1: After Clause 3, insert the following new Clause—
(1) Section 6 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (Security) is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (2) insert—
“(3) Three months prior to the start of the Games, the Government shall report to Parliament on the outcomes of consultations under subsection (2), with specific reference to the following—
(a) the number of police officers to be deployed,(b) the number of military or territorial forces to be deployed to undertake police duties,(c) the number of private security contractors to be deployed to undertake police duties,(d) the level of qualification and training of forces deployed under paragraph (c),(e) the cost of the total security operation,(f) national and border security preparations,in order that the Olympic Delivery Authority may effectively exercise its duties under subsection (1).””
My Lords, the amendment seeks to ensure that appropriate measures have been taken on security arrangements. It calls for the Government to report to Parliament on a number of specific issues, which are detailed in the amendment.
We had a debate in Committee about police numbers required at the Olympic and Paralympic Games when the Minister assured us that sufficient police officers will be available, albeit it does appear that this will be done on the basis of quite extensive and quite prolonged overtime working. Since that debate, further issues affecting security have come to light. One concerns what is happening—or perhaps more significantly, what is not happening—at our points of entry. Another concerns the use of security personnel, and another, the use of our Armed Forces. In Committee the Minister said that,
“it is quite possible that the Armed Forces will provide some specialist support … but the exact nature of this requirement is still to be agreed and a number of options are being explored”.—[Official Report, 25/10/11; col. GC 256.]
Since this is a matter on which the Secretary of State for Defence has now surfaced, can the Minister tell us whether any conclusions or decisions have been reached on the use of our Armed Forces—how many, and in what capacity, and what options are still being explored? As there has been talk of the use of ground-to-air missiles, who will make any decision on the availability and use of such missiles?
On security personnel, it is claimed that there has been a significant underestimate of the numbers required. What then is the position? If it is the case that rather more will be needed than originally envisaged, what are the areas of activity or locations where the underestimate was made? Who is advising on the numbers of security personnel needed, and who is making the decisions on how many will be needed, and where and when? How many security personnel will now be needed in total, and what will be the total cost of such personnel? Will that cost be higher than originally estimated, and if so, by how much? Are the security personnel all being provided by one company, or from a range of companies and organisations?
A further issue that has arisen since Committee is what is happening at our points of entry. The Home Secretary said last week that she did not know how many people entered the country who should have been prevented from doing so. As the Government have always claimed that there will be no reduction in front-line services as a result of the cuts, can the Minister give an assurance that there has not been—and will not be—any reduction in the number of front-line UK Border Agency staff involved in security checks, bearing in mind the importance of such checks, particularly in the period running up to and during the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Can the Minister also give an assurance that the Government now know who is entering the country? We have been told that there are currently times when there are significant delays at our airports—not least Heathrow—and other points of entry. If that is happening currently, what steps do the Government intend to take to ensure that such delays do not happen in the run-up to, and during, the Olympics, without compromising the thoroughness of security checks, which will be more important than ever since the Games will be a tempting target for those bent on committing acts of terrorism? In addition, the Government have said that it is important that people coming from other countries to the Olympics gain a positive impression of our nation. That will not be assisted if there are lengthy delays at points of entry.
There have also been reports that the USA wishes to bring its own security personnel—some of whom would be armed—to protect its own competitors and officials at the Games. Can the Minister say whether that is true and also whether any other countries have indicated such a wish to have their own security personnel? If this is not true, can the Minister say whether the Government would agree to such a request if one was made by any particular country?
Finally, since security at the Games involves the police, the Armed Forces, security companies, and border agency staff, there is a need to ensure that there is proper effective overall co-ordination. In the light of the apparent discovery of an underestimate in the number of security personnel, and the difficulties over handling quickly the numbers coming through our points of entry without compromising security, can the Minister say who, in the run-up to and during the Olympics, is in overall charge with the day-to-day responsibility and accountability for seeing that all aspects of the security operation and all organisations and bodies involved in the different aspects of security are delivering and that their activities are co-ordinated?
The events of the past few days do not inspire confidence that the Government have a proper grip on the situation or that the decisions that need to be taken have been taken or are close to being taken. I hope that the Minister will recognise that when it comes to security, there is a world of difference between knowing what should be happening and knowing what is or is not actually happening. I hope the Minister will be able to provide some firm reassurance on these points when she responds to the amendment. I beg to move.
My Lords, this amendment is potentially imperfect and deficient in its content. Secondly, it is potentially disturbing and indeed dangerous. I say these things with care and, of course, declaring my interest as a member of the advisory board of the British Olympic Association. For those who know my athletic prowess, this is an unlikely role for me to have, but that is what I do, as a sort of unpaid Parliamentary Private Secretary to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, the chairman of the British Olympic Association, who, alas, is unable to be in the Chamber tonight. I have declared that interest. However, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned ground-to-air missiles. The last thing I ever expected to have to do in a debate about the Olympics is to declare my interest working with the world’s largest defence company, but that I had better do as ground-to-air missiles have come up, and that should be recorded properly in the register.
Needless to say, in making these critical remarks about deficiency and possible danger, I do so full of good will. The Olympic movement is full of hopes that 2012 is going to be a great success, and therefore I say this in a bipartisan way, hoping to improve matters rather than make them worse. I am against this amendment and if it comes to a vote I shall cheerfully vote against it. If you are going to have this kind of reporting back to Parliament three months before the Games, first, the timing is a bit tight, to put it mildly; secondly, the amendment is deficient in missing some of the big things that should be considered.
The first would be the specific need to check and recheck, through the sorts of channels that are not iterated in this amendment, that the built environment of the Olympic Park should be checked again and again for latent objects or devices which could have been put there during the construction period. I believe that the greatest care has been shown by the people who built the park—there was some pressure early on to make sure that everything was sealed and checked—but there are devices that do have a latency and you can never be too careful.
I suspect that is nothing like as big an issue as my other example of where there are yawning gaps in the drafting: the failure to mention cyber matters at all. If anything is going to happen to disturb the Games apart from random acts of terrorism, involving whatever devices or armaments, which may or may not be successful, it is going to be a cyberattack—on the ticketing, on the transport infrastructure, on a whole range of other matters that can be affected by cyberwarfare, and I use that conventional phrase, I hope, advisedly. If I was at his elbow when the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, was drafting the amendment—and I am not his unpaid Parliamentary Private Secretary—I would have suggested that for completeness these things should have been considered. Alas, they are not. I know they are being considered by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, the Metropolitan Police, the security adviser to the Olympics and everybody else, but I do not think they should be considered belatedly, three months out from 2012, and with the weight and amount of detail that is going to be prescribed here should this amendment be successful.
This is why I used the words “disturbing” and potentially “dangerous”, because if we do fear the potential problems that have been referred to, then giving great detail about preparedness is rather like giving great detail about a military deployment during that deployment’s beginning and early stages. It is never a good idea to warn those people who are going to cause trouble. The weight of security is obviously going to be very much greater than we thought three or four years ago and that is a very good thing, but I really hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in this bipartisan spirit that has motivated my speech throughout, of wanting to see 2012 as successful as possible, will, after probing, withdraw his amendment. I know my noble friend the Minister will answer all the points he has raised about ground-to-air missiles and the rest of it—it is somewhat surprising to be debating those things in this Chamber this evening—but it is not very sensible to have this kind of reporting back under the glare of publicity, three months before the Games, informing those people who might try to disturb the Olympic Games exactly what security is there. I think that is entirely wrong. If I was not being bipartisan, I would say it is barking. However, I just say it is misguided.
My Lords, I am afraid that the last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Patten, is the one that immediately occurred to me. You do not tell somebody how you are going to stop them doing something, or what sort of resources you are going to put in place. I like to think of Report as clarifying rather than probing, so I ask my noble friend to give me one primary assurance: that we will have our initial plans, our reserve plans and then we will have other reserve plans, and that ultimately the resources of the state will be available to secure something as important as the Olympic Games. Whether this requires Robocop running around, with missiles coming out of backpacks, with James Bond running around after him, which seems to be what people are suggesting in the press, whatever is required that we can do to make sure the Games happen safely is what the Government should commit to. If we are suggesting that we should limit ourselves to some predetermined number of staff, that is clearly wrong. No matter what you put on a piece of paper it would be wrong. If it gets that dangerous that in the end we have to cancel, then we will have to cancel. Can my noble friend give us an assurance that the whole resources of the state will, as far as practical, be deployed to make sure these Games are a success?
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for tabling this amendment and giving us another opportunity to provide reassurances on this topic. The safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympic Games are of paramount importance to the Government—and for all concerned—and it is only right that we give this subject the full attention that it deserves.
This amendment would require the Government to place before the House, three months before the start of the Games, a report detailing the thrust of such consultations that the Olympic Delivery Authority, in exercising its security responsibilities under Section 6 of the 2006 Act, chooses to have with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and other relevant police authorities.
As covered in Committee, your Lordships will be aware that, as under the previous Administration, the Government have pursued and are continuing to pursue a policy of maximum transparency in communicating what London 2012 safety and security will look and feel like. This includes the overall London 2012 safety and security strategy, which was updated and republished in March this year and which sets out the overall approach to Olympic and Paralympic safety and security. Updates on security preparations and readiness form part of the Government Olympic Executive’s reports which are published quarterly; indeed, the next one is due very shortly.
In line with the department’s responsibility for co-ordinating all matters of security and the emergency services for the Games, Home Office Ministers have also given supplementary statements when necessary. Notably, this included providing details on future Olympic and Paralympic safety and security funding as part of the annual police funding announcement last December. This set out the Government’s intention to deliver the core programme for additional policing and wider Games security in full for £475 million. I can reassure my noble friend Lord Addington that the Prime Minister has signed a guarantee to take all financial planning and operational measures necessary to guarantee the safety and the peaceful celebration of the Games.
We are only a few weeks away from the announcement of police funding for 2012-13 and, without wishing to pre-empt what might be said, I am confident that it too will cover Olympic and Paralympic safety and security funding. Police chiefs and authorities have also gone on the record on the size of expected Games policing deployments next summer—up to 9,000 officers in London on peak days, and 12,000 nationally—and on the system of mutual aid that will be used, by which officers will be seconded to London, Dorset and elsewhere to participate in Games policing operations. The same points have been made in the answers which Ministers have given to Parliamentary Questions. This should address the concerns which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has raised again about the numbers of police.
Let me also repeat a point that arose in Committee. Lending police forces will be reimbursed in line with prevailing mutual aid arrangements, which will enable them to backfill though the use of overtime, if they choose, meaning that local policing will not be denuded. I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that this is all within the budgetary plan.
Your Lordships will appreciate that, as with day-to-day matters of security, there is a fine line to tread regarding quite what the Government put into the public domain on Games safety and security. Our goal, as stated in the Home Office strategy, is to deliver,
“a safe and secure Games, in keeping with the Olympic culture and spirit”.
I agree with what my noble friend Lord Patten has said on the need to tread that balance between what is and is not in the public domain.
We remain confident that we are on track to achieve our goal. However, for obvious reasons, there are details that the Government and the police would not want to put into the public domain. Within that constraint, the Government have been as open as possible in making information available about the policing and security operation and that will continue to remain the case.
The amendment refers to security at our border. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, explained that there were reservations over border security. We are confident that the border will be secure. The Home Secretary has made it quite clear that the pilot scheme which relaxed controls at the border has now been discontinued. Border agencies will be on their guard for the Olympics. The UK Border Agency has robust plans in place to manage the arrival and departure of those whom we expect to visit the UK next summer—both the Games family and regular spectators.
I can reassure the noble Lord that the Home Secretary is in the lead on Games security but the overall goal—a safe and secure Games—is a communal endeavour. The police and LOCOG—as event organiser—have particularly significant roles to play. This includes, for LOCOG, the provision of private security at venues. As some of your Lordships will be very well aware, there has been extensive coverage of this matter, in yesterday’s Guardian and elsewhere. As I have indicated, the focus of the Government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy.
This remains a police-led operation. The police have substantial experience of securing major events. The police will police the Games and the UK, as they already do, but, separately, we need to ensure robust security of venues delivered by the right people with the right skills. The planning for venue security is nearing completion. As planning has matured, and as the final details of the competition schedule and of LOCOG’s wider management of venues have become known, the detailed requirement for security guards has been revised accordingly. It is not unusual for the complete details of security not to be known at the beginning of planning—it becomes apparent, as planning continues, just how many security personnel will be needed.
The majority of the guard workforce will be private security guards, supplied by G4S and working for LOCOG, which, as I have said before, retains overall responsibility for delivering the venue security operation. The security guards will be supplemented by military personnel and volunteers where appropriate. All roles will be performed by people who are appropriately trained. The noble Lord made reference to the statement yesterday from the Secretary of State for Defence. The Secretary of State was not actually guaranteeing that there would be ground-to-air defences. What he was saying—quite appropriately—was that all measures necessary to ensure security would be taken. If the advice of the military is that they are required then there will be appropriate ground-to-air defences, but there were many caveats in that statement, and the Government would take the decision on whether or not the Armed Forces would be used and in what roles.
This builds on long-standing work with the Ministry of Defence, which has been fully involved in Games security planning. Military support to the Games will make the best use of the UK’s highly skilled resources. I stress that this is not in response to any specific threat. It is part of a sensible approach to planning. We continue to plan against a severe threat level, and so we maximise our flexibility to respond to changes.
I can reassure your Lordships that, as LOCOG works through the mechanics of how private security will be provided, there is no prospect whatever that private security personnel would undertake or in any way assume the duties or responsibilities of police officers, as was suggested in the amendment.
The Olympic Delivery Authority—which, to remind your Lordships, is the focus of this particular amendment—has done an incredible job in delivering a series of truly world-class venues, to time, budget and quality. But, to echo comments that I made in Committee, its race is largely run. This January, the Olympic Delivery Authority will transfer its responsibilities at the Olympic Park, including security, to LOCOG. The torch, as it were, is being passed. It follows that the Olympic Delivery Authority subsequently will not be exercising its responsibilities under Section 6 of the 2006 Act; hence, any such update as may be presented to Parliament under the terms of the amendment at hand would not be particularly enlightening.
The Government remain committed to transparent and bipartisan dialogue on Games security. The public have a right to know what to expect, and we hope that they will be assured by the very significant investment and very significant activity under way to safeguard and secure the Games. We are confident that we will be ready, and we will continue to release such information as is appropriate as soon as it is available.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about who was advising on the number of security personnel. That is a matter for LOCOG as event organiser, but of course it is working very closely with the police and security agencies. He also mentioned the story in the Guardian about the misgivings of the United States. We understand from the United States embassy that the US is perfectly supportive, that we have a very strong relationship with the US, and that the US is confident in our plans for a safe and secure Games. Everyone is determined to leave nothing to chance in our aim to deliver a Games that London, the UK and the whole world will enjoy.
My noble friend Lord Patten mentioned void spaces. The police have a proper programme of checking, sealing and certifying void spaces. He also mentioned a range of other possible hazards which are not referred to in this amendment. I think we will probably not go into those this evening.
In respect of the amendment which the noble Lords have tabled, I thank my noble friends Lord Patten and Lord Addington for their contributions, and thank again the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for bringing this up again at this debate, but I hope that, with the reassurances that I have given, he will feel free to withdraw this amendment.
I thank those Members of your Lordships’ House who have participated in this debate and thank the Minister for her response. She addressed a great many of the points that I raised. I am not sure that all of them were addressed. I am not quite sure whether an undertaking has been given with regard to dealing with the queues which exist at the present time at our airports. If more staff are not provided, presumably this situation could conceivably get worse in the run-up to, and during, the Olympics, when there will be considerable numbers of people coming into the country.
I would comment only that the issue of security is likely to be raised on occasions before we get to the Olympics if further issues are raised in the press about, for example, what is happening at our points of entry and the problems that we appear to be having there, and if we are faced with statements in our media, which appear to have some validity in the light of what the Minister said, that there has been an underestimate of the number of security personnel who will be needed. We would be failing in our duty in this place—as I am sure they would be in the other place—if we did not raise these concerns and ask Ministers to comment on them and, we hope, give appropriate assurances that everything is under control.
Once again, I thank the Minister for her reply. I appreciate that she responded to a great many of the points that I raised and I am grateful to her for that. In the light of what she said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 1 withdrawn.
2: Before Clause 4, insert the following new Clause—
“Operation of Olympic Route Network
(1) Section 11 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (Olympic Route Network) is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (5) insert—
“(6) The Secretary of State will work with the London Organising Committee and the Greater London Authority to produce a strategic overview and detailed proposals for encouraging the use of public transport by—
(a) individuals in possession of a valid Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card,(b) members of the general public, and(c) non-Olympic visitors and other tourists,during the period of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.””
My Lords, we discussed the traffic management provisions for the Olympic route network in Committee and had a good debate. Since then, the Minister has written to many noble Lords and we are very grateful to her for that. In raising this issue again on Report, I do not want it to be felt that we are in any sense being critical of the responses that we have so far had to these debates. I reaffirm that we all share a commitment: we do not want competitors missing their events or officials failing to turn up at the right time just because London is gridlocked.
Following the mention of bipartisanship—I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Patten, is no longer in his place as I wanted to raise it for him—I want to mention one other matter. It is not directly related to this amendment but I think it would help the House. In our previous series of debates we had a big discussion on ticketing. It was very pleasing that the head of ticketing at LOCOG made contact with me directly and asked whether we would like a briefing on our side of the House. I said that we would but also suggested bringing in the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, who made some points in Committee that I am sure your Lordships will remember. As a result of that, we had a bipartisan meeting with LOCOG at which we bashed the issue of tickets around. I have not yet seen the letter that the Minister promised to write but I think we may have convinced him that one or two of the things that the Government were offering in Committee—they were certainly in the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Coe—were not really necessary for where they wanted to get to and that there is a better solution to some of the problems that were raised in the House. That is a good example of how we should progress on these matters. I am very grateful to those who were able to facilitate it.
The discussions at Second Reading and in Committee have not stilled the sense of unease that many of us feel about the provisions in the Bill relating to transport. Nor have they stopped people contacting us or writing to us. It certainly is not wise to get a black cab at the moment, with all that is going on around taxi use of the ORN. Media scares are to be expected but—I hope I speak for everybody in your Lordships’ House—we would be at fault if we did not try everything in our power to ensure success in every aspect of the Games. As the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, said in our previous debate, this may not be the sexiest part of the Games’ organisation but you have to get it right if the Games are to be the best yet, as we all hope they will be.
As things stand, the feeling of the House at the end of the previous debate on this issue was that there is a potential PR disaster here. I should like to highlight three of the many concerns that have been raised. First, the laying out and operation of the Olympic lanes—the two central lanes on many parts of the ORN, which at peak may have Olympic vehicles passing down them every six seconds—is bound to have a major impact on the road system in London and cause much change and disruption to normal, day-to-day activity. Secondly, there is a growing sense that there will be two classes of traveller making their way to the Olympic venues: those who glide down the Olympic lanes and those whose journeys are pure hell. Thirdly, there is the need to reduce non-Olympic demand on the Tube—that is, Londoners, non-Games visitors and people going about their everyday lives. We were told that this reduction would be approximately 30 per cent during the Games. That is on top of those reductions that will already have happened as a result of the normal change of the seasons. If people are to get to the venues in reasonable time and London is to keep moving, there must be a three in 10 reduction in usage of the Tube system.
On the first point, we have, until now, concentrated on the ORN because that is the bigger and more concrete—excuse the pun—form of the transport system that will run for the Games. However, we need to focus a little more on the Olympic lanes themselves. Once the lanes start going in, let alone when they are being used during the Games, there will a bit of a hullaballoo, which will slow down and stop other traffic. Taking up two lanes, even on the widest of London’s roads, will be a real pain. I just do not see how London will keep going. Maybe the situation is better than we fear but the truth is that we do not know because consultations are still being carried out. Indeed, in response to the questions that were asked in Committee about, for example, whether taxis will be able to use the Olympic lanes, we were told that monthly meetings are still being held.
On the second point, as we discussed last time, our dilemma is that we want to provide good, reliable travel facilities for bona fide Games participants and their necessary support staff. However, this group makes up much less than half of those who must be given access to the ORN lanes. The impact that this will have on ticket-holders struggling to get to the Games will be a problem. We have committed to the ORN and it must go ahead, but what is the communication strategy and when will it kick in?
On the third point, I cannot be alone in finding these figures difficult to comprehend. What on earth will be done to reduce Tube usage by 30 per cent? All we have to go on is the Minister’s recent letter, in which she says that there will need to be large reductions at specific stations and on specific lines, and that that scale of reduction has been achieved at previous Games. I assume we are not talking about the 1948 Olympics, so where was this? Where have these reductions been achieved and how did they do it? I think we should be told. Short of locking gates and physically preventing people using the Tube at certain times, I just do not get it.
We covered all the detailed arguments in our earlier sessions on the Bill, so there is no need to go on with these points or to raise other questions, although there are some. I repeat: this amendment does not seek to offer faux guidance on what should be done to resolve these points, which are, I am sure, occupying better and more professionally qualified minds than mine at this very moment. Our amendment stems from the point that was made in Committee. While the Government will get absolutely no credit from a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games—although that is what we all want to see—they will be pilloried if there are the slightest problems over such issues as transport. Our concern on this side of the House is that Parliament, too, may be held in disrepute if we do not point out the concerns that are being reflected to us and call the Government to account.
It is with that in mind that our amendment calls for Parliament to be fully briefed three months before the Games on the measures that LOCOG is taking on transport that it thinks will resolve these and other related issues. We are not arguing that Parliament should take over responsibility for this issue; we are not arguing that there is necessarily anything wrong with the planning at this or that point in time. However, a properly documented analysis of the situation and how LOCOG is dealing with it, drawn together and formally presented to Parliament, would help in the communications battle to get across to people not only what the problem is but what is being done to ameliorate it, and give proof positive that Parliament has been kept fully informed. I beg to move.
When the Minister responds to this amendment, it would be helpful to know whether the current expectation is that government Ministers will be able to take advantage of the speedy travel to the Olympic centres and back to their homes; or whether they will travel with the rest of us by the same mechanisms that they deem appropriate for the rest of the population. It is a very simple question to which I hope we will get a very straightforward answer.
My Lords, as someone who has been very closely involved with the preparation of the Games, I should like to make one or two points that I hope might be helpful to noble Lords in thinking this through. I think that there will be two classes of people travelling to the Olympics. There will be lunatics who want to go by car, and there will be very sensible people who do what I do every other day, which is to take the Tube—the Central line, the District line or the Jubilee line—to Stratford. There is no better way to get to E20 than by public transport. Anyone who imagines that there is a better way of doing it plainly never makes that journey.
I have also made that journey frequently over the past two or three years during August. It is like living on a different planet. The travelling experience at the end of July and the start of August is completely different from the experience at any other time of year. It is partly that cyclical change in travel patterns that has led us to believe that there will be less pressure during the Games period than there would be at normal times. That may be a vain hope, because people may decide to stay in London. However, experience shows that during that period there is something like a 30 per cent drop-off—the Minister will probably correct me—in passenger transport in the Tube.
The planning that has been put in place is by no means sanguine. One has only to think back to the opening of the Millennium Dome to understand how a poor transport set-up can absolutely mar an occasion and completely destroy its reputation. However, bearing all of that in mind, and thinking through all of that planning, I think that the work that has gone in to arranging the travel plans for the Olympics has been well thought through; by no means has it been complacent or sanguine. It is right to urge people to take public transport. Those who use the Central, Jubilee or District lines to Stratford—and we hope that people will use the Javelin trains from St Pancras too—will realise that, out of peak hours, those trains are virtually empty. There is plenty of capacity there. If people plan their routes properly and choose their times sensibly, I think that they will have a good experience going to and from the centre of London to Stratford.
My Lords, I declare an interest in that I am a board member of Transport for London, and I also sit on several committees of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I believe in encouraging those who can use public transport at Games times to do so, and I think that they will find it quick, relatively easy and, dare I say it, fun. London will be busy. It will clearly look, feel and work very differently at Games times. The happiness quotient at each of the six Games that I have attended is perhaps hard to explain. However, the Games-time city has a very different feel to it. It is also important to remember that London will be open for business. This amendment is useful, because it is important that we have an opportunity to highlight the positive sides of London’s public transport system, and there are many; to continue to encourage a wide range of people to think about public transport as a serious option; and to remind ourselves of what we are trying to achieve.
It is commonly accepted that organising an Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a huge logistical challenge, but there are twin objectives—not only to deliver a great 2012 Games, but to keep London and the UK moving. Many positive things are already happening. The transport infrastructure is complete, in operation and delivering an early legacy well ahead of the Games. There has been detailed planning, modelling and testing, aided by the test events programme, and there is the experience that London has from other large events. Detailed transport information is being made available to businesses, and from early next year there will be a lot more information available to help the public plan right up to and during the Games. For many spectators, the Games are still a long way off; they are not thinking that far ahead about how they are going to plan their Games times. However, when their tickets are in their hands, information will be available about how to travel around. From my own sporting background, I understand the need to minimise disruption at Games times. This will be important in how we are perceived internationally.
I would like to take this opportunity to knock down some of the transport myths that seem to be associated with the Games, because I believe that these exacerbate perceptions and put people off thinking about public transport as a sensible option. It is not true that the Olympic route network is only for the Games family. Any vehicle, including taxis, can use the vast majority of the ORN. In London, it covers just 1 per cent of the road network and only one-third consists of Games lanes. Games lanes are only implemented when there is more than one lane available. The largest element of the Games family is the media, followed by athletes, officials, Games workers, and only then sponsors and IOC members. The vast majority of the Games family— 80 to 90 per cent of them—will use buses and coaches to get around.
The second myth is that there are going to be queues of two to three hours to get into stations and on to trains in London during Games time. Again, this is not true. TfL and Network Rail have undertaken modelling to understand the likely demand at key stations, such as London Bridge, if businesses and people do not change their travel behaviour during Games time. This shows that, at certain times and in certain locations, demand will exceed transport capacity, but queues of the length that have been mentioned in the media are not expected. There is ongoing work with businesses to deliver the change in travel patterns and reductions in demand required. That needs to keep going, especially for the smaller businesses. The big businesses understand that they need to plan ahead. I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago and talking to somebody who owns a restaurant close to the Games. He asked me how many potatoes he needed to order. I said that I had no idea, but you need to be thinking about that right now. It is important that we keep reminding those small businesses that they need to start planning well ahead.
The third myth is that there will be 100 days of traffic disruption in London around Games venues, due to the ORN and road restrictions. Once again, this is not true. The ORN comes into operation just a couple of days before the Games and is taken out as soon as it is no longer required.
Much has already been done to encourage the use of public transport, but as we move into the new year, the public will start to think and plan ahead as the Games become more real. It is the role of LOCOG and the stakeholders to decide how the various groups are moved around London. It is in their interest to make public transport work, because this is how the rest of the world will see us. It is important that we do not forget the tourists who are coming to London who will want absolutely nothing to do with the Games. There will be people who may not even think about the Games being on. As we get closer to the Games, and as the competing nations and chefs de mission visit more frequently, many who hold a valid identity and accreditation card will naturally see public transport as a viable option in many circumstances, although I would not encourage competing athletes to use it. At other times, they will find it an easy way to get round. The stories about the best way to get in and out of the city—to go shopping and to do all the other things that athletes do—will spread quickly among them. I do not think that we have to worry too much about this. The chefs de mission have significant experience at Games times in advising their team members on the most efficient way to travel around the busy city. A lot of this will just naturally happen.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Home Office Olympic Security Board. Everyone would agree that the Olympic lanes are what I would describe as a necessary evil, because nobody would want athletes not to get to their events on time. I wholeheartedly agree with the noble Baroness that the only sensible way to get to the Games is by Tube; there is no question about that. However, with just 36 weeks to go to the Games, I am concerned that London’s emergency services are still unclear about the circumstances in which they will be allowed to use the Olympic route network.
Last week I chaired a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Olympics committee, where the London Ambulance, the London Fire Brigade and British Transport Police came along to the committee to give evidence. All these emergency services expressed deep concern about the Olympic route network. Although agreement has been reached that will allow them to use the Olympic Games lanes when answering emergency calls, no decision has yet been made about allowing emergency vehicles to use these lanes when not answering emergency calls. This means that when emergency services need to get back to base or to move equipment from A to B, they could be faced with sitting in traffic jams for hours on end. It also means that the rail emergency response vehicles would face similar problems. This could have major repercussions in the event of a serious incident on the rail network.
I find it almost unbelievable that with less than eight months to go, this has not yet been resolved. Can I ask the Minister if she can do everything possible to take whatever steps are necessary to get this sorted as a matter of urgency?
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for tabling this amendment and allowing us to have another lively debate. I am also grateful to him for his comments about the spirit of co-operation and bipartisanship in which this Bill has been conducted. It has been a great pleasure to work with noble Lords in trying to ensure that we all achieve the best results for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
On the matter of transport, I can assure the House that promotion of public transport is at the heart of our transport strategy for the Games and that detailed plans have already been set out in the Olympic Delivery Authority’s Olympic Transport Plan required by Section 10 of the 2006 Act. Indeed, the opening words of the most recent, June 2011, edition of that plan are:
“London 2012 will be the first ‘public transport’ Games”.
I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Ford and Lady Grey-Thompson, for their support for public transport, and the use of public transport, in the course of the Games. This might be the moment to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Myners, that Ministers will not use the ORN Games lanes.
Next summer the world will come to London to share in the excitement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Games will draw up to 600,000 ticketed spectators daily to London’s transport system. Many more will come to London and other venue cities to join in the wider celebrations. There will be up to 3 million additional trips in London on the busiest day of the Games, in addition to the 24 million trips normally made. It is the scale of the demands that this volume of visitors will place on our transport system, rather than the specific impacts of the operation of the Olympic route network for the Games family, that drives our strategy of promoting travel by public transport, walking or cycling at Games time. The Olympic route network roads will, as I explained in the Committee debate, almost all be fully open for normal traffic and the temporary traffic management measures necessary to make the network work effectively for the Games family will be implemented in a proportionate and targeted manner so as to minimise the impact on normal business. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, for so clearly setting out, and exploding, some of the myths around transport in London at this time.
Our goal is that all spectators travel to the Games by public transport. We have invested £6.5 billion in transport infrastructure since 2005 to boost London’s transport capacity to enable spectators and visitors to get to their events and to keep London moving. Londoners are already benefitting from this transport legacy in advance of the Games. The improvements to the public transport system already delivered include a 50 per cent increase in Docklands Light Rail capacity with lines extended to Woolwich and Stratford International; extra capacity on the Jubilee line, with the signalling upgrade now complete and additional trains already operating at peak times, with more early in 2012; the new high-speed rail service between St Pancras, Stratford International, and destinations in Kent; refurbished and extended London Overground services on the East London and North London lines; upgrades to national rail services on the Lea Valley and Great Eastern lines; King’s Cross-St Pancras and Stratford regional stations essentially rebuilt and expanded, with step-free access and extra capacity; and step-free access now provided at Southfields, serving the Wimbledon venue, and at Green Park, a vital central transport hub during the Games. I have mentioned those facilities in some detail, given the numerous concerns about the problems of transport in London, to show that an awful lot of work has already taken place to improve transport facilities around the capital.
In addition to these upgrades, additional public transport capacity will be provided specifically at Games time. This includes: later evening services on the London Underground, DLR and national rail services from London, with trains running up to 90 minutes later than normal; a high-frequency Javelin rail shuttle service between St Pancras, Stratford International and Ebbsfleet; direct coach services from a range of cities across England and Wales to the Olympic Park, ExCel and Greenwich Park; park-and-ride services from three sites near the M25; and enhanced river services between central London and Greenwich. As a further encouragement to use public transport, all spectators will receive a free all-zones Travelcard for the day of their Games event ticket. A dedicated Games journey planner on the London 2012 website enables ticket holders to plan and book their journeys well in advance of the Games.
Taxis and private hire vehicles will play an important role at Games time, in particular as a travel option for those with reduced mobility. ODA and its partners are working closely with the industries to assess likely demand, to make them aware of the temporary traffic restrictions that will be in place and to mitigate their impact where possible. They are also working to ensure appropriate provision of pick-up and drop-off points at all of the Games venues as well as key transport interchanges. Information packs are being put together for all taxi and private hire drivers, which will cover the ORN, venues and other details about the Games, ensuring that drivers can operate effectively and make the most of the opportunities that the Games offer. I say to my noble friend Lady Doocey that the packs will be distributed in spring next year. More information will be going out but I hear what she says about the emergency services. We will make further inquiries to ensure that all that is in order and come back to her on that.
The amendment seeks to encourage the use of public transport by those with an Olympic identity and accreditation card. For most of the transport needs of the athletes, officials, media and marketing partners who form the Games family, transport by road along the Olympic route network, mostly in buses and coaches, will, as at previous Games, provide the most convenient and effective means of ensuring that they get reliably to where they need to be each and every time. We listened with great interest to the experience of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, in respect of the transport for the Olympic athletes and the Olympic Games family. We are, of course, encouraging the use of public transport as much as possible. For example, the media will use the Heathrow Express to travel between Heathrow, which is LOCOG’s official port of entry, and central London. Transport for London will be providing access to free public transport travel for all members of the Games family.
The Games will, of course, place unprecedented demands on our public transport system, despite the enhancements to capacity I have described in detail and the normal summer seasonal reduction in background demand that can be expected at this time of year, so it will be necessary to reduce non-Olympic demand at key hotspots at times of high Games demand to keep London moving. The latest surveys and forecasting enable those times and places to be identified and the necessary reductions to be specifically targeted. On the basis of the most recent surveys and forecasts, we now know—noble Lords have already indicated this—that we will need to reduce non-Olympic demand by approximately 30 per cent on average across a number of hotspots on both the road and public transport networks. Larger reductions will be needed on certain days at particular times at specific stations and lines. Further details on those hotspots will be published by TfL at the end of this month, but, just to be clear, we are not looking at a blanket reduction of 30 per cent in non-Olympic demand across the whole of London for the entire Games period.
The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked how we will achieve the public transport reductions and whether we were confident that the necessary reductions will be achieved. There is a rolling programme of tracking research used to estimate the level of reduction that may be achieved in 2012. This gathers information on public awareness, propensity to plan and intention to take action to change travel behaviour during the Games period. A whole host of research goes into trying to ensure that we have the best ideas of where the transport hotspots will be and how we can cope with the additional traffic. TfL has been working with businesses since November last year to encourage them to plan to reduce journeys where possible, and reroute, re-time or change the mode of essential journeys. TfL is already working directly with businesses responsible for more than half a million employees in transport hotspots. This will be supplemented next year by extensive public communications to commuters and the wider public.
Finally, the amendment also calls for proposals to promote public transport use by non-Olympic visitors and tourists. I am aware that behind this may be concerns in some quarters that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will deter non-Games tourists from visiting the UK. This has been indicated in tonight’s debate. The Government are committed to ensuring that the tourism industry maximises the economic benefits provided by the Games. Including new money that has recently been announced from the GREAT campaign, plus private sector support, VisitBritain will invest around £127 million in a new international marketing programme. Over the next four years it is expected to deliver 4.6 million extra visitors from overseas and £2.27 billion in extra visitor spend. We have also recently announced the 20.12 per cent discount initiative which will be launched next year by VisitEngland as part of a campaign to use the Games to boost domestic tourism.
Visit England’s campaign is supported by a £3 million investment from the Olympic budget and is expected to deliver 12,000 new jobs and £480 million in extra spend over three years. At this point, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, and her team on their success in achieving the World Athletics in 2017. If we get all the transport right for the Olympics, then 2017 will be a piece of cake.
I hope that has addressed the points that noble Lords have made in this debate. We hope that the non-Olympic visitors and tourists will of course be able to benefit from the significant enhancements to public transport provisions, and that the Olympic lanes will work as efficiently as intended to get the athletes and the Olympic family to and fro. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked where the previous reductions have been achieved, and we have looked to previous host cities on the reductions and on travel to get indications of travel demand. Sydney, Salt Lake City and Vancouver have all contributed to helping our plans for assessing the numbers likely to be travelling.
I have something here for the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, on the emergency services. The Games consultation and engagement team is working with the emergency services to ensure that vehicles attending emergencies can move around the city safely and easily. There will be ongoing discussion about the other vehicles she mentioned, the ones that are not actively engaged on emergency services. That is all being debated and consulted on.
I hope that I have been able to demonstrate that we are well under way in delivering a comprehensive and detailed strategy to promote public transport for the Games while also effectively managing the pressures that will be placed on specific parts of that system. On that basis I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
This is for London only, I assume.
I thank all who have spoken in this debate, particularly my noble friend Lady Ford and the noble Baronesses, Lady Grey-Thompson and Lady Doocey, who shared their expertise in these matters. I am left with three quotes and a conclusion which I would like to cover before we resolve how to take this forward. When the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, was talking about modelling, she said that on certain occasions demand is going to exceed supply. That is picked up by the sense of the word hotspot which I assume covers much of the same issue. There is obviously going to be a problem at some point during the Games and we recognise that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, was worried that emergency service vehicles would be sitting in traffic jams for hours on end, and I hope that she found the Minister’s response helpful. If there are traffic jams, they will not be the only people sitting in them; it is also going to be Londoners and others who wish to go about their ordinary business, including visitors and businesses that may have time-sensitive deliveries to make—for instance newspapers. There is obviously a second concern in that.
The third concern—the one we are all beginning to push at—is that we are making it clear that these will be the world’s first public transport Games, while at the same time recognising that even our enhanced public transport system will not really be able to cope. We have a problem.
Our amendment was an attempt to try to take a little of the potential blame away and bring it back to Parliament. However, I think that it has not found much favour and therefore will not push it further at this stage.
Before my noble friend finishes, can we ask the Minister to say a little more about the one-day travelcards as I think it may well be the first time that this has been announced? Am I correct in understanding that, as my noble friend says, these are for London travel but that they will cover travel for the journey to and back from the Games, that they will apply to wherever the traveller travels from, and that they will be free? If they are not free, then they are just a return ticket, and not a travelcard at all, so can the Minister confirm what exactly these travelcards cover and will they apply to people going to Weymouth to see the sailing, or to Greenwich to see the equestrian events? Can the Minister be more precise please?
All spectators will receive a free all-zones travelcard for the day of their Games event ticket, so that will cover the London venues. A dedicated Games journey planner on the London 2012 website will enable ticket holders to plan and book their journeys well in advance of the Games. We are hoping that the all-zones travelcard will be an additional encouragement to the spectators to use public transport.
Or the Tube?
Or they are in the Tube—I will come to that. Everybody who has deliveries to make in London has to make them at unsocial hours with difficult transport arrangements but they have to take notice of that; if they are not worrying about the number of potatoes they have got to buy, they will certainly be worrying about this. They will, we hope, get it right and we will be working on that.
All the extra visitors will be confused and bemused as they often are in London, so no change there, but those who have tickets for the venues will be trying to use a Tube system running at overcapacity. Despite the improvements already mentioned there is very little time—eight months now—until we get into the critical phase.
It does seem a bit of a mess. I do not think there is anything one can do about it, and we must all pull together to try to make sure the best comes out of it. I wish those who are responsible for it all the very best. With that, I withdraw this amendment.
Amendment 2 withdrawn.