Motion to Take Note (Continued)
After those two very important Statements, I return to the Olympics debate. First, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on her wonderful speech. It brought to the House her experience in her particular field, and the fact that she is working so hard to make the Olympic Games a success. I thank the noble Baroness very much indeed, and all of us here look forward to hearing from her in future; I hope that she will keep us informed on progress.
We have talked about the achievement of the Olympic legacy. My noble friend Lord Pendry said that that is one of the most important things that will come out of the Olympics. I agree with him completely. I do not want, any more than he did, to go down the path of the pessimists who are saying that nothing can be done and that the Commonwealth Games did not bring any more participation. That is not the way to look at it; we must look at how we are going to improve it and what we are going to do about it.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Addington, whose expertise in sport I have listened to on so many occasions, that it is about bringing together schools and sports clubs and, if I may say so, the important role of local authorities in this direction. We have already seen the success in the provision of free swimming; more than 80 per cent of local authorities participate in that. All those roles must come together if we are to achieve the result that we all desire: that more people participate. According to last figures that the Sports Council produced, although there was an overall increase in the number who were participating—and a very welcome one, if I may say so, in non-white groups participating in sport—there was a drop in the number of women and people with disabilities who were participating, so we have a lot of work to do there. I have one or two questions for the Minister. Have the Government now abandoned the target that we gave to Sport England of 2 million people participating by 2012? Is that still a target or not? I would welcome anything that he has to say about that.
The noble Lord, Lord Patten, dealt with transport. I agree with him to some extent: we must not be complacent about that. We have to move a lot of people to and from the Games, as well as keeping up the normal public transport services. We cannot rely on saying that there will be fewer people or cars on the road in August. A lot of work has been done, but I hope it is sufficient to move those people. I want to ask the Minister about the VIP routes which are being set up. As we know, there are many venues, including Wimbledon. I say to my noble friend who will reply to the debate that playing the tennis there will be a world’s first in that it is being played on grass. I know that she will correct me if I am wrong about that. There is Wembley, Earls Court, Eton and all the other areas. What is the position of the VIP tracks which are being established for the athletes and officials to move quickly from one venue to another? As I understand it, a lot of people would not mind disruption to their normal life for a few days, but if it is to go on for six weeks, we might find a lot of opposition. If the Minister could update me about that, I would be very pleased.
Another thing is the transformation of east London. We have heard a lot of the positive aspects about that. How far are we going in relation to the additional housing that will come after the Olympics have finished—not only taking over where the athletes have lived but expanding—and the social housing, of which more than one half is scheduled? Are the plans going ahead? Are we on schedule to achieve that?
While we are talking about construction—I am sorry that my noble friend Lady Morgan is not here at the moment—I am very pleased that construction is going to British companies, but it was also said that local people would be employed by the contractors. Is that happening? Equally importantly, how many unemployed local people are now working on those sites and how many of the apprenticeships are going to local youths? Those are the kind of measures by which we can judge how positive the results are.
We are all proud of what is being achieved in the Olympics themselves, and we all want to make it a blueprint for the future. We want to demonstrate—we have made a very good start on this—that it is wonderful not only to live in the United Kingdom but to visit it. The Olympics provide us with a lot of business opportunities. Our companies which are participating are gaining expertise for future world events that I hope will stand them in good stead.
I am also pleased that there will be a future for the stadium. In instances in the past, stadiums have been neglected after the Games are over. What has been a showpiece at the time has been quickly forgotten. None of us wants that, and it looks as if there is a future for the stadium. In the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, there was a future for the stadium, where Manchester City now plays. That has been a very useful development, because it means that events are taking place there all the time, crowds are going there, and work has been brought to the area by people coming to watch the game. It is important that we mention what might happen to the stadium.
I know that I have asked the Minister quite a few questions, but what about green sustainability? I am sure that he has something about that in his notes. We know the record of his colleagues in that part of the coalition: they have always been interested in sustainable energy. Therefore, why has the green turbine been abandoned? After all, 20 per cent of the renewable energy was going to come from it. I would be very pleased to hear from him why they have gone down that route.
Overall, all of us must say, so far, so good; it is a real success story. I believe that, the way that things are going, we can present something of which we can be proud. Many of the Olympic Games of the past have been wonderful events for the country that staged them. In our case, I want to see not only that it is a magnificent event at the time but that we look to the future and sustain what has happened for the development of the East End of London for the wealth of the people who live there and for the benefit of the country, and that having invested so much money in this project we get a return from it.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for attributing success in securing this debate to me. That comes as something of a surprise since I was grateful to the usual channels for securing a debate on this subject before the general election. But a two-for-the-price-of-one Motion on the Order Paper is always worth while, especially when it comes with a brilliant maiden speech from my noble friend in sport, the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. First, I declare my interests: I am chairman of the British Olympic Association, a director of the London Organising Committee and a member of a number of International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee commissions and committees.
The debate will focus on progress made towards the successful hosting of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. The theatrical analogy sometimes employed is that it is the Government who are building the Olympic theatre, the London Organising Committee which is putting on the show, the British Olympic Association which selects, manages and leads the British actors and actresses word perfect, and the mayor, who has the legacy for the Olympic park when the curtain falls.
It is right that we can report that most of the focus in this debate is on how well all four players comprising the four members of the Olympic board are progressing. The starting point is the host city contract signed between the mayor, the British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee. The contractual undertakings, including the duty to establish the London Organising Committee on which both the mayor’s office and the British Olympic Association are represented, have been honoured. The Government, with the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, through the Olympic Delivery Authority, have ensured the efficient delivery of the sites under the leadership of John Armitt and David Higgins. The staging of the Games is making progress, on time and on budget, within the £2 billion LOCOG budget which was secured under the outstanding and astute direction of my noble friend Lord Coe and without recourse to public money. His team is making good progress.
The British Olympic Association has announced that it intends to take a full team to the Games. Despite signing away the rights in early 2005 for significantly less value than the income required to undertake its duties as a host nation Olympic committee, the BOA has, under the direction of its chief executive, Andy Hunt, and chief commercial officer, Hugh Chambers, managed to strengthen its balance sheet, governance and organisational structure from what only six years ago was to many a glorified travel agency and which today is a strong national Olympic committee. It is in line with the NOCs of Germany and the United States, where it plays a key role in the working of the International Olympic Committee, the wider Olympic family and, as evident by the Minister for the Olympics and Sport, Hugh Robertson, in choosing to make his inaugural speech at the new BOA headquarters in Charlotte Street last week, it has taken a seat at the top table of policy formulation and administration in British sport.
The announcement last week that the British Olympic Association would have a powerful athletes’ commission demonstrates that it will place the interests of the athletes first and will ensure that their interests are always at the heart of policy formulation within the organisation. The Minister announced to the press that he would be looking to the BOA to consult on a wide range of sporting issues as he implements the far-reaching changes to the structure of sports administration throughout the United Kingdom.
In this work, we at the British Olympic Association will support the Government in a constructive and comprehensive way. It is written into the Olympic charter that the national Olympic committees should be constructive in their engagement with government. It is also a key component of the IOC objectives that the autonomy of a national Olympic committee should be respected by government. I believe that on both those issues significant and positive progress has been made with the new Government since 9 June.
Today, we also have far more representation than ever before on International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee boards. I know that your Lordships will be delighted that in recent days Sir Clive Woodward has been appointed to the International Olympic Committee coaching commission, the Entourage Commission. Adam Pengilly, one of the skeleton athletes in the winter Games, is the first to be elected by his peer group from this country to membership of the International Olympic Committee. At the European level, Andy Hunt, chief executive of the BOA, has been appointed to the EOC Games Commission and Jan Paterson, also from the BOA, has been appointed to the European Olympic Committee’s Sport for All and Youth Commission.
Finally, in the context of the theatrical analogy, the major’s office, under the leadership of Ken Livingstone and, more recently, Boris Johnson, has been consistently supportive in prioritising the Games as a showcase for London and for sport in 2012, and for preparing the way for the noble Baroness, Lady Ford. I am confident that all parties will retain the all-party approach to the Games, about which the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, spoke and which was a feature of the debate in your Lordships' House in 2004. That debate unanimously supported the British Olympic Association’s proposal to bid to host the Games in London in 2012 and did much to persuade Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, and his Cabinet to support the bid and, in the case of Tony Blair, to undertake so much work to secure the Games with his presence and personal contribution in Singapore when the decision was made.
If I were to be asked what are the two major challenges to a successful Games, I would say security and transport. Noble Lords have addressed these items, not least my noble friend Lord Patten with his expertise and eloquence. Despite the challenges, I believe that everything possible is being done to minimum the risks that they pose. However, there is a third area of concern and it is one shared by many noble Lords in their contributions today. That is where I will focus my remaining comments—the area of legacy. The Games will of course be judged by the British people, not primarily on the magnificent Olympic park or the tremendous support of the volunteers, although these are key and critical issues. As has been pointed by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, they will be judged by the success of Team GB and a strong medal tally, boosted by the sound of the national anthem being played at medal ceremonies.
The next generation will judge the success of the Games by the legacy endowed to the people the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. The legacy from the Games will come in two areas of activity. The first is the urban regeneration legacy from the Olympic park. In too many countries that legacy has led to expensive white elephants populating the landscape and budget deficits of host cities for decades after the curtain falls on closing ceremonies. I believe that that will not be the case in London. If I am right, that will be directly the result of the strong oversight of the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, as chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and the day-to-day leadership provided to that organisation by the chief executive, Andrew Altman.
The noble Baroness shares the vision of many of us that the Olympic park needs to become a great place for events, a centre for high performance, a resource for community sport, a focus for active recreation, a magnet for sports tourism and a catalyst for education, Olympic legacy and sports-related research and culture. It needs to be bold in its ambition and its aspiration. The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, fully understands this challenge. She has worked hard with the British Olympic Association to ensure that sport was properly placed at the heart of this programme—for sport had been lacking in written documentation when she arrived and in the many speeches on this subject.
Working with the mayor’s office, the Olympic Park Legacy Company is creating a signature urban park, which will build communities based on family housing—both private and public sector—to be a catalyst for regeneration and convergence and a premier centre for sport and leisure. Let us take the handball venue, from which a multi-purpose facility can emerge after the Games to cater for commercial and community use and elite sport. It can also be a centre for economic innovation: for example, the vast media centre can house research, media and university facilities. They are all capable of holding a mirror to the diversifying economy of London.
In all those areas, the new Government can rightly shine a torch on how the private sector can play a greater role and on how savings can be made on the delivery mechanisms while not impacting the front-line benefits of this vision. Every step should be taken based on planning, promotion, partnerships and cost-effectiveness so that the reinstatement and handover of the facilities during the period from 2012 to 2014 can be transformational, delivering activation and regeneration. I hope that the same approach will be applied to the sports venues outside the park, from Eton Dorney to Weymouth, to take two examples. For the ministerial team and the mayor that is a major challenge and I hope the Minister will comment on it. If they empower the Olympic Park Legacy Company, those aspects that I have outlined today of the legacy challenge will be secure.
A second aspect to legacy is sports legacy. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, echoed the concern of many about the lack of sports legacy to date. The delivery of a successful sports legacy from the Games will, I contend, be more challenging. To date, five years of multiple committee work with red threads, a lot of papers and cross-departmental bilaterals led by civil servants have delivered very little of substance save for some rays of outstanding good practice—for example, in the case of swimming which has been alluded to—to dampen the voices of the critics who fear that the Olympic Games will leave no more sporting legacy than tennis has derived, on occasions, from Wimbledon following a wet August when the rackets which were dusted down in the enthusiasm of the championships are put back in the cupboard until next year.
A week ago, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, who was right to focus on this, Sport England, the body created to ensure that more people participate in sport as a result of the 2012 Games, announced a drop in participation among some absolutely key groups. The National Audit Office report contained the following criticism:
“In the North East and London, participation fell across all priority groups, with London showing a decrease in women’s participation of 9 per cent”.
That is despite London being the host city of the Olympic Games 2012. The National Audit Office concluded:
“Linking financial information to performance information is crucial for the Department and for Sport England’s Board in determining the value for money of Sport England’s activities and making strategic decisions”.
This situation is wholly unacceptable for a nation enthused by sport, by the World Cup and by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Five years ago, Kate Hoey and I chaired an all-party group and the Independent Sports Review was produced. We reviewed the multiplicity of quangos involved in the delivery of sports policy and we wrote:
“The hands-on running of sport and recreation in the United Kingdom is now largely undertaken by the five National Sports Councils, nine Regional Sports Councils in England and nine Regional Sports Boards in England”.
It was described by the Olympics Minister of the time as an organisational nightmare. The use of those quangos allowed Government to influence matters from a distance, keeping problems at arm’s length.
Last week, the Minister took the final step in a reform process which, in my view, had been long overdue since the introduction of the lottery by the Conservative Party under Prime Minister John Major. It has since been diverted into a range of government initiatives; it has deviated from the original pillars and spawned a bureaucracy. The decision made by Hugh Robertson, the Minister, and echoed by the Minister on the Front Bench today, to return the lottery to its original objectives and establish a one-stop shop with three divisions—the Youth Sports Trust, Sport England and UK Sport—can deliver a lean, efficient and focused one-stop shop, working with the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association to empower the governing bodies, clubs, schools and volunteers of the country. Such empowered people are the only people capable of arresting the decline in sporting activity in our host city. Bringing together those three divisions will be an important step forward. I hope that Hugh Robertson, the Minister, who has already earned significant respect from all sides of the House and support from the world of sport, will chair the new body in its initial years. His authority will be needed to bring about the process of change necessary to provide a sports legacy from 2012.
In conclusion, the policy for sports legacy should focus on a few well targeted and clearly defined sports legacy objectives. I know and commend the work done by the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, in this context. Competitive inter-schools sports leagues and nationwide school games, based on primary and secondary schools, need to be included. That also was announced by the Minister and I warmly welcome that initiative. I wish him and the Government every success in delivering an urban regeneration legacy and a sports legacy worthy of the Games.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on her maiden speech. It was a truly inspiring speech from someone who has inspired so many people.
I want to speak about the cultural side of the Olympics and what it means for this country. I must declare an interest as chairman of the Cultural Olympiad and a member of the board of LOCOG.
In 2005, the strength of our cultural offering played a significant part in our bid to host the Olympic Games. The originator of the Games, Baron de Coubertin, believed in a link between sport and the arts. Indeed, in 1948, the last time the Games were hosted by Great Britain, medals were given for the arts. Of course, de Coubertin was inspired by the ancient Games in which artists played their part alongside sportsmen. When London won the Games we promised to put culture back at the core of the Olympic programme. Our Cultural Olympiad was launched at the end of the Paralympic Games in Beijing nearly two years ago. It is a four-year programme of events inspired by the Games which will run until the last day of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It is designed to give everyone in the country, especially young people, a chance to be a part of London 2012. The aim is to make a real impact which will leave a legacy lasting well beyond the Games themselves.
Just under a year ago, I was asked by the then Government and the Mayor of London to chair a board to run the Cultural Olympiad. I did not then, and I do not now, underestimate the challenge that we face. I said yes because I believe that this country has an enormous opportunity, with the spotlight on us in 2012, to showcase the breadth of our creativity, and the vitality of our arts and culture and heritage.
To do that we put together a board that met for the first time last autumn and which I believe includes the key organisations and key people who can help to deliver something very memorable indeed. We have also brought together the key stakeholders and funders. As I believe that broadcasting will be central and defining to people’s perception of what we offer culturally, the BBC’s director-general is also on the board. As with everything—perhaps even more so in the area of arts and culture—joining together to make sense of this extraordinary opportunity is phenomenally important.
Once formed, our first priority was to appoint someone to direct the Cultural Olympiad. In January this year, we announced the appointment of Ruth Mackenzie, formerly an advisor on broadcasting and cultural policy for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Before that she was the general director of the very successful Manchester International Festival, and has had many other jobs too. We have also brought in some real heavyweights to help her so we have a team in place now which is focused on delivery.
Many things have already been put in place for the Cultural Olympiad and are already involving people right across the UK. In 2008 and 2009, more than 1.5 million people participated in almost 1,500 events during what is called Open Weekend. That is an annual event which, this year, takes place between 23 and 25 July. On top of that, more than 180 cultural projects have been awarded the Inspire mark. That is a new idea which allows projects inspired by what the Games can do to attach the 2012 logo to their work. Through these projects there have already been 1,000 public performances and 2,200 workshops with audiences totaling almost 4 million people.
I shall give an example of what has been going on. Two years ago, at the time of the Beijing Games, the Essex Jiangsu festival took place celebrating 20 years of relations between Essex and the Jiangsu province in China. It brought performances and events to the UK for the first time, and gave local people the opportunity to take part, make new international relationships and develop new skills.
Another, but very different, project is the bandstand marathon. This is a national celebration of music performed by local musicians in their local cities, towns and villages, and is the most widely spread Inspire mark project in the UK. Last year, there were 120 simultaneous concerts in bandstands across England and Wales with more than 3,000 musicians from traditional brass and silver bands. In the south-west, they played to more than 50,000 people.
Those are just two examples—there could be many more—of how all sorts of people right across the UK are already getting involved. This is exactly what the Cultural Olympiad should be about at this stage: people and communities coming together. Listening to conversations about things that the Olympics are allowing to happen is really quite humbling. People are able to plot things because 2012 is happening, and they are things that they otherwise would not have done. That in itself will be a legacy.
Quite apart from the Inspire mark projects, some big programmes have also been announced for 2012. One very significant programme, which is especially appropriate for the country that led the world with the Paralympics, is called Unlimited. Led by the UK’s arts councils, it is the country’s largest-ever commissioning pot for art made by people with disabilities. In fact, we think it may the largest ever in the world. We have just announced some of the commissions which we hope will change perceptions in the ways in which the Paralympics, in the sports world, have changed perceptions. British companies such as the Graeae Theatre Company and Candoco Dance Company are world leaders, and they have already been commissioned for 2012. Candoco will engage two disabled choreographers to each make a large-scale dance piece for disabled and non-disabled dancers, including people from Beijing and Rio de Janeiro. Another big project is River of Music. It will be the largest series of free concerts ever on the banks of the River Thames and will involve musicians from all 206 countries participating in the Games. Young people from all over the UK will perform alongside some of the greatest pop and world musicians. It will be a very exciting weekend.
We have also announced a programme called Film Nation: Shorts, which will involve young people under 25 years old developing their film-making skills alongside professional film-makers. Some of the best films will be shown at the Olympic Park. Tate Movie will give school groups a chance to work together to create an animated film, working with some of the best animators in the world from Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation company that made Wallace and Gromit. The Tate Movie project will be the first of its kind: an animation made by children for children.
There is a lot already happening, but a couple of months ago the Cultural Olympiad board announced that the finale of the London 2012 Olympiad will be a 12-week festival across the nation opening on midsummer’s day and running until 9 September, which is the last day of the Paralympic Games. We all hope that the festival will be a way in which everybody in the UK can get involved and will give people a summer to remember. I love what Kofi Annan said about the Olympics:
“When the Olympics are staged in London in two years time, competitors from every nation will find fellow countrymen and women living here to cheer them on. The very diversity is what makes London such a dynamic, exciting and successful community”.
I hope that is what we can display to the world in our arts and culture.
There is another point about legacy. For my colleagues on the Cultural Olympiad board, developing skills and the legacy of the Games will be as important as the programme of outstanding art and culture. Planning in this area is under way, and we hope to have that completed by late autumn. Until recently, I was the founder chair of the skills council for the creative and cultural sector, so I have seen at first hand just what you can do by attaching young people to creative projects. There are lots of people who may not be able to sing, dance, paint or make music, but they can still be part of the creative process by building sets, marketing, looking after audiences or doing myriad other tasks involved in making performance happen. This is a big opportunity for us, as I know that it is for the Games as a whole, and it is an opportunity that I, and my colleagues, want to grasp in very concrete terms. To be able to say after 2012 that many young people have been given the chance to work alongside professionals backstage and that, through that, they have sorted out what they want to do with their lives is very important.
Equally, I hope that the Cultural Olympiad will show to the world what an extraordinary creative place east London is. What I see in those five boroughs is not the caricature of old. East London feels like a new city. I hope that the legacy of the Cultural Olympiad will have helped to build the creative skills and employability of the next generation of young people growing up in the boroughs around the Olympic village. Developing that is a major task for me, my board and the team.
The opportunity for us is enormous. An Ipsos MORI survey released in the past fortnight said that 87 per cent of parents felt that it was important that their child took part in cultural activities on a regular basis. I hope that the Cultural Olympiad and the festival will provide that opportunity to many young people. As if to underscore that finding, I shall end with a quotation from the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, about the importance of culture for the winter Olympic Games. He said:
“The arts and culture I think has been the secret to our success, bringing crowds out and celebrating downtown, adding more depth to the whole event”.
In my own view, the greatest legacy for the Cultural Olympiad will be if we show not only how central culture and creativity is to huge events such as the Olympics, but how central the development of creative skills is for all our young people and how vital culture is for the country as a whole.
My Lords, the House has heard a lot of good news and enthusiasm about the Olympics and about the need to ensure success. I shall focus on two things: the project and sustainability. The noble Lord, Lord Shutt, mentioned that the project is on time and on budget, which is clearly good news, but I heard him say that it is 54 per cent complete although the briefing that we have received from the ODA says 65 per cent complete. It may be that it is somewhere between the two.
Some time ago, I heard that the intention is to have the buildings up and running a year before the start of the Olympics so that everything can be bedded down and checked out. Whatever the progress, there are two years to go, and I worry because projects with a committed end date tend to suffer serious last-minute cost overruns. We saw that with the Jubilee line extension, which had to be open to get people to the Dome for the millennium celebrations. Something went wrong—it is usually the electrics or the signalling that goes wrong on these things—and although it was open on time, the signallers were probably paid 10 times the going rate per hour, the costs went through the roof and the work had to be redone. I hope my noble friend can give me some comfort that that will not happen this time because as a country we cannot afford the enormous threat of a cost overrun. The project has to be finished on time.
My next concern about the project is a major building contract worth £1 billion that has been let to Lend Lease as a PFI. The chief executive of the ODA, David Higgins, was previously chief executive of Lend Lease, which was a convenient arrangement. The problem is that the PFI has gone wrong. My understanding from press reports is that the ODA has had to bail it out with £400 million from the contingency fund.
I am very grateful to my noble friend for that correction. I had not picked that up from the website. However, the point is still there. There has been a £400 million grant from the contingency fund to Lend Lease. When the noble Lord responds, will he explain whether the building contract was put out to competitive tender, because many of the building contractors whom I have talked to say that they could have done the job for many millions less if it had gone out to competitive tender? It is another example of things that get rushed when one is up against a deadline. I do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, to be able to answer this evening, but it would be useful if we could have a letter setting out progress on the total budgets of the Olympics from the date the decision was made to bring them to London, the total revenues as the project has gone on, how they have changed and the outturn costs. That will help us to monitor the costs in future.
The other issue I need to raise follows on from the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, that the Games are a good example of sustainable construction. That is interesting because the ODA report, which I suspect most noble Lords have been given, mentions very little about sustainability apart from the fact that 300 trees have been planted. That is clearly a good thing, but there is not much else about sustainability. I think that the design will probably be good, but as I have mentioned in previous debates, I question the procurement policy’s failure to use rail or water for transport and deliveries—here I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group—which has resulted in a probable 800,000 extra trucks delivering to the Stratford site during the construction period. One might say that that does not matter much, but it is a serious issue for both the Government and the mayor.
It appears that the so-called sustainable Olympic Games are going to be held in air that exceeds EU limits for PM10s, which are the small particulates—NOx and SOx—and for which the Government may well be fined £300 million in the next year or so. I want the Olympics to be a success and for them not to be compared with the Games in Beijing in terms of air quality because we ought to do better than that. I talked about this in a debate held on 5 January—I see that the previous Government applied for an extension to the time limit to comply with the PM10, which is the most urgent one, to 2011—but even as we were debating the issue in January, the hourly legal standard for ambient nitrogen dioxide for a whole year was breached in London, exactly as I predicted it would be. We will have more breaches and threats from the European Union unless we sort this out. The coalition Government’s comment on air quality on page 17 of their programme is that:
“We will work towards full compliance with European Air Quality standards”.
The Liberal Democrats did rather better by saying:
“We will aim to fully meet European air quality targets by 2012”.
Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, in his Front-Bench role as the coalition spokesman, can make sure that happens. We need an answer on when the Government are going to meet these limits.
The Mayor of London has, frankly, not done very much over the past two years, but he has admitted that 4,300 premature deaths in London each year are due partly to long-term exposure to dangerous airborne particles. It is time that this issue was tackled at a very high level. It is important to discuss the solutions because, while I can go on explaining the problems, it is the solutions that we need to talk about because there are some. The problem with PM10s comes from older diesel engines that do not comply with the latest technical standards, and involves most vehicles that are more than four years old: lorries, buses, taxis, cars et cetera. It is interesting to note that in Paris there is now a plan for all diesel lorries to be banned within the Périphérique and replaced by electric vehicles. The French Government and the mayor of Paris can probably make changes like that more easily than we can, but it certainly would be possible for the Mayor of London to ban diesel vehicles.
Another solution would be to say, “Right. None of these vehicles will be driven around London for the month before and the month of the Olympics”, which I believe is what they tried to do in Beijing. We should do better than Beijing, and it is time to take urgent action. We cannot be compared with the air pollution found in Beijing because that is hardly the showcase for London that we want. I know that the mayor is keen to pursue this—the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said that he is—but we need action both from the Government and the mayor to get these levels of pollution down.
My Lords, it has been a tremendous privilege to listen to this debate, which is the type that provides a kind of warming for the recession-battered soul. We have heard from many quarters that things are happening on time and to budget and that expectations in so many areas are actually being exceeded. That is wonderful to hear and to behold. I particularly welcome my noble friend Lord Shutt to his new responsibilities on the Front Bench, and my noble friend Lady Rawlings to her new responsibilities alongside him. This debate has also been graced by the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, whose inspirational speech has been fitting for this setting. Although she is a Welsh-born athlete, she makes her home in the great north-east of England and in that we share great pride. I am sure that she will make a strong contribution to this House.
We have heard about the tremendous work that has been done in so many areas in terms of the legacy and the organising committee, as well as on the cultural aspects of the Games as outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Hall. All that is welcome. But there is one important aspect of the Olympic Games that has been omitted. I think that I have heard every single debate on the Olympics, and I do not think it has been mentioned once: it is the issue of the Olympic truce. Today this is seen as a symbolic gesture that surrounds the Olympics, a bit like the torch relay. Everyone is a little uncertain about what it means. I have to say that I come here with no sense of piety. Were it not for a rather zealous supervisor who made me do an extended literature review for a research degree on ethics and foreign policy, I would not have come across the Olympic truce either. While it may be tangential to the modern Games, it was central to the ancient ones. The truce was actually their raison d’être. In 776 BC, the Greek King Iphitos, frustrated at the perpetual state of war, consulted the oracle at Delphi, who proposed a sporting competition to be held every four years which would have as its aim the bringing together in one place—and under a sacred truce—of all military and political leaders so that they could resolve their differences by non-violent means.
The sacred truce ran for three months and sanctions were agreed against violators. It was remarkably successful. The ancient Olympics ran, unbroken, for 1,168 years until they were ended under the Romans. During that time, violations of the truce were extremely rare. The most serious violation was an attack by the Spartans—there is a surprise—on the Persians, which earned them a suspension from the Games for that year. They did not reoffend and they were reinstated the year after.
By contrast with the record of over 1,100 years of the ancient Olympiad, built on the Olympic truce, the modern Olympiad was established in 1894 and focused on an elite sporting competition with only a symbolic truce. During the 116 years of the modern Olympiad, the Games have been cancelled three times due to war, have experienced major boycotts at least five times, and have been the focal point and the victim of terrorist attacks on two occasions. Why is this so? Is it that we are less civilised and more warlike than our Greek and Persian forebears? I think not. Of course, the world has changed and there is no longer a unifying deity in whose name a sacred truce could be called; there is no neutral ground, such as Mount Olympus and the temple of Elis, in which the Games could be held, and there is not the proliferation of non-state actors. I believe that we have not given the truce a real chance to work because of a lack of real political leadership and vision.
Attempts were made in the heady international optimism which existed after the Cold War and before the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States to give that political leadership through the United Nations, where, in 1993, all 193 states adopted unanimously resolution 48/11, which urged member states to,
“take the initiative to abide by the Truce, individually and collectively, and pursue in conformity with UN principles the peaceful settlement of all international conflicts”.
This was very successful. In 1992 the truce was used to secure access for athletes who were caught in war-torn Yugoslavia to attend the Barcelona Games; in Sydney in 2000 it was used as a vehicle to arrange for the North and South Korean teams at the Olympics to parade together as one team; and in the Athens Olympics, a permanent body—the International Olympic Truce Centre—was established. However, throughout my research I could find no record of any action by any Government or combatant, at any time during the modern Olympiad, to take the opportunity offered by the Olympic truce to abide by the UN resolution in seeking to resolve their differences by non-violent means.
I believe, to coin a phrase, that there is a real opportunity to do things differently this time. First, London is without doubt the most ethnically diverse city ever to host the Games—a true crossroads of the world. However, it is also one which bears the scars of the aerial bombardments of World War I and World War II and terrorist attacks in the name of Irish republicanism and Muslim fundamentalism, the most recent and most deadly being the 7 July 2005 bombings, which claimed 52 lives and injured 700, and came the day after it was announced that London had been awarded the Games. It is also the place where the world came together in 1946 for the first General Assembly of the United Nations at Methodist Central Hall across the road. It is the place of the Downing Street declaration. It is the place that hosted the Live Aid concert, which drew an international response to famine in Ethiopia, and the Live 8 concert which led the jubilee campaign for debt forgiveness at the millennium.
Secondly, we have a coalition Government who have transcended narrow partisanship to create a new politics. They are uniquely positioned to secure maximum leverage for the truce should they wish to do so. They have a pivotal role as the country is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the host to the Commonwealth, and a key member of the EU, NATO and the G8, as well as being a centre for world finance and trade.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Coe, who has patiently heard out my claims in this area for a more serious and meaningful treatment of the Olympic truce. It is, in my view—and probably in his—unfair and inappropriate to place such a serious international matter on the shoulders of LOCOG, which is already under enormous pressure to deliver a world-class sporting event, or on the IOC, which is a non-governmental body, when most conflicts involve at least one governmental party. If this is going to be a meaningful truce then it needs to be led by the Government, for they alone have the diplomatic and political apparatus of state with which to pursue it.
Many would see such a call in the present climate as at best naive and at worst dangerous. Clearly this is not an easy issue when the threat level is real and the first duty of the Government is the safety and well-being of their citizens. However, no one can be in any doubt that security concerns, as my noble friend Lord Patten said, are significant in the run-up to the Games. Surely, therefore, anything which can be done to defuse international tensions ahead of the Games is an act of enlightened self-interest.
Indeed, I was struck by the Statement on the situation in Afghanistan, delivered by the Prime Minister in another place, which interrupted this debate. Some of the turn of phrase gave me hope that perhaps the message of the ancient Olympic truce has resonance within the current corridors of power. The Prime Minister stated today that insurgencies usually end with political settlements, not military victories. That is why I have always said that there needs to be a political surge to accompany the military one. We need a political process to bring the insurgency to an end. This strikes a chord with the original objectives of the Olympic truce.
Advancing a meaningful Olympic truce and using it as an opportunity to resolve differences between and within member states is surely the greatest prize the founders of the ancient Olympics have given to the modern era. It does not require a new international mandate; it only requires us to take seriously the one that is already there. It requires the same scale of ambition and courage to be shown by political leaders operating in the corridors of power as will be evident in the sporting arena by the athletes competing in the Games. If just one gun falls silent, one life is saved, one hopeless and intractable conflict is given the prospect of peaceful negotiation and end, then it will prove to be a legacy of which this city and this nation can rightly be proud.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Shutt and Lord Moynihan, for initiating this debate. I declare an interest as chair of two of the three bodies that have repeatedly been mentioned today—UK Sport and the Youth Sport Trust.
I congratulate my noble friend Lady Grey-Thompson, who is not only an exceptional athlete but a remarkable role model. What makes our great athletes role models is not the medals but the journeys they take to achieve those medals. They are role models for every young person to learn that, despite any set-backs, if you set your mind on a dream you can make it come true. She is also a woman of great principle and immense integrity, and I have no doubt that she will make an important and positive contribution to the House.
I congratulate John Armitt and David Higgins of the ODA and the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and his colleague Paul Dayton at LOCOG. They have set a new standard for us in sport of excellence, ambition and innovation. I hope the rest of us can achieve the same standard as we pursue the future of sport in this country. Finally, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, who, with her energy and dynamism, has brought the Legacy Company to life and driven it forward with immense purpose. I am sure that the legacy she leaves will be one that we will all treasure for a very long time.
I shall focus for a few moments on the preparation of our athletes. I believe that nothing will convince the British public more that the Games have been a success than our athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics winning medals, those glorious moments when individuals’ dreams come true. Indeed, at the Winter Olympics recently in Vancouver, the Canadian athletes not only managed to galvanise a nation together in a way that Canada had never dreamed possible but when surveyed later, not only in Vancouver but right across Canada, more than 90 per cent of the population felt that the Games had been worthwhile. I have no doubt that a great part of that was due to the athletes’ performances, which were quite outstanding.
So how is our team being prepared? I am pleased to say that we have the best resources that any team has ever had. I am the chair of UK Sport and have been so since 2003. We have four very important constituent parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, each playing a significant part in the preparation of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. UK Sport is investing more than £100 million a year of Exchequer, Lottery and private sector money in the preparation of our team. Following the Athens Olympics and prior to the Beijing Olympics, we introduced a policy of no compromise, which meant that our intention was to drive results through targeted investment. Our fourth place in Beijing, our best in Olympic Games for 100 years, and the continued success of our Paralympic team, finishing second in the medal table in Beijing, are testimony to the way in which that system has worked.
Not only is it the best resourced team in our history but it is also the best prepared. We have been fortunate enough to recruit the best performance directors from around the world. We have now a growing number of outstanding coaches. Initially, many of them were imported from overseas; now, we are home-growing our world-class coaches. They are supported by four home-country institutes that provide sports science and sports medicine support of the highest quality to every individual athlete wherever they are. There is a programme of research and innovation, linking with some of the biggest businesses in the country and finding that cutting-edge, 0.01 per cent difference in performance between gold and bronze medals. We have a new and creative talent identification programme, searching out those young people with talent who did not even know that they had it. A simple example was our tall people talent identification programme, which found a young woman who, three years on, has just won a medal in the women’s under-23 rowing world championships.
Not only are our athletes the best prepared in terms of the support system around them and the coaches and performance directors leading them but we are also staging between now and 2012 60 world and European events in 30 sports across 20 cities, giving our athletes home-country advantage. However, it is not only our athletes whom those events are preparing. More than 10,000 technical officials and volunteers will be involved in them, helping them develop the expertise that they need to be world-class at London 2012. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, that if our resources and support stay constant, I believe that this British Olympic and Paralympic team is on course for the best results ever: more medals in more sports and, most importantly, more inspiration for more young people across the whole of the United Kingdom.
However, not only do I hope that we will produce a better medal count but I also believe that, in this short time, we have produced a world-class system that is among the most envied of the world. If we can continue the investment through to 2016 and 2020, we will continue to build on the success of 2012. That is something that no other country has succeeded in doing.
I shall talk finally about youth sport and the inspiration of young people across the UK—my noble friend Lord Pendry eloquently addressed the issue earlier. As chair of the Youth Sport Trust—which is an independent company, limited by guarantee and with charitable status; it is not a non-departmental public body—I know that it has worked tirelessly for the past 10 years to create an infrastructure for school sport that many countries see as the most outstanding in the world. I have just recently returned from a visit to New Zealand and Australia to help them understand the way in which we have structured school sport in this country, which they now both envy and wish to copy.
It is critical that we sustain participation among our young people, which is the greatest legacy that we can achieve. During the past few years, all four home countries have invested in their school sports structure. In England, we have developed 450 school sport partnerships. Let us be clear: they are not just about schools. Those partnerships include every primary, secondary and special school, but, just as importantly, they include the community providers—those clubs that we talked about earlier, those community coaches, those volunteers. Each school sport partnership covers a local area which is equivalent to what might have been once the old districts. Within those, we have been able to drive opportunities for young people to participate, to perform and to lead in sport. All of that has been possible because of the investment in an infrastructure of people that stands ready to deliver the most exceptional legacy programme of all time.
This army of people is capable not only of creating new opportunities for young people, which is the easy thing to do, but of sustaining their commitment to participate, perform and lead in sport. That is equally important. The work that we do in the next two years could make a transformational difference to the lives of millions of young people.
At a time of considerable national challenge, I am reminded of a quote from Nelson Mandela:
“Sport has the power to change the world, the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else can”.
Sport can spread hope and inspiration to the world. I hope that we take the opportunity presented by London 2012 to spread hope and inspiration to the youth of this country.
My Lords, it is a joy and a pleasure for me to make a contribution. Every now and again, though it is not very often, I have sat down after making a speech and heard someone say, “Now, follow that”. How on earth can we follow a speech such as the one that we have just heard, delivered with such authority, such conviction and such warmth and humanity about what we are all about? The House of Lords is enormously privileged to have within its ranks those who have contributed to this debate, whether they have done so as professionals, members of quangos or in any other way. The House has been not only well served but brilliantly served. The person who will be most indebted to those contributors is the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, who began by reminding us of how amazed he was at the detailed planning that had been done.
I do not have a prepared speech. I have listened with admiration for and been impressed by those who have given prepared speeches. Although I have a different view on prepared speeches, I understand what is happening: this is a report of work in progress. It is all around the theme which the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, outlined—I congratulate him on his new position and wish him well. It is to do not only with letting members of the groups that the contributors represent understand that their case has been made, but with telling the rest of Britain and the Houses of Parliament that any fears about whether things are being done are misplaced. For my part, I have never had any doubts; if I had, they have all been allayed. I have been an enthusiast for sport. However, there are some aspects which I should like to touch upon.
My wife Margaret attended the 1948 Olympics as a spectator. When we were in company talking enthusiastically about sport, Margaret would look around and simply say with a smile on her face, “I was there”. That is what we will give to millions of people in two years’ time. Whether they are there in person, watching on television or listening on radio, they will smile and say to their children and grandchildren: “You talk about the Olympics of 2012. I was there”.
In 1948, I happened to work for the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Co-op. We had a sports field at Cowgate—those who know Newcastle will know where I am talking about. On that sports field in 1948, after the events, I saw Arthur Wint and McDonald Bailey. After any big sporting event, the stars who have come from all over the world go around. I am looking forward to people saying, “Do you know, I went to an event in Belle Vue in Manchester and I saw the great runner, Bolt, and Asafa Powell”.
The spin-off from enthusing people and getting them to believe that it has been well worth the time and the money cannot be measured. There are people who normally do not get excited the way we do about certain events, and yet they get carried away. For the past few months it has all been about world football—and I shall not mention the 1-1 draw last Saturday more than once. People get excited about the event. It is not only commercially exploited, as it is these days, but it takes the sport right into the room. In 1948, we did not have a television set and relied on other ways, but I remember the excitement that came from that—and so it goes on.
The noble Lord, Lord Shutt, should be congratulated on beginning a process for the past three or four hours of a report, not just to Parliament but to the country, that the slight apprehensions that might have been there five or six years ago are in practice being put behind us. That is not to say that it is going to be an easy journey for the next two years or the next 22 years, but at least we can be satisfied that the planning that was done will come to fruition.
I turn to the contributors, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Campbell and Lady Ford, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and of course our wonderful noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson—along with the noble Lord, Lord Coe, and Tessa Jowell. We have a marvellous team of people involved in one way or another who are to be congratulated. What will we achieve? One can see the pride that comes over in South Africa at the moment at the fact that this world event is being held in that country. That gives pride to people; they know that their country is respected by the rest of the world. That is marvellous. That is what I hope we will feel at the end of the Olympics, although of course we must think of the money and the difficulties.
When I take my son from Loughton in the middle of Epping Forest to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, I pass the site. I have seen it grow, and I have been staggered at its enormity. I reflect on the fact that in 1966 I was a member of the founding committee of the Lee Valley Regional Park. I pass that regularly as I go backwards and forwards from here to there; every time I pass it, 40 years on, I reflect on the fact that it is an established part of our local landscape, but also nationally and internationally known. Just to be associated with it is important. Our first sports director was Ron Pickering, who was a great man who inspired us to do a great many things. The authorities that formed the committee were termed riparian authorities; Newham and the River Lee were exploited and developed and grew, and the people of the area are very proud of that. In five or six years’ time, I look forward to going to Newham, Bethnal Green, West Ham and East Ham and so on, and finding people who—without their saying anything to me—I know are proud of the fact that not only the Games have come to their area but that they were there doing their bit.
As to the reservations that have been mouthed tonight over whether the legacy will be used, all we can do is be ambitious and hope that it is. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, on indicating to us that the transfer from one Government to another—that is, one manager to another—has been done seamlessly. There is no change in the direction or the policy, and no change in the ambition. I congratulate all those who have spoken with authority on behalf of their organisations, especially the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan —I was going to call him Colin—whom I have known ever since we both came to this House, many years ago. He gave us a marvellous résumé of what is happening as well as a forecast of what he hoped that we will see.
I speak with some emotion because in future I want to do what my wife was so happy to do, and say in a conversation, when I talk about the Olympics in 2012, “I was there”.
My Lords, I begin by welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, to the government Front Bench, and thank him for introducing the debate today.
I look forward to this being the first of many debates on the Olympics over the coming months, right up to 27 July 2012. I know that the noble Lord will use his forensic skills and judgment to help to ensure that the Games will be an outstanding success. In his comprehensive opening speech, he outlined for us the progress of a project already in play, and it was a very welcome starting point. As such, I offer my good wishes to him as one Dispatch Box debutant to another.
All today's speakers have great expertise in the Olympic project. We are, indeed, so fortunate to have contributors of such calibre who can be relied upon as a unit to hold the Government to account. We welcome the contributions from the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, whose expertise and involvement is acknowledged by all of us. He reminded us of all the key factors of the Games, and sport has no greater supporter. But be warned, Minister, we will watch you like hawks and hound you like tigers if you do not ensure that London's Olympic Games are the best ever.
Before moving on to the major points to be raised by the Opposition today, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, on her maiden speech. How lucky we are to have her in this House. Her experience is unique. She has long affected us in countless sporting events, and we have cheered and—I have to admit—sometimes shed a tear at her exploits. Her qualities of skill and determination ensured her world success and fame. Those qualities will ensure her success in this House. We look forward to many more contributions from her.
So let us briefly look back to the beginning of our Olympic dream. With a mixture of apprehension and excitement, the positive view prevailed, and once the decision was taken, the nation got behind it. Doubts about affordability were upset by the promise of the regeneration of one of the poorest areas in London. I know only too well, as a former chair of an urban regeneration company in Corby, how the quality of life of local residents can be transformed. It was a major factor there and will be so in east London. The Labour Government were absolutely wholehearted in their support, and I am delighted to say that today’s coalition Government are taking exactly the same approach.
The new Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, is on record as saying:
“The Games have been part of my life for so long and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help steer the project though to the home stretch”.
Such an endorsement is invaluable, as is the team who, from the outset, has proved itself quite brilliant in turning the project into reality. However, many speakers today have warned against budget cuts affecting the Games. Please relay the concerns from all sides of this House to the Minister.
At this moment, of course, we are all obsessed with World Cup football, and quite rightly so—let us get over Saturday and look to next Friday—but if ever a team led by Tessa Jowell and Seb Coe were to take to the Olympic stage, there would be only one winner. Quite simply, they have been fantastic and have gathered around them a team of men and women of peerless skill. Does Britain have talent? Clearly it does. Today those skills allow them to proclaim that the project is, in the jargon, “on time, on budget and on track”, and how many projects in the past decade have been able to claim that? We salute them.
My noble friend Lady Ford reminded us that the preparations for the legacy project are well under way. I know that the Minister will wish to respond to her concerns, coming as they do from such a knowledgeable source. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, spoke of our athletes winning Olympic medals—and who understands more than her how that success is to be achieved?
I would like to rewind the tape and remind us why the Olympic project is so important to Britain. In June 2007 the Government set out five major legacy promises that they pledged to deliver. They were to make the United Kingdom a world-leading sporting nation; to transform the heart of east London, which contains some of the five poorest boroughs in the capital; to inspire a generation of young people to take part in local volunteering, cultural and physical activity; to make the Olympic park a blueprint for sustainable living; and to demonstrate—this is particularly important—that the United Kingdom is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in and visit, as well as for business.
Meeting those targets will define the project’s success. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, reminded us of the broader implications of sport in clubs, schools and colleges. Utilising the impetus of volunteering was another factor. I am sure that the Minister will wish to endorse these facets of the Olympic legacy. If we add the Olympic movement values of respect, courage, excellence, ambition and determination, the aspiration for changing people’s lives becomes apparent.
The noble Lord, Lord Bates, took us for a stiff jog around the background of the modern Olympics. We were left breathless but much better informed as a result of his input. Today, though, we have challenges. The financial collapse is impossible to ignore. Fortunately, funds are in place and the project is sound, but a belt-tightening Government will have difficult decisions to make. There are those who opposed the Games from the outset; they may well believe that their time has come and will become vocal yet again. Those voices must be countered.
The success so far of the construction of the project points the way to future economic success. It can act as a blueprint for Britain’s revival in the years ahead, building our way out of recession. My noble friend Lady Morgan reminds us that the building and engineering innovation is unique, and that is a message that we should be proud to proclaim. The regeneration of the heart of east London has the potential to transform the lives of people who live there now and, most importantly, of those who will live there in the future. So will the Government meet the demands of the local people—the legacy that was promised them: 12,000 new homes, many affordable; local jobs going to local people; and the promise at the end of the day of a stunning park that will be enjoyed for generations to come?
Will the security provisions be strong enough, as the noble Lord, Lord Patten, has asked? He gave us grave warnings, and these questions must be answered. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, raised similar concerns, and his timely warnings cannot be ignored. Will the transport system be in place to make a journey to the Games a pleasure, not a penance? Even the Mayor of London seems to have misgivings about that. I, too, echo the warnings from the noble Lord, Lord Patten; I remember the opening night of the Dome. Add to that the current horrors of the Jubilee line—you try getting on that at the weekend—and I assure your Lordships that we have much work to do.
I hear rumours—I almost said “ugly rumours”, but I thought better of it—that the compulsory two hours of PE now enjoyed by 80 per cent of children in state schools is under threat. Can that be so? Will the promise of a new sporting generation of young people be realised? It has taken us a decade to repair the neglect in the 1980s and 1990s of the place of sport in the curriculum. The loss of competitive school sports was immeasurable. All those teams of excited youngsters were cast aside. Now we can rebuild on the time that is spent on this in state schools.
The Minister must make his voice heard. We must give all our children a chance to play sport, regardless of their background. In so doing, we should reverse the trend where the vast majority of Olympic medals are won by those who come out of the public school system, which, unlike the state sector, has prized and encouraged sporting excellence and never let dogma destroy its sport and games systems. The noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, made a timely contribution on participation in sport, and I echo his question about whether the targets are being achieved. If we are “all in this together”, this could be a very good place to start.
Time is against us today. I know there are many more issues, such as women in sport and encouraging more people to participate in the Paralympics. These have been touched on by others and I am sure that the Minister will touch on them in his reply. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, gave us an encyclopaedic outline of the matrix of the various parts of the many contributing organisations and associations involved in the project. We are indebted to him not only for that but for the foresight in securing this debate today.
This is but the opening set of a very long match. We look forward to the Minister’s replies and the continued cross-party support that has been, and will be, so crucial to the success of the London Olympics—surely a project of a lifetime. This has been an uplifting debate that has shown this House in the best possible light, and we can be proud of it.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to today’s debate. The delivery of an Olympic and Paralympic Games has been referred to as the world’s biggest peacetime logistical operation—the equivalent of 26 world championships back to back, followed two weeks later by another 20. It will be a defining moment, when the focus of the world will be on the United Kingdom and when the people of the UK and UK business can show to the world what they can deliver. There will be many challenges along the way but I am delighted that, two years out, the key parties responsible for delivering the Games are working together to overcome them.
Many interesting points have been raised by noble Lords today, and I will do my best to respond to them in as much detail as I can. There have been two forms of speech today. I am not talking about quality, you understand; rather, there have been those who have been giving information and those who have been seeking it. Both have been welcome. It has been helpful to have givers of information; there are many people in this House in positions of influence in the whole business of the Olympics, their preparation and their aftermath, and we are fortunate that we have all these talents who can take part in this way.
People have different enthusiasms, too. Some are looking at the wonders of present-day construction, others are concerned about the Olympics themselves and some are excited about the aftermath—for them it may be a little incidental thing to host the Olympic Games, but what wonderful things we can have afterwards. Others, too, can see other things alongside these considerations, such as the culture that the Games can bring with them.
If I might look at specifics, the first speaker was the noble Baroness, Lady Ford. She told us that we had a strong hand to start with; I hope she is right. Everything that I read tells me that there is a certain strength here, so perhaps she is. Yet it was very interesting to hear from her of all the work that she is doing for the OPLC, for which we congratulate her, and of the news about the residential field study centre that she mentioned. The one question that really concerned her was on the whole business of the company that she operates obtaining a freehold without debt. All I can say there is that Ministers are aware of the strong arguments in favour of that deal and I am sure that I, and others, will encourage the review that has been undertaken to be completed quickly. In the end, it is a Treasury decision; all I can do is to hope that that goes right, because it is important that the work that she is doing goes forward.
The noble Lord, Lord Patten, warned us of the snow, with two potential winters before we get to the date of the Olympics, and mentioned sticking to the last. Yet it is quite interesting how so many people have referred to areas where perhaps a little bit could be done, here or there, that has just not been thought of. I will refer to the noble Lord, Lord Bates, later, because that brings other opportunities, but the noble Lord’s main concern has been on security. Safeguarding London 2012 and the rest of the country during the Games is one of the largest and most complex security operations ever undertaken. The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, is currently undertaking an audit and review of Olympic security planning to ensure that that is on track, which will provide a platform for a transition to a security test and exercising, looking into where things are over the coming period.
There is a very substantial budget for security—and this is a public figure—of £600 million. Some of that is contingency and not yet committed, but the whole business of security is of tremendous importance. If we look at it as a percentage, at 6 per cent or so of that which is being spent on the whole of the Olympic preparations, it is a very high figure. The noble Lord also referred to cybercrime, which the Government are keeping under review and planning accordingly. To that end, additional funding has been provided to build capacity in the police central e-crime unit and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
The noble Lord, Lord Patten, also referred to transport, as did the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle. Of course, the aim is for 100 per cent of spectators to get to the Games by public transport. London 2012 will leave a legacy of permanent, major improvements to the transport infrastructure. We are determined to ensure that Londoners are not negatively impacted by the Games and will publish during this summer a consultation on plans for the Olympic route network—the means by which athletes and officials will travel to and from the events.
I move on to the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, who referred to the opportunity to inspire. I mentioned in my opening speech that Sport England has been asked to develop plans for the delivery of a mass-participation sports legacy. That work will necessarily consider the role of community sports clubs. The Government will be making further announcements on these plans in due course. My noble friend Lord Addington also referred to that. If one thing struck me as a theme during the debate, it has been that whole business of building up the concern about athleticism and imbuing that spirit, making certain that what is done with schools does not somehow come to a full stop when someone leaves school, but that there is a follow-through. If there is one thing that this Government must consider if they are not doing it, it is that. Reference was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, to the possibility of budget cuts. I do not believe that the Olympic budget is immune and I agree with him that any cuts to the budget should be sensible and strategic, but it has to be efficient.
I move on to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. It was indeed a splendid speech and I must congratulate her not just on the speech but on her skill in making a maiden speech when the right topic for her came up bang on cue. The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Huyton, was one of those who were able to give us information. She spoke of the impressive people she had come across during this and went into great detail about the excitement of the velodrome.
I think that I have indicated that my noble friend Lord Addington referred to the need for the follow-through and the fact that that is the one of the biggest challenges we face in developing a truly sporting nation. Keenly aware of the need to address this, we are looking to ensure that there are strong links between schools and the national governing bodies as we develop plans for delivering a new, national Olympic-style school competition. Further information will be given in due course on that issue.
I then come to the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, who had a splendid list of questions—yes, he hit the jackpot on questions. He talked about there being 2 million participants by 2012 and asked whether that has been abandoned. On that, all I can say is that those targets are currently being considered. There are no particular guarantees on that but they are looking at targets. I think that I covered the point earlier about the routes—
Yes, indeed; I think that I did cover that. Something is going to be put out during the summer for consultation about those routes and on getting the VIPs, as it were, from various places to the stadiums. On the issue of homes, the likelihood is that the Olympic village will become 3,000 homes and that 50 per cent of those will be affordable. Wider developments in the Olympic park will be of mixed tenure, with homes available for sale and rent, and 35 per cent of what is believed to be 10,000 to 12,000 new homes will be affordable housing. Those are the existing plans on that.
On the numbers of people employed locally, I have seen those figures in depth somewhere. I am pretty certain that the figure is that 20 per cent of the workforce on the ODA construction is people who live locally. Bearing in mind that the jobs are open for anybody to go for, that is a significant figure. Yes, it is here; of 6,442 at the end of March, 20 per cent were host borough residents and there was a target of 10 to 15 per cent, so it has gone beyond that. Currently, 199 apprenticeships have been placed with contractors. The ODA is on track to place 350 by December 2010.
The noble Lord referred to the wind turbine being abandoned. It was thought that it was safe and feasible to deliver the turbine, but new safety legislation for the particular turbine design and feedback from the industry mean that this wind turbine will not be appropriate at the Olympic park. The decision was taken on 30 April, when many of us were off electioneering. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of the renewable energy target will be met by the state-of-the-art energy centre at the Olympic park, which is due to be operational in the autumn.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, was one of our speakers who by and large gave us information. He referred to security, transport and legacy. For him, there are three elements of legacy: urban regeneration; a sporting sense in the locality; and sport generally. I found the points that he made interesting. I also found it interesting to hear the noble Lord, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, warm to the theme of the Cultural Olympiad and of a summer to remember.
The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, referred to the budget and worries about cost. When I saw the percentages, the figure of what was complete was 54.4 per cent. The idea is that, when that was written, the figure should have been 54.7 per cent, but I thought, “Well, that’s about the same”. For the infrastructure of the eight venues, the figure is 65 per cent. The difference arises between the figure for the totality of things and the figure for the venues—65 per cent and 54 per cent. Lend Lease won a contract to build the village. Given the economic downturn, it was unable to raise funding for the project, so the Government committed contingency funds to ensure that the project was built on time. The Government now own the village and will benefit from its sale post-Games.
The noble Lord, Lord Bates, referred to the Olympic truce. In many ways, his was one of the most fascinating speeches that we heard, as it was totally unexpected by me. He gave the historic context of the Olympic truce. He said that the Games began in 776 BC and lasted for 1,168 years, after which they started again in 1894. I was wondering whether all these numbers divide by four. If anyone has done the sum, please let me know. It was well worth while putting the historical context. People talk about piggybacking on something else, but perhaps piggybacking is possible. Down the road from me is the University of Bradford’s peace studies department. We could ask it whether there is an opportunity for peacemaking. That may be the opposite of sticking to the last in putting on an Olympic Games, but perhaps this is a real opportunity to look for peacebuilding.
The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, was another of our speakers who gave information, showing her enthusiasm for sport, particularly youth sport.
Like me, the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, has been impressed by the information that he has received. As he spoke about 1948, I was thinking that one of my earliest childhood memories is of the Festival of Britain in 1951. I did not come down to London—I went to Woodhouse Moor in Leeds—but I remember it. The noble Lord talked about people’s pride in being able to say, “I was there and I remember the Olympics”. Going even to one of the cultural events, if not to the Olympic park in the East End, will stick in the memory. The ability to say, “I was there”, is important.
The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, thanked me, so I thank her and I welcome her to her role. She said that she would be hawk-eyed. Well, perhaps I will be, too. I endorse the five points that she raised, relating to the sporting nation, east London, inspiration, sustainability and the UK. Most of them had been raised by others, which is the position in which one finds oneself in summing up debates, as I know. Nevertheless, I thank her for her contribution and look forward to further opportunities of hearing from her.
I conclude by saying that now is the time for some of the final decisions to be made that will ensure a lasting sporting legacy of the Games. Along with a continued focus on ensuring the delivery of a safe and successful Games, ensuring a lasting sporting legacy for young people in the UK will be a key focus of this Government over the next two years and beyond.
House adjourned at 8.07 pm.