I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is relatively short and straightforward in its aims. In 2006, Parliament passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, which set the legal framework within which organisations such as the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, LOCOG, the Olympic Delivery Agency, the ODA, and the mayor's office are empowered to deliver the Games. It also provides the legislative means through which government will meet the commitments given to the IOC on the way in which the Games, and the Games environment, will be managed.
The Act provided a number of powers, some of which are refined by the Bill in front of us today, including powers to regulate advertising and trading in the vicinity of Olympic and Paralympic venues, to make the touting of Olympic or Paralympic tickets an offence, to manage traffic on the Olympic route network and around Games venues, and to facilitate a number of the transport provisions that are necessary to ensure well run, well delivered and well remembered Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We may well ask why, if due care was taken in drafting the legislation following the securing of the Games back in 2005, such refinements are necessary now. To set the scene, there have been many positive developments since winning the bid for the Games. By the end of June, almost 90 per cent of the Olympic Park had been constructed and all the venues are on, or ahead of, schedule. The testing of venues is now under way as part of a comprehensive London Prepares programme. Preparation for the Paralympics is shaping up not only to change the way in which people think about disability sport but to help to change attitudes to disability itself.
Changing attitudes and providing opportunities lies at the heart of the broader legacy that we are laying down. An economic, social and sporting legacy will mean that next year, when the Olympics and Paralympics are over, we will be left not just with memories but with clear evidence of how the Games will leave their mark on the country.
This progress has been made possible because of the excellent planning and work of LOCOG, the ODA, government departments and others. It is this state of preparedness for next year's Games that has identified the need for the changes to legislation brought forward by this Bill, changes that ensure that the original intentions of the legislation—the smooth and effective delivery of the Games—are met.
Regulating advertising and trading near Games venues is a requirement of hosting the Games. The 2006 Act set out the tailored powers needed, both to act as a stronger deterrent to ambush marketing and illegal trading and because existing powers alone were not adequate for such a major event. It also set out the broad framework for detailed regulations to be made later. These regulations are expected to be laid in draft next week and will be subject to the affirmative procedure.
The 2006 Act provides the ODA and the police with powers to enforce the regulations, including the power to seize articles used in contravention of them. The Bill amends the 2006 Act to provide that any articles seized in England and Wales by either ODA enforcement officers or the police are dealt with by the ODA instead of the police. In Scotland, the ODA and the police will agree the process between them, reflecting the different legal system and processes there. The change will mean that during the 2012 Games, police time is not spent filing and dealing with seized property. Instead, officers designated by the ODA, who are likely to be enforcement officers from local authorities and familiar with dealing with street trading and advertising offences under existing law, will deal with breaches of advertising and trading regulations as well as handle any articles seized.
Infringing articles held by the ODA will be dealt with as specified in the Bill, which includes rules about how long articles can be held and conditions that must be met before they are disposed of. The Bill will also introduce a quicker procedure for making any subsequent amending advertising and trading regulations. As I said, the first, and I hope final, set is due to be laid in Parliament shortly. However, in the event of an exceptional circumstance—for example, a burst water main necessitating moving an event to an alternative venue—we are unable to apply the advertising and trading regulations to that new venue or to disapply them to the original venue. To resolve this, we are proposing to change the procedure used for any amending regulations under the 2006 Act to the faster negative procedure. Importantly, the statutory requirement of consultation before the regulations are made is preserved.
On ticket touting, there is little doubt that the Games will be the greatest sporting event this country has staged, and unfortunately ticket touts may seek to profit at the expense of genuine sports fans. The 2006 Act made the touting of Games tickets—meaning the selling or offering for sale of tickets in public or in the course of business, other than with LOCOG’s consent—an offence attracting a maximum fine of £5,000. However, intelligence gathered by the police through Operation Podium indicates that those who look to tout Games tickets may also have links to organised crime, meaning that this fine level may not provide the necessary deterrent.
The Bill thus contains a provision that seeks to increase the maximum penalty for touting Olympic and Paralympic tickets from £5,000 to £20,000. This does not criminalise any new conduct. Visitors will come to the Olympics and Paralympics from all over the world. We would not want their visit tarnished by ticket touts, as has happened at some previous Games. I must emphasise that this measure is aimed squarely at touts. Nothing in the law at present, or as a result of this change, prevents those who have Games tickets selling them at face value to family and friends. LOCOG will also run an official ticket exchange where those who find they can no longer use the tickets they have bought can legitimately dispose of them, so genuine spectators have nothing to fear. The people who will, we hope, think twice are those who might be tempted to engage in touting.
On traffic management and the 2006 Act, another key issue for the Games is the effective movement of the Games family to and from venues. The 2006 Act allowed the creation and enforcement of traffic management measures specifically for the Games to enable their smooth running and deliver journey time commitments made to the International Olympic Committee. These included powers to create an Olympic route network to enable the ODA and local traffic authorities to make traffic regulation orders for defined Olympics purposes and for the ODA to set levels of penalty charges in accordance with guidelines or, in Greater London, subject to consultation and approval. The Act also relaxed, for London Olympic events, restrictions on making special event traffic orders.
As with the Bill’s other provisions, significant progress has been made in Games time planning since 2006. The ODA has developed the second version of its Olympic transport plan, setting out in detail the transport strategy for the Games. This move from focusing on transport infrastructure to concentrating on the services that will operate during the Games has helped identify areas in the 2006 Act that require amendments. The Bill delivers those amendments, which in essence ensure that the intentions of the original Act can be properly implemented.
The 2006 Act allowed for the making of traffic regulation orders for Olympic purposes under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Unfortunately, the legislation as drafted required the Olympic purposes to be met in addition to the conditions that normally apply to Section 14 orders—for example, that the order is needed for litter clearing or road works. The Bill remedies this by providing that Section 14 traffic regulation orders may be made for an Olympic purpose only. This is required in order to ensure that effective traffic management can be carried out on the ORN and around Games venues at short notice. It is anticipated that this may often include measures to ensure that traffic is able to flow freely, so lessening the impact of Games traffic on those living and working around the venues.
The clause also allows traffic authorities, but not the ODA, to make temporary notices under Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for immediate changes to traffic regulation specifically for Olympics purposes, thereby avoiding the same issue that currently applies to Section 14 orders. Subsequent provisions allow for the civil enforcement of contraventions of traffic regulation orders and notices made for the Games. As in the current law, moving contraventions—involving, for example, Games lanes, banned U-turns or no entry—are dealt with separately from non-moving violations such as for parking. Likewise, provision is made for enforcement inside and outside Greater London.
The clause also clarifies provision for the ODA to set the levels of charges, including penalty charges, for the enforcement of orders and notices made for Olympics purposes, both within Greater London and outside, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. The Bill also addresses the current limitations on the special event powers in Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, which were relaxed to some extent by the 2006 Act, in relation to road closures for London Olympic events. The Bill further relaxes them in relation to other types of restrictions, such as parking controls or one-way streets.
The 2006 Act also provided general transport provisions whose purpose was to facilitate the effective management of traffic issues at Games times. The Bill augments those provisions in order to address concerns raised by Transport for London about the impact of Olympic transport restrictions on the ability of goods vehicle operators to operate effectively. As for goods vehicle operator licensing, TfL argued that, in order to ensure that businesses in London could continue to receive goods deliveries and that operators could arrange delivery times that were compliant with Games times restrictions, amendments to goods vehicles legislation were required.
There is currently a process by which goods vehicle operators can apply for a variation to the environmental conditions that are part of their operator’s licence. However, there may be some operators who, due to exceptional circumstances such as the award of a short-term haulage contract or a short-notice change to an existing contract, may need to seek a relaxation of their environmental licence conditions very shortly before the start of the Olympic period. The Bill makes provision for an expedited process, in these exceptional circumstances, for a variation of licence.
This House has a strong history of interest in and support for next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. It can also boast unrivalled experience and expertise in the areas the Bill amends. Without the input of your Lordships’ House over the years, preparations for the Games would not be as effective, as considered or as encompassing as they are.
I end by recalling the unique role that this House has played not just across the Olympic and Paralympic landscape but across the wider sporting environment, bringing unparalleled knowledge, experience and advice to the Government as we seek to deliver our sports agenda. I trust that the House will recognise that the Bill simply addresses a small number of technical issues that need to be resolved to ensure that the legislation passed in 2006 works as intended. They are minor and technical in nature but they provide the essential building blocks that underpin a truly memorable Games experience. I beg to move.
My Lords, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, introduced by the previous Labour Government, provides the overarching legislative framework that will successfully deliver next year’s Games. As we have heard, the amendment Bill provides a number of technical refinements to the 2006 Act. We accept that the general principle behind the Bill remains the same as in the original 2006 Act, which is to deliver great Games with a lasting legacy for the local area and for the country as a whole. I am grateful to the Minister, not only for her concise and clear introduction to the Bill today but for her assistance over the past few weeks in briefing us about the amendment Bill and for giving us access to the Bill team.
In ordinary circumstances, my place here today would have been as duty Whip and my noble friend Lady Billingham would have been taking the Bill through. Her illness prevented that, but I am sure that the whole House will join me in saying how delighted we are to see her in her place today.
In his Third Reading speech last month in another place, the Minister for the Olympics said that every time the United Kingdom has hosted the Olympics, we have left the Olympic movement stronger than we have found it. That is something that not every country that has hosted the Games can say, and it is an aspiration that we on this side of your Lordships’ House strongly support and, we believe, that we can and should deliver on.
Right across the country, people are aware of the Games and are looking forward to them. Part of the East End of London has been transformed from a contaminated wasteland littered with corrugated iron huts into what has been described as the largest urban park to be created in Europe for 150 years. There are several iconic buildings. Many people were sorry that the wonderful velodrome building did not win the Stirling architectural prize last week—although, to be fair, it lost out narrowly to an interesting and successful school design, whose designer, Zaha Hadid, has another building on the site.
Many of the Olympic legacy issues are in the extremely capable hands of the eponymous company chaired by my noble friend—and, if I may be permitted to add, fellow honorary graduate of Edinburgh Napier University —Lady Ford, who is in her place. I look forward to what she will say later in the debate.
All in all, we have every confidence that our shared ambition—that the Games should be about much more than 60 days of brilliant Olympic and Paralympic sport—will be achieved, so that as well as bringing desperately needed jobs and inward investment to the local area, communities up and down the country will be more optimistic and ambitious about their futures and will have a greater belief in the possibilities of their own achievements.
It is a sad feature of British public life that the media concentrate on things that do not go as well they could and should. So it will be with some aspects of the Olympics. However, there is a huge amount for this country to be proud of as we begin the final run- up to our Games. We should not lose sight of that as we scrutinise—as is our duty in your Lordships’ House—the Bill.
Turning to the Bill’s provisions, I shall highlight five areas where we will want to examine the provisions of the Bill in Committee. First, the Bill amends the 2006 Act by giving the ODA the power to store articles that have been seized for contravention of advertising and trading regulations. The argument for this, as the Minister has said, is that it frees up police resources so that they can be focused on security issues. However, the process is to be different in Scotland, following arrangements set in place already for the Commonwealth Games. Presumably, though, the police in Scotland will be as concerned as the police in England about security, so why the difference in approach to the storage of seized articles?
Secondly, the Bill makes provision to allow the ODA to alter advertising and trading regulations more quickly in certain situations. We will want to probe this to ensure that the regulations, which we accept are there for good reason, are able to be relaxed only in very specific situations.
Thirdly, on the advice of the police, the Bill raises the maximum penalty for the touting of Games tickets from £5,000 to £20,000. That is a huge increase. Popular though the Games will be, it is hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would pay anything like that for a ticket—in which case, the question is whether this high fine strikes the right balance. There may well be some conspiracy to which we are not privy, so there may well be a good reason. However, will this be a one-off for these Games, or will it become the new norm and be used for other sporting and cultural events?
On this point, as the noble Baroness mentioned, there is some concern about the impact that this provision may have on ticket-holders who cannot, with good reason, be present at the event. Obviously, the intention is to catch those who sell on tickets without consent and, as the Act has it,
“in a public place or in the course of a business”.
However, according to the correspondence that has recently been circulated, the person who paid for the tickets is expected not only to be present at the Games but to have some ID with them to prove their ownership of the tickets. If they cannot attend, they are supposed to return their tickets. This is becoming a little difficult to understand. Sadly, I was not successful in trying to buy tickets but my brother-in-law kindly bought tickets for my children as a gift so that they could attend events in which he has not the slightest interest—shame on him. What is he to do—use one of the tickets and disappoint one of his nieces or, as LOCOG has recommended, submit the tickets for sale through LOCOG’s resale platform? Something does not quite stack up in this. I am sure that there must be a better way to resolve the problem of ticket-touting and the practical problems of what will happen at the turnstile on entrance if someone is challenged, even though they have bought a ticket in good faith, within the rules as set out, but which does not have their name on it.
Fourthly, the traffic management provisions in the original Act cover the Olympic route network and the area around the Games venues. The powers were introduced because it was said that there was complete traffic chaos at 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Competitors missed their events and officials failed to turn up at the right time because the city became gridlocked. However, these provisions in the Bill caused the most discussion in the other place, and I am sure we will need to scrutinise them carefully in Committee. We need to ensure that enough information is provided about the ORN plans so that Londoners and others affected support the serious disruptions that they will face. We need to learn more about the impact of changes to traffic signals and assuage the fear that they will significantly increase congestion throughout London. We need to minimise the number of people who will use the Olympic lanes and stress again and again that these are public transport Games. If a sense gets abroad that there are two classes of traveller to the Olympic park—those whose journeys are hell and those who glide down the Olympic lanes—we must anticipate that that will quickly become a source of tension. London is that type of city. Indeed, I wonder why more use is not being made of the river transport system for the Games. That might well be a solution to many of the problems that I know are worrying the authorities. It might also show off a new aspect of London to the Games family travellers.
There is concern about the extent of pedestrian crossing closures and the impact that this may have on road safety. Again, we need to probe that. We also need to examine whether it is feasible for taxis to use the Olympic road network in specified areas or at specific times—another matter that is causing concern. Again, this is a matter that has been raised in correspondence. I note from the Minister that further discussions are taking place; I hope she will update us at some point.
Fifthly, the final group of provisions deals with the relaxation of licence conditions, which will make it easier for haulage operators to adjust to the difficulties that they may experience as a result of the Games. The sustained duration of the Games, compared to big one-off events such as a royal wedding, creates a very different proposition for businesses in London. What happens if a business has not been far-sighted and efficient enough to plan with its suppliers for the deliveries that it needs to keep going? That, I am afraid, will inevitably happen but there are also concerns about companies that have daily delivery schedules. We need to be sure that their livelihoods and working conditions are not affected disproportionately.
I should like to make one further point. The security operation for the Games will be the largest peacetime security operation ever mounted in the UK. It will place tremendous demands not only on the Metropolitan Police but on all police forces as officers will be drawn from forces throughout the country. In the wake of the disturbances that swept across London and other parts of England we have learnt how vulnerable parts of the country and, indeed, of London, can be when there are simply not enough police on the streets. By the time the Games come round, London and the national police forces will be significantly diminished in numbers. The Police Federation has raised concerns that forces outside London may struggle to find the finance and the manpower and womanpower to send officers to the capital, and that that could heap further pressures on an already stretched metropolitan service. It would be helpful if, at the appropriate point, there is a discussion in Committee of just how the Met police force will be able to cope not just with the Olympic security operation but with any public order disturbances that may come its way in this crucial period and how it is intended to strike a balance between keeping this city and the Games secure while recognising that there will be a fantastic public spectacle and that we want people to be able to move in and out of and enjoy all aspects of the Games to the maximum extent possible.
As the shadow Minister for the Olympics said in the other place, we strongly support this Bill, which, as she said,
“is a staging post on a journey that will see many major hurdles needing to be negotiated before we get to the closing ceremony of the Paralympic games”.—[Official Report, Commons, 8/9/2011; col. 634.],
which is now less than a year away. It is very important that the Government continue to tackle the tricky problems and take the sometimes unpopular decisions that inevitably come with organising such a huge event. We look forward to playing a constructive part in that process.
My Lords, when I looked at this Bill my initial thought was that it contained nothing that we had not looked at before or discussed a good few years ago when we were preparing for the submission of the bid. Therefore, I admit to asking myself why we have to do this again. As I understand it, the Bill is basically a tidying up exercise concerning the removal of infringing articles in Clause 1, the regulation of parliamentary procedure and public notice and the increase in the fine for touting. These matters have been talked about and are part of an ongoing discussion.
I understand that touting is the resale of a ticket for excessive profit. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to hand on a ticket or exchange money for its face value. It would reassure the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, if the Minister could confirm that that is the case. I suspect that the fears he mentioned are groundless but it is good that he raises them so that everybody knows they are groundless. All the tickets for the forthcoming Olympics have been sold due to the huge demand for them. We can safely say that no good deed goes unpunished. I am slightly narked that I did not get all the tickets for which I applied, but I am not alone in that. It is important to ensure that tickets can be transferred between friends, family and groups. I encourage my noble friend to make that situation as clear as possible on as many occasions as possible so that people are not frightened about this. If somebody breaks their leg and cannot get to the Games, they should feel free to hand on their tickets to somebody else and obtain a refund of their value. Such a measure would enhance the whole procedure of the Games and would keep the touts out. If tickets are not made available to them, they cannot sell them.
We discussed traffic problems in those heady early days when there was a more relaxed atmosphere, possibly because we thought that we might not win. I think there was an element of that involved, to be perfectly honest. Everybody asked whether the traffic problem would not be slightly awkward. I have heard that even one or two noble Lords on my own Benches are not totally satisfied with this process. If we seek to clarify what is required and why, that will help because at least people will know why they are being inconvenienced. Let us not pretend that you can have something like the Olympics without inconveniencing people. Whether that inconvenience is proportionate is the question, not the fact that it occurs—in my opinion, anyway.
I will probably not be the only person to raise one or two questions about the Olympic movement as a whole and what comes after it. We have learnt from our failures. I have described the process of getting the Olympics as brilliantly dull. There have been no great disasters. We have got things ready on time and we are waiting for something to go wrong. Indeed, there must be lots of journalists who have written lots of articles about disasters who are annoyed that congratulations are due to all those involved. That is a good thing. But that is the Olympic movement itself. The whole structure of government must have a long look at everything else that was supposed to come with it. At the moment, it appears that we have been overoptimistic about encouraging participation in sport as a result of the Olympics. If that turns out to be true, I would hope that the Government will look at why that occurred. This is an international piece of legislation and those who come after us should take some benefit from it and learn what can and what cannot be achieved. We should also learn about what can and what cannot be achieved. We will have the legacy of what happened, the idea of how to have a second go if we have the will.
I hope that the Government and all those who backed the bid politically will take on board that we must look at what has happened and what we have achieved. There is a huge danger that we will say, “Right, that was done”, in just under one year’s time, collapse in a heap and forget about it. That is a perfectly normal reaction when you have gone through something big and exciting—there is a hangover, almost, afterwards. If we allow ourselves to just forget about it, we will not be able to carry it on. There will, we hope, be more big sporting events as a result of a successful Olympics in this country. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games will be the first, and there should be more to follow it. Unless we can take on board the lessons not only of what we got right but of what we got wrong, we will have wasted one of the biggest legacies. What will succeed and what will not? I am hopeful about the Cultural Olympiad, having been very sceptical on its inception. We must look at what has and what has not happened. If we do not, we will throw out probably one of the greatest benefits we may gain: up-to-date knowledge to apply before it becomes historical fact.
My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the British Olympic Association, a member of the Olympic board and a director of the London Organising Committee. From the outset, the specific measures we are being asked to consider are sensible and will, I hope, command the support of all sides of the House. The main issues on which we will no doubt focus in Committee are: increasing the maximum fine on the illegal sale of 2012 tickets from £5,000 to £20,000; allowing wider and easier enforcement of traffic regulations which are required as part of Games delivery; and clarity on seizing and disposing of infringing articles and vehicles during the Games period.
All-party support since your Lordships held their first debate following the BOA’s recommendation in 2004 to bid for the Games to come to London, before support from Cabinet was secured in 2005, was as strong then as it is today, and has been regularly marked by noteworthy contributions from my noble friend Lord Higgins, who is in his place today, and of course from my noble friend in sport, the noble Lord, Lord Pendry. One advantage of this debate is that it provides, as it did in another place, the opportunity to review progress on the many measures which were recommended and agreed in the original 2006 Act and to take stock of progress to date.
The original Act made provision for the Olympic Delivery Authority, whose work is nearing conclusion. The true stars of the Games to date are the directors, management, staff, contractors and subcontractors of the ODA. They have delivered on time, to spec and on budget an array of facilities which will allow the equivalent of 26 world championships to be held simultaneously for the Olympians and Paralympians alike. John Armitt and David Higgins have proved to be outstanding leaders of that assignment and they deserve recognition both within Parliament and beyond for their remarkable gold medal achievements.
To me, a great Games requires the delivery of four objectives, the four legs which provide support to the overall success of an Olympic Games. First, there is the work of the ODA, the Government, the Mayor’s office and the private sector in taking forward the vision originally delivered by the National Olympic Committee, without whose support and approval no bid can be made anywhere in the world. That vision in London originally offered two possibilities: developing the facilities already standing in the West End of London, including Wembley as the hub, or the urban regeneration of the heart of the East End of London with some £9.3 billion-worth of new infrastructure, including roads, schools, housing and facilities. The lion’s share has not been spent on sport, but has breathed new life and oxygen into what was one of the most depressed areas not only of the United Kingdom but of Europe. To deliver the ODA work programmes on time is essential, and is near completion. What would have taken at least another 10 years of incremental spend—and a lot more politics—to complete will be celebrated as the finished article at the opening ceremony next year. It will be one of the great urban regeneration projects in the world. As I said, we are indebted to John Armitt, David Higgins and their teams for their achievement.
Secondly, I come to the work of LOCOG. This started in earnest in the public eye with the test events. LOCOG is the event manager. Its management team takes the completed theatre from the ODA and puts on the show. Its success to date has provided the Games with another success story. The test events gave the world a taste of some iconic settings for what will surely be great sporting memories next year. LOCOG will need to continue to put the interests of athletes first at all times. It will also need to face the challenges of security and transport. The good news in the context of the transport challenges—from accreditation of incoming athletes to management of the Underground in stations such as London Bridge at peak points during the Games and the expected crowds in and around Hyde Park during the time of Olympic events to be held in and around that area—is that we have an outstanding Secretary of State for Transport, the right honourable Philip Hammond MP. We at the British Olympic Association, along with all sides of the House, have every confidence that with him in control of the transport brief we will have the greatest chance of success.
The third leg supporting a successful Olympic Games remains the National Olympic Committee and its selection, management and leadership of a successful British team. The BOA needed to make consistent funding for the athletes its priority. We launched a campaign that ran up to and beyond the success of the team in Beijing. I remember arriving back with the team from Beijing to headline news on the front page of the Times referring to our call to ensure that the athletes, coaches, governing bodies and support staff for Team GB were not just well funded, but consistently well funded, principally through the Lottery. That campaign has succeeded. Tessa Jowell and Gordon Brown are to be congratulated on their response, as is Hugh Robertson, the current Minister for Sport and the Olympics, who delivered ongoing funding for the athletes following the successful outcome of the very difficult 2010 public spending round. Moving forward, it is essential that funding remains in place not only through to Rio 2016 for the Olympians and Paralympians, but beyond. It is also essential that funding is put in place for the winter athletes, for non-Olympic sports and the Special Olympians. We must ensure that they are not financially sacrificed on the altar of the singular success of Team GB in the Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer.
The BOA anticipates that for the London Olympics it will be selecting a team of some 550 British athletes. They will be supported by the strongest group of British Olympic Association managers and staff ever assembled in our history. Our total BOA complement of over 80 individuals continues to punch above their weight and deliver outstanding professionalism. In their work they are backed by one of the strongest advisory boards in the country. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Patten for his contribution in that context. I can inform the House that retaining our position of fourth place in the medal table gained in Beijing will be a very tough challenge, but with ever-improving coaching, support staff and backing from the BOA’s performance team and the governing bodies, Formula 1 sports like rowing, cycling and many more will, I am sure, continue to deliver outstanding medal performances. I believe we will lead out a British Olympic Team at the opening ceremony that will win more medals in more sports and will lead to the 2012 British Olympic Team returning back to the closing ceremony as one of the greatest British teams ever.
For the fourth and final leg, as my noble friend Lord Addington stated, we need to ensure that we deliver a sports legacy for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to match the three other key areas of activity. Where sports legacy is concerned, as the House has heard me say consistently, we still have a long way to go. However, our goal remains clear: the Games must be transformational for all sport and recreational activity, able-bodied and disabled, the length and breadth of this country. They must be not just inspirational but transformational. There must not only be enthusiasm for the Games; they must be visible for local communities from Tottenham to Totnes, putting to good use bricks and mortar to increase the number of sports facilities. There must be improved local authority facilities, not cuts in their recreation budgets. There must be more investment from the private sector which the BOA, totally independent from government and public funding, can drive in 2013 and beyond, not lost playing fields and declining participation. There must be a new, invigorated focus on governing bodies, schools and clubs as the catalysts for more involvement in sport and sustained high-level performance, not a reliance on quasi-governmental organisations.
We all have a responsibility here—the Government above all, but also LOCOG, the International Olympic Committee, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and politicians from all sides of this House. Let us sit at the table and work together to raise the bar for British sport, able-bodied and disabled, Olympic and non-Olympic. If the Games are not transformational in the sense that I have outlined, we will have a legacy of lost sporting opportunities around the nations and regions which we will regret, from losing out on the delivery of a new school sports policy to the need to embed sport, recreation and fitness programmes into the heart of health policy. Then, of course, it is vital to ensure that local authority spend on sport and recreation becomes mandatory, not discretionary. That single change alone would be transformational for sport and it would be the building block on which the excellent work undertaken by Hugh Robertson in his Places People Play initiative could flourish.
In concluding, I want to comment on one issue which was raised in another place during consideration of the Bill—the specific issue of press allocations, to which I am sure we will find a way to return in Committee. The British Olympic Association received more than 3,000 applications for 410 accreditations for written and photographic press based in the UK—a ratio of almost eight requests for every one accreditation available to award. As the national Olympic committee, we are assigned by the International Olympic Committee the responsibility of allocating Olympic Games media accreditation for media organisations based in the UK in the same way that all 204 national Olympic committees are given that responsibility within their territory by the International Olympic Committee. This does not include the allocation of 90 accreditations which have been awarded by the International Olympic Committee to the Press Association, for the Press Association has been designated by the International Olympic Committee as the national news agency for the UK. It is the expectation of the IOC and the BOA that the Press Association will provide copy to local and regional papers—hence its national news agency status. The PA has committed to cover every single Team GB athlete. Its ambition is to have at least one reporter at every venue for every minute of the competition.
On top of that, we at the British Olympic Association have, with the help of the Newspaper Society, organised a regional pool which will complement and add to copy generated by the PA. This will be available to all bona fide regional and local papers which applied for accreditation within the timeline. I am very keen that we should offer additional services to those non Olympic-accredited media, including press conferences in Team GB House at Westfield, with flash quotes, phone interviews and access to the medallists from the home teams of the athletes, who will be inspired by their success. To give an example, 90 per cent of the sailing-specific venue accreditations in Weymouth and Portland were awarded to local, regional and sports-specific written press, with 100 per cent of the photographers’ passes going to the same group.
To assist with the allocation process, the BOA established a Media Accreditation Committee to act as an impartial and fully transparent body to review and provide input on the BOA’s recommendations. The MAC is composed of representatives from a broad spectrum of the written and photographic press. They are widely respected for their knowledge and experience of numerous Olympic Games and their understanding of the UK media landscape. Recognising the unprecedented interest and demand among the UK press—as well as letters that I have received from noble Lords on both sides of the House—we will continue to lobby the IOC for more accreditations. We have requested a further meeting with it later this week specifically to discuss local press access.
I look forward to the Committee stage of the Bill and I thank the many noble Lords who have worked closely with the British Olympic Association over the years for their support and advice. We are on course for a memorable and successful Games.
My Lords, I start by declaring my interests. I am a board member of Transport for London, vice-chair of the Athletes’ Committee of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I am a Paralympian. I support the Bill, which I see as a necessary part of the progression of what is required to deliver a successful Games.
I have competed at five Paralympics, in four Olympic demonstration events and a number of world, European and Commonwealth games. I have seen what is perhaps best described as varying levels of competency in the events I have competed in. I am pleased to say that London 2012 is in a very good place.
The promise of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, to put athletes at the very heart of the Games is important, and some of the contents of the Bill will help to make that happen. The reputation of the Games, and therefore London and the UK, is based on many things that are not included in this Bill and will be sorted out elsewhere, such as the quality of the athletes’ food, their accommodation and the competition itself. The Bill includes two areas of interest to me: tickets and transport. These are extremely important non-competition factors, but they can have a huge impact on athletes’ performance.
First, in terms of tickets, it was a delight to see so much interest in the ticket sales of both the Olympics and Paralympics. In both cases there was unprecedented demand. Personally, I am very much looking forward to seeing Greco-Roman wrestling at the Olympics, and I wait to see whether I am successful in the Paralympic ballot. It is vital that the integrity of ticket sales is maintained, and I therefore strongly agree that there should be a greater penalty for those who do not observe that. There have been many stories over the years about the public—indeed, family members of competing athletes—being duped by illegal ticket sales. I am delighted that the organising committee has taken steps to ensure that friends and family of competing athletes at the London 2012 Games will be able to secure two tickets to see them in action from the first round right through to the finals. That is a real innovation. It is the first time that this is being offered at an Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we should be proud that London 2012 will be the first to deliver it. It is perhaps because the Olympics and Paralympics are such important worldwide events that some people will still seek to profit illegally from them. I support the penalty in Clause 3 being raised as I believe that it will be a significant deterrent. I welcome further discussion on the figure that will be set.
Transport is another area that will have significant impact on the wider perception of the Games. London is a busy city; we all recognise that. It is a strength of the London Games that the organisations involved in delivery are not pretending that, by some miracle, all road users not involved in the Games will somehow disappear. As much as possible needs to be done to ensure that the city keeps moving during the Games, when the eyes of billions will be upon us. In my life outside your Lordships’ House I am frequently asked why it is necessary to have an Olympic route network. I have competed at Games where, even if there was provision for a Games-time route network, there certainly was not much enforcement around it. Athletes, officials and the media need their transport to move efficiently through the city, as do spectators and people who have no involvement in the Games. From my personal experience, when I was in Atlanta in 1996 I had a free day and was going to watch a fellow team member compete. Because there were no appropriate checks and balances in place and no back-up system, when the bus I was travelling in got lost, athletes on that bus did not make it to the venue on time. The result was that they were scratched from the events and did not compete at those Games. Trying to support athletes whose whole careers have ultimately ended because of a bus journey was not a particularly pleasant place to be. Continuing publicity around the route networks is therefore important. There has already been much work done to explain Games time, what the atmosphere in the city will be like and suggestions for different ways of working. However, I am concerned that there are many misnomers relating to the route network, such as the hours of operation, who and what vehicles will be permitted to travel on it and the supposed chaos that it will cause rather than alleviate.
Finally, I ask the Minister to keep encouraging publicity and awareness around transport implications so that people can make informed decisions about how and when they travel. As we move closer to the Games, I believe that London 2012 will be something that our nation will be proud of and will perhaps, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, suggested, give us a platform for other events such as the World Athletics Championships in 2017.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness. She is an icon for disabled sportsmen and sportswomen everywhere and, more than anyone else, has introduced the Paralympics to the British people and made them popular. We are very lucky to have her in the House contributing to the debate.
I start by expressing my appreciation to the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Garden of Frognal; to the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson MP; to the noble Lord, Lord Coe; and to their officials for convening the meeting on 13 September to discuss the Bill. I thank the noble Baroness for her subsequent letter of 26 September. I am happy to support the Bill, but I have a couple of concerns and some questions that I hope she will address when she replies, or subsequently in writing if she does not have the answers ready.
A number of my questions concern ticketing, which has been referred to already in the debate by a number of noble Lords. I have no problem with the provision in Clause 3 to quadruple the penalties for touting Olympic and Paralympic tickets. However, the issue of reselling and passing on tickets exercised a number of us at the meeting convened by the Minister last month. As a result of receiving her letter, I now understand the rules, although I was hazy about them beforehand. My noble friend Lord Stevenson referred to this, as did the noble Lord, Lord Addington. I am afraid that the interpretation of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, is rather different from what I read into the letter that the Minister sent to me.
The letter states:
“LOCOG has confirmed that it is one of its requirements that the lead ticketholder (being the person who ordered the tickets) must attend and use one of their allocation of tickets. The others can be given to friends and family, as is the case with any major sporting event. However, if a lead ticketholder can no longer attend, they can submit their tickets for sale through LOCOG’s resale platform”.
I will ask, first, whether that “can” means “must”. The two words are different, and different interpretations may be put on them. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, raised the question of ID, which is covered in the subsequent paragraph. It is possible that there will be random checks on people as they go into Olympic venues and that they will need to show that they are the person to whom the tickets were originally allocated.
I share with the House a clear and coherent e-mail on the subject of ticketing that I received last week from a gentleman in Somerset. He wrote:
“The first round of ticket allocations were compromised … by the fact that people were allowed to apply for a maximum of 6 tickets; whilst we”—
he and his family—
“only went for 1 or 2 in the sessions we were interested in, the fact that 6 was set as the maximum is puzzling—one would have thought that a maximum of 4 per person was plenty and I am sure that this was instrumental in so many not receiving an allocation”.
He asks who decided that six was appropriate when the average family is nowhere near that size, and points out that some family members in the same house will have applied for the maximum allocation, compounding the oversubscription.
Perhaps the Minister will also say something about the random ballot. I am sure that she will have heard anecdotes about how some people who applied for a large number of tickets got everything they requested, while others who applied for far fewer received none at all. Was the random ballot based on the number who applied or on the number of tickets? If it was per person, and most of those selected went for the maximum of six tickets, it would have precluded many others who went for fewer tickets. Would it not have been fairer to allocate upwards from single tickets to two and then three, until all had been allocated? Would that not have ensured that many more people were successful in the ballot?
Perhaps I may ask also when reallocated tickets will become available. Will those who were unsuccessful in the first two rounds be given priority in this ballot? If that is the case, how will someone who has already been successful be stopped from attempting to re-register under a different name? What safeguards are in place to stop multiple applications? Can someone access tickets from two separate computers with the same registration details?
Finally, I am sorry if the Minister is getting tired of these questions on ticketing, but will she comment on the proliferation of commercial promotions where the prizes are Olympic tickets? For example, there is currently an offer at BP garages which makes 1,000 tickets available in return for petrol purchases. Would it not have been fairer if those companies had waited until after the final ticket allocations before running their own promotions?
That is all I want to ask about tickets. I have one other subject to raise with the Minister: the question of the integrity of betting on the Olympics. I am assured by Jenny Williams, the chief executive of the Gambling Commission, in a letter she wrote to me last week, that,
“the risks of betting and sports integrity issues to the London 2012 Games are likely to be minimal”.
I very much hope that she is right. I note that the DCMS is planning to list the IOC as an accredited organisation with which the Gambling Commission can share information, under the terms of the Gambling Act. I warmly welcome that, and I hope that the Minister will be able to say when these arrangements will be in place. Those of your Lordships with long memories may recall that I chaired an inquiry on the integrity of betting on sport in 2005 and our final report proposed exactly this sort of conclusion.
However, the Gambling Commission is very short of powers when it comes to overseas betting operators targeting British consumers. This issue goes well beyond betting on the Olympics, and the Government seem to have been rather slow in coming forward with plans to extend licensing to them. I note what the Gambling Minister, John Penrose, said in another place in July— that overseas operators will be subject to the same “standards and requirements” as those based in Britain, as well as being required to inform the Gambling Commission about,
“suspicious betting patterns to help fight illegal activity and corruption in sports betting”.—[Official Report, Commons, 14/7/11; col. 38WS.]
However, my understanding is that these arrangements will not be in place in time for the Olympics. Can we at least have an assurance that they will be in place in time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014?
I stress that I do not wish to appear negative. I think that the Olympics are going to be a fantastic success and I applaud the efforts of everybody who has worked so hard to create the venues and put together what I am sure is going to be a very successful set of Games. However, there are concerns about the issues that I have raised and I would be very grateful if the Minister could answer them.
It is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, on any matter regarding sport because of his great expertise in these matters. I shall pick up some of the points he has made that I think require further consideration.
The House should be grateful to my noble friend the Minister for her opening remarks, which clarify a number of points. As she rightly points out, it is a technical Bill, really a tidying-up exercise, which reflects how effectively the original legislation had been introduced and how little change is really needed—in contrast, I understand, with the situation in Australia with the Sydney Olympics, where they had to have no fewer than four amending Bills to the original legislation. I also think it is rather difficult for my noble friend, on a ministerial brief, to show the kind of passion which I believe she and all of us feel at the considerable progress that has been made in the construction of the Olympic site and the way in which matters there are progressing. It is very impressive indeed.
This Bill is very much in contrast with 1948, because in 1948 there was no legislation. Of course, that reflects both the commercialisation of the Games and indeed the professionalism of sport. But it is very necessary that we should have this legislation. It is even more important that we should get it right, otherwise an air of gloom would be cast over what I believe will be the overall success of the Games.
I am often critical of the way in which legislation in the other place is programmed and comes to us with lots of it not having been debated at all. I do not make that criticism now, although programming legislation is such a knee-jerk reaction now in the other place that even this legislation was programmed. I cannot imagine why that was felt necessary. However, I pay tribute to the debates in the other place, which were extremely good, as has been the relationship between the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, and his predecessor, Tessa Jowell. It is very welcome that we have adopted such an all-party approach to the whole question of the Olympics, which we are completely united in wishing to see an enormous success.
I was rather surprised—I had not kept completely up to date—that the Committee stage in the other place took evidence, which certainly never happened in my 33 years in the other place. It was very helpful for the constituency Members surrounding the Olympic area and its venues to be able to express their views, and to question the officials and others concerned head to head. To what extent that was reflected in the amendments which followed was not entirely clear. None the less, it was very effective, although some of the discussions which took place gave reason for concern on some matters that we have to consider.
I shall talk about three of them—transport, tickets and legacy. On transport, we must hope that the arrangements for the Olympic route network work successfully. At the moment, I am not clear exactly what the position is on taxis. An enormous statistical sample of one this morning suggested that taxi drivers are not entirely clear what will happen. There is a tendency to react by saying, “We shall all go on holiday for the entire period”, which would not be helpful for transport.
I welcome very much the proposed ban on roadworks—for however short a period it may be. But I hope that we will distinguish between a ban on roadworks where, in fact, no work would be going on—that would be scarcely any change at all from the present situation—and where barriers and so on would still be there. Perhaps we might pursue this point in Committee.
There was also some concern expressed in the other place about how long the traffic restrictions would continue. There were fears that they would go on for 100 days. As I understand it, the Minister was clear that it would be for a short period before the Olympic Games, followed by a gap before the Paralympic Games. The entire period will not be for all that long and will be kept to a minimum, which is important.
On tickets, I welcome the increase in the penalty proposed. The police seem to be quite clear that we may be dealing with an organised crime arrangement, which certainly I understand occurred in Beijing and is likely to be a danger here. The increase to £20,000 is entirely reasonable. I think that the noble Lord on the opposition Front Bench said that tickets were going to be £20,000, which I am sure was a slip of the tongue. That is the penalty to be imposed.
I am concerned, as was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, about the position as regards the resale of tickets. The Minister, after our meeting which she kindly arranged, wrote to us about the details. She wrote that,
“a person who gives a ticket to a friend, colleague or family member or who sells it … at face value does not commit an offence”.
“LOCOG has confirmed that it is one of its requirements that the lead ticketholder (being the person who ordered the tickets) must attend and use one of their allocation of tickets. The others can be given to friends and family, as in the case with any major sporting event. However, if the lead ticketholder can no longer attend, they can submit their tickets for sale through LOCOG’s resale platform”.
That does not seem to be a very realistic approach, because it may well be that the person who purchased the tickets is not able to attend at the last minute and will not have the time to resell them. The tickets will then go to waste and we will end up with empty seats, which we do not want.
There is another point about which I am not clear, since I have not seen a ticket. Does it say on the face of a ticket who the main purchaser is? If it does not, I do not see how one can possibly carry out this operation anyway. We need to look at that again in Committee. The arrangement as it is now put forward does not seem practical as far as the use of tickets is concerned. There are real problems with identification, particularly because the name of some family members may be quite different from that of the person who happened to have bought the ticket in question.
I agree with the point made passionately by my noble friend Lord Moynihan, who stressed the importance of getting a genuine, grass-roots sporting legacy from the Olympics. It is clear that this is to some extent in conflict with the proposals that the Government are making with regard to planning law. It is quite wrong that planning law should not take into account the importance of sport. If a particular planning application is likely to have an adverse effect on sporting facilities, which is not uncommonly the case, it should be granted only if equal or even better sporting facilities are put in place by the person asking for the planning permission.
I have a further, more specific point on legacy. I was not terribly keen about the equine facilities being in Greenwich; I have serious concerns about the transport arrangements and the effect on the park. I have recently received a letter from the British Equestrian Federation advocating a plan for an extension of equine facilities in Greenwich after the Games. I have not come across this before; I should perhaps declare an interest since my daughter has just finished her term as president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, but she has no connection with what I am discussing. On the face of it, this proposal seems to provide a degree of legacy to the equine situation which it is clear would otherwise be non-existent once Greenwich Park is returned to its normal state. I do not imagine that my noble friend the Minister is able to reply to the point at this stage, but I hope that she can let me know whether it is a sound proposition which we can enthusiastically support, since legacy is very important.
We can pursue some of these matters further in Committee. I wish the Bill well. It is important that we get these matters right and I am sure that we are doing all that we can to ensure that the Games succeed in their objectives.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, for, possibly inadvertently, giving me a cue to talk about the legacy of the 2012 Games. I declare my interest as chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. I also need to convey a message to your Lordships’ House from the noble Lord, Lord Coe, who is quite unusually not in his place today during an Olympics debate. He is hosting the IAAF’s visit to London. We are in the final stages of the London bid for the 2017 World Games. This morning he and I hosted the technical committee out in the Olympic park. What a joy it was to take such distinguished visitors to the Olympic park. London looks at its best today, and I can say that the Olympic park also looked at its best. When we went into the main stadium, where the track has just been laid, the field of play looked quite magnificent, and against the wonderful iridescent blue sky—I am becoming quite lyrical here—that is frequently a feature of east London, as my noble friend Lord Mawson will assure us, the whole thing could not have been teed up more perfectly. I hope it had the desired effect on my colleagues from the IAAF. The noble Lord, Lord Coe, was very keen that I stress his apology to your Lordships for his absence this afternoon.
Being out in the park this morning and looking back six or seven years, it still takes me aback to think of what has been accomplished. I knew the site very well in the old days. It is almost unbelievable to look at it now and see the wonderful landscaping and the fantastically cleaned-up waterways. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, will testify, many people did not realise that there were waterways in that part of London. To see those seven kilometres of water glittering this morning with the wildlife and ecosystems back in place was quite breathtaking. I echo the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, to the vision and diligence of the Olympic Delivery Authority in transforming one of the most unpromising sites in Europe in terms of pollution and big physical challenges. Let us not forget that there were six major pylons marching through the site. In a feat of financial heroism, the then Deputy Prime Minister, now the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, simply said, “If we’re going to do the job, let’s do it properly and underground the power lines”. It is unimaginable to think of what the park would be like if the power lines were still there. Those kinds of really important decisions were taken very early in the project and quite literally laid the foundations for a stunning achievement.
It is not just the theatre, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, put it, where the show will take place which is important. Our job in the legacy company—and I pay tribute to the work of my noble friend Lord Mawson who serves on the board of the legacy company with me—is to accomplish three things. In the immediate aftermath of the Games, we have to do something that has never been done in any country which has staged an Olympic Games. We have to make sure that every single venue in the purpose-built park has operators, is financially stable, and commercially and socially successful. That has never been accomplished in the immediate aftermath of a Games. It took Sydney many years even to set up a legacy company. The Mayor of London and the Government showed great foresight in setting up the legacy company three years before the Games so that we could deal with all these issues before the park reopens in legacy. Let us not forget that the park will close down for a year after the Games because a lot of construction work will have to take place before the park can reopen in legacy. All the Olympic overlay has to come off and the correct size roads, footways, paths and bridges have to be re-engineered, so a huge construction job still has to be done. We want to make sure that when the park reopens in legacy for the benefit of the local communities, the wider London community, the rest of the UK and international visitors, every venue is working well, the park is programmed well, the first housing development is well under way and the Olympic village is thriving so that we can say that we lived up to what we promised in the bid: that these Games would be driven by regeneration as well as by many other important aspects.
I am very happy to report to your Lordships’ House today that we are on track to accomplish many of those things. Last month, the planning application, an exceptionally complex application for the master plan for these 500 sites, was submitted to the ODA planning team, and we expect to have planning approval for the outline master plan before the Games start. That has never been accomplished before. We will go to the market next week for the developer of the first neighbourhood of 800 family homes to be built immediately after the Games to complement the apartment-style homes already in the Olympic village. We have had huge interest and appetite from developers and house builders for that site. We expect to name our preferred developer well ahead of the Games. Again, that has never been accomplished before. Anyone who has visited the park recently will have seen what a magnificent building Chobham Academy is. It is sponsored by Lend Lease and will now be run by the Harris Foundation. All the preparations, such as interviews for the head teacher and key staff, are well under way a long time ahead of the Games. That has never been done before.
All the other venues—the magnificent aquatic centre, the broadcast centre, the velodrome, the handball arena which will be a mixed-use arena in the Games—are on track to have operators identified and confirmed in the early part of next year, well ahead of the Games. These things have never been accomplished before. When the park reopens in legacy, I am delighted that Her Majesty has agreed to lend her name to the park in her Diamond Jubilee year. Alongside the magnificent brand that is the Olympics, the park will be known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when it reopens.
All of these things are very important and give us the momentum for the immediate post-Games legacy that was promised, but this is only part of the story. Ours is a long job. This is a 20-year project. Next year, if the Localism Bill becomes an Act, we will be transformed into an Olympic park development corporation or legacy corporation. The project will move from being a national and London project to one sponsored by the mayor under the scrutiny of the London Assembly. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, who follows me today, will continue to be a candid friend to us throughout all of that. She has been immensely constructive.
Then we will get to the point of a 20-year project. Eventually, this park will be home to over 10,000 people in the five neighbourhoods that surround the lovely parkland, wonderful venues and the waterways. That is not a job that can or ought to be done overnight. We should take our time and do it properly. We are absolutely determined that what happens in the park is intricately knitted-in to the communities that surround it. This cannot be some kind of island of glamour and prosperity without paying attention to all that knitting-in to those communities which surround the park—excellent and creative communities such as Fish Island, Hackney Wick and all the wonderful vibe that is the modern east London. You would never guess it from watching “EastEnders”, which bears absolutely no relation to the East End that I find in my working life. So we have a 20-year job here. This will be built out very carefully and sensitively. But my goodness, what assets we have been bequeathed by the work of the ODA: a fantastic financial investment in the infrastructure of the Olympic park. Over the next two years and then the subsequent 20 years, we aim to live up to the legacy of the Games and deliver something that has never been delivered before from a major sporting event.
Ken Livingstone would be the first to say that he is not noted for his love of sport but this takes me back to him saying, “Of course I am the biggest evangelist for the London Olympic Games. When else will I get central government to give me £9 billion for east London?”. Although he said that partly as a joke, he realised that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive the most enormous catalyst into the redevelopment of east London. We have a lot to live up to. The ODA has done a magnificent job and I have no doubt that LOCOG will stage a fantastic Games, or that the BOA will deliver us magnificent Olympic and Paralympic success. We then pick up the baton. Rest assured that we will not drop it.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the London Assembly, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Home Office Olympic Security Board. I understand and support the need for the provisions in the Bill regarding traffic management. Everybody knows that it is essential for athletes and officials to get to the various Olympic venues on time so having a series of roads with special traffic arrangements in place ranging from “no right turn” to dedicated lanes makes perfect sense. For this to be effective, traffic regulations on this network must be enforceable. The Bill seeks to anticipate various contingencies for which the present powers are inadequate.
I believe that Londoners will accept with very good grace the fact that all athletes and Games officials whose presence is essential to running the Games will be able to use these dedicated lanes. But I urge the Government to do whatever they can to encourage those Olympic family members whose presence is not essential to the Games to use public transport instead.
I also support the proposal in the Bill to increase the penalty for illegal touting from £5,000 to £20,000. The take-up of both the Olympic and—this is brilliant news—Paralympic tickets has outstripped demand, and it has been an absolute success story. But high demand creates a market which ticket touts will definitely try to exploit. The Olympics are special; they are about fairness and moral integrity, and we cannot allow ticket touting to undermine this, because it will taint the reputation of the London Olympics. It is therefore essential to do everything possible to prevent ticket touting.
The Metropolitan Police has already set up Operation Podium, to which the Minister referred in her opening remarks, to deal with serious organised crime surrounding the 2012 Games. Part of its remit is to tackle ticket touting, fake tickets and website abuse, which are all very serious problems. Increasing the fine from £5,000 to £20,000 will definitely help the police, because it will provide an important deterrent.
Finally, I support noble Lords who have spoken about the problems with LOCOG’s terms and conditions for the sale of Olympic tickets. I have just now reread the terms and conditions and it is crystal clear that the person who bought the tickets must attend the event. I believe that the public are blissfully unaware of this. Which of us can honestly say that every time we buy we ticket or, indeed, anything else, we read the terms and conditions? I know that I tend to just tick the box so I can go on to the next screen. I fear that LOCOG simply has not thought through the implications of these terms and conditions. How can LOCOG dictate that a whole family or a group of friends, despite every member having a ticket, will not be admitted to an Olympic event because the lead ticket holder has suddenly fallen ill or has been called away on business, through no fault of their own? They will have to say to their family members not just, “I can’t go”, but, “I’m terribly sorry, you can’t go either”. It is frankly ridiculous. The provision is incredibly unfair, and I believe that the majority of the public had no idea that this was in place when they signed up and bought tickets in good faith.
It would be tragic if what I believe will be the greatest Olympics ever was tainted by controversy about the sale of tickets. I urge the Government to do everything in their power to try to persuade LOCOG to see sense and change this ill-thought-out policy.
Powerful stuff indeed from my noble friend about ticketing. This has clearly got to change, and we will have many opportunities in Committee to make sure that it does change. It cannot be in the interests of people who have purchased tickets to be treated in this way, and I think that LOCOG will have to look again and address this matter. Certainly, the Committee will make its voice heard.
I have four things to say—first, on another aspect of ticketing, secondly, on traffic matters, thirdly on security and, fourthly, on the sporting legacy. In doing so, I declare an interest as a member of the advisory board of the British Olympic Association under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Moynihan, whose driving style certainly puts a capital V into the word vigour in all our discussions and activities.
First, on the sale of tickets, the proposals in the Bill to increase the maximum fine for selling tickets in a public place or via a business without consent from £5,000 to £20,000 is sensible and I believe it to be proportionate, for large profits—much larger than have been suggested this afternoon—could well be made on tickets on the black market. The greatest profits are probably going to be made via internet offerings, not just from domestic websites in this country but from sites that are domiciled abroad and very difficult to trace—a further manifestation of cybercrime, in other words, and probably organised cybercrime at that. We need to be sure that the skills and resources are there to deal with this within our jurisdiction but also outwith it. I have great faith in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency addressing these issues under the chairmanship of Sir Ian Andrews. However, it is not going to be easy so I seek reassurances from my noble friend the Minister about cybersecurity and ticketing without seeking any details that might compromise operations.
In addition, a further point is that individuals living in the UK may seek to sell their tickets, again sometimes at a substantial profit. Are we really sure that Section 31 of the 2006 Act, as otherwise amended, will catch this nuisance of individuals as opposed to businesses and organisations?
Secondly, I turn to the provisions on traffic, which potentially make quite radical extensions of the powers of traffic authorities to implement temporary controls very fast, as various noble Lords have pointed out. While I can see that it may well be expedient in dealing with unforeseen circumstances—although problems caused, for example, by a terrorist disruption of transport infrastructure would undoubtedly be covered by pre-existing powers—I am concerned that these new powers should only be used if strictly necessary. This is because I believe that it is traffic and transport difficulties which are likely, in our crowded capital, to be the cause of perhaps the greatest controversy during the Olympic period by far.
I must tell your Lordships that I have already had the benefit of the advice of a number of distinguished London taxi drivers on this matter, as they have sometimes conducted quite lengthy seminars on Olympic diversions while I have travelled in the back of their cabs. They have variously opined on roadworks and particularly on those special lanes for the Olympic elite. This topic has been a particular target of their affections and attentions and they seem to attribute most of it to the Mayor of London. Only my respect for the delicacy of your Lordships prevents me reporting verbatim their views on the Mayor of London in this respect.
While I have read with admiration the characteristically clear and weighty advice given over these matters by my right honourable friend Mr Philip Hammond MP, the Transport Secretary, to which the House, LOCOG and others should listen very carefully, other voices which have been raised from other parts of London—and possibly from other parts of the Olympic movement—have struck an unhappy note, at least to my ear. It is as if they are saying. “You'd better lump it and stay away from London for six weeks, working at home and not making traffic problems worse by trying to come to work in the first place”. This sort of thing is totally wrong and does harm to the Olympic movement. People have an absolute right to come to work in the capital, which is the powerhouse of the United Kingdom economy, and their employers have an absolute right to expect them to do so.
Such voices should also recognise that for every Olympic enthusiast like me there are, as other noble Lords have said, others who are not Olympic enthusiasts living, working and commuting into London. We should not, in the present low-growth economic environment, wish to be seen to be actively encouraging what might be portrayed as an Olympic dip in the gross domestic product of the country during the six weeks of the Olympic period, which may not be wholly offset by the one-off special boost to the earnings of the hotel and hospitality sector during that Olympic period. London is, indeed, our economic powerhouse; we depend upon it for growth and everyone concerned with transport and traffic regulations must do their very best to get people to work who wish to get to work and whose employers wish to see them in work.
Thirdly and very briefly on security, the Bill possibly offers—unless in emergency circumstances—a last chance to fine tune any security-related legislation. Here, I think less of anti-terrorist, public order or anti-rioting matters than of the constantly mutating and developing risks of direct cyberattacks on, for example, ticketing or our transport infrastructure. I wish only to be reassured that Ministers have considered that there is nothing more that they need to introduce into the Bill in this respect.
Fourthly, amid all the talk of wonderful opening and closing ceremonies that we have heard in earlier debates, of medals won, of the regenerative effects of all those billions spent on the buildings and open spaces of east London, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has just referred, I have missed hearing much talk of the sporting legacy of the Games—at least until this afternoon, when my noble friend Lord Addington raised this issue first, and then, if I may say so, my noble friend Lord Higgins put his finger on the apparent lack of care and concern for some aspects of the sporting legacy. We should listen carefully to what he had to say. Then, of course, my noble friend Lord Moynihan spoke in his powerful closing passage of the need to ensure that the greatest legacy of the London Olympics and Paralympics 2012 is a sporting legacy and nothing else.
There will, of course, be the legacy of the built environment of the Olympic park, but, otherwise, I hope that the ongoing effects of the London Olympics and Paralympics 2012 will not be like those all too often short-lived, week-long effects on people tuning in to Wimbledon fortnight, reaching for their tennis rackets and promptly putting them back in their presses about a week or 10 days later. We must have a much more long-lasting sporting legacy than that. I am really concerned that the real sporting legacy, bizarrely enough, has not had and does not get the attention that it deserves and, most of all, that the sporting legacy will not have a powerful effect in our regions outside London, which is the principal beneficiary.
Now, suddenly, there is an outbreak of politicians apologising. It has been going on quite a lot recently. They were at it again this weekend, apologising for this, that and the other; it used not to happen in the good old days. I very much hope that I have to apologise very profoundly to your Lordships’ House in a few years for being totally wrong about the absence of a sporting legacy and I look forward to being proved wrong.
My Lords, I support the Second Reading of this important Bill. Those of us who have taken a great interest over the years in the Olympic movement were delighted that in Singapore we secured the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for London. Since that time, great strides have been taken to ensure that we will have a successful Games. It has helped, as the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, pointed out, that we have had cross-party support for these Games. This has been enormously beneficial. As a result, a lot of obstacles have been removed and we can look forward with confidence to a highly successful Games. This does not mean that one cannot make constructive observations and even some mild criticisms, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner did so effectively with some of his criticisms of the Bill before us. Some of the smoothness that is expected will not come about unless we tackle some of the problems facing us, notwithstanding the fact that we are told that the build programme is below budget, the Olympic park velodrome has been completed and the track facilities are near to being, or have been, completed. I shall refer to two specific concerns of mine, which have been raised by other noble Lords: ticket touting and the problems of traffic in that part of London at the time of the Games.
The problem surrounding ticket touting has concerned many Members of both Houses over the years. The problems in the past were related mainly to football, and legislation was introduced in an attempt to combat them. However, those of us who have attended matches, whether at Wembley, Cardiff or wherever, know that the problems of ticket touting have not gone away. I have seen touting at those grounds when the touts have been within yards of policemen, many of whom seemed to have turned a blind eye to these illegal activities. I sincerely hope that those who enforce this legislation, mainly the police, are to be equipped with the powers to ensure that ticket touts are apprehended. Of course the increased penalty that the Minister referred to will assist, but, as the Government currently envisage cutbacks in the police force, I worry whether there will be enough enforcement officers to deter these people from illegal profiteering.
My other concern, which many noble Lords have raised—it seems to worry a number of us in this House—is the problem of traffic. Will the Minister give an assurance that the road works en route to the Games will be suspended? Has there been a study on the effect of road works in the surrounding areas leading up to the Olympic village, as they, too, are important to the smooth running of the Games? The Jubilee line will be greatly stretched as it is probably the most popular route for those going to Stratford. As a regular user of that line I know that it does not have the best of track records, and an assurance should be given by the appropriate Minister that every effort will be made to ensure the most efficient running of this important line; it should be given a top priority.
On the question of traffic, it is right and proper that the Secretary of State should keep a watchful eye on the workings of the Olympic Delivery Authority as it sets about drawing up its transport plans for the Games. I have supported not just the 2012 Games but the Olympic ideal over many years, attending a number of both Olympic and Paralympic Games—in the case of the Olympic Games, missing only one since Mary Peters won her gold medal at Munich in 1972. However, I doubt whether I will be seeing any of these events in my home country. I hope that this will not be taken as churlish on my part but I do not intend to enter a lottery for tickets for my favourite events. I certainly would have no problem with paying for tickets, but perhaps there is no better method and I should accept that, although, looking across the Chamber, I see that the chairman of the British Olympic Association is in his place. For some time I shadowed him when he was Minister for Sport in the other place. On the other hand, I have never really gone along with those who say that pigs can fly. I reassure myself that while I will not see the events first-hand, perhaps I will hire or buy one of those large television sets so that I can watch the Games in probably not the best but the most comfortable way.
There are some worrying stories about the price of hotels rocketing during the Games. I should like the Minister, when she replies to this debate, to assure the House that representations will be made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—who is, after all, responsible not just for sport but for the tourism and hospitality industry—probably through the British Hospitality Association, to hoteliers who may be tempted to rip off many of those attending the Games, not only in London but in other areas that are holding Olympic events. If hoteliers do not act responsibly, our image as a host nation will be greatly tarnished, especially among those from overseas who have travelled to see the Games.
In conclusion, we should be proud of the fact that we have a vast amount of sporting talent in this House. I am sure that no legislative assembly in the world can boast, as we can, of having several Olympians in its Parliament. There is the noble Lord, Lord Coe, who heads our team. There is also the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who is chairman of the British Olympic Association. I was fortunate enough to be the only MP to see them win their medals in Moscow. We also have the noble Lords, Lord Glentoran and Lord Higgins, who made a very important contribution to this debate. However, the most successful of our Olympians is the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. She has won 11 gold medals, four silver and one bronze at five Paralympic Games. We are very fortunate to have her and the others I have mentioned in our assembly. You never know: maybe some of those who will take part in 2012 will also come into this House and enrich our sporting debates.
My Lords, listening to this debate reminds me why I have consistently, right from the time of the Olympic and Paralympic bid, been an enthusiastic supporter of the London 2012 Games and still am. Like the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, I am proud of what has been achieved so far and am confident that we will deliver a great Games with a great legacy in east London, courtesy of the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, and her colleagues.
However, as a London resident, one aspect of the Games that is covered by the Bill sticks somewhat in my throat and, I know, that of many Londoners. I probably do not take as many taxis as the noble Lord, Lord Patten, but the creation of the Games lanes and the road restrictions on the Olympic route network bothers me. The Olympic lanes are only a small fraction of the total restrictions that will be imposed on the London road system during the Games. For example, in the central area there are 79 banned turns and 48 suspended pedestrian crossings along the ORN, and 25 per cent of parking bays are affected. Are these restrictions really the minimum that need to be imposed? It is clear that there will be a knock-on effect on other roads as well. These will become very congested. Employees have already been advised to stay away from central London public transport during the Games. Already, Transport for London has warned that stations such as London Bridge and Bank will be overloaded. That means that there will be congestion whatever form of transport we take.
Does everything have to grind to a halt during the Games? London employers—I am one—are very apprehensive about the impact on their businesses. Taxi drivers and cyclists are entitled to feel disgruntled too. Are we not gold-plating the provision of transport for Games officials and others? I can well understand why competitors, referees and umpires need special treatment, but is that not partly what the Olympic village is for, and why a total of 82,000 people? Just labelling them “the Games family” does not provide the justification without further argument. This 82,000 apparently comprises 25,000 marketing partners, 28,000 journalists, only 18,000 athletes and 11,000 others. Do all officials really need to stay in Park Lane? How many private cars are involved? Could not public transport be used? Surely these were meant to be the green Games.
I am sure the Minister will say that we are legally obliged to provide these facilities under the terms of our agreement with the IOC. If so, I hope that no city that stages the Games in future will sign up to a similar set of conditions. Despite all the above, the Explanatory Notes to the Bill say that the restrictions,
“are not expected to have a significant impact on businesses and consumers, largely because they relate to measures that are temporary in nature”.
This contradicts the view of the Federation of Small Businesses, which believes that the restrictions will cause some of its members to shut down during the Games. What measures are being discussed to prevent this? How well are Transport for London and LOCOG communicating? Will not tourists and tourism in London suffer as well? Will this not be a massive disincentive to visit and travel round London?
Little of this is new. My noble friend Lady Doocey raised all these issues in 2009 on behalf of the London Assembly, as she mentioned today. I remind noble Lords that the LOCOG bid document said:
“During August each year traffic is reduced by 20%. The Olympics will only add 5% to traffic”.
Yet we are now receiving dire warnings from Transport for London. I very much hope that my noble friend the Minister can give us some answers to these questions.
My Lords, I feel a little bit like the night watchman, batting at No. 13. I am more used to coming in at No. 3, she says immodestly. However, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones on to the field of play, albeit he seems to be making a rather gloomy prediction.
The gratifying factor about the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill is that it is short and technical, but not too technical—more of a sprint than a marathon. These are nurturing amendments which allow for the filling out of the legislation in the spirit of the 2006 Act. At Second Reading of the Bill in the other place, the honourable Member for Croydon South, Richard Ottaway, said:
“If we get it right, it enhances perceptions; if we get it wrong, it is very dangerous”.—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/2011; col. 401.]
The Bill and, indeed, the whole creation of our 2012 Games dream have received a full cross-party consensus. The amendments in the Bill before noble Lords should be accepted to enable the original commitment to legislation in the 2006 Act to have its full effect. It is part of our contract pledge to the IOC, and the lead runners in this mega-project deserve our fullest support. The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, the honourable Hugh Robertson, and his predecessor, the right honourable Member for Dulwich and West Norwood—I wonder whether there is an ORN going through in that direction—deserve our greatest support, as do all the myriad agencies involved, all seemingly having initials, such as OPLC, LOCOG, ODA and the BOA.
The right honourable Member for Dulwich and West Norwood, Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Olympics in the previous Administration, who is praised on all sides for her contribution to the whole 2012 Olympics and Paralympics dream from bid to almost fruition, when speaking of the three major amendments before us today, referred to the multitude of measures that have been put in place to address the complexity of the logistical planning. She also commented:
“It is not often in government that one is dealing with a project one knows will extend beyond a general election … beyond the interests of the governing parties at the time, and held in trust for the people of this country”.—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/2011; col. 379.]
I feel no guilt in fully supporting the amendments before us, although in international sport I have not been an Olympian, just a humble cricketer, although cricket was in the 1900 Games in Paris, and England—also known as Devon and Somerset Wanderers—won gold by beating France, which of course is a very well known cricketing nation. I was not there at the time, contrary to popular belief.
The Government must do all that they can to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2011 to enable appropriate vital communication to all agencies involved. Many noble Lords have mentioned the word communication. That is to all agencies involved: the ODA, the police, trading standards, advertising and street trading and local authorities. That vital communication brings to mind that well-known sporting cliche: “Fail to prepare? Then prepare to fail”.
I turn to the advertising and trading amendments. Because of the high profile of the 2012 Games, branding protection and preservation of intellectual property rights is vital to ensure that the Games are not overly commercialised. Rogue advertising and trading must be prevented to preserve the sanctity of the Games. Does that sanctity include airspace? There is a vision of light aircraft trailing banners behind them, for example—possibly with the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, as pilot, because at least that way he would be able to see the Games—and, on the ground, innocent athletes, officials and spectators displaying illegal branding on those freebie T-shirts handed out just as you are entering the special event zones.
In world cricket events, unsightly pieces of sticking plaster have had to be stuck over offending logos on pads and bats to avoid contravening legislation. It is vital to agree the practical amendments in the Bill to pre-empt and outlaw ambush marketing and, in marketing speak, to ensure clean venues and routes. The exclusivity of the main sponsors and commercial partners, who have contributed a vast £700 million to the Games, must be protected at all costs at all the 26 event zones. Beware even the rogue mascots, defined in the broad description of advertising activity.
Next, we deal with ticket touting. The global profile of the Games and the excessive ticket demand, as demonstrated when the initial 6.6 million tickets came on sale in March, may lead to organised criminal groups exploiting the system. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, mentioned their qualms about LOCOG operating an official exchange system. Those qualms must be listened to, but let us remind everyone that the only official tickets for sale will come from official outlets. For criminal groups, the intention is there. The amendment under consideration states that the deterrent maximum penalty for the illegal touting of Olympic tickets must be raised from £5,000 to £20,000. One hopes that that is sufficient.
We are not here dealing with one ticket here and one ticket there; we are probably talking about huge volumes of illegal trafficking of tickets. We hope that we can calm the fears of noble Lords who have expressed their disquiet about the system. Ticket touting is a £10 billion worldwide criminal activity. Staging the Olympics and the Paralympics is like staging 26 world championships all at once. In Beijing, tickets were being touted at five times their face value. What a market this offers to those with criminal intention. Once again, the deterrent and the message must be communicated loud and clear, with regular repetition.
Several noble Lords mentioned traffic management. If you listen to any London taxi driver, you will be told in no uncertain terms how they fear the whole of the July, August and September period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Mind you, if you listen to any London taxi drivers in any day, month and year, you will probably get the same rumbles about traffic flow; and it is always the fault of the Government—and the Mayor of London, of course, whether that be of the Livingstone or Johnson dynasty. It is our responsibility, as a requirement of the host nation’s contract, to control official traffic flow, thus avoiding, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, the horrors of the 1996 Games in Atlanta, when athletes and officials arrived late at various venues. Just imagine it when they say in London E13, “On your marks, get set… Oh, sorry, we’re still waiting for some athletes to appear”. For our 2012 Games, all arrangements must be the best to help put the “Great” back into “Britain”. The logistics are enormous for athletes, officials and spectators, and everything possible must be done. In-depth consultations have taken place, are continuing and will continue with Transport for London, highways agencies and various transport bodies that administer the livelihoods of HGV drivers and firms and taxi businesses.
Just compare the logistics of the 2012 Games with our last Olympics in 1948. In 1948, 59 nations participated; in 2012, 205 nations will participate. In 1948 there were 4,100 athletes; in 2012, there will be 14,700 athletes in the Olympics and Paralympics. The other week I read the words of 86 year-old Bill Nankeville, father of entertainer Bobby Davro, who was a 1500-metre finalist at Wembley in 1948. He wrote:
“During the Olympics, I was billeted in a Nissen hut at RAF Uxbridge”.
So he would have had little problem getting to Wembley Olympic Stadium. However, the 2012 Games athletes and officials have to be rocketed across London and the country to and from the Olympic Park in E12, where 180,000 spectators alone are expected daily. Furthermore, they are going to be spread among venues at Wembley, Horse Guards Parade, Earls Court, Egham to Eton Dorney, where the rowing takes place, Wimbledon and even Weymouth. I was delighted to read that Weymouth may have a new problem by the entry into the town, where they are going to have a hamburger junction. I do not know who might be sponsoring that.
The scale of the whole operation of the Olympics is enormous. Some 700,000 people—staff, athletes and audience—will attend daily at all the venues. The amendments under consideration will enable the ODA—on the Olympic route network only—and traffic authorities to make temporary traffic regulation orders purely for traffic management and Games purposes only. This must be done, and flexibility must be allowed within the regulations to cover even late changes to venues through special event traffic orders.
The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill is well considered, sensible and practical to ensure that, wherever and however, we host the best Games ever. All the messages within the Bill need to be communicated with clarity to the general public and to the communities affected by the legislation, not just by one leaflet drop but by an incessant bombardment of high-powered communication by all forms of modern technology, not forgetting Twitter, of course. If you want to let the world know something in a matter of seconds, or even faster than Usain Bolt will be ripping down the track in the 100 metres final, this is a very convenient method of communication.
The Corinthian amateur approach to the 1948 Olympics is captured by the recent words of 91 year-old Dorothy Tyler, Britain’s high-jump silver medallist.
It was the high-jump. I know that the noble Lord was there. He was saying, “Come on, Dorothy”. Dorothy Tyler said:
“We were staying in a pretty unpleasant hotel in Victoria. We only went training once to Motspur Park in the fortnight before the event”.
Compare that almost laid-back comment with the intensity and pressure of staging the 2012 Games and we all know why we must give the fullest support to the amendments in this Bill and the Bill as a whole. Let us echo the words of Dan Hunt, coach to Ed Clancy, Britain’s legendary gold medal-winning pursuit cyclist in Beijing:
“Unless we achieve the epitome of excellence we are disappointed”.
Paralympian Darren Kenny said, following Lance Armstrong’s mantra:
“Pain is temporary, failure is forever”.
Finally, the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, is very appropriate to these amendments—“citius”, faster: traffic-management; “altius”, higher: fines for ticket-touting; and “fortius”, strong: enforcement of advertising and trading regulations.
My Lords, we have had an interesting and wide-ranging debate on a Bill which itself is not particularly interesting and is certainly not wide-ranging. The Bill amends parts of the 2006 Act but does not contain any new provisions. We support the Bill but, as my noble friend Lord Stevenson of Balmacara said, there are a number of issues which we will wish to pursue in Committee.
The parts of the original Bill which this Bill amends relate to advertising and trading, ticket touting and traffic management regulations. On advertising and trading, the Government have undertaken a consultation on the proposed draft regulations, which will start to be laid before Parliament and debated very shortly.
A further change made by the Bill is that any articles seized because they contravene the regulations will be dealt with by ODA enforcement officers and not the police. This apparently is to reduce the workload on the police. However, on policing, can the Minister say whether police officers from outside London will be moved into London for the period of the Games and, if so, who will be covering their positions in the light of police cuts? Is the intention perhaps that additional policing and security requirements will be covered by, for example, Territorial Armed Forces personnel, and, if so, what powers will they have?
The intention under the Bill’s provisions is that enforcement officers, mainly from local authorities, will be designated by the ODA. Bearing in mind that there are a number of Olympic and Paralympic venues, how many enforcement officers is it anticipated will be needed and for how many weeks, and how big an area around a venue will be covered by the Olympic Games regulations?
Where an Olympic venue is covered by these regulations on advertising and trading, will the regulations apply only on days when an event is taking place at that venue or will they apply throughout the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on a continuous basis? What will happen to the normal enforcement activity in the local authorities in and outside London whose officers are on Olympic and Paralympic Games work? What will be the costs of this additional enforcement work for the Games and who will pay for it? Will the enforcement officers be exercising police powers or local authority enforcement powers in carrying out their duties during the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
I do not intend to dwell, as have a number of your Lordships, on the ticketing arrangements. I have not been allocated any Olympic Games tickets myself, although that may be related to the fact that I did not apply. I have, however, applied for tickets to the Paralympics and am waiting to see whether I am successful. However, on the issue raised by, among others, the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, the Minister for Sport said at Second Reading in the other place:
“I should emphasise that this measure is aimed squarely at touts. Nothing in the law at present, or as a result of this change, prevents those who have games tickets from selling them at face value to family and friends. LOCOG will also run an official ticket exchange … so that people who find that they can no longer use tickets that they have bought legitimately can dispose of them”.
Can the Minister say whether this is still the policy?
As has been said, the Bill provides for an increase in the maximum fine for touting of Games tickets from £5,000 to £20,000 to provide a greater deterrent. The Minister in the other place said:
“A disincentive of £20,000 to someone perpetrating large-scale commercial ticketing fraud is likely to be much more effective than a disincentive of £5,000”.—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/11; cols. 372-73.]
While we support raising the maximum penalty, if large-scale, organised, criminal, commercial ticketing fraud is likely, I am not entirely sure that even a maximum fine of £20,000 would be a major deterrent. My main question is to ask with whom this has been discussed and whether it is anticipated that maximum fines, or fines close to the maximum will be imposed. There is usually a significant difference between the maximum fine for an offence that can be imposed and the fines that are actually imposed.
The 2006 Act provided for the creation and enforcement of traffic management measures for the Games, and this Bill makes some amendments, including the ability to make temporary traffic regulation orders in connection with the Games at short notice, and civil enforcement in relation to the contravention of some orders. Not everyone has been happy with the Olympic route network but it was in effect a requirement of our becoming the host city. It will need to be implemented and operated with a high degree of common sense if transport is not to become a major adverse talking point of the Games.
Much has been said, including today, about the Olympic legacy. We hope, among other things, that hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will lead to more people—not least young people—taking part in sport. However, it has recently been reported that fewer than a third of schools have signed up to the plans to revive competitive sport in schools in the light of the Olympics. Many schools lack the facilities to stage such competitions or provide the means to transport pupils to take part. There are reports that sports teachers do not see the Government’s plans as a substitute for the schools sport partnerships, funding for which has been withdrawn. Can the Minister tell us the current position on this issue, and also where we are with increasing sports participation among young people and adults and delivering the sports legacy, which was a key part of our bid? Sport England figures earlier this year showed that 17 sports had recorded a decline in the number of people playing once a week since 2007-08 and only four had recorded a statistically significant increase. What targets or measures of assessment do the Government now expect to achieve in relation to this part of the sports legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
In that regard, and I pursue a point referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, what guarantees can the Minister give that the Government’s changes to the planning system, with a presumption in favour of “sustainable development” will not jeopardise the Olympic sporting legacy by leading to a further reduction in playing fields, most of which are owned by local authorities which are increasingly short of money?
The Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring many benefits—indeed they have already brought benefits—but we need to do everything we can to ensure the successful delivery of the legacy on increasing participation in sport. The Olympic park, the largest public sector building project in the whole of Europe, has been a major success story, and is being delivered on time and under budget. It is a tribute to the work of a great many and not least, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and my noble friend Lady Ford said, to John Armitt and David Higgins who have provided inspired leadership of the Olympic Delivery Authority. When the park is complete, 30,000 people will have worked on it, a fifth of whom will be residents of the six host boroughs which is considerably higher than the target of 10 to 15 per cent. Some 50,000 jobs will be created once the commercial development has been finished. One hopes that a significant percentage of both the jobs and the housing will go to local people since regeneration was an important part of our successful Olympic bid.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games will provide a showcase for our country, and for London more than anywhere else. We have an opportunity to show the world—those who come to this country, both for the Games and following the Games, and the billions who turn on to watch the Games—what a wonderful country this is and how much our capital city has to offer. If we continue to progress as we have so far, we will also show our expertise in organising and running this major world event, our expertise in the sporting field, and our expertise in making sure that we do not miss out on this once-in-a- lifetime opportunity.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for a characteristically well informed, well considered, enthusiastic and thorough debate. I say also how welcome it was to see the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, back in her place for a while. We hope to see her again during our debates.
As I said at the outset, the House has a commendable history with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As noble Lords mentioned, this is typified by the former Olympians and Paralympian in the Chamber today—my noble friends Lord Higgins and Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, who brought to the debate rare personal experience of the Games and made valuable contributions to the discussion. Of course, my noble friend Lord Moynihan continues his support for Olympic sport through his key involvement in the 2012 Games. I thank also the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, for his well observed and constructive comments—and perhaps congratulate Edinburgh Napier University for fielding two very distinguished contributors to the Olympic debate.
I turn to the questions raised today. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked why different arrangements were in place in Scotland for the storage of seized articles. This arises from the different legal systems in England, Wales and Scotland. Prosecutions under regulations in Scotland are different. The pressures on the police in England will be different at key times from those on police in Scotland. Obviously, the vast majority of Games events will be in England, so different approaches will be applicable for different jurisdictions.
The noble Lord asked whether advertising and trading regulations would be amended only in certain circumstances. Certainly, it is our intention that the regulations to be laid shortly will be the first and only set. However, we must acknowledge the possibility that an amendment may be made necessary in unforeseen circumstances such as when there has to be a change of venue. The Bill provides for this. I assure the House that the regulations will be amended only in exceptional circumstances.
There was much debate on the £20,000 fine. The noble Lords, Lord Stevenson, Lord Pendry and Lord Rosser, asked whether we had struck the right balance. The clear advice from the Metropolitan Police Service is that increasing the maximum penalty from £5000 to £20,000 is necessary and proportionate. Organised crime gangs deal in very large sums of money, so the level of fine needs to be a sufficient deterrent. Of course, the £20,000 fine could apply to each member of a gang in certain circumstances. The provisions of the Bill and of the 2006 Act apply only to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, not to other sporting events.
One or two noble Lords asked whether the police would be able to cope next year. Obviously, there is a concern here. We will need more discussion in Committee about the Olympic security operation. Police planning is well advanced and the police are confident that they will have the necessary resources and infrastructure in place. I say in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that provincial forces that supply officers to London to assist the Metropolitan Police Service will be fully reimbursed so that their ability to cope with events in their own area will not suffer as a result.
A number of noble Lords have raised concerns about the Olympic route network. We will need to cover these matters in greater depth in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, commented on the use of river transport and we acknowledge that the best use of the river is an important part of the transport plans for the Games. We assure noble Lords that the ODA and Transport for London have been and are considering all the issues around traffic management. We had some very good market research on taxis and taxi drivers in this debate and we certainly hope that, as we get closer to the Games, all taxi drivers will be fully informed of the details of travelling around the networks.
My noble friend Lord Addington and other noble Lords raised concerns about ticket touting. Touting only applies to selling tickets for profit, so on that point I can give my noble friend the assurance he seeks that touting is selling Olympic and Paralympic tickets in a public place or in the course of business for the purpose of making a profit, but it does not cover people giving tickets to friends, family or colleagues or selling them tickets at face value. I will say a little bit more about that in due course.
My noble friend also talked about encouraging participation in sport and the sporting legacy, which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also picked up on, as did others, and of course it is a key part of these Olympics that we have a good sporting legacy to continue the encouragement and enthusiasm which the Olympics and Paralympics will have generated. My noble friend also mentioned the Cultural Olympiad and of course that will be a key part of the legacy and the ongoing interest around the Olympics.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan gave credit to the directors of the ODA and LOCOG, to which we would add the British Olympic Association. He mentioned in particular John Armitt and David Higgins. I have no hesitation in adding congratulations from the Government on the work that they have done to bring about the tremendous success of the building of the venue on time and under budget. We should also pay tribute to my noble friends Lord Moynihan and Lord Coe for all the work that they have done for the organisations they have been chairing in the run-up to these Games.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan commented on the sports legacy and media accreditation. He also raised the point of the facilities fund for local authorities and whether they would be able to pick up the legacies from the Games. There is a £50 million facilities fund open to local authorities to apply for community sports facilities and other such activities linked to the Olympics. On media accreditation, I know that the Minister for Sport has written to my noble friend on this matter and that may well also be something we come back to in Committee.
The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, welcomed the interest in the Games and particularly the friends and families’ tickets, and we are all very grateful that the UK has pioneered this use of tickets to ensure that families and friends are able to watch those close to them competing. Of course, we also pay tribute to all that she has achieved to raise the profile of the Paralympics and to encourage others. She talked about the Olympic route network and its possible difficulties, as indeed have others. There will be as much information as we can find going out as we get closer to the time to make sure that all the details of the ORN are fully understood by those who need to know about them.
My noble friend Lord Higgins talked about passion. I apologise if, in introducing a slightly technical Bill, my opening words were not as passionate as they ought to have been. At this stage we are all enormously enthusiastic about the Olympics and Paralympics. The finer detail of ticket touting and traffic regulations perhaps does not encourage the heart as much as it ought to.
He and the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner, Lord Patten, the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, and other noble Lords all talked with great and passionate interest about the ticketing procedures. They are a matter for LOCOG, which has said that the lead ticket holder must attend. This is a matter for LOCOG; it is not a responsibility of the Government. I am quite sure that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, will wish to respond to the strong feelings which have made themselves felt in the Chamber today about the problems and difficulties of implementing that policy.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, mentioned the ballot for the tickets.
I thank my noble friend for that. We will be talking to LOCOG and would hope that we might have further news or details before we come to the Committee stage. I know that a lot of thought went into the balance of access to the Games and the security implications. As a number of noble Lords have said, there are intense security implications over these Games. Getting the balance right is a delicate matter for consideration. Undoubtedly, it will be a subject for further discussion.
The ballot for tickets was also raised. Once again, it is a matter for LOCOG. I am not trying to pass the buck here, but these are not matters for the Government. It was always the difficulty of trying to ensure that the tickets were sold and that we had a really good attendance at events, which has not been the case at some Olympic Games held in other places. It was an astonishing and delightful surprise that the British public was so manifestly enthusiastic when the tickets went on sale. Anyone who had read the media in the run-up to the sale would not necessarily have assumed that people would be so enthusiastic about tickets. Inevitably, with that comes the disappointment of those who were not successful in the ballot. But, once again, I would not wish us to focus entirely on the disappointment and that which has denied people the opportunity of the Games. There will be a number of other opportunities when people will be able to buy tickets for particular events. However, I would stress again that this is not within the remit of the Bill and is a matter for LOCOG.
I have not seen a draft ticket and I am not sure how it will be done, but I imagine that the only way would be for the name to appear on the ticket or there is a complicated data system which immediately identifies a ticket with the ticket holder. We will have to ask LOCOG for more details of how it anticipates this will work. This is a major issue which has arisen in the course of the debate which will need to be taken further.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, also asked about offshore gambling. The Government agree that there is a real need to address remote gambling regulations. It is a matter perhaps for a wider discussion than purely the Olympics. We may come back to this, but the consultation is ongoing until 9 November as regards the Gambling Act. We hope that we may make some headway and be able to introduce legislation on some aspects of the gambling regulations later in the year.
The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and others asked about taxis, which I mentioned earlier. TfL and the ODA are aware of the concerns of the black cab and private hire trade, and are having discussions with the relevant trade organisations to ensure that as much information as possible is transmitted. The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, also mentioned the equine legacy at Greenwich, about which I will have to write to him.
My noble friend Lord Higgins and the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, asked whether there will be a ban on roadworks during the Games. I can assure them that there will be a ban on all non-essential roadworks on the ORN during the Games and that all associated barriers will be removed. As much as possible will be put in place for traffic to ensure that priority is given to Olympic people in the ORN and that the general public have as much roadway to get around as possible in order to keep London running.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, spoke with passion about the Olympic site. I congratulate her on the fact that it will be known subsequently as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I had the enormous pleasure of being shown around by the noble Baroness earlier when the site was perhaps not quite as advanced as it is now, but I came away completely overwhelmed by the immense work that had gone into developing it. I felt excited not only by the iconic buildings but also by the canals, waterways and other buildings, which will be a tremendous legacy once the Games are over. We are extremely grateful to her for all the work that has gone into ensuring that the Olympic site is of enduring advantage and benefit to London after the Games have finished.
My noble friends Lady Doocey and Lord Clement-Jones talked with passion about traffic lanes. There will be great encouragement for all non-essential members of the Olympic family to use public transport. We know that there will be a high demand for public transport. The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, talked about the Jubilee line. Once again, I am quite sure that Transport for London is paying close attention to those public transport routes which get the maximum number of people in and out of the Olympic venues as speedily and efficiently as possible.
My noble friend Lord Patten brought us into the realm of cyberspace and websites. We will almost certainly need to go into this in more detail in Committee, although the finer points of the security side of the Games have been under consideration right from the beginning of the planning. The Cabinet Office leads on co-ordinating cyber capabilities in every aspect—defence, law enforcement, intelligence agencies and so on—and it will take the lead also on countering potential Olympic cyber threats and liaising with the Games authorities in connection with them.
The noble Lord, Lord Pendry, asked about the police enforcing ticket-touting laws. As I said earlier, there will be sufficient police around to do that, and they have confirmed in evidence to another place that they intend to take ticket-touting very seriously and devote appropriate resources to it. The noble Lord also mentioned that hotel prices might become exorbitant during the Games. It is a free market, but we are encouraging the tourism and hospitality industry to make sensible decisions on pricing. VisitBritain and London & Partners, which is the mayor’s promotional agency for the capital, have created a fair pricing and practices charter for UK tourism businesses. We very much hope that tourists in London will not be ripped off by exorbitant prices during the Games. We will keep an eye on this to see that it remains the case throughout.
My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones mentioned the 82,000 people using the ORN. We will certainly come back to issues around traffic lanes and their use in Committee.
My noble friend Lady Heyhoe-Flint, apart from enlightening us about different cricketing activities and other sporting events, which was quite delightful to hear, asked whether advertising regulations would apply to air space. I can confirm that they will apply to air, water and land within the regulated events zone, so I am hopeful that we will not see small planes buzzing around completely unimpeded.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned the sporting legacy, particularly in relation to school sports. I can assure him that the Government are monitoring the situation. If there are further details to be had on that, I shall provide them to him in writing. It is the Government’s firm intention that schools sports should be a beneficiary of the Games when they end. There certainly will be schools activities going on in and around the venues to encourage young people into sporting activities.
I fear that I may have left a number of points unanswered. I will read Hansard carefully and try to sweep up the questions to which I have not responded. At the beginning of this debate, I said that the provisions in the Bill are technical and amending in nature, and serve to ensure that the original intentions behind the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 can be delivered. The commitments given to the IOC on the regulation of advertising and trading, ticket touting and traffic management all play a part in the delivery of a safe, successful and memorable Games. They may not be as exciting as the Games themselves, but they are important as part of the infrastructure. This Bill goes some way to ensure that those assurances can be effectively delivered. It enjoyed cross-party support as it passed through the other place, and I pay tribute to honourable Members in another place whose hard work and vision has contributed to the position we are now in in relation to planning for the Games. I am most grateful to all noble Lords for continuing in the constructive vein of the other place throughout today’s debate, and I look forward very much to further discussions in the Bill’s remaining stages.
Bill read a second time and committed to a Grand Committee.
House adjourned at 6.27 pm.