not want to go there again at the moment. What I want to talk about today, and it touches a little on what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, said, is the morality issue and the law issue.
I would dearly love the rule of law to apply throughout the world. I am a politician, and I come to the law looking at it as a politician. The law does not apply like this in the rest of the world. I would say to lawyers: beware of sounding like the medieval theologians who kept arguing about how many angels can stand on the head of a pin when you are dealing with some of the most brutal dictators. I say to the lawyers that one of the lessons we have to learn from situations like this is that we have yet to find effective ways of dealing with this deadly combination of extreme dictators, failing states and weapons of mass destruction. I say to the lawyers that if their argument had prevailed in the past then Pol Pot would still be running Cambodia, because the Vietnamese illegally removed him; Idi Amin would still be running Uganda, because the Tanzanians illegally removed him; and East Pakistan would still be running what is now Bangladesh, because the Indians illegally removed it.
As I have pointed out here before, one of the most important interventions of all time was particularly important to this House—the 19th-century intervention by the British, using the Royal Navy, to stop the transatlantic slave trade. Captains of Royal Navy vessels were successfully sued in court cases in this House for arresting slave traders on the high seas and for entering the ports of other countries and burning the empty slave boats. All the usual complaints were around saying that we should not do it. Why? In the Times at that period you could read about the cause to bring our British sailors home because they were dying of tropical fevers and so on and it was felt that it was not a war for us. Slavery was normal. Trading slaves was normal. It became abnormal because we made it so, even though it was fully lawful at the time.
People have to be very careful in that if they get the balance of morality and law wrong, they could end up defending the indefensible for legal reasons. I have made this argument before. The lawyers today are very much in the position of lawyers in the 1950s and 1960s who argued that if a man beat his wife and kids in the street he could be arrested but if he did it in his own home he could not be touched. That is what we do in international affairs. The Treaty of Westphalia means that the nation state is still the dominant idea of the day. So if Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, we will have him, but if he gases his own people we will let him get on with it. You just put your fingers in your ears, cross over to the other side of the road and hope that you do not hear the cries of the kids.
I heard the cries of the kids because in Hammersmith I used to get waves of refugees. The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has been very good on the refugee issue. However, at that time I was getting refugees from Saddam and they were pleading for something to be done. There was a breach of the 1991 ceasefire under Chapter 7 of the United Nation charter and people were asking me why we could not make the United Nations intervene. We could not. In the House of Commons debates on 18 March 2003, which I took part in, relatively few Members on either side of the issue actually used WMD as the argument. WMD became important not only in their own right but because they triggered the legal condition.
My Lords, I think that I just answered that. As I said, it became a matter of law partly for that reason. But it is not the real issue; that was not the judgment that was made.
I come back for my final moments, and I will still finish on time. The balance of power in the world is changing. The United States is in relative decline. That does not mean that it is going down—it is in relative decline to the powers that are coming up. We know that great wars start when great powers are in decline relative to others. That is what happened with Britain when Germany, Russia, Japan and the United States rose in the early 20th century. Now we have the deadly problem of failed states, dictatorships and weapons of mass destruction. If we rely simply on trying to get the law right before we intervene, it is only a matter of time before some of these brutal dictators use weapons of mass destruction far outside their own borders. Saddam Hussein did it—we and the lawyers conveniently forget that.
I say to the lawyers: use your time to start working out how we should deal with these situations by creating international institutions that will enable us to deal with extreme dictators of this type. You cannot justify it; do not try to justify it; and do not end up like the medieval theologians whom you sound like at the moment.
My Lords, I intervene with trepidation. This is a timed debate and the limit for speaking is five minutes. I congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell of Markyate, on being the only speaker to have stayed within five minutes. When the digital clock reads five, it means that the five minutes are completed. We had five minutes of bonus time, courtesy of one noble Lord not speaking. We will now eat into ministerial time if any noble Lord goes beyond five minutes.
My Lords, I put my name down to speak because, when we went to war in Iraq, regardless of the legality—and I am with my noble friend in thinking that the legal position was extremely tenuous—the fact that we did it in a hurry and did not prepare properly exposed the troops whom we sent into combat to unacceptable risk, and gave them an almost unachievable job.
We sent British troops into a foreign country, which we had starved for 10 years, having already attacked. We then hit it with a massive bombardment—or rather, our allies did most of that. We then said, “We bring you democracy and freedom because you are really just like us”. Apparently they did not want to be just like us—or like the version that was on offer—and we then wondered why we were badly received. We then put on the ground troops who were not properly trained or prepared for the situation and said, “Deal with it”.
A duty of care was missed to the entire Armed Forces, people who are prepared to put their lives at risk to carry out the wishes of the politicians who send them into these situations. What happened was that, for reasons that I do not think anybody will understand fully in the short term, the British Government told the troops to go in and do something primarily because our allies were doing it. We went in to take on a second-rate Stalin—brutal and unpleasant, but hamstrung and contained—on tenuous grounds; we sent our young men to do the job. Why? Making the assumption that things could get a little better, we sent in people to risk their lives.
I have always felt that one of my party’s finest hours was when Charles Kennedy said that we would not play along with this. Can we have an assurance from the Government that any future mass deployment of troops, for any level of occupation—it was clear in Iraq that there would have to be a long occupation—will be accompanied by a doctrine that says what happens if we have to be there for three years, five years or whatever? It should say, “Long-term deployment is always going to be an option and we will always support it”.
These are wars of choice, to use the expression of my much missed friend Lord Garden. We did not have to go. We were not stopping Saddam Hussein from storming up Brighton beach. We went to him; we carried the war to him. We did not have to be there—that is clear. The regime, unpleasant as it was, was contained and controlled. We went in and effectively let the genie out of the bottle. There was a low-level civil war and we placed our troops in the middle of it. Will we ever allow this to happen again? If we do, I suggest that we have learned nothing from this, and that would be probably the biggest failure of the whole process.
My Lords, I join the congratulations and thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, for giving the House the opportunity to hold this very timely debate.
The Government’s political interest in an inquiry in the form proposed by the Prime Minister is obvious. The Government have conceded the inquiry which they promised, and the arrangements proposed for it ensure that we will hear no more about it until after the general election. The question is whether the Government have allowed their political interest to overcome the national interest.
There must be two purposes to a further inquiry. One is to learn lessons from the policy decisions taken in connection with the Iraq war. The second is to act as a sort of truth and reconciliation process for those, including the bereaved, who think that they were misled, even deceived, about the Government’s reasons for joining the war. I think it possible, indeed probable, that an inquiry on the lines proposed can suggest useful policy lessons from the war. Certainly, I make no criticism in that respect of the distinguished people appointed to the inquiry, particularly its chairman, for whom I have a very high regard. But there is no prospect that an inquiry conducted entirely in private can purge the national feeling of mistrust.
I do not find the national security arguments in favour of an inquiry in private convincing. The review that I chaired published verbatim the Government’s intelligence assessments on which the decision to go to war was based. If there is confidential material—for example, about discussions with allies—or if there are witnesses who are prepared to speak openly only in private, it would be possible for the inquiry to hold in camera sessions for that purpose. Nor am I persuaded by the arguments that an open inquiry would be a field day for lawyers. Not every inquiry has to be like the Saville inquiry and, if witnesses need protection from the inquiry, they need protection whether it is in public or in private. So I reluctantly conclude that the form of the inquiry proposed by the Government has been dictated more by their political interest than by the national interest, and that it cannot achieve the purpose of purging mistrust which so many people hope for from it.
There is an additional point for Parliament, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Fowler. There are many differences from the circumstances in which the Franks inquiry into the Falklands War was established, but there is one crucial difference. That inquiry was set up with the support and participation of all parties in Parliament. In this case it is clear that neither the Official Opposition, nor the Liberal Democrat party, nor many government Back-Benchers, nor many noble Lords who have spoken on this side today are happy about an inquiry conducted entirely in private. It is therefore doubtful whether the form of the inquiry, if submitted to a vote in Parliament, would obtain a majority. The question arises: should the form of an inquiry into the actions of the Government be determined exclusively by the Government?
On 6 July 1982 the then Prime Minister announced the membership and terms of reference of the Franks inquiry. On 8 July 1982, two days later, she moved a motion seeking Parliament’s approval and a substantial debate followed before the motion was passed. So I ask the Minister: will the Government similarly seek Parliament’s approval for this inquiry, or does the Prime Minister’s pledge to return power to Parliament not stretch to giving it the opportunity to approve and, if it wishes, to amend the proposal for the inquiry? If the Prime Minister’s decision to return power to Parliament does not stretch to that, it now looks likely that the opposition parties in another place will, next week, take matters into their own hands and pass an amendment seeking that the inquiry should be conducted in public. I suggest that that is not the way in which these things should be done.
My Lords, the invasion of Iraq on the side of the USA was one of our most unpopular military actions and it received condemnation not only at home but internationally. It resulted in insurgency, mayhem, criminal activities, bloodshed and human tragedies and it drove a wedge between the Sunni and Shia communities. Flawed reasoning and bad intelligence were at the heart of the decision to invade. We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction, which proved to be wrong. If the intention was to effect regime change, then that is not permitted under international law. We invaded Iraq without a clear mandate and the United Nations was rendered supine, which should not have happened.
The invasion did not receive support from the major countries in Europe or from other countries in the world. We relied heavily on the US, which did not have an effective plan to implement post-defeat of Saddam Hussein. We should have undertaken our own intelligence and due diligence before deciding to be part of the invasion. There were large-scale demonstrations in the country and the serious concerns expressed by senior former British diplomats with considerable knowledge of Iraq were disregarded.
We, of all countries, should have realised the problems, as we had a mandate to rule Iraq after the First World War and were a close ally of that country. The invasion and occupation opened up old wounds between Shias and Sunnis and resulted not only in fighting between the two communities but in both communities being against the occupation. The mayhem also resulted in insurgents coming to the country from other parts of the world. As a person who appreciates the art and culture of other countries, it broke my heart to find out that a number of cultural heritage sites and museums were not protected, which resulted in the damage or loss of priceless artefacts. Iraq, of course, has one of the oldest civilisations in the world.
I believe that a grave error was made in disbanding the Iraqi army, but there are efforts now to rebuild it and the police. Those should be continued. Another problem that must be addressed is that of the displaced Iraqi citizens, while the humanitarian situation is also a cause for concern. There are nearly 2 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. About 30 per cent of Iraqi citizens are thought to be living in abject poverty, with limited access to basic provisions such as clean water, electricity and proper sanitation. I would be grateful if the Minister would tell your Lordships’ House what assistance Her Majesty’s Government are giving the Iraqi authorities to tackle that situation, which will be essential in rebuilding the country.
The torture that was inflicted on Iraqi citizens at Abu Ghraib must be totally condemned and we must ensure that it is never repeated. The soldiers who committed those horrible acts took pride in their actions by taking photographs and later claimed that they were following orders to obtain information. We should establish where the commands came from and the people concerned should be held to account. I would like the Minister to comment on that point.
Although many people in the United Kingdom have negative opinions about what happened in Iraq, we should all pay tribute to the bravery of our Armed Forces. They have played a vital role in improving the situation in Iraq and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their courage and tenacity.
Although we welcome the decision by the Prime Minster to launch an inquiry into our involvement in Iraq, following the withdrawal of troops in July, I am concerned at the lack of transparency in the inquiry. The British public will not welcome the decision to hold it behind closed doors. The basis on which it is to be held is totally unsatisfactory and needs to be revised.
What are the lessons to be learnt from the Iraq war? I should like to summarise these as follows. First, we should not get involved in any military action until we are satisfied that our intelligence is sound and we have a plan for action after vanquishing the enemy. Secondly, we should of course protect our national interest and not be subordinate to any other nation. Thirdly, we must look at the cultural and religious beliefs of people in the country and ensure that our actions will not result in inflaming the situation. Fourthly, the reasons for any invasion must be sound and clearly explained to Parliament and the British public. Fifthly, we must always think about the exit strategy and leave behind a suitable legacy. Sixthly and finally, any action must not result in overstretching our military capability, and our forces must be adequately resourced in every way.
My Lords, perhaps noble Lords will permit me to say that this is the 18th anniversary of my maiden speech in your Lordships’ House. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, for allowing us an opportunity to debate this question. I was, and continue to be, supportive of the decision made by the Government to invade Iraq. Many of the reasons have already been described by my noble friends Lady Ramsay and Lord Soley.
Let me start by saying this: I am absolutely in favour of a very open inquiry. It should be like the Bloody Sunday inquiry. Let it take seven or eight years, or whatever; but at the end of it people will not be satisfied that an answer has been obtained. They are not satisfied with the Hutton or Butler inquiries, because the point is that people know the answer they want and if they do not get the answer they want they will not be satisfied.
On the question of law, we had a debate in your Lordships’ House that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, opened. I spoke in that debate and carefully examined books on international law. I came to the conclusion that there was no clear and decisive opinion either way—nor was there in that debate. Lawyers are worse than economists. There are many views on either side; economists do not get paid for holding opposite views, but lawyers do and they have an incentive to hold opposite views; but that is another question. The issue of legality will not be settled, no matter how many lawyers we consult.
I pay tribute to the 179 soldiers who died. What they did will be rewarded by a liberated Iraq. More soldiers died in the Falklands War, which lasted seven weeks; 179 died in Iraq in five years. Millions of Iraqis today and tomorrow will be grateful that Iraq is now at last a democracy. Iraq will be the first Shia-majority Arab democracy in the Middle East. We must not forget that Saddam was not just a secular leader but was viciously partisan. He was not only in favour of Sunnis against Shias but in favour of his own regional Sunnis. Saddam Hussein was a genocidal dictator, and I was against him in the 1990s when my honourable friend Ann Clwyd in another place started a campaign against him.
I have described myself as a humanitarian warmonger. I would again go to war to save people who are being tortured and brutally oppressed by their own ruler. I do not believe that the fact that the ruler is of the same skin colour—
My Lords, yes, indeed, but what about the number of Iraqis killed under the regime of Saddam Hussein? If the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, was in her place she would describe how the ecology of the Marsh Arabs was destroyed so thoroughly that it has taken years to restore the marshes in southern Iraq. People do not realise. We somehow have this prejudice—especially towards countries east of the Bosphorus, if I may say so—that if those people torture their populations, that is their culture and we should not interfere. We like democracy and human rights but “dusky” people—to quote Kipling—are denied them and we let them murder.
The United Nations is worst in this respect. See what happened in Sri Lanka and what the UN Human Rights Council agreed to there. As my noble friend Lord Soley said, if the law had not been broken by Tanzania and India, there would still be oppression. There is still oppression in Darfur, North Korea and elsewhere because the United Nations is a passive and rather fragile body. Do not rely on the United Nations. Trust your instincts. It is always worth saving lives if people are being tortured, no matter by whom.
My Lords, the Afghanistan war was, to my mind, a necessity, but the Iraq war was an expensive mistake. It cost hundreds of thousands of lives and made millions homeless. It led to mass hostility all over the Arab world. In the end it removed a tyrant, but it dismantled the Sunni machinery of state security. The Americans turned it around only by reversing their policy and creating the new Sahwa militia out of former Sunni insurgents, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, has admitted. As we have heard, the war was also illegal in the eyes of the world. Our then Prime Minister was, by February 2003, so committed to the President’s axis of evil that he went ahead without the necessary international support.
I remind the Minister that the 2006 report of the Constitution Committee, on which I served, recommended the end of the royal prerogative to make war except in cases of emergency. The Iraq war was an executive decision and the last-minute parliamentary vote in 2003, with 130 Labour rebels, was hardly an expression of popular will. The Government promised to look at this war-making power again under the heading of “constitutional renewal”. Could the Minister confirm that this will be in the Bill, although it will not of course be in the remit of the inquiry?
Then there is the question of the 45-nation coalition against terrorism, claimed by the United States. Did terrorism exist in Iraq, or did we attract it? What happened to the Baker-Hamilton plan to involve the neighbouring states? Iran is still responsible for much of today’s violence. Whatever the outcome of last Friday’s election, the US and Iran urgently need to find new common ground of a stable Iraq and a lasting political settlement along the Iranian border. We cannot blame the Army. With a few exceptions, our troops performed at their best and Basra has seen some of the fiercest action in the war. It is true that we lost the confidence of the people. We were unable to control the Shiite militia. I hope that the inquiry will concentrate on the original decision to go to war, since soldiers are there to obey orders.
“It was bad under Saddam, but now it is worse” is a familiar cry. Violence is still part of daily life. Corruption in the army is so bad that officers are charging new recruits hundreds of dollars to join. Food rations from the trade ministry are on sale in the markets, and the militia still rules. Who is going to cope with these problems? It will not be the US or the United Nations. My guess is that Iraq will need another tyrant. That tyrant may well be the present Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. The vicious circle of security and development must end, because a referendum on the security agreement would mean a hurried exit by the US in the course of the next year or so.
Our Government have to make up for their past mistakes. One can understand the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, and others writing up Iraq for the benefit of British investors. It is also important to attract skilled Iraqis back into the country. An Iraqi MP summed it up yesterday: no security, no oil, no budget. More than 50 oilfields lie waiting for development. Many of our investors are still sitting it out. What matters as we look forward is that Iraqis gradually gain confidence in their Administration and that the international community makes a contribution in line with people’s needs, rather than being driven by profit or greed, as was the case at the end of the war.
Building local capacity to lay the foundations for development is critical. Some of this is being done through civil society and the NGOs. What are our Government doing to encourage the UN to regain its previous status? It is labouring under excessive security restrictions. Is our humanitarian assistance really enough? An estimated 4.8 million Iraqis were displaced. As the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said, refugees are slowing returning but many will not ever do so. According to the International Rescue Committee, large-scale resettlement of refugees to third countries is still essential to protect the most vulnerable Iraqis. The UK is well behind others in this, even though it promised to fill its quota of 500.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Fowler for introducing this debate. He said that the price was high. It is: the public will never again believe the Prime Minister on a matter of national security
I have an interest to declare. I served on Operation TELIC 1 in HQ 1 (UK) Armoured Division. I arrived in Kuwait on or about 13 March 2003. I expected to engage in about four weeks of exercises, having left your Lordships’ House with the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, ringing in my ears that war was neither imminent nor inevitable. So when I arrived in theatre, I was a little surprised when the question was, “Are we crossing the start line this week or next week?”.
The coalition, and the UK in particular, moved very fast. In December 2002, UK forces were planning for a very different operation, and no doubt the Iraqis were as surprised as we were. Those of us who served on that operation are very proud of our achievements. We caused the regime to collapse while taking minimal casualties ourselves, although I assure your Lordships that in the headquarters we felt for the families and friends of every serviceman who was killed or seriously injured. Every casualty hurt us deeply.
All of us in the headquarters believed that we faced attack by chemical weapons of mass destruction. I shall never forget the day when I first put on my full chemical protection suit and respirator for real. I honestly believed that if my drills or those of my friends were poor, we would die, and die horribly. I well recall one night when the NBC warrant officer looked like death warmed up. When asked, he explained that the meteorological conditions were perfect for a chemical attack.
We had a plan for what we would do when we found the weapons of mass destruction, especially how we would convince the rest of the world that they were not a plant. We had reward schemes for informers; we searched all likely places; we dug up fresh tarmac; we used ground-penetrating radar; and we hoped to find, say, 5,000 rounds of 155 millimetre chemical shells. However, we found absolutely nothing. By the time I left theatre in late May, weapons of mass destruction were right at the bottom of the commander’s list of priorities. It was a case of, “Oh, and if we do find any WMD …”. So far as I was concerned on 1 June 2003 when I got back to the UK, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in militarily significant quantities at the time we crossed the start line.
Many noble Lords have talked about the inquiry being held in secret. If it was correct that the inquiry has to be in secret, this would have been apparent five years ago; so why the delay? The fact that we still have troops in theatre is irrelevant. They are not the same troops and officers as those that planned and took part in Op TELIC 1. Very little needs to be kept secret or is sensitive. What does need to be kept secret and might be relevant to the inquiry are: future plans that are still extant; intelligence-gathering capabilities, or lack of them; weaknesses in our equipment that we have not yet resolved; or weaknesses in an opponent that they might not be aware of. What else can there be?
Major General Tim Cross, who I have served under, has already stated that his evidence can be given in public, and I know that will be very useful to the inquiry when it starts looking at post-conflict planning. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, talked about Rumsfeld and Powell in terms of post-conflict plans. She may be right in her analysis, but I hope the committee will explore why we acquiesced to those plans, because this was a war of choice, as pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams.
I also hope that the committee will look at the grand strategic issues. We started operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and caused the Taliban regime to collapse. We are now told that operations in Afghanistan are absolutely essential to our security. They are certainly essential to the credibility of NATO. In 2001-02, the MoD spent £221 million in Afghanistan and £311 million in 2002-03. In 2003-04, it had dropped to £46 million, and it was £67 million in 2004-05. But Afghanistan had very serious difficulties in 2003; so why did we start a large-scale, deliberate operation in Iraq, which would cause the UK to operate at over 100 per cent of defence planning assumptions?
I well recall the publication of the Scott report. I wanted to know what, if anything, had gone wrong, but I still do not know. The report would not fit into my briefcase, and there was no summary. I hope that the committee, when it does report, will produce a summary that is short and succinct enough for all your Lordships to read.
My Lords, in my brief intervention after the Statement three days ago, I asked for an assurance that the inquiry would look into what I described as the “genuine considerations” which led to the American decision to invade Iraq. Unfortunately, most of the evidence establishing the genuineness or otherwise of those considerations could be satisfactorily provided only if the inquiry were able to secure the personal evidence of President George W Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld.
I hope that the inquiry will at least be able to establish from Mr Tony Blair what he was told by his interlocutors in the White House and how he responded. Was their objective to remove Saddam Hussein? If so, did Mr Blair make it clear to our American allies, as Ministers did repeatedly to this House at the time, that it was no part of HMG’s policy to achieve regime change, whether in Iraq or elsewhere? Was it to punish the Iraqis for their supposed involvement in 9/11, or for their involvement with al-Qaeda? If so, Mr Blair was presumably aware, from our shared intelligence resources, that there was no evidence at all of either involvement. Furthermore, was Mr Blair aware of the extent to which the White House was not only ignoring the advice of the many American experts with a deep knowledge of Iraq and the wider Middle East, both in the State Department and in academia, but had taken active steps to exclude them from the chain of advice?
Finally, will the inquiry attempt to reveal the extent to which, if at all, the British Government availed themselves of the similar British diplomatic, military and academic experience available to them, warning them of the dangers inherent in an invasion of Iraq? If so, were these warnings discussed with our American allies? One of the lessons which should be learnt from this tragedy is that, if Ministers are too busy to study history themselves, they should at least have been ready to learn the many lessons from Britain’s troubled history of involvement in Mesopotamia and Iraq.
Perhaps I may add two postscripts on the Franks report, because there have been several mentions of it. The first relates to transparency. Your Lordships may be interested to know that I gave extensive evidence to the Franks committee. If you read volume 2 of the Franks report in the Library, you will not find one word of what I said. The reason is not that my evidence was particularly sensitive; it was that I was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, a job that did not exist at that time—it was not avowed.
More seriously, I draw your Lordships’ attention to one of the criticisms of the Franks report, which was that Ministers had failed to meet in committee for six weeks, I think, before the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands. One recommendation of Lord Franks was that the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee, or whatever it is called nowadays, should meet often when dangers are coming over the horizon. Your Lordships may remember that immediately after the invasion of Iraq, I asked Questions in this House about how often the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee had met in the run-up to the invasion. I received extremely woolly replies that Ministers had had a lot of discussion. That was it. I hope that the inquiry will be able to look at the extent of ministerial and Cabinet consultation in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.
My Lords, it is quite apparent that the inquiry announced by the Prime Minister in its present form does not enjoy the full support of Members of your Lordships' House, but it is not too late to do something about that. Attention has been drawn to the fact that there are no military figures on the committee, and there are no serious politicians there. I draw attention to the fact that there is nobody there with any experience of mounting an inquisition, a cross-examination. In my view, it is not necessary that people with those talents and abilities are part of the committee; they could be co-opted to be advisers to the committee.
First, I hope that my noble friend can assure me that there is no restraint whatsoever on Sir John Chilcot as to who he can retain to advise him on the committee. Secondly, there has been some confusion—in my mind, if nowhere else—as to whether the inquiry is to be conducted completely in secret, in private. I have heard the words “total imposition of secrecy” used. On the other hand, I understand that the Prime Minister has written today to Sir John Chilcot saying that there will be something less than total imposition of secrecy. I imagine, and I hope that my noble friend can reassure me, that it will be left entirely to the discretion of Sir John Chilcot as to which of the meetings he holds in secret and how much of his evidence he sees fit to publish—although I fully understand that there must be prime ministerial oversight of that last point, because of questions of national security.
I think that the Prime Minister was unfortunate in his reference to how long he thought that the committee would sit for. I saw no reason for him to do that; it seemed to me to be giving an enormous hostage to fortune. I am absolutely confident that the committee will do its work at a speed that it sees fit and will take the amount of time that it sees fit. It may wind up its work in six months; it may take three years; I do not have the faintest idea. None of us today should prejudge how long the committee will take to do its work.
I want to respond to a couple of other things that I have heard in today's debate, which has been remarkable. I pay tribute above all to the speech made by my noble friend Lord Soley. It is one of the most brilliant speeches that I have heard since I have been in your Lordships' House. He was attacking the lawyers. I feel very much the same way as he does about lawyers. Nothing irritates me more than hearing lawyers say that something is illegal as though it were a matter of fact, rather than having the diffidence to say that it is illegal in their opinion. Whether something is legal or illegal is a matter of a lawyer’s opinion. That is why we have lawyers and judges, and judges disagree with one another and come to decisions that are overruled by other judges. So to say adamantly that something is illegal strikes me as the most preposterous arrogance and it irritates me intensely. I have now got that off my chest. As my noble friend was pointing out, what is legal at one time can become illegal later on in precisely the same set of circumstances.
I personally supported the liberation of Iraq—that is what it was. It was a military undertaking of extreme brilliance. There were a handful of casualties and, your Lordships may remember, it was undertaken without the best American infantry division getting on to the scene of battle while the fighting was going on. I thought it was magnificent.
The second most brilliant speech, if you will forgive me for saying so, came from my old friend the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries. I thought it was one of the most thoughtful speeches we have heard in a remarkable debate. I did not agree with a lot of it but it was admirably argued. He asked a very pertinent question: what is success? I think he got the answer from my noble friend Lord Desai—that one of the foulest dictatorships this planet has ever seen has been removed, and a lot of Iraqis, at danger of being machine-gunned, stood in line to vote in far higher proportions than people voted in this country in three elections. That is success.
The noble Lord, Lord Hurd, who is unfortunately not in his place, asked about the over 100,000 Iraqis who were killed. It was appalling but they were not killed by us; they were not killed by the allies. They have overwhelmingly been killed by their fellow Iraqis. We should remember that. Much that happened after the liberation was most unfortunate and I am happy to have a debate limited to that subject, but the last thing we should be asking ourselves is why we went into Iraq. We should be asking ourselves why we did not go into Cambodia and why we did not go into Darfur. As my noble friend Lord Desai said, there we abdicated our responsibility to look after our fellow men.
My Lords, I apologise to the House that a pressing engagement with an amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill meant that I could not hear all the speeches that have preceded me. Coming at the end of some remarkable tours de force around the House, to concentrate very much on the Armed Forces may perhaps be happy timing at the end rather than at the beginning of the debate.
I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, on obtaining this debate. He must be thinking that it was fortunate that the timing coincided with the announcement of the inquiry. It is therefore hardly surprising that there have been many references to the inquiry, how it should be conducted and by whom. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Butler about parliamentary endorsement, not least because of the families the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, mentioned who are looking for something public to endorse what they have been through, particularly inquests which they have gone to hoping to learn more of the truth of why something happened than inquests can actually provide.
I have absolute confidence in Sir John Chilcot as the chairman, knowing him as I do, but as I said after the announcement, I still feel very strongly that whether it is Sir John inviting somebody to be an adviser or not, it is absolutely essential that there should be military representation somewhere in this inquiry because of the military implications of what has happened.
I was going to declare a slight interest as a council member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies at the time and mention the dossier we published on 9 September 2002, which as my noble friend Lord Butler knows was proved to be absolutely correct after the war. It having been put in the hands of both Mr Blair and Mr Bush before they had their discussions later in September that year, I have often wondered how the truth as presented by the IISS became so distorted in subsequent dossiers for different reasons.
I do not want to concentrate on that; I want to concentrate on another document that has been produced since the invasion. It is a remarkable American document—the Counterinsurgency field manual—which was produced as the result of close work orchestrated by General David Petraeus, the orchestrator of the surge. In typical United States fashion, it agreed that the air-land battle—on which the Cold War had been fought and for which many organisations, including the British Armed Forces, had equipped themselves—while a perfectly satisfactory model for carrying out the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of the Iraqi army, was wholly and utterly unsuitable for the operations that followed.
The preface to the manual starts:
“When an insurgency began in Iraq in the late summer of 2003, the Army was unprepared to fight it. The American Army of 2003 was organized, designed, trained, and equipped to defeat another conventional army … It was … unprepared for an enemy who … chose to wage war against America from the shadows”.
We have found exactly the same.
Of some sadness to me since 2003 has been the fact that, because our Armed Forces were similarly unprepared to take part in the proper reconstruction of Iraq, our standing, particularly with our allies the United States, has gone down. In no way has the United States lost its admiration for the courage and performance of individuals; the issue is the overall contribution that we have been able to make. It is therefore hugely important that this inquiry should get to the bottom of why the Armed Forces were still structured for a Cold War setting rather than for the sort of operation that we are geared for in Iraq. Why was there an absence of things such as flak jackets? Why do we have an armoury that contains weapons such as the Eurofighter when we do not have the sort of vehicles that we need to fight the sort of combat that we need to fight in Iraq?
I beg the inquiry to pay close attention to the remarks of Major-General Brims, the commander of the division responsible for the invasion, who told me when I asked him what the battle-winning factor was: “It was the American marine air wing which was put under my command, because it had everything that we needed, none of which the Royal Air Force could provide”. That is why I hope there will be a serious military examination not only of the past but particularly for the future, because these are the operations in which we will be involved and we must make certain that future Armed Forces are properly equipped to carry out the tasks required of them.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, on securing this very timely debate.
In the pre-Iraq invasion debate in March 2003, the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said:
“This is a debate that, as time has gone on, has become less bitter but no less grave. So why does it matter so much? Because the outcome of this issue will now determine more than the fate of the Iraqi regime and more than the future of the Iraqi people who have been brutalised by Saddam for so long, important though those issues are. It will determine the way in which Britain and the world confront the central security threat of the 21st century, the development of the United Nations, the relationship between Europe and the United States, the relations within the European Union and the way in which the United States engages with the rest of the world. So it could hardly be more important. It will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation”.—[Official Report, Commons, 18/3/03; col. 761.]
Few could have put the issues more clearly.
Six years later, let us attempt an assessment. It is true that Saddam Hussein has gone and a democracy of sorts is in its infancy in Iraq. Only time will tell whether it survives and whether the fragile peace holds on the departure of allied forces, but has the terrorism threat receded? As Tam Dalyell said in that debate:
“What could be more calculated to act as a recruiting sergeant for a young generation throughout the Islamic and Arab world than putting 600 cruise missiles … on to Baghdad and Iraq?”.—[Official Report, Commons, 18/3/03; col. 769.]
Has the development of the United Nations been helped by the controversial invasion? Has the relationship between the European Union and the United States been enhanced? We recall the opposition of Germany and France, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, said a little earlier. As the late-lamented Robin Cook said:
“The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner—not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council”.—[Official Report, 7/3/03; col. 726.]
Has the way that the United States engages with the rest of the world been endorsed and applauded? Hardly. The reality is that the Bush approach was decisively rejected, even in the US itself as Obama swept to power.
The irony is that virtually everything that Tony Blair set as a purpose has ended up achieving precisely the opposite. As the noble Lord, Lord Wright, said a little earlier, looking back, we are still no clearer as to what motivated and drove George Bush to invade. Was it to complete his father’s unfinished business? Was it revenge for 9/11? Was it oil? Was it to remove a tyrant? Was it an assault on an assumed terrorist base? Was it weapons of mass destruction or perhaps some combination? Maybe the order came via communication with the almighty.
Whatever the cause, it seems increasingly clear that Tony Blair pledged his own, and the United Kingdom’s, support for military action at a very early stage, probably in 2002, as my noble friend Lady Williams said a little earlier. With the United States, he then set about seeking UN approval, justifying the legality of such action and endeavouring to obtain parliamentary and popular support for it.
Last Saturday evening I watched a television programme that featured the families of a number of those 179 service personnel who had fallen in Iraq. It was a very moving experience. Inevitably, a mix of emotions was revealed: pride, grief, bitterness and a questioning of the motives of the then Prime Minister. We must all be conscious of the consequences of military action and of pressing the button on the lives of so many, as we heard a little earlier from my noble friend Lord Addington in his very passionate and effective speech.
I personally believe that Tony Blair did what he thought was right. These Benches, and indeed Liberal Democrats throughout the county, and many others, strongly opposed going to war. With the benefit of hindsight, with no weapons of mass destruction found, with all the death and destruction, not forgetting the cost and the vast number of refugees, 2 million or so as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said a little earlier, I now believe that the vast majority of parliamentarians and of our people regret the war and consider themselves to have been conned by No. 10.
As we know, coalition forces were spectacularly successful as the Iraqi forces crumbled, with control of the skies having been achieved before open conflict began. Major combat operations were officially declared over on 1 May 2003. We listened to the very fascinating personal contribution from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who was there.
Would that the post-conflict planning had been anything approaching that of the military planning. I accept the caveats that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, made a little earlier. As General Sir Mike Jackson said in 2007:
“All the planning carried out by the State Department went to waste”.
For Rumsfeld and the neo-cons,
“it was an ideological article of faith that the coalition forces would be accepted as a liberating army”.
The first American administrator, Jay Garner, arrived with no professional translators or interpreters on his staff but, instead, a motley crew of former diplomats, retired military people and neo-conservative firebrands. Garner was replaced by Paul Bremer, who took the decision to disband the Iraqi army. That was commented on a little earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. The compulsory redundancy of 400,000 trained and armed men, following hard on the heels of de-Baathification, created a large pool of resentment, a fresh reservoir for insurgent recruitment. An effective security and stability tier had been destroyed, rendering the restoration of government services well nigh impossible, certainly in the short term.
I turn now to the inquiry announced by the Prime Minister earlier this week. Virtually all noble Lords who have spoken today have condemned its secrecy and I suggest that the terms of the inquiry have been totally demolished in the speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, and the noble Lord, Lord Butler, while the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, drew attention to the lack of military representation on the committee. As Nick Clegg said in the other place,
“everyone knows that the invasion of Iraq was the biggest foreign policy mistake that this country has made in generations”.
He went on to say:
“A secret inquiry conducted by a clutch of grandees handpicked by the Prime Minister is not what Britain needs”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/6/09; col. 28.]
These Benches, most of the media, the general public and the families of those who so bravely fought and died in Iraq demand a public inquiry. As General Sir Mike Jackson, the head of the Army at the time, said in the Independent yesterday:
“I would have no problem at all in giving my evidence in public”.
Air Marshal Sir John Walker, the former head of defence intelligence, said:
“There is one reason that the inquiry is being heard in private, and that is to protect past and present members of this Government. There are 179 reasons why the military want the truth to be out”.
I should like to ask the Minister two specific questions. First, given that the inquiry is to be held in private despite our strong objections and the objections of so many, what possible reason was there for not starting it considerably earlier? I hope that we will get an answer this afternoon. Secondly, as the inquiry is estimated to take a year, a long time given the intense public concern and interest, will the Government consider publishing an interim report in, say, early 2010, as suggested earlier in the debate by the noble Lord, Lord King? The invasion was a very serious mistake and so is the decision to hold the inquiry in secret.
My Lords, I offer warm thanks to my noble friend Lord Fowler for initiating this debate with exceptionally good timing. I share the views of others that there are no words to express our pride in the military forces and the way they have performed over the past few years, or indeed words to express the sadness at those who did not return. One of those who did return, from Basra, was my own son, who served in the early days before the terrible policy errors began to accumulate which created a downward path from the early promise.
As to the inquiry, let me make it clear at the outset that we wanted, have asked for, and therefore in a sense welcome the decision that there should be one, but are far from happy about the form proposed. We agree with practically all noble Lords this afternoon that where possible it should be held in public. That is what military leaders have argued for very vigorously and it is what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has argued for with devastating force in this debate. I would be surprised if there is any reasonable answer at all. I very much hope that the Government will now change their position and ensure that the presumption is that hearings should be held in public except in cases of clear and obvious national security.
It is not true that the Opposition agreed the form of this report, as the Foreign Secretary claimed on the radio the other morning. We were consulted at a late stage, but we disagreed with the membership and the proposal that it should be conducted entirely in private. The membership that was presented to us was that there would be four men, it so happens, on the panel and we argued that it would be right for a lady to be included. Then, of course, it was decided that the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, should be included. She is a very distinguished and respected Member of this House, and that is excellent, although I notice that at present she is a non-executive director of the Cabinet Office. She might want to consider whether that impedes her role as a member of a completely independent inquiry. But even so, that still leaves the membership with no one of military experience, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and others have pointed out, and yet we need desperately to know what went wrong and how we cope with asymmetric warfare in the coming phases, as there are bound to be around the world. We need to learn from the inquiry on that matter.
There is no one on the committee with legal experience, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, and my noble and learned friend Lord Lyell pointed out. That is incredible, because major legal issues arose in the move towards the invasion which remain to this day. There is no one on the committee with political experience. That is in great contrast to the Franks committee, which was supposed to be a model. It is not a model at all. The invasion was a highly political issue and a highly political decision, and yet on Franks there were senior politicians from all parties but in this case there are none. I am reminded that when the Franks inquiry was set up, my noble friend Lady Thatcher negotiated personally with the other party leaders to ensure who should be members of that committee. This time, I gather, the Cabinet Secretary simply informed the leader of my party. I am not sure about the Liberal Democrat Party, but I gather it too lacked any serious consultation. We think all that is deplorable.
It is also deplorable that the report will take a full year—the inquiry should have started earlier, of course—and it is very unsatisfactory that no responsibility for major errors is to be apportioned. I hope what I have said does not leave anything in the Minister’s mind to the effect that we think this is being handled in the right way, because it is not.
I turn now to the focus of the inquiry. I think it was originally Mr Brzezinski and Richard Haass who said, but many others have repeated, that this was a war of choice, not of necessity. The original Kuwait war was of necessity and had to be fought; this one was a policy decision. In my view, like Suez, in a way, the Iraq venture marked a turning point in international affairs when the hegemony of the western powers finally had to yield to new realities, which are only just dawning now as power shifts away from the West, as many noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Soley, observed. We need to examine how that war of choice came to be made, as well as the consequences and the violent aftermath in the years following the invasion.
With hindsight, we can see that the project was based on flawed ideas—not only the obvious one that there were no weapons of mass destruction when we were all briefed to the eyeballs that there were, but the even deeper error that democracy is a kind of western artefact that can be exported in our form to other cultures. I hope the historians who are members of the panel will realise that the idea of democracy and self-government began in the area now covered by Iraq and Syria. As my noble friend Lord Sheikh reminded us, it began a thousand years before it came to Athens and several thousand more before it reached the West, let alone America. It is a particular irony that we should be talking about bringing democracy to the Middle East region and to Iraq just when our own democracies might be sleepwalking into deep trouble themselves.
The Butler report certainly went deep into intelligence failures and it had some sharp criticisms of the Government’s behaviour, although frankly, in the public and media comment on that excellent report this did not come over as sharply as it should have. I wonder why. It was the Butler report that exposed the absurdity of the 45-minute claim and the misleading nature of the dodgy dossier, which Mr Jack Straw described as, “a complete horlicks”. That sentiment was echoed by such leading figures as Lady Kinnock, who we look forward to seeing as our Minister for Europe in a few weeks’ time. She said in an article last year that,
“there is the sense that Iraq was ‘Bush and Blair’s war’ and that it was built on a lie”.
That is a terrible indictment. The Butler report pointed out the disastrous impression created by Tony Blair in telling the Commons that the “intelligence picture” presented was “extensive, detailed and authoritative” when it was none of those things. It also highlighted—in discreet language, of course—the truly terrible bypassing of Cabinet government when it spoke of the reduction in,
“the scope for informed collective … judgement”.
The Foreign Affairs Committee—we have heard wise words today from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson—pointed out that it was “fundamentally wrong” to allow the dossier to be presented to Parliament in the way that it was.
As to the future, the occupation and the next stage in UK/Iraq relations, we have to look at the disastrous decisions that were taken, at the way in which Iran was given a free run once Iraq was removed from the map and at why Iraqi forces were disbanded by our American friends, and we have to look hard at how our relations with the USA evolved. It is important, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said, that we do not become a lap-dog; we must remain a friend of our great American allies but not be their poodle. We have to look at the refugee issue, which my noble friend Lord Fowler mentioned, and at whether we got value for the enormous amount of money we spent. Britain has spent anything up to £5 billion on military operations. I agree that that is trivial compared with the $3 trillion to $5 trillion that America may have spent, but it is still an enormous amount of resources.
The news from Iraq is still bad. Murders and bombings continue, and Prime Minister al-Maliki has said that worse may be to come. We in Britain may say, “never again”, but the truth is that bad leaders will always make bad mistakes. At the moment all our journalists are busy blaming the so-called “political class” as though they come from outer space, but I wonder whether society is prepared to recognise that it is people themselves who choose their politicians or, by inertia, let them be chosen, and therefore, I am afraid, they get the politicians that they deserve. All one can say is that a wiser society ought to pick wiser guides and leaders in future, which is the best guarantee against future catastrophic mistakes.
The Government’s approach has had almost no defenders today. Light is clearly needed on many aspects of what has gone disastrously wrong. An open inquiry is essential, and the Government have made a complete misjudgment in proposing the inquiry in the form that they have. They must now think again.
My Lords, I rise with humility on two scores. First, it is a tribute to this House, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, that we are today debating the fact that there will be an inquiry. When he tabled a debate 18 months ago, that was a much less certain outcome, and all of us in this House who spoke that day realised that we were contributing to pushing this issue forward to the point that it has arrived at now.
Like others who believe that an inquiry is enormously important to heal the wounds of this country and our relations with the great abroad—I say that as a former UN official—I think it is extraordinarily important that my colleagues and I reflect carefully on what has been said today. It is enormously important that any inquiry, whatever form it takes, enjoys public confidence.
There is some truth in the words of my noble friend Lord Desai that this war has so divided us as a country that whatever the form, process, terms and manner of the inquiry, we may at this stage still be at the point where not everybody will accept its results because, as I have said, the wounds go deep.
Like others in this House, I think it is important that whenever we raise this subject we do not forget to pay tribute to all of those in our Armed Forces who have served with such courage and dedication over the last six years in Iraq and over an even longer period in Afghanistan. We especially note, as others have done, the 179 who have lost their lives serving in Iraq, and who, along with our civilian staff and coalition partners, have made such a contribution, together with Iraqis themselves, towards progress. Whatever the differences between us on the causes of the war, the circumstances under which it was entered into and the justness or otherwise of it, I hope everybody in this House would agree that we have arrived at a point where there really is dramatic improvement in the situation in Iraq, and that we can look back on what we are leaving behind which is an Iraq where violence is at its lowest levels since 2003 and where Iraqis themselves have run successful provincial elections in January this year and are now planning for national elections.
While challenges remain, it is the case that perhaps was not so when we had that debate 18 months ago that a corner does seem to have been turned. An effort which we all feared might be cursed with a dreadful ending has indeed arrived at a situation where we can all hold our heads high and say that we have made an important contribution as a country to a new and free and democratic Iraq which is now able to focus on issues such as the improvement of its citizens’ lives and their participation in the country’s future without having to fear the authoritarian, brutal rule of the past.
A lot of issues have been raised today which turn to the original subject of the debate about what are the lessons we should be seeking to learn from this war. I think probably everybody would agree that the best thing I can do in regard to those issues is to make sure—I do not think they will need any help from me—that Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues carefully read the Hansard of this debate to see the kinds of issues that should be raised. Today I should concentrate on the issue of the inquiry itself and the terms under which it is being held.
While I very much appreciated the support I got from these Benches, I find myself oddly forced to do something I never expected to do, which is to jump to the defence of lawyers. Having lived in America for too long, I always find this a hard thing to do, but I think, while it is perfectly the case, of course, that lawyers disagree, if this inquiry is ever to have the confidence of public opinion, it is enormously important that it is felt to have a form that enjoys the support of our colleagues who have spoken today and those who have interested themselves in this issue more fully. Certainly it is the intention of our Prime Minister and this Government that this inquiry does indeed enjoy that confidence and that it looks in as forensic a way as possible at the issues which drew us into this war, and that we do not hide behind just a defence of the outcome as having overthrown Saddam Hussein. We all recognise that there are wars of choice. It may well be that we wish with hindsight that we had intervened against Pol Pot or today in Darfur. The fact is that these are wars of choices. There are brutal leaders out there. We have to be selective when we take them on and we need to do it in a framework which is consistent with international law and in a way which enjoys the support and understanding of the international community expressed through the Security Council.
The question was raised whether any of this inquiry can be held in public. I think that it is worth quoting the letter that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister sent today to Sir John Chilcot, in which he confirmed that he was committed to,
“a thorough and independent inquiry”,
and guaranteed the Government’s full co-operation. The Prime Minister said: “As Privy Counsellors, you”—the committee—
“will have unhindered access to government documents”,
and that he will ensure that that happens. He continued:
“I hope as part of this that you will consider whether it is possible for there to be a process whereby they”—
“give their contributions on oath”.
As to the public nature of it, he said:
“It is also essential that the families of those who gave their lives in Iraq are properly consulted on the nature of the inquiry. I hope therefore that you will be able to meet them as part of the preparations and as you continue your work, to explain how you are proceeding. This could be, at their request, in public or private”.
And then he quite properly allows further discretion to Sir John and his colleagues to establish the exact form and conduct of their inquiry by saying:
“Once you have established your plans in more detail, I would encourage you to hold an open public session to explain in greater depth the significant scope and breadth of the inquiry”.
I acknowledge that that does not meet the full requirements of openness that have been raised today, but I also want to point out that, in a sense, the thinking in this House about the inquiry has also evolved in that regard. When we spoke in this House on this subject in January 2008, the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said:
“I believe that issues such as this should be investigated by a committee of privy counsellors together with others with expert knowledge. It is right that it should be … answerable to Parliament. It is certainly not the occasion for a lengthy judicial inquiry, such as that into Bloody Sunday, or, for that matter, the marathon of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scott. The focus of such an inquiry should not be on blame, but on learning the lessons—lessons which might help us in formulating policy elsewhere”.—[Official Report, 24/1/08; col. 342.]
It is certainly also the case that, in the other House, the opposition Front Bench have similarly stressed the importance of a privy counsellor inquiry, including the fact that it might make only limited public disclosure. On 11 June 2007, in response to a question during a debate in the other place, William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said:
“That is one of the arguments for having a Privy Council inquiry. It would have to make its own judgment, as would any inquiry at any stage, about how much of the information could be published. All the conclusions would certainly have to be published”.—[Official Report, Commons, 11/6/07; col. 535.]
So I think that there has been a very genuine debate about the appropriate degree of public disclosure.
My Lords, I may have misunderstood the Minister, but it seems from what he has said and read out from the letter that the whole form of this inquiry is up in the air. The Prime Minister seems to have passed it to Sir John Chilcot to determine, after meeting the families of those involved or who have lost their lives, the exact arrangements for the inquiry. Is that correct?
My Lords, the Prime Minster has given Sir John Chilcot a certain discretion to find a form that enjoys as broad a competence as ever. However, I think that there is a bridge that the Prime Minister does not wish to cross, and that is not to move to the point of a judicial public inquiry where it became necessary for witnesses to engage legal counsel and to get into a protracted public defence of their position in a way that risks continuing controversy before conclusions have been arrived at, and, in the worst of circumstances, for certain innocent individuals to be all over the press for weeks before they had the chance to rebut the claims made about their performance. It is not correct that we have moved to a public inquiry but, in our anxiety that this inquiry enjoy public support, we wish to give those leading it as much discretion as possible.
My Lords, will the Minister explain why it is right to hold a public inquiry into the death of one man, investigating the way in which he died and other people were treated? There was a proper public inquiry with a website being used and all documents and transcripts of evidence being displayed there so that everybody knows what is going on. Why should there be a public inquiry into that limited instance, but not into something that concerns the whole of the war?
My Lords, the noble Lord has in a way answered his own question. It is precisely the vast scope of this inquiry—covering some eight years, from two years before the conflict began through to now, the end of the conflict—which means that, if this is to be done with some dispatch, and conclusions arrived at, it must be a process in which information and disclosure are managed in an effective way.
Noble Lords must forgive me—I stood up late because we had such a full discussion of the issues—for drawing the debate to a conclusion without having answered many of the critical questions. However, I will address the point about why, if it is a private inquiry, we are only now entering into it. Again, the issue is, as the press debate has already shown, that even a private inquiry generates a lot of controversy and heat and we felt it important that military operations were brought to a conclusion first. From Gallipoli onwards—and even before—that has been the tradition.
I will make one further response, to the very important intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Butler. I am sorry that I cannot respond more fully to his forceful critique. The Government will de facto seek approval from Parliament for the inquiry, courtesy of the Opposition, who have tabled a resolution for next week. This will now be an inquiry that, one way or another, does or does not get the endorsement of the other place.
My Lords, we have one or two minutes, and I thank everyone who has spoken. In many ways it has been an outstanding debate, although occasionally the time restraints have been irritating. It is impossible to go through all the speeches; there were some outstanding and devastating ones. I pay particular tribute to the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Butler, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, from the Cross Benches. Every issue was raised: the legality of the whole operation, whether intelligence justified the position, and what meaningful consultation took place before the inquiry was launched.
The question that remains unanswered, even after what the Minister said, is, “What is the presumption in this inquiry?” Is the presumption that it should be an open inquiry, or that it should be private and secret? If the presumption has changed, it makes a nonsense of everything that the Prime Minister said on Monday.
I am afraid that the Minister’s response at the end was not adequate, through no fault of his own and I make no complaint. We will come to this issue again—I promise him that—but at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
My Lords, with permission, I will repeat the Statement on climate projections made by the Secretary of State for the Environment in the other place earlier today.
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the publication of new projections for the UK’s future climate. A summary will be placed in the Vote Office and full details can be found on the Defra website.
The House knows that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. The world's climate is already changing; the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1990, including every year between 2001 and 2006. In the UK, the 2003 heat wave led to more than 2,000 excess deaths, and yet average temperatures that year were just 2 degrees higher than normal. In 2006, the south-east experienced a severe drought. Eight million people in the region are dependent on rivers for their water supply. In 2007, we saw widespread flooding across the country, and a storm surge came within 10 centimetres of overtopping the defences at Great Yarmouth.
The projections we are publishing today—more than 4,000 maps on the website—give us a clear sense of what we might expect over the next 100 years. They represent the best science we have on how our climate is likely to change, and they are a call to action. I want to thank the scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre and many others for bringing home to us how these changes in our climate—with a greater likelihood of heat waves, flooding, drought, and coastal erosion—will affect our society, and how important it is that we reach a deal at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December.
We are, of course, already taking significant steps to cut our emissions. With the Climate Change Act we became the first country in the world to set legally binding carbon budgets. Across the UK, the projections show a range of climate changes up until the end of the century based on three possible greenhouse gas emissions pathways—high, medium and low. Broadly speaking, the world's emissions are currently closest to the medium pathway, although there is a risk we could still be heading for the high one. While we cannot be absolutely sure what will happen in future and there are uncertainties as these projections are not a long-range weather forecast, they do show the probabilities of potential changes for the United Kingdom, and it is a future we must avoid. The projections, based on the medium emissions scenario, show that by the 2080s—within the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren—we could face an increase in average summer temperatures of between 2 and 6 degrees celsius in the south-east, with a central estimate of 4 degrees. They show a decrease in average summer rainfall of 22 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber and in the south-east—which is already short of water—and an increase of 16 per cent in average winter rainfall in the north-west, with increases in the amount of rain on the wettest days leading to a higher risk of flooding. They also show a rise in the sea level for London of 36 centimetres.
Temperatures would rise even more under the high emissions pathway, which could mean peak summer temperatures in London regularly reaching more than 40 degrees. These results are sobering, and we know that these changes will affect every aspect of our daily lives. The first clear message is that only by cutting emissions through a global deal in Copenhagen can we avoid some of the extreme changes that the projections describe. Even if we achieve our international target to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees, we will still have to live with some level of change. This is because it will take 30 years for past emissions to work through the system, so the next three decades of climate change are already set. By 2040, what was exceptional in the summer of 2003 will become normal. So the second message of these projections is that we must plan to adapt to changes that are now unavoidable, and this is a job for all of us.
That is why we have more than doubled spending on flood and coastal protection since 1997, and we are on course to provide better protection to around 160,000 more homes across England.
We are taking action to tackle water scarcity and improve water efficiency. For the first time all government departments are producing their own adaptation plans, which they will publish by next spring. The NHS now has a heat wave plan to protect vulnerable people from hot weather. The Department for Transport has reviewed its design guidance for roads, looking at drainage capacity and new road surfaces. With Communities and Local Government, we are already working with over 50 local authorities that have made adapting to climate change a priority in their local area agreements. All local authorities will, in future, have to consider adaptation in taking planning decisions and, from today, all major government investment will have to take into account the risks from climate change.
In the Climate Change Act, we took the power to require public bodies to adapt and to report on the steps they are taking. Today, I am launching a consultation paper proposing the first 100 organisations—including Network Rail, the National Grid, Ofwat and the Environment Agency—that will be required to tell us what they are doing. I am placing copies of this consultation in the Library of the House.
The economic case for acting now is very strong, as the Stern review made clear. By investing in flood defence, for example, we estimate that we can reduce the annual cost of flooding by 80 to 90 per cent in the years to come. There may also be some economic opportunities: for tourism and agriculture, businesses developing adaptation technologies, and jobs in new infrastructure projects. Climate change is going to transform the way we live. These projections show us both the future we need to avoid and the future we need to plan for. So as well as cutting emissions, we have to start making changes today. I commend this Statement to the House”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place earlier. I am grateful to him for the advance copy of the text and for the opportunity of learning directly at a briefing today from Professor Bob Watson, chief Defra scientist, and from Professor Julia Slingo, head of the Met Office science team.
The picture painted by this Statement is serious and demands our attention but is not a cause for panic. We can be grateful that we have this predictive model, which will help us to take steps to moderate and adapt to climate change. Vital though carbon reduction is—and nothing in this Statement does other than to reinforce that message—it is, however, something that we shall need to act on globally, and the key will be in the Copenhagen summit. However, the particular lesson of this Statement is the action that we shall need to take nationally if we are to adapt to climate change.
It is clear that all possible predictors—high, medium or low—follow a similar trend for the next 30 years. That is because of the inertia built into the ocean system, and the past and inevitably continuing carbon concentrations in the upper atmosphere. The change to an average temperature 2 degrees above the norm is inevitable, and the minimum that we can anticipate. While that may not sound much in itself, it is very significant; it will be accompanied by wetter winters, but far drier and hotter summers. That change in seasonal rainfall patterns poses great challenges to agriculture and horticulture, particularly at a time when demands for food security and the global pressures on food supply are increasing, for we shall not be facing climate change on our own.
The key will be water, and the need to invest in the infrastructure that enables us to conserve water supplies from our wetter winters to assist us through the drier summers. Water management will become a key issue, and water companies will need to look at the models presented and plan for their investment programmes. All infrastructure, as the Statement says, will need to recognise the impact of those detailed predictive maps. Likewise, flood prevention moves higher up the league table of priorities. The threat is not just of sea level rise; noble Lords will know of my interests as a fenman in that. Paradoxically, in some ways, the hazards there are fairly easy to engineer out. No, for in line with the dynamic of climate change, the predictions now show a greater risk of extreme weather events.
Science points to more variations and more extreme weather. Those who will be most at risk, whether from tidal surges or heat waves, will be those who live or work in areas loosely described as flood plains, and who are vulnerable to flash flooding. I emphasise that those areas are not necessarily the same as low-lying areas. Some may easily be thought to be unlikely to face flooding. The catastrophic flooding of two years ago could become a regular occurrence if we do not have the necessary investment in flood-protection schemes and, in particular, the proper maintenance of water courses, sewers and drains. What progress are the Government making on implementing the recommendations of the Pitt report?
The work of the scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, whose excellence we should acknowledge, has given us an insight of which we will all need to take notice. It must be our hope that it will continue this work, monitoring outturns and seeking corroboration. Can the Minister confirm that this work will continue?
Notwithstanding what may be achieved in Copenhagen to reduce global carbon emissions, we have to accept that, even on the lowest predictions, we will have to come to terms with the effects of climate change here. Can the Minister confirm that Defra is the lead department in ensuring that the Government sustain the activities of other departments, agencies and contractors in following through climate change policy? How successful has Defra been in this task?
Cutting emissions and energy efficiency are only part of the story. Adapting to this new world may be a challenge, but the Government and all of us will be unable to ignore it. This Statement mentions the consultation process. I hope that the Minister can convince me that this will be about action and not aspiration.
My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for making the Statement. He made it in a suitably depressing tone—unlike the way he normally presents things. It is a depressing story. The Statement is appropriate coming now, given that earlier this week the Obama Administration in America released a report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, which told a similar story but, refreshingly in terms of the American Administration, recognising the challenges globally and nationally from climate change. That had not been done previously. The report highlighted the problems of rising sea levels, heavy downpours increasing, retreating glaciers and thawing permafrost. It was a very similar list of trials and tribulations to that which we see today in the UK report on climate projections.
It is interesting that the report points out that there has been a 1 degree centigrade increase in temperatures since the 1970s. Again, there is the problem of more heavy downpours. There has been a 4 per cent increase since 2000, and there will be an increase in temperatures of 4 degrees by 2080. There will be changes in rainfall patterns—less in the summer and more in the winter.
I regret, perhaps, that the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, is not here to hear this evidence and argue against something which I note, particularly in this report, has been peer-reviewed by 12 independent scientists and ties in with other evidence from around the world. It would have been interesting to hear his take on this area. What is absolutely true and comes through in this report is that climate change is happening, that we have the problem of lags of at least 30 years, that the various issues we predicted are already happening, and that they will get worse over time.
However, the key thing about climate change is not predicting it. One of the most telling sentences of the Statement was:
“We are, of course, already taking significant steps to cut our emissions. With the Climate Change Act we became the first country in the world to set legally binding carbon”,
targets. The action is still all around setting targets, whereas the action needs to be around adaptation, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, outlined, and mitigation. We are nowhere near where we need to be by our national, let alone international, action.
In July, the White Paper from the Climate Change Act will come forward from the Government, which will set out their full policies on these issues. We look forward to that, but I remind the Minister that since 1997 carbon emissions in this country have declined hardly at all—by only 1 or 2 per cent. There has really been a very flat line in terms of emissions decreasing.
I would like to hear from the Minister whether we will therefore state that we will stop the programme of coal-fired stations starting again. Will there be a real programme of energy saving, particularly in the Government’s aspirations for existing housing stock? Are we going to change that? What will we do to enable local government to implement adaptation through proper budget allocations? I do not particularly see those here. What will we do about transport systems where carbon emissions are still going up? Does the scenario painted by this report mean that, at last, we will get a reversal of the decision about Heathrow’s third runway?
Strangely enough, I was first aware of this report when I looked at the press this morning. It said that Cornwall and Devon will have the good life, with the best wine regions, higher property prices, better summers and milder winters. I live in Cornwall; that is great. Maybe we will have those, but what will really happen is global migration, decreasing biodiversity and an increase in disease. All these will come to the UK. The Government have rightly recognised that and published this report. Now we need the action to make sure that we adapt and mitigate.
My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords. If I look doleful to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, it is because I am. This is a very serious Statement about the inevitability of some climate change and the danger—if we do not take action—of something far more drastic. I have six grandchildren. I owe it to them, as I do to the rest of the nation, to try to create a better future than the one that unrestrained climate change will produce for them. However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. It is not a time for panic but for considered action and preparation for making such action effective.
I also accept that, as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said, actions are more important than words. Actions are more important than targets, but without words and targets in legislation, there will be no basis on which action can be mounted. Therefore, the noble Lord must recognise that we are the first country in the world to introduce legislation that establishes this framework. He is absolutely right that we should now see what that action will be. I give him the obvious reassurance that, of course, we intend to act on these matters as rapidly as we can. That includes such international action as taking our case to, and winning the support of, the nations in Copenhagen in December. We all recognise that there is no national solution to these issues; they require action on all our parts.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, rightly concentrated on water. He is right that we need to conserve water. The issue is one of water management. The noble Lord also mentioned that we could see a period of extreme weather events. He knows that we will shortly introduce legislation on flood prevention. I assure him that we take on board his points about the Pitt review. It was published on 17 December last year. The Government’s response was to commit to reporting further on implementation approximately every six months, beginning this month. We will honour that commitment and will produce our responses to the Pitt report by the end of the month. We are on target to produce the report, as we said we would. I am sure that the noble Lord will await that development, much as I will enjoy presenting the issues to the House at that time.
On water management, as was indicated in the Statement, we clearly have to ensure that water companies adopt a far more strategic approach, particularly to water conservation. It means heavy investment. We will all need to be more efficient in water demand and controlling leakage. When there have been water shortages in the past, we have all been aware of the very grim figures attributed to leakage as opposed to usage. Those issues, which relate overwhelmingly to the supply of water, need to be addressed and will require significant investment.
We have set a target to reduce our water usage. In London, 150 litres a day are consumed by the average citizen, whereas in Berlin it is only 130 litres. We intend to move from 150 to 130 litres as soon as we can. We have established the Walker review to look at water meters and household charging. The vast majority of businesses are already metered but that is not the case with households, although there has been some progress on that matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, emphasised the broader picture and the need for action, and I hope that I shall be able to show him clear action in response to our climate change situation. I know that he regards our current response as words in legislation and not action, but he will know that we intend to follow up those words.
The noble Lord mentioned a couple of specific points. Housing is an area in which people’s ability to adapt is notoriously slow, and that is certainly the case with new build. However, he is right that we need to address ourselves to energy savings in the housing stock. That is important, as it is in regard to transport. I think that the noble Lord will take some encouragement from the fact that certain forms of transport, particularly rail, have shown a significant increase in energy savings in recent years. That is a reflection of the current structure of, and investment in, the rail industry, but that is not enough.
The noble Lord will know from the Statement that we are looking at new measures for the transport system. We have to deal with the problem of road surfaces, which at present create, rather than absorb, heat. We also have to tackle the need for effective drainage and water control on our road surfaces. The French do that already because they have been dealing with a different climate in the south of France—the one that we anticipate will inevitably be ours in two or three decades’ time. Therefore, we have time to adapt, as we need to do, and those are areas in which we can learn from what others are already doing.
My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on what is a very useful, although it is hard to say “welcome”, report. I want to touch on something that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said. There is a need for a broader, more holistic take on all this. I have no doubt in my mind that the initial impact on the UK will come from climate change migrants and refugees. That will be the first time that this issue comes home in a very serious way. It would be good to know what the Government’s policies are in that respect and whether any international planning is taking place on what to do when the situation explodes, either in Bangladesh or in sub-Saharan Africa, and we suddenly see possibly vast numbers of people moving through southern Spain and up through Europe. What will our response be?
An excellent report was recently published by UCL entitled Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change. Supported by the WHO, it puts forward the belief that climate change will represent far and away the greatest threat to health in the 21st century. That, again, badly needs to be taken into account.
Finally, I reread, and commend to the House, the speeches made by Sir Winston Churchill in the House of Commons from 1935 to 1937 on the subject of rearmament. I suggest that we very much take note of what he said and the climate in which he tried to make his warnings. Opposition to those warnings tended to be made on economic and political grounds. It was not that anyone doubted that there was a problem; it was simply that it was a very inconvenient problem. I am concerned about the possibility that climate change will become a politically inconvenient problem and will therefore not receive the attention that, without doubt, it badly deserves.
My Lords, on the latter point, it is the duty of all of us to build up the necessary degree of public opinion to change the definition from politically inconvenient to politically necessary. That is what Statements like this set out to do in terms of engendering a debate in which, I have not the slightest doubt, there will be a great deal of consensual activity, as evidenced by the two Front-Bench responses today. We all recognise that this is beyond one nation to solve, and beyond one Government in one nation to solve. We are talking about decades for there to be successful action. The nation, therefore, has to be alerted to these issues and convinced of the necessity for what my noble friend has identified as inconvenient action. A great deal of political action is inconvenient at the time at which it is carried out; that is the nature of political leadership.
On the international measures, my noble friend identified the most difficult one. When climate change, as it is already doing, affects, in very adverse circumstances, certain sections of the world so as to render them effectively uninhabitable, how does the world react? That is a challenging question. As a starter for one, let me say that all of us in the other place had Bangladeshi constituents. Bangladesh has been subjected to something pretty close to climate change of this kind for several decades. The floods there are such that thousands of people lose their lives and the impact on the British community of Bangladeshis is huge. They are often low earners and they make a huge contribution back home. How will the international community react? That will certainly be a crucial issue on the agenda for the United Nations and world organisations. Migration will have to be managed, but some migration is bound to occur when places become uninhabitable.
My Lords, I will start with an institutional question. For some months now, we have had a Department of Energy and Climate Change. Yet today the Statement, which is entirely about climate change, is being made by the noble Lord’s department—the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Could he just say a word about how the responsibility for this is divided between the two departments?
More specifically, how far is this latest report leading to a change in the pace at which we are approaching these problems? I draw the distinction here between prevention and adaptation. The point has been made by the Minister and others that prevention takes much longer because of the time lag and because of the evidence from some of the biggest emitters—particularly China and India—that they are not yet signed up to the measures that will be necessary to achieve prevention. In the medium term, surely we are going to have to principally concentrate on adaptation. I am not suggesting for a moment that we should abandon the longer-term policies of prevention.
I want to mention two examples. First, I heard a talk upstairs in one of the all-party groups from Thames Water. We asked when we are going to have to have the second, lower barrier across the Thames. The answer was, “We are not going to have to have that for 100 years”. Does this report change that?
Secondly—here I am relying on what I read in the press this morning, and I am not sure whether it was in the Statement—one of the things picked out by the press was that this was going to have an effect on the siting of nuclear power stations. A large number of the sites are beside various parts of the coast, which is right, both for keeping them away from centres of population and also for the use of cooling water. Is this going to change? Is there going to be a different planning approach to the siting of nuclear power stations? If so, I suggest to the noble Lord that that needs to be made abundantly clear very soon. As the noble Lord’s colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, constantly reminds this House, a huge programme is going ahead on that, which is needed urgently. One needs to know whether people are going to have to change the basis on which they are devising their plans for the new nuclear renaissance. Those are some important questions on which there needs to be much greater clarity.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. The report is given by my department because it is not a climate change report; it is a meteorological report about temperature change. It is not a weather forecast, but it is a projection of temperature change, and we are responsible for that as the department for the environment. The noble Lord will say that a great deal of the action is bound to be carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He will be right, because that department is responsible for the Climate Change Committee, which is a monitor and enactor of a great deal of the climate change legislation that we need to enact and whose powers we will use to reach the objectives that the noble Lord suggested.
The noble Lord will have already adjusted to the fact that this is joined-up government. I recognise the emphasis that he puts on adaptation. That is the earlier and quicker strategy, and we have indicated that we will expect all government departments, local authorities—some of which are already doing this—and public institutions to develop plans to show how they are carrying out adaptation against targets related to the phenomenon that the meteorologists have forecast.
On prevention, of course the noble Lord is right that, internationally, carbon production is still on a prolific level and increasing year on year because of the technologies used. He also knows how distant we still are from economic clean coal carbon storage. He probably knows that better than anyone in the House. That is a great limiting factor for China and India, but also for western economies.
On the Thames Barrier, if the worst scenario occurs, according to our figures, it will be breached and we will need another one within 100 years. If we are successful in hitting the targets that we expect and intend to hit for moderating temperature change, and therefore climate change, the present Thames Barrier will be sufficient and effective for 100 years at least.
The noble Lord will know that the siting of nuclear power stations relates to the identification of erosion factors. He knows that there are parts of East Anglia where we could not dream of putting a power station in the immediate future, but he also knows where we are entirely secure in the coastal areas. With nuclear power, above all things, the Government are bound to go for the coastal areas, for the reasons that he suggested. By the same token, they must be secure. That will need to be identified.
My Lords, when we were discussing this a few years ago and some of us were talking about adaptation, we were denounced as proposing undesirable diversions from the real task. I am glad that this is now understood. We are told that this is not a weather forecast; it is certainly a climate forecast. I am reminded of the old standard A-level geography question: “Britain possesses weather not climate: discuss”. Climate is now coming home to roost.
I want to ask the Minister a specific question about home insulation and improving home energy. He will remember, as I do, 40 or so years ago when vast numbers of terraced houses in areas such as the north of England and south Wales had no inside bathrooms or inside lavatories, and were pouring vast amounts of filth out of their chimneys from open coal fires. Those problems were solved by massive efforts from Government in partnership, as people would now say, with the owners of those houses. It was a combination of carrot and stick to get inside bathrooms and lavatories installed and to convert to smokeless fuels. Are not present efforts to convert similar housing—to give them much greater energy efficiency and to reduce substantially the 20 per cent of our CO2 emissions which go on home heating and water heating in homes—feeble in relation to what is needed? Schemes such as Warm Front are just tackling the problem at the edges. A much greater effort is required across the board to concentrate on those people who are most in fuel poverty, on the basis of the old installation of inside bathrooms and lavatories and the smokeless zones.
My Lords, the adaptation of British housing which the noble Lord identified in the past took place over a very long timescale indeed. He is gesturing to me that it was done in 10 years; I dispute that, and it is certainly not the kind of thing that one does, if I can keep the metaphor going, at the flick of a switch. He must recognise that we want to avoid the waste of energy in homes because that is a significant part of the equation. It is important that we do something both in regard to home insulation and the nature of the electricity that is supplied to homes. He knows that it is difficult in certain areas to improve the supply of energy to homes. We all know how expensive solar power and solar panels are for householders and what a massive subsidy would be required for each individual household if the Government took the rap for that; it is therefore difficult to justify. But he is right that in response to all these issues we will have to concentrate on all aspects of energy usage. Home usage is a very important dimension of that.
My Lords, I declare an intellectual interest as someone who was present at the full-day seminar on climate change of the then Prime Minister—now the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher—in 1989, 20 years ago.
The Statement refers to,
“three possible greenhouse gas emissions pathways—high, medium and low. Broadly speaking the world’s emissions are currently closest to the medium pathway, although there is a risk we could still be heading for the high one”.
The Statement alludes to different effects on the different parts of the United Kingdom but curiously does not identify the UK’s current pathway overall. What is it?
Given the 40 small island states in our world at greatest danger of flooding, may I idiosyncratically suggest that each of our British counties might voluntarily adopt one or other of them and make an economic contribution to their defences as a way of educating ourselves in a manner which would appeal to the imagination of our traditional British ethos.
My Lords, the noble Lord’s last suggestion was extremely interesting, and we should look at it. Something similar to it in the past has enlivened the experience of children in education and caused them to understand other parts of the world with difficulties. He is saying that this is a graphic way in which we might get the adult population more effectively linked in to problems and how they can be resolved.
On the three paths, although he is not here to answer questions, I am a little tempted to ask the noble Lord just what effective action was taken in the eight years after that analysis was carried out at that famous conference in 1989. I am glad of his support for government action at all times now that we are addressing ourselves to the issue.
Where are we on this? Britain continues to consume energy at levels similar to those of that period, but the big change is surely the very rapid growth of the far-eastern economies, the Chinese economy being the outstanding one. In 1989, it had not really reached the pitch that it has reached over the past decade or so. Once one starts to look at the growth rates of 12 per cent or more a year for an economy, by definition the energy consumed by that economy and the emissions contributed by that consumption of energy—particularly by the worst of all carbon producers, which on the whole China and India have tended to be—are the features that make the world position much more difficult, threatening and challenging in every way than was probably the case in the halcyon days of the noble Lord way back in 1989.
My Lords, the Statement repeated by my noble friend said that all the major government departments will take climate change into account in their investments, but the point of the report is that adaptation is a local matter. Government departments each have a scientist who can presumably take care of this, but is my noble friend satisfied that there is enough local knowledge, and that there are enough scientists at a local level who will take adaptation into account at a local level?
My Lords, that is a very good point. My instinctive answer is that there are never enough scientists for the challenges that face an advanced economy such as ours at present. However, 50 local authorities have already signed up to recognition of the necessity for adaptation and are prepared to follow strategies that meet expectations and targets in those terms. Is that enough? No, because it is only a fraction of the total of local authorities. Is science key to this? Probably not. Local knowledge is certainly important, as is the ability to tap into the right strategies to be pursued. They will have to be infused with local perspectives on what is necessary, but I would have thought that we could communicate the science effectively and usefully to local authorities so that they know which routes to go down.
Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 2009
Motion to Approve
Relevant Document: 16th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments
My Lords, as the House will know, the statutory instruments are all affirmative and follow the Armed Forces Act 2006. The current service discipline Acts date back to the 1950s, and over the years they have been renewed and amended at regular intervals.
Work to consider a possible single system of service law began in 2001 and culminated in the Bill that was introduced at the end of 2005. This was the largest and arguably the most significant piece of legislation that the Ministry of Defence has ever put before Parliament. The resulting Armed Forces Act 2006 harmonises and modernises the legislation while keeping the commanding officer at the heart of service discipline. Full implementation of the 2006 Act is due on 31 October this year.
One part of the work needed to achieve full implementation is the significant number of statutory instruments that we need to bring into force. Close to 50 have been laid in the past few months. Of these, eight are subject to affirmative resolution and must be debated by both Houses. This afternoon we are debating all eight.
I begin by saying a few words about each of these orders, starting with the continuation order. The 2006 Act continues the constitutional arrangements under which service legislation must be renewed by Parliament each year. The continuation order, therefore, provides for the renewal, for a further year, of the Act itself, and of the old Armed Forces legislation, until they are repealed when the 2006 Act comes into force in October.
The 2006 Act and the three service discipline Acts will expire on 8 November 2009 unless they are renewed before then by such an order. The Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 2009, therefore, provides for all four Acts to continue in force for a further year. Notwithstanding this, I can confirm that the service discipline Acts will be repealed when the 2006 Act comes into force in October.
I turn to the Part 5 regulations. The Armed Forces (Part 5 of the Armed Forces Act 2006) Regulations 2009 provide for matters connected with the investigation of service offences and charging. Part 5 of the 2006 Act introduces a brand new set of provisions for the Armed Forces, in terms of how the roles of the commanding officer, the service police and the Director of Service Prosecutions—the DSP, as he is known—will interact in future.
The main changes are to ensure that allegations of more serious offences are investigated by the service police, and that such allegations must be sent by the service police direct to the DSP for a decision on whether a charge should be brought. Similarly, a commanding officer may not deal with certain serious allegations at a summary hearing. Rather, he must refer the case to the DSP for him to consider.
The Act itself specifies certain offences, such as murder, which are subject to these safeguards. However, the regulations also specify circumstances that become subject to these safeguards too. These are important safeguards since they will help to ensure that the service police and the Director of Service Prosecutions will be able to investigate and consider all appropriate cases.
I turn to the enlistment regulations. The Armed Forces (Enlistment) Regulations 2009 are to be made under Section 328 of the 2006 Act. They describe the process leading to the enlistment of a civilian into the Armed Forces and, largely, replicate the current procedure, with updates to the language and harmonisation of previous minor differences. The regulations are now on a tri-service basis. So, for example, a person previously “entering” service in the Royal Navy will now “enlist” just like the two other services.
Enlistment provisions are administrative matters that the Defence Council is best placed to be responsible for. Historically, therefore, they have been promulgated in Defence Council regulations that have not been subject to any parliamentary scrutiny. However, because service personnel do not have contracts of employment, it was considered appropriate that the regulations should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The Defence Council regulations under the 2006 Act are therefore being made by statutory instrument.
The regulations are subject to affirmative resolution because they include provisions about the enlistment of young people under the age of 18, with the consent of people specified in the regulations. The regulations also make it clear that no one under the age of 16—the school leaving age—may validly be enlisted into the Armed Forces. However, the regulations do recognise the possibility of recruiting officers acting in good faith but nevertheless enlisting people who are under the age of 16, and provide protection to recruiting officers in such circumstances. This is most likely to occur if young people from outside the United Kingdom seek to enlist in the Regular Forces because their documentation might not be as clear as in the UK.
For young people aged between 16 and 18, the regulations include safeguards to provide added protection for this potentially vulnerable group. Most importantly, a young person cannot be enlisted without the consent of his or her parents or a person with parental responsibility. If the young person lives with both of his or her parents, he or she must obtain the consent of them both before enlisting into the Armed Forces. The regulations require the consent of both parents where the recruit lives with them both to avoid the potentially difficult situation of one parent agreeing to the enlistment and the other not. On the other hand, if the young person lives with only one parent, then that person must consent to the enlistment, and if the young person does not live with either parent, then he or she need obtain the consent of only one parent.
Once a young person is enlisted into the Regular Armed Forces, the services themselves have additional safeguards for the protection of such young people. Hence, until a young person reaches the age of 18, he or she cannot be deployed into an operational theatre.
I turn now to the court martial rules. The 2006 Act establishes a standing court martial, replacing the current system of ad hoc courts martial that are convened for trying individual offences. The rules of procedure for this new standing court are set out in the Armed Forces (Court Martial) Rules 2009. These broadly follow the rules that apply in the civilian system, but they also reflect the different make-up of the court martial, involving a civilian judge, known as a judge advocate, and lay members who are usually officers or warrant officers but might be civilians in the rare circumstances when a civilian is tried in the court martial. These rules have been the subject of extensive consultation with the services themselves, the Director of Service Prosecutions and the Judge Advocate-General, who recently wrote to the Minister for the Armed Forces confirming that he is satisfied with them.
The Armed Forces (Civilian Courts Dealing with Service Offences) (Modification of the Criminal Justice Act 2003) Regulations 2009 are to be made under Section 271 of the 2006 Act. In rare circumstances, a civilian court may try and sentence a member of the Reserve Forces for a service offence. The main offences are ones involving failure to attend for duty. A civilian court is also able to deal with members of the Armed Forces who act in breach of a service community order imposed by a service court. The aim of the regulations is to ensure that the service offender is sentenced in a comparable manner to a civilian being sentenced for a civilian offence. So, if the service offender being sentenced has committed the service offence while released from service custody, the civilian court must take this aggravating factor into account in the same way as it would where a civilian commits an offence while on bail. On the same basis, the civilian court can give credit for periods when an offender was kept in service custody since being charged in the same way that it can give credit for periods of remand in civilian custody.
The Court Martial (Prosecution Appeals) Order 2009 provides for the prosecution to appeal against rulings made in court martial trials where, if the ruling is not overturned, the accused will have to be acquitted. These powers and procedures closely follow those in the civilian system. The order also makes provision for offences of contravention of reporting restrictions. The order replaces and revokes two earlier statutory instruments which contained similar provisions in order to align the provisions with the scheme and language of the 2006 Act.
There is one small matter in connection with the order that I should like to draw to the attention of the House. Article 26(2)(b) of the order refers to a “single judge” of the Court Martial Appeal Court which should in fact be a reference to “the full court”. It is clear from the context that this is a straightforward error. There is no room for doubt about the intended purpose and effect of the provision and my department therefore intends to correct this small error at the printing stage. I mention it here in order that Members with an interest in the subject are aware of the correction that is being made.
The Armed Forces (Powers of Stop and Search, Search, Seizure and Retention) Order 2009 supplements the provisions of the 2006 Act which lay down the broad powers of the service police to stop and search members of the Armed Forces, carry out searches following arrest and enter places to search for and seize evidence. The order includes provisions broadly equivalent to ones in civilian legislation. For example, the order allows the service police to enter certain premises in order to search for evidence when a person is arrested for a serious service offence. It also includes reserve powers under which a commanding officer can act in an emergency where the service police are not available.
On the Armed Forces Act 2006 (Consequential Amendments) Order, commencement of the 2006 Act will require consequential amendments to be made to a wide range of existing primary and secondary legislation in order to ensure that it properly reflects the changes that the 2006 Act is introducing. Schedule 16 to the 2006 Act sets out the majority of the amendments that need to be made to primary legislation. Under Section 379 of the 2006 Act, the Secretary of State for Defence has the power to make amendments to any legislation that is not covered in Schedule 16, and that is the purpose of the Armed Forces Act 2006 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2009.
The departments that own the legislation have been consulted about the amendments we are making. The amendments are mainly being made to secondary legislation, although the order does amend some primary legislation.
I should like to make a further observation about the orders we are considering today in relation to the ECHR. The Government have given an undertaking that Ministers moving instruments subject to the affirmative procedure will tell the House whether they are satisfied that the legislation is compatible with the rights provided in the European Convention on Human Rights. The continuation order raises convention issues only in that it maintains in-force service legislation. We consider that this legislation is compatible with the convention rights. We also believe that all the other orders are compatible with convention rights.
The orders that we are considering today are a fundamentally important part of the work that is being done to bring the Armed Forces Act 2006 into force in October. They are very detailed and it is right that I should spell out some of that detail today. The orders add a further level of detail to the primary legislation which is itself a considerable piece of work. They replace a much greater volume of primary and secondary legislation, as well as replacing three separate systems of law with a single system. Taken together, they set out a comprehensive system of service law that we hope will serve the Armed Forces well for many years to come. I commend them to the House.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining the statutory instruments. We welcome them and the continued attention to discipline, enlistment and other issues in the three services of our Armed Forces.
All these orders regulate and affect in some way the working relationship between the Armed Forces and the population as a whole. The first is of fundamental importance, of course, because it is the mechanism whereby the Executive draws authority from Parliament to maintain the Armed Forces for a further year. To debate this issue gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves and the Government that the Armed Forces, although an instrument of the Executive, are in fact a creature of Parliament. With that goes the opportunity to reflect that this is a two-way relationship: Parliament creates the Armed Forces, and that gives us in Parliament the responsibility to ensure that they are properly sustained.
Our fellow citizens who serve as members of the Armed Forces are exactly that—members of a lawfully armed and disciplined force. In appropriate circumstances they have to use force, including, as necessary, lethal force—a lawful power to kill; in fact, a duty. It is precisely that body of law that so authorises them and disciplines them in the power and duty that is now before us for our careful consideration.
As our Armed Forces are so exceptionally entrusted, do the Government consider it necessary to revise the relationship between our troops and the Human Rights Act? Over the past decade, many senior military professionals have voiced discontent with this legislation being applied in a combat environment. We debated this issue, and the recent Court of Appeal judgment, at Question Time on Monday. As I mentioned then, that judgment is causing serious operational problems for the Armed Forces. Will the Minister undertake to discuss with her colleagues the potential use of the proposed constitutional renewal Bill to include provisions relating to combat zones?
I want to call attention to the need for the Armed Forces Act 2006 to be wholly renewed by 2011. What feedback have the Government received from those within the Armed Forces and from other interested parties as a result of the distribution of the Armed Forces manual? Are there any loose ends waiting to be sorted out that might be incorporated in later versions? Will the Minister confirm that her department is giving serious thought—I am sure it is—to the new version of the Armed Forces Act to ensure that it is implemented as smoothly as possible?
My Lords, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, I support these eight orders. They represent a thorough updating of Armed Forces law, particularly in relation to enlistment, court-martial and other disciplinary and prosecution matters.
The Armed Forces (Enlistment) Regulations 2009 will have a somewhat historic impact on the Royal Navy, in that it will mean recruits will no longer enter service but will be enlisted and, for the first time, will be required to swear an oath of allegiance. We understand that the reason for the Royal Navy’s historic exemption is that it is the oldest of the three services and was established by the Sovereign’s prerogative rather than by an Act of Parliament. The significance of this change, at least on a purely constitutional level, must not be overlooked; it raises many questions about why it is taking place now. Will it really improve or make any difference to the way the services interact with each other? How does the Royal Navy see itself, and how does it feel about this change? Will existing servicemen be required to make a retrospective oath?
I return to the bulk of these orders, which are largely uncontroversial. The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee had little to say about them. The Armed Forces, Army, Air Force And Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 2009 is an order that we consider each year, and we welcome it again as we have done on so many other occasions previously.
The Armed Forces (Court Martial) Rules 2009 is a sensible way to proceed and we emphasise our commitment that the composition of the court martial be drawn from each and every branch of the Armed Forces. With regard to the Armed Forces (Part 5 of the Armed Forces Act 2006) Regulations 2009, which deal with the procedure for investigating offences and referring cases and charges to the Director of Service Prosecutions, on 11 October 2006 the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, made an important point about the need for a commanding officer to be kept regularly informed by the service policemen throughout an investigation and not merely when the case is referred to the DSP. The Minister at the time, the noble Lord, Lord Drayson, gave an undertaking that this would be the case. Are the Government satisfied that this order retains the spirit of that commitment and will the noble Baroness confirm that the experience of the last few years has been one where commanding officers have had regular communication in such situations? The Explanatory Memorandum for this regulation indicates that the statutory instrument can come into force at different times for certain situations. Why is this being suggested and why the split? What is the point of the differential?
Turning to the Armed Forces (Powers of Stop and Search, Seizure and Retention) Order 2009, our view is that this is wholly commendable and it is wholly commendable that the PACE provisions should be extended in suitable form to members of the Armed Forces. The Explanatory Memorandum refers to a new manual of service law which is currently being prepared to provide guidance,
“on the single system of service law established under the Armed Forces Act 2006”.
Will the Government consider a simplified, general brochure for servicemen?
Turning to the Court Martial (Prosecution Appeals) Order 2009, Regulation 16(5) now requires the judge advocate to issue a written certificate that he is given leave to appeal. This is eminently sensible in our view and to be welcomed.
Finally, I turn to the Armed Forces (Civilian Courts Dealing with Service Offences) (Modification of Criminal Justice Act 2003) Regulations 2009. Here also the provisions are to be wholly welcomed, especially in modification to Sections 143 and 240 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Committing offences while on bail is at the core of the overall criminal sentencing process. Time spent in custody, to which the noble Baroness referred, pre-trial or sentence being taken into account for the purposes of the overall sentence is a fundamental principle to which each defendant is entitled. It is only right that both differing principles should apply equally to service personnel.
My Lords, I am very pleased that there has been broad welcome for the moves that we are making and for the statutory instruments that we are discussing today. I will try to deal with all points that have been raised.
The noble Lord, Lord Astor, mentioned the relationship of Parliament with the Armed Forces and the fact that there is a body of law which both authorises them and disciplines them. It is right that we should remind ourselves of that relationship from time to time because we depend so much on the work that they do and we do not always have sufficient opportunity to record our admiration and thanks for that work.
The noble Lord also raised some questions about where they stood and went back to the point that we were discussing on Monday about the impact of the Human Rights Act, and in particular the case that was the topic of that question in terms of Article 2. He suggested that perhaps we should use the constitutional renewal Bill to change that situation. I am not sure that that would even be possible were there a problem, but I think that the noble Lord has got to understand that we are still, as I said on Monday, discussing and taking advice on what is the best way forward. We are strongly committed to the protection of the human rights of our Armed Forces and we are extremely worried about the implications of the recent court judgment.
We do not want to open the door to routine legal challenges to decisions made by service personal entrusted with the conduct of operations. As I said on Monday, the Chief of the Defence Staff has sent a message to operational commanders. The noble Lord said that that decision was causing serious operational problems, but that should not be the case. As I think anyone who has read the message from the CDS will see—I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library—it makes it very clear that we cannot have decisions made in split-second situations ploughed over, in a totally unreal way, many months and possibly years later. We are still considering what we should be doing to take that forward, but we will certainly not allow a situation to develop where commanders cannot take the decisions they need to take. We have said that as clearly as possible and the CDS has said it. I hope that that is reassuring to those who are charged with that significant responsibility.
The noble Lord also asked about the renewal situation and whether the 2006 Act will have to be renewed in 2011. That is indeed the case because it is a quinquennial review. I think that much of the work done in recent months to achieve this level of agreement on all of these orders will help make the renewal process that much easier, because so much work has already been done. I pay tribute to all those who have been working on the many statutory instruments that have arisen as a consequence of the changes in the 2006 Act. It is a formidable task and they deserve recognition for it.
The noble Lord, Lord Lee, mentioned a specific point—while welcoming all the updating, he asked a question about the Royal Navy. I am told that the enlistment regulations do not require all recruits to swear an oath of allegiance, but the services’ intention is that in future all newly enlisted people will do so, and the Royal Navy is content with that change. It will not be a retrospective change, but it will come across the board in the future. The noble Lord also asked about the situation with commanding officers and whether they will be kept informed as has been suggested. In fact, the order requires that the commanding officer be informed. So I can repeat the reassurance given when the legislation was initially going through Parliament.
As for parts of the order coming into effect at different times, it is true that Article 5 will come into effect at a different time. However, one early provision allows procedural steps to be taken in advance to ensure that everything moves as smoothly as possible later. The other point raised concerned the manual, which both the noble Lords, Lord Astor and Lord Lee, asked about. It is not available yet. Because these regulations do not come into force completely until the end of October, the manual is still being drafted in close consultation with the services. It is important that that is the case and that it is as user-friendly as possible. The noble Lord, Lord Lee, suggested that there could be a slimmed-down version. I am not sure whether that is appropriate but I am sure that it will be possible to look at it and move towards it if at all possible.
Finally, the whole intention behind all the consultations and the time taken is to ensure that the new system is implemented as smoothly as possible. It is helpful that we are discussing these orders this evening so that there can be even more time to ensure that everything moves smoothly. I thank noble Lords for their support.
Armed Forces (Part 5 of the Armed Forces Act 2006) Regulations 2009
Armed Forces (Enlistment) Regulations 2009
Armed Forces (Court Martial) Rules 2009
Armed Forces (Civilian Courts Dealing with Service Offences) (Modification of the Criminal Justice Act 2003) Regulations 2009
Court Martial (Prosecution Appeals) Order 2009
Armed Forces (Powers of Stop and Search, Search, Seizure and Retention) Order 2009
Armed Forces Act 2006 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2009
Motions to Approve