Motion to Take Note
My Lords, 2012 is a very special year for Britain with three historic events to look forward to: first, the Diamond Jubilee, bringing the nation together to celebrate the 60-year reign of Her Majesty the Queen, the second-longest-serving monarch in British history; secondly, the London 2012 Festival, the UK’s largest ever festival of arts, culture and creativity, which will run throughout the summer with artists joining us from all over the world; and, thirdly, the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The greatest show on earth is coming to the UK. London is making history by becoming the first city ever to host the modern Games for a third time—1908, 1948 and 2012. With the arrival of the Olympic flame over the weekend, the countdown to an extraordinary period for the country has well and truly begun.
We want London 2012 to be an outstanding Games that enhances our global reputation. We also want it to be a Games for everyone, with opportunities for people to join in the spirit of celebrations wherever they live, whatever their age and whatever their interests. Nowhere is this better reflected than in the torch relay, which will visit more than a thousand cities, towns and villages across all four nations. The Olympic flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of the population, while giving us a chance to showcase the people and places that make Britain great. The coming weeks will provide an extraordinary advertisement for the different regions and nations of the UK, and we want to maximise the tourism benefits as much as possible.
Of course, the arrival of the torch also focuses our minds on how close the Games themselves are. With fewer than 70 days until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and with exactly 100 days until the Paralympics begin, I am pleased to say that our preparations for the Games are in a very good place.
I should like to give your Lordships an update on four key areas of preparation. The first is around the construction and planning of the event. Anyone who has visited east London cannot fail to see the transformation of the skyline across the Lee valley. A series of iconic new sporting venues is complete, such as the Olympic stadium, the striking aquatic centre, the velodrome, the Copper Box, Eton Manor and the Lee Valley White Water Canoe Centre which have already successfully hosted world-class test events. The quality and timeliness of our preparations have been recognised by the International Olympic Committee which has praised our efforts on each of a succession of inspection visits. The Olympic and Paralympic programme remains on time and on budget. Of the original £9.3 billion, around £500 million remains as uncommitted contingency. The big build has been finished and the Olympic delivery authority has delivered more than £900 million-worth of savings. These savings have allowed us to meet other essential Games needs without breaking the overall £9.3 billion envelope.
The ODA’s efforts represent a great advertisement for the British construction industry which is now winning other major contracts. It’s excellent health and safety record has set new standards for the industry and its recruitment and training initiatives, such as the Women into Construction project have broken new ground. LOCOG has been very successful in raising the money it needs from the private sector despite the difficult economic conditions. LOCOG has secured in excess of £1 billion from international sponsors, broadcast rights holders and domestic sponsors and has generated unprecedented ticket demand both for the Olympics and Paralympics. More than 7 million tickets have been sold so far, setting the scene for full venues at Games time and a wonderful atmosphere for the competing athletes.
The second area is safety and security. Our priority is to deliver a safe and secure Games for all and we have adopted a no-compromise approach to safety and security. The UK has an excellent record of policing major events, and the Games will be no exception. However, the Olympics and Paralympics are first and foremost a celebration of sport. While the Government will ensure that this celebration is safe and secure for participants and visitors, the security response will be proportionate and in keeping with the culture and spirit of the Games. We are keen to strike the right balance between the celebration of the Games and the need to keep everyone safe.
The third area is transport. The £6.5 billion transport infrastructure improvements leveraged by the Games will be of long-term benefit to everybody. The key elements have been delivered before the Games have begun, including major infrastructure improvements to build capacity across rail and London Underground. Examples are: £125 million upgrade to Stratford regional station which has trebled the station’s capacity. We are expecting some 120,000 people to be using the station at peak times. There is also the extension of the North London Line and improvements to the Docklands Light Railway. There is a new high speed domestic rail service from Kent to Stratford International station, which opened in December 2009 and the enhancement of 75 kilometres of east London’s cycle routes as a result of £10 million investment by the ODA.
Fourthly, I turn to the legacy of Games. This above all, as the IOC has recognised, marks London 2012 as different from previous Games. The physical legacy is impressive. The athletes’ village will provide more than 2,800 homes, 35% of which will be affordable housing. The new £1.43 billion privately funded Westfield shopping centre opened in Stratford in September 2011, providing 10,000 jobs. It had more than 1 million visitors in the first fortnight after opening. Six out of eight permanent venues on the park have had their future secured beyond the Games. No previous host city has come close to this. Legacy operators for the other two permanent venues—the Olympic stadium and the international broadcast centre and main press centre—are being actively sought. Plans for the future of the park, led by the London Legacy Development Corporation under the stewardship of the mayor, are going well, and we look forward to hearing from the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, on these matters.
Five world-class permanent sporting venues—the Olympic stadium, the aquatics centre, the velodrome, the Copper Box, and Eton Manor—will provide community facilities as well as being used for elite sport. There will be a wider economic legacy for the entire UK. The Olympic Delivery Authority alone has awarded £6 billion-worth of contracts to build and supply the Games to over 1,500 suppliers. Over 98% are UK-based companies, half of them based outside London. Many more companies have won work in the supply chains of the ODA.
Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games will provide a unique opportunity for the UK to showcase the best of its manufacturing sector, innovation and creativity, and to attract new visitors, investment and export. The British Business Embassy at Lancaster House will showcase the UK as an outstanding global investment destination and a springboard for global growth. The programme of events which they are hosting includes a Global Investment Conference and a series of sector-specific days, aimed at elite overseas businesses, along with UK businesses with innovative products and services to export, on an invitation-only basis. The Embassy includes the “Imagine: Great Ideas Made Real” digital showcase to challenge perceptions of the UK and demonstrate its creative and innovative strengths.
This year also presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the tourism industry in the UK. The “GREAT” campaign seeks to stress the excellence of our culture, heritage, sport, and shopping and of the holiday experience in Britain. We want to reinvigorate our appeal in important markets where we have seen decline, such as the United States, and to build our brand image in vital emerging markets like Brazil, India and China.
We want to ensure our tourism industry remains one of the largest in the world. In addition to attracting inward tourism, we want to encourage our domestic tourism offer to thrive and to promote the staycation effect. VisitEngland is asking tourism businesses to give visitors another reason to stay in the UK by encouraging them to offer 20.12% off and other great offers. This means 20.12% off accommodation stays, meals, and other experiences. Offers and deals could include three nights for the price of two, or two-for-one entry at attractions. I fear the mathematicians among us will realise that those particular discounts do not entirely reflect a 20.12% discount, but they will understand the spirit of these offers.
My Lords, that may well be the case, but the torches are actually the property of the people running, and I do not think the Government could get directly involved in that.
As part of the 2012 legacy, we also wish to reverse the decline in sports participation. The Government launched a new youth sport strategy on 10 January with £1 billion of lottery and Exchequer funding. This will mean a much greater focus on young people, particularly 14 to 25 year-olds, and this strategy aims to deliver: consistent growth in sports participation in the 14 to 25 age range and across the adult population; an excellent sporting experience to keep people playing sport; high quality talent development to create a better talent pool and help those with real potential to make the grade; and a growth in participation by people who have disabilities, including the most talented.
The School Games is the Government’s new framework for competitive school sport. It is a key strategy for creating a meaningful sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to increase the number of pupils participating in competitive sport. More than half the schools in England—around 13,000—have signed up, including primary, secondary, special and independent schools. The UK and Brazil, which will host the next summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016, have jointly written to the IOC and to the International Paralympic Committee to ask them to encourage future bidders for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Youth Olympic Games to have in place a competition structure similar to that of the School Games.
The International Inspiration initiative is delivering on the promise made by my noble friend Lord Coe in Singapore in 2005 to,
“reach young people all over the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games, so they are inspired to choose sport”.
The programme develops a series of activities tailored to each country’s needs, to introduce a more systematic approach to delivering sport in school and community settings for all age groups, based on practices that have been successful in the UK. To date, more than 12 million young people in 20 countries have been reached through the International Inspiration programme. Since 2007, the programme has helped train 100,000 teachers, coaches and young leaders. Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of my noble friend Lord Bates, the Olympic Truce has a much higher profile than in previous Games. We look forward to hearing more from him about support for the Truce.
We are not complacent and recognise that challenges still lie ahead in 2012. For example, during the course of the Games we will be hosting 26 simultaneous world championships; converting for the Paralympics and then hosting another 20 events; and coping with millions of extra journeys on our transport systems. However, the omens are good for us to deliver a safe, successful and memorable Olympic and Paralympic Games, with legacy benefits for the whole country.
Before I close, I should note that the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, withdrew her name from the speakers list out of courtesy to the House because, with 100 days to go to the Paralympics, she was unable to stay for the whole debate. On behalf of the House, I thank her for observing that courtesy and express appreciation for all her achievements and for her work on the Paralympics, and assure her that she will always be welcome to raise any matter, either inside or outside the Chamber.
The Government acknowledge the work of the previous Administration in the planning and organisation of the Games. We are grateful for the cross-party support in the work that has still to be done, and for the healthy scrutiny from your Lordships, particularly given the levels of Olympic and Paralympic expertise that we have in the House. I look forward to hearing all contributions in the debate, and to the UK delivering a Games of which we can all be proud.
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the Olympic Delivery Authority on delivering the Olympic park to LOCOG on time and, as the Minister said, on budget. We should congratulate not only the main contractors but the subcontractors—the suppliers of the products and the materials that have gone into creating the Olympic park. It looks wonderful and is a tribute to the companies that have worked so hard.
I agree with Hugh Robertson MP, who wrote in the February Olympic Quarterly Report:
“One of the greatest adverts for the UK from the London 2012 Games is the Olympic Park itself, which showcases the best of British architecture, engineering and construction”.
The Minister repeated this. It is indeed a wonderful showcase for our companies, which supplied not only the innovative products about which the Minister spoke but also the recyclable materials—products that make this a green Olympics. The floor coverings, waste bins and much of the pipework are all recyclable. The new road surfaces use waste material. The energy centre burns waste material. New materials were developed for the roofing membranes, for the 80,000 seats in the main stadium and for the 6,000 seats in the velodrome. The water and sewerage services are most ingenious. As the Minister said, it is a showcase for the best of British industry. What a good story we have to tell—a story that British companies should tell out loud. They can supply these materials and their products to construction companies in all parts of the world.
However, they cannot tell it. Why? In order to get the business, companies had to sign an agreement that they would not publicise their products without permission from LOCOG. Despite many applications, none of the companies that supplied the products and materials that I have mentioned was given permission. A few others have. What is more, companies are not even going to get permission after the Games finish. Why? LOCOG says that it is because, quite rightly, it is protecting the rights of the generous sponsors. However, no one is asking to use the logo, not even the phrase “London Olympics 2012”. They are not allowed to show any association with the Olympic Games. Even using the word “Olympics” or the number “2012” is banned. Permission to publicise this information has been turned down.
The Minister spoke of the torch relay. To give her a flavour of what is going on, I refer noble Lords to a report in this morning’s Guardian. When the Olympic torch started out from Plymouth, LOCOG officials confiscated leaflets advertising an Olympic breakfast at a local café. The officials said—wait for it—that “flaming torch bacon and egg baguettes”, which were on the menu, contravened branding guidelines. Does the Minister really think that firms such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are concerned about calling a bacon and egg baguette “flaming torch”? Are the Government really going to defend the ridiculous?
One indignant subcontractor got his trade association to write to the Prime Minister. It asked him to justify his claim that:
“We expect these events to generate at least £1 billion for British businesses and they are vital to secure our long-term return to sustainable growth”.
How much easier it would be to make this happen if companies could tell potential customers about their products and demonstrate how well they work. A tie manufacturer wrote to me last week saying that his company had produced a fabric which showed the three Olympic Games that have taken place in Britain, and they wanted to produce a tie with it. However, LOCOG would not let the company call it an “Olympic tie”, or anything of that name, and so it has had to call it a sporting tie. Yes, we do still produce fabrics and ties in this country. The Minister said that the Olympic park should be a showcase. Should it not also be a shop window?
The response to the letter came from Mark Prisk at BIS. He agrees that the Olympics should be a showcase for British business and points out that some of these products have been included in the Beyond 2012 legacy document and the suppliers directory. He considers this to be proportionate. Proportionate to what? The proportionate fact is that the taxpayers paid 90% of the cost and the sponsors 10%. I will not labour the party political points that can be drawn from this; I just await the Minister’s reply.
This matter was drawn to my attention in my capacity as the honorary president of the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, a commercial and technological organisation of some 4,500 businesses, universities and research organisations, all working to improve the materials in our lives—and they are angry. Why are they angry? If the Government really cared about this, they would have cleared it up months ago. I am angry because, instead, someone like me has to try to shame Ministers into doing something about it at the last minute.
There are 68 days left until the opening of the Games. Will the Government make good their rhetoric and take steps to allow British businesses to use the Olympics as a shop window for all the wonderful materials and products they have supplied—and also allow cafés to serve celebratory breakfasts?
My Lords, I thought I would hear nothing new about the Olympics during this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, has surprised me with the idea of flame-grilled breakfasts not complying with the rules. However, I remember when we first discussed the use of the Olympic symbol in this House—it was a good few years ago and I think the noble Lord was part of the Government of the time. Protection of the Olympic symbol is very entrenched in the Olympic movement. I will say no more because the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is in the Chamber. We have possibly the greatest expert on this subject on the government Back Benches—or at least a far greater expert than me. Defending the Olympic symbol and gaining the best revenue from it is an interesting subject and there has been a great deal of movement on it.
When we look back at preparations for the Olympics we have to look back at the process we have gone through. Nobody expected us to get the Games or at least nobody admitted that they expected us to get them. When we did we were surprised. I thought we had done something very good in preparing the bid as it made us address planning and structural changes and to look seriously at them. It came on the back of a successful Commonwealth Games and unsuccessful bids. It was the first soft legacy from the unsuccessful bids. The real question is how we carry on the things we gained from this, especially the soft legacy and the planning.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, will undoubtedly be able to tell us more about the bricks-and-mortar approach. However, the thing of great interest we can take away from the Games and which will give a long-lasting legacy is the cultural change about how we use big events and learn from them for the smaller events that follow, which are still of world significance. For instance, the Cultural Olympiad, the Olympic festival, will provide months of entertainment and value—how do we learn to piggyback events successfully to get the best out of them? How do we learn to use advertising over and over again to reinforce a message? We must take this into account.
We have been greatly successful in making sure that everybody has bought into the idea that this is an important event—even if you hate it. Even if you cannot stand the idea of the Olympics it will change your life in certain ways. Everybody expects to gain some positives—that is the real thing that has come out of it. As for the process of the bid itself, apparently the noble Lord, Lord Coe, congratulated me on coming out with the most unusual compliment he had ever heard when I said, “Thank you for making the Olympic project dull”. Nothing has gone very badly wrong. The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has an expression on her face, in which case problems have been kept quiet. We gone through the process of making sure the Games have been delivered on time and on budget. Whatever bumps and bangs there have been, that is how you will ultimately be judged. If we have done that, what else can we do?
We have annoyed a lot of journalists who had doom and gloom stories on budgets ready to be printed or sent to various people, but what else are we going to get out of this in the long term? One of the real benefits we have already taken, and it is very appropriate we raise it today because we are only 100 days away from the start of the Paralympic Games, is that the Paralympics have come to be seen as a partner on even terms, or at least close to it. That is something I did not expect to see in my lifetime. The “Does he take sugar?” attitude towards the Paralympics was certainly there at first. The attitude of, “Isn’t it jolly good we are doing something we are quite good at?” and “You mean people in wheelchairs can do that?”. People now appreciate that these are athletes trained to the peak of their capacity striving on even terms with people from all around the world to achieve something extraordinary. That is taken as read in other forms of sporting activity at the elite level. It has transformed our perception and process. If we can take that and go on, we will have done something very good.
On the subject of sponsors, I spoke to people from Sainsbury’s the other day at a reception and asked them what they get out of this—not what they give. After a little bit of nagging, I got a very honest answer: “Yes, it helps in marketing. Yes, it helps to make people in our stores feel better about themselves, which makes them better employees. Ultimately it is about something that is bigger than us, that makes us part of the community—that is what we get out of it. And it improves sales”. I may get told off by one or two people but I think that is worth a few tickets to the event, so I say thank you to the sponsors and everybody who has been involved throughout the process. They have done something which has benefited us.
Probably the only real grumble about the Olympic process has been about tickets. If you are struggling to make a story out of this, it shows how well things have gone. There was a problem with the ticket allocation because it was not designed for a total sell-out within seconds of it opening: too high a demand crashing systems; the fact that people like myself who thought we had registered in time and would get the tickets we wanted have not got them—I am available for any returns. Now the Olympics organisers are saying if you have not got them or you have only a few in the sports that probably were not your first choice, you are not eligible for the next round. They are spreading it out. There is something good coming from this. Are we going to learn how to manage demand better in future? Maybe there will be never be another demand like the Olympics but learning to manage expectation of demand is something else that has come from this.
The Olympics are now a real thing. The torch relay has started. The planning has stopped; we are now in the delivery phase. The important thing about the Olympics now is that we relax and enjoy it but also remember that we are going to take on these lessons that we have learnt and prove that, over two successive Governments of different political persuasions, as a nation we can carry something through. That is probably the biggest legacy going—that we have that capacity as a nation.
I declare an interest: I was in Singapore as part of the bid team. One of the most important lessons that I learnt from that was in conversation with a senior Minister who was part of the bid team. I asked him how he had managed to persuade the Treasury to give its consent to the bid and he said, “We managed to persuade Gordon that we could not possibly win”.
My Lords, the management of politicians, particularly those in the Treasury, is an art form that everybody else in government tries to embrace. I think that emphasises my point rather than takes away from it.
I look forward to seeing how we learn and carry on with this. Are we going to manage to keep the initiative going? Are we going to keep the interest in sport and sporting activity going? Can the Government give us examples of how they plan to take this on board? How can people who are not in government at the moment guarantee to support this progress? How can we guarantee that we all talk to each other about what we do next? We came together around a good project; we did not think we would but we were going to have a go at it. Can we guarantee to do something else with it? That is the next big challenge.
My Lords, this is a very well timed debate. The torch relay is now well under way and it seems to be received extremely well as it tours the country. A mere take note Motion may sound a little unenthusiastic, but I do not think that can be said of my noble friend the Minister’s opening remarks, which reflect the growing level of excitement as the opening of the Games approaches.
Flying in to London City Airport today, it was very noticeable that there really has been regeneration in the very desolate part of the East End where the Olympic site was very sensibly located. As my noble friend said, the major architectural features—namely, the aquatics stadium, the velodrome and the main stadium—are all very different and have been well received. Will my noble friend update us on the stadium itself? Athletics has been something of a Cinderella sport compared with some others in the country and we desperately need a national athletics stadium. The stadium’s design seems very good, but it is important that, whoever eventually takes it over, it should be used not merely for track but for field events. If we are going to have a football operation there as well—my noble friend encouraged me to say this—putting shot puts and so on in the middle of the football pitch during the weekend may not be a terribly good way of generating a suitable environment.
I certainly look forward to the Games. My noble friend stressed the commercial rather than the sporting aspects. I hope that our team does extremely well and we should give it every possible support, but we must recognise that medals are not easy to get and the degree of competition is perhaps far greater now than ever before. Perhaps I may be nostalgic for a moment and say that the environment is very different from that in 1948, when we had no legislation whatever on the subject and no sponsors. One must stress that the Games were entirely amateur; they did not have the degree of professionalism which they have now. That is a considerable transformation which brings with it some problems. The 1948 Games took place at a time of extreme austerity. I think that the amount of meat provided for one day for a member of the American visiting athletic team was roughly the same as that rationed to a family for a month. In preparing for those Games, I remember not having a proper vest because we had run out of clothing coupons. It was a very different atmosphere and the organisers did a remarkable job in all the circumstances.
One of the effects of the change from amateurism to professionalism is a real problem with drugs. There was no point in taking drugs in 1948 because one saw little value in finding that one had won because one had cheated, whereas once the Games are professionalised, there is a growing danger of people being tempted to take drugs. In that context—my noble friend Lord Moynihan may care to say something about this—the British Olympic Association has been absolutely right to say that we should have a complete ban. If someone is guilty of a serious drug offence, having been properly investigated and so on, the only way to deter to them is to have a complete ban. It is absurd to give them a second chance. All that does is encourage them to have a first chance and hope that they are not found out. I strongly support what the BOA has said, and I hope that we can get international agreement on it. It is quite absurd that we should not seek to ban the use of drugs. If people who have been found to contravene the rules are in the Olympics, I hope that we do not end up with a 100-metres race where half the competitors have been guilty of previous drug offences. We do not know what the long-term effects of taking drugs are, but it is extremely unlikely that the muscles that one has built up with steroids disappear very quickly. I hope that we can take a tougher line on this, and I welcome the line that my noble friend and his colleagues have been taking.
In the course of our previous debates—we have spent a while debating these issues—the question arose of what happens if people arrive at the stadium with tickets which they cannot use. At an earlier stage, my noble friend Lord Coe said that the committee was considering whether it would be possible to hand in tickets officially, rather as one does with Wimbledon tickets if one is leaving after a particular match, so that they could then be resold at face value. I am not clear where we are on that; we have been left rather in the dark.
Our debate in Committee on the Bill was also rather cut short on the question of protesters. Given the problems that we have had in Parliament Square, we do not want to find a whole stack of people camping outside the stadium protesting about issues which may well be entirely irrelevant. Are we satisfied that the rules for dealing with protesters—particularly the establishment of any form of permanent operation for protest during the course of the Games—are under control?
We must certainly hope that the overall effect of the Games—I declare an interest as a patron of my club, Herne Hill Harriers—will be greatly to encourage participation in sport. The Games authorities have been very good in seeking to ensure that people come along, watch and are encouraged to take up sport in various shapes and forms. That should be the best legacy from the Games. It means that we will have to provide the facilities. In that context, the proposals to change planning laws, and so on, should make it clear that if planning permission is given which eliminates a sporting facility it is replaced with something of equal value.
All those are issues for the future. Meanwhile, we must hope that our team does well. We must encourage them in every way possible. Finally, we should congratulate, not least, those in this House who have been actively involved in the whole operation—in the same way that Lord Burghley and others were back in 1948. That is a good tradition. I think that they have done a very good job and I hope that the fruits of their success give us a major national event of which we can all be proud.
My Lords, I thought, when the Minister opened the debate and was talking about the great events of this summer, that she might have mentioned that Chelsea had won the Champions League on Saturday night. This Peer certainly had a very happy husband—icing on the cake of a great sporting summer.
More seriously, this is the last time we will debate the London 2012 Olympic Games in your Lordships’ House before the opening ceremony on 27 July. As we know, many Members of your Lordships’ House have played important roles in securing, planning and delivering the platform for the Games. In the next few weeks, those roles will extend to staging the Games and to delivering Team GB’s performance. We all hope for a fantastic Games and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for so many people across the UK who will be participating in many different ways in this phenomenal event.
For many people, that will be the culmination of their Olympic experience, the end of a great adventure, but for an important group of people it is only the end of the beginning. Those are the people who will carry on, assuring the legacy of the London Olympics. It will be no surprise to your Lordships that it is the legacy that I wish to dwell on this afternoon, and in particular the legacy promised to the people of east London. It is a legacy of homes, jobs, aspirations and improved life chances, for all these things were embodied in the promise made in Singapore in 2005, when the UK bravely asserted that these Games would become completely embedded in the regeneration of east London. That incredibly bold and ambitious claim had never been attempted before.
Seven years later, what progress has been made? No other Olympic city has ever taken on the level of transformation that has occurred in east London. Stratford now arguably has the best connected public transport in London. As the Minister mentioned, the £1.5 billion investment made by Westfield is complete and trading way beyond its wildest expectations. It is a phenomenal success. The 500-acre Olympic park has been utterly transformed from the industrial wasteland that characterised that site, which I knew from way back, long before the bid. I did not even know that there was water on that site; now there are 7.5 kilometres of beautifully reclaimed waterways. The site is a beautiful new park—a royal park, of course, to be named in this great Jubilee year as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park. That phenomenally well designed green space and those reclaimed waterways and reinstated natural habitats all frame some of the best sporting venues that the world has to offer. In due course, beginning this autumn, they will be surrounded by some of the best family housing that London has to offer. It is quite a phenomenal achievement and has never been done before.
The IOC president, Jacques Rogge—not always an easy man to please, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, would testify—confirmed London’s achievement at the last IOC session when he said:
“London has raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy. We can already see tangible results in the … regeneration of East London. This great historical city has created a legacy blueprint for future Games hosts”.
Praise indeed, and none of this has occurred by accident. London learnt the lessons of other host cities that left the thinking about legacy until after the Games. Generally, that was much too late, so in 2009 the Government and the Mayor of London set up their legacy organisation, which I have had the most enormous privilege to chair from its inception. Our role was simply to focus on delivering on the promises made in respect of the Olympic park. As the noble Lords, Lord Higgins and Lord Addington, have mentioned, there is a much wider legacy—a sporting and participation legacy—but our brief was the legacy from the park.
Those promises were in two parts. First, we had to deal with securing viable futures for the permanent venues designed for the Games, which is not always an easy task. It has been very important that these venues, which in other countries have often had very mixed fortunes after the Games, were viable in a way that made them commercially successful. I do not imagine that the taxpayer would have appreciated having to subsidise these venues after the Games when so much public money had been already spent on them, so securing commercially viable futures, as we have been able to do with six out of the eight venues, has been a great success. Yet this would not be a success if, in so doing, we had priced local people out of these venues.
Here I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, whose committee at the London Assembly really challenged and encouraged us. It was especially important to us to secure a pricing structure that pegged entry and participation at these venues to the local market. In other words, the cost of a swim in the Olympic aquatics centre is pegged at the same price as at the surrounding local authority pools, so there is no question that access to these venues will somehow be for visitors or elite groups. They are absolutely affordable for local kids and local families.
The Olympic village, likewise—now completely presold, unbelievably, in the current banking and property market—will have a high proportion of affordable homes, delivering the promise made on housing in 2005. Pulling off this balance has often been challenging but frankly hugely important for the credibility of the promise to local people. Of the 7,500 jobs already created at Westfield, the vast majority have gone to local people, demonstrating again, as the Minister mentioned, that the legacy is bearing fruit even before the Games begin. That was the first part of our job.
It will take longer to know whether the second part of our job—the legacy—has worked because the real success of the Games will not be fully clear for some years to come. That is because it will take some time to see the investment in Stratford fully bear fruit in the wider regeneration of that part of east London. To track progress in a methodical and highly visible way, the Olympic host boroughs and the Mayor of London have adopted the simple concept of convergence: the idea that, if the Games achieve what they set out to do, over a 20-year period all the social indicators that currently lag the rest of London will improve to converge with the London average. Targets such as educational attainment, public health outcomes, employment and income levels have been set to measure progress over that period. Watching Stratford visibly improve, as I have every week for four years, suggests to me that things are on the march, and I have enormous faith that change will happen in the way that we all hope.
An interesting point is that when London was beset by the appalling riots last summer, it was noticeable that one of the few boroughs that experienced virtually no trouble was Newham. I am sure that people in Newham have real pride in and appreciation of the work and investment that has gone into the area, and I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this borough, one of the poorest in London and the most ethnically diverse, did not get caught up in the madness that afflicted other parts of the capital last year. That is a point worth reflecting on.
In this last debate, we should pay sincere tribute, as others, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, have done, to the work of Sir David Higgins and his successor Dennis Hone and their teams at the ODA. The completion of the park ahead of time and under budget has been the most incredible achievement, as others have said, and a great testimony to the UK construction industry. All professions, especially the chartered surveyors, of which I am an honorary member, have played their part in making this project a world-class success. I am particularly proud that so many of my former colleagues at English Partnerships formed the backbone of the ODA team, bringing all the skills they developed over a number of years on large, complex sites across England. We really understand how to do this kind of transformation in England, and the remediation and regeneration of this site are now regarded as a genuinely world-class exemplar.
My finishing line has hoved into view a little earlier than I had expected. I had planned to step down after the Games as this phase of the legacy finishes and a new phase of construction begins. The park will close for one year to allow significant construction works to take place to remove the Olympic overlay, to build the network of bridges, new roads and pathways in the park, to complete the landscaping of the parkland and to resize the venues for legacy use. This is a sizeable construction project in its own right and will take a year to complete before the north part of the park reopens exactly one year after the Games on 27 July 2013. The south part of the park, with the more complicated reconfiguration of the stadium and the aquatics centre, will open quite quickly thereafter at Easter 2014. I let the Mayor of London know last year that I felt that this phase should be overseen by a new chairman who would be able to devote significant time to this still-considerable task. After the election, the mayor immediately appointed my successor, so I shall hand over after my board meeting tomorrow.
The stadium and the broadcast centre remain to be finalised. As the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, hinted, it was always intended that the stadium would be the new home of UK athletics, the new Crystal Palace. Its future has been cemented by the UK winning the right to host the 2017 world athletics championships. That is a phenomenal legacy from a sporting point of view. My desire from the start was always to see whether there were compatible uses, which the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, hinted at, that could sit alongside athletics to bring life and revenue to the stadium all year round. In the past week, that commercial process has been extended by some eight weeks, but it will come to a close in a couple of months and I look forward to welcoming its very successful outcome.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of this great project and to be part of assuring the legacy and of delivering one of the most ambitious promises that any Government and city have ever made. I have had the pleasure of working with an outstanding team of people at the Olympic Park Legacy Company and of working with two amazing Ministers: Hugh Robertson, the Olympics Minister, and, of course, the incomparable force of nature that is the right honourable Tessa Jowell, who everyone on all sides of the House understands has done more than anyone in government over 10 years to ensure that these Games are a truly outstanding success.
As the Games finish, the legacy work continues apace, and we must not forget the promises made to the communities in east London. I know that the host boroughs will keep up that pressure, and I look forward to watching the London Legacy Development Corporation get on and finish the job.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Ford. I pay tribute to her and all the work that she has done in making the legacy of the London Games something of which we can all be proud, which will live on in the lives of the people of east London for generations to come. She has made an amazing contribution, as have many Members of this House, including my noble friend Lord Coe; the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, in the Paralympics; my noble friend Lord Moynihan in the British Olympic Association; and the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, on the GLA’s Olympic committee. As well as showcasing all that is good about Britain, it also showcases all that is good about this House, which we ought to find encouraging.
Before I encourage my noble friend and the Government to go, in the sporting tradition, further, faster and higher on the Olympic Truce, I place my remarks firmly in the context of my noble friend’s opening speech. She absolutely set out the stall for what has been achieved, which is quite phenomenal. We are all very proud of the way that this has been delivered on the sporting, commercial and construction sides. They are all things in which we can take a great deal of pride.
I first raised the Olympic Truce in your Lordships’ House in another “take note” debate on 14 June 2010. I did so for three reasons. First, the Olympic Truce is not just part of the ancient Olympic Games; it was the entire point of the ancient Olympic Games. They were not about sporting competition and they certainly were not about legacy or commercial activity. They were about putting a brake on the constant fighting in the Peloponnese. That was the purpose of the Games. It was expressed through the Olympic Truce, which at that point was a sacred truce. I want to make sure that we remember what the Games were about and what their inspiration was.
Secondly, the Olympic Truce today is not just some general “motherhood and apple pie” notion that surrounds the Games. It is something more than that. It is a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. It is a resolution that is proposed by the Government who host the Games. Therefore, as this was the first resolution that the coalition Government presented to the United Nations General Assembly, it should be taken seriously. In ancient times the truce was sacred; in modern times it has become rather symbolic. This is a great opportunity for us to remember what it is about.
Thirdly and finally, particularly since the torch has now arrived in the UK, I take slight issue with our having broken the tradition of allowing it to be carried through different countries on an international relay for the first time. The torch heralds the Olympic Truce. When you are heralding an international truce, it is helpful if you visit other countries on the way. I feel that it was a missed opportunity to run the torch relay up through the Balkans—which have known great pain and sadnesses and still have great tensions—across the battlefields of the First World War and the Second World War, and the front line of the Cold War, and then bring it to London so that we can remember. I realise that these decisions were taken many years ago. None the less, I wanted to say that.
I want to reflect a little on what has happened in the intervening two years. There has been some movement and I pay tribute to people for that. Just 10 days ago, my noble friend Lord Moynihan and I had the great privilege to be in Olympia when the Olympic flame was lit. As it was lit, the president of the International Olympic Committee said:
“We have come to the ancestral home of the Olympic Movement to light a flame that will soon cast its glow over the entire world … It is a beacon for the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect. It is a symbol of fellowship and peace. In recognition of those values, the United Nations has unanimously approved a resolution calling on nations to build a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”.
That is what the president of the IOC set out as the purpose of this flame and these Games. I fully understand the reasons why those decisions had to be taken after the disruption of the torch relay for the Beijing Games. However, I do not think that sporting prowess is demonstrated by anything other than courage. Someone setting out to disrupt the proceedings should not cause us to drop the relay—it should cause us to reaffirm its purposes.
This campaign on the Olympic Truce took a little while to get going. However, I was delighted when my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said:
“We wish to make the most of that historic opportunity, we are considering other international initiatives to promote the spirit of the truce … the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is engaging with our embassies worldwide”.—[Official Report, Commons, 29/6/11; col. 953.]
It has been truly fantastic to see that going into operation.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and embassies around the world have embraced the ideal of the Olympic Truce for London 2012 in a way which is quite inspirational and absolutely consistent with its values. That is due to the leadership of the Minister, Henry Bellingham, who has responsibility for the matter. We hear a lot about the Minister for the Olympics. The Olympic Truce is an important element of this role and Henry Bellingham has done an outstanding job of promoting it.
The UK mission to the United Nations also managed to pull off one of the all-time records in international relations. Not only did it promote the Olympic Truce resolution, it also managed to get all 193 member states of the United Nations to sign up to it before presenting it on 17 October 2011. The UK mission even went one better and got everyone to cosponsor it, which was a phenomenal achievement. In terms of international relations and the Olympics, it is at least on a par with some of the other wonderful things that we have seen about legacy, construction and sport.
We need to hear more about the Olympic Truce, because it has been achieved in such a fantastic way. Resolution A/66/L.3 represents a mandate and an international consensus. Its long preamble runs on for three pages. Bless the Foreign Office for ensuring that every line is there and every interest is represented. Essentially, however, the preamble comes down to two things. First, it urges the member states which have signed up to the truce to observe it individually and collectively for the period of the 30th Olympic and 14th Paralympic Games. Secondly, it calls on the member states that signed up to it to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the Olympic Games.
Those statements are unambiguous. No one can say, “We didn’t know what we were signing up to. We don’t know whether we can implement it”. They have signed up to it. What is more, Her Majesty’s Government have proposed it to the United Nations General Assembly. That places on us a particular responsibility to ensure that it is implemented. Not surprisingly, after the news that it had been fully supported by all 193 member states, my noble friend Lord Coe, who was presenting the truce resolution on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, said:
“It has never been more important to support this General Assembly resolution by actions, not just through words”.
That was what my noble friend the Prime Minister was saying when he said that this represented a “historic opportunity”.
There are still two months to go before the Olympic Games actually start. Where do we stand now? Well, we perhaps stand a little bit too much on the words, which have been excellent and encouraging and are coming in every day, with various statements of how much the resolution is welcome and how much people believe in the Olympic Truce and the Olympic ideal. We are just a little short on the actions. Not that there have not been any. A cross-departmental Olympic Truce committee is now operating, which is taking advice from our excellent NGOs working in conflict areas around the world to see what can be done. There is even an Olympic Truce officer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—and, as the Foreign Secretary said, have you any idea how difficult it is to get additional headcount into the Foreign Office for an initiative? That is something else to be welcomed.
About 32 countries have registered particular schemes relating to the Olympic Truce, from Sudan to Sarajevo, Costa Rica and the Philippines. However, there is still much more that can be done to build on this extraordinary and unique historic opportunity and international consensus. If we achieve this and for the first time in the modern era the Olympic Truce is taken seriously, that will be a legacy to hand on to Rio. We can say, “Listen, you go further, faster and higher in implementing the ancient ideal that is the entire purpose of the Games”.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Bates, brings a unique contribution to this debate in relation to the Olympic Truce. Most of us just have the expectation that all member countries of the United Nations will actually participate in the Olympic Games. We are all too aware that in the past politics has intruded in a particularly dramatic way upon certain Games. But we seem to be past that problem with regard to these Games. That is why I congratulated the Minister on the bullish way in which she introduced a report on progress regarding the Games.
Something has been missing among the general congratulations on how much has been achieved so far. I hope that this House reflects the optimism that we will do exceptionally well in the London Games. There is no doubt that greater efforts have been made for the preparation of our athletes—I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is going to make a contribution on this later, but I am first in the batting order on this occasion—and we look forward to a performance that will cheer the hearts of all of us who follow British sport and from time to time have to sustain disappointment. We have great expectations with regard to these Games.
I had the great privilege of introducing the legislation in this House on the Olympic Games, and answered innumerable questions on the progress of the preparation for them. There is one question on which I have been challenged. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord James of Blackheath, is in his place, because he asked me about opportunities for religious worship during the Games. He is uncertain about the answer I gave, which was one of great reassurance that provision will be made for multi-faith observance during the Games. We should recognise how much in certain cultures this is of the greatest importance; after all, we all remember the 1924 Olympic Games when Liddell was not prepared to run on a Sunday. That dimension of those participating in the Games deserves proper recognition. I hope that the Minister will give a reassurance that we have fulfilled the expectations of the International Olympic Committee with regards to this provision.
I congratulate my noble friend Lady Ford on the work that she has done. We look forward to some outstandingly dramatic weeks in the Olympic Games. However, all along—this was true when the bid was first presented—we have all recognised that the Olympic Games, and the vast resources committed to them, must have a lasting legacy. My noble friend Lady Ford chaired the committee that fulfilled the expectation of that legacy. These are not marginal issues: big forces come into play when international, or even national, sport is at stake. The commitment that the Olympic stadium should remain a stadium for our future athletics competitions was threatened by the mighty forces of Premier League clubs, which were eager only to deploy their staggering resources to transform the stadium into one used for football alone. I am delighted that my noble friend and her committee withstood those pressures and safeguarded the interests of athletics.
However, I have one or two anxieties, which I bring to the Minister’s attention simply because they are felt by the whole country, but particularly by Londoners. I hope that she will give reassurance on these matters. The anxieties revolve predominantly round transport. Central London will have a vast influx of people making demands on our transport system. We should remember that the Olympic Park is only a few short miles from the centre of London. What is more, as far as possible all the other centres are concentrated in the immediate environs of London. That is very much to the credit of all those who have organised the Olympic Games but puts the most enormous pressure on our transport system, which at times creaks under present usage. I draw to the Minister’s attention the obvious anxiety that all our Tube lines, with the exception of the Jubilee Line, have shown improved performances this year compared with last. However, the Jubilee Line has a greater number of stoppages and delays than it did last year, and it is one of the crucial lines going through the centre of London straight to the terminus at Stratford. It is important that we are given reassurance on that front.
Secondly, there is anxiety about Heathrow. Any of us who have travelled to other countries where delays occur at airports know that that colours one’s perspective on the experience that one enjoys when visiting the country concerned. We all know that if you enter as an alien at certain airports in the United States you can be subject to the most inordinate delays. During the Games, we cannot afford to face the level of delays that we have had at Heathrow in recent months. This would cast a shadow over our visitors that would detract severely from their experience of the Games. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will clearly identify how we intend to solve those issues at Heathrow consistent, of course, with the need to sustain our security arrangements while ensuring that people and young children do not have too pernicious an experience when entering the country.
Finally, there has been significant investment in transport in recent years, which is paying off magnificently well in certain areas. The fact that the Javelin train will hurtle at high speed from St Pancras to Stratford is an indication of that. However, something about transport worries me: does it put the customer first? Can anyone explain why families travelling with young children on the Jubilee Line, who take between 30 and 35 minutes to arrive at Stratford, will find that that station, in common with nearly all our major termini in London and across the country, no longer provides public lavatories? The last one at Stratford was closed only a matter of months ago. What on earth is going on as regards such a basic requirement for people who are travelling particularly on the Tube, which by definition can have no facilities? The terminus has no facilities at all. That seems to represent a lack of basic concern for the traveller, and I hope that that attitude does not permeate our transport system during the period of the Games, when it must serve the people to the best of its ability.
My Lords, I have been involved in scrutinising the delivery of the Games and their legacy since London won the bid. I have also been the mayor’s representative on the Olympic Security Board, which scrutinises the security of the Games.
There is no question that there is much to celebrate—the fact that venues have been delivered on time and under budget; the fact that the new sporting facilities are a triumph of British design and engineering; and the fact that a large number of British companies have benefited from the £6 billion-worth of contracts. The creation of the Olympic Park, together with the transport upgrades, has given the area all the ingredients to attract visitors, tourists and new businesses for many years to come.
I entirely agree with the comments of my noble friend Lord Addington about the Paralympics, and great credit must go to LOCOG, which was determined that this time the Paralympics would not be the poor relation to the Olympics. LOCOG has done some excellent work to take the needs of disabled people on board, and schemes such as Ticketcare, where disabled people who are unable to attend the Games without a carer can now bring a companion, free of charge, will make a very great difference to the needs of large numbers of disabled people.
Another achievement is the planning for Olympic security. I have been extremely impressed by the calibre of the people from all government departments, the police and the military who serve on the Olympic Security Board. We can never be complacent about security, but I have absolutely no doubt that the safety of London is in the best possible hands.
There remain, however, some areas of concern. The sporting legacy is a mixture of success and failure. The good news is that Kate Hoey, as the mayor’s Commissioner for Sport, has raised £40 million to provide training for coaches and investment in sporting facilities. Some exceptionally good work is being done on the ground by organisations such as the London Youth Games, which has helped 2,000 disabled young people get into sport and enabled other young people to qualify as sports officials. On the other hand, the Government have been forced to abandon their target of using the Games to inspire 1 million people to play more sport—a target that was never realistic.
The promised legacy of jobs and training opportunities for local unemployed people is also questionable. Although the targets have been met, they were set far too low to be meaningful. Likewise, while many of the Olympic buildings have their long-term future use assured—I pay great tribute to the inspirational leadership and vision of the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, in all that she has done in this regard—the future of the main Olympic stadium and media centre nevertheless remains undecided. They must not be allowed to be a drain on taxpayers for many years to come.
There are also concerns about the long-term use of the Olympic park. After the Games, it will become a highly desirable place to live, and thousands of new homes and communities will be built. However, my concern is that no public money is allocated to fund this transformation Without this investment, private developers will be free to determine the fate of a site, and I believe that it runs the risk of becoming another Canary Wharf—a brilliant success commercially that benefits only wealthy newcomers and foreign investors at the expense of long-standing residents and local communities. This outcome would completely negate the original concept and vision, which was to provide mixed communities and facilities, with a substantial proportion of the homes and jobs going to local people.
There are also some lessons that we must learn for the future. The first concerns the allocation of tickets to the public. A ballot was undoubtedly the fairest way to sell them but, given that demand was bound to outstrip supply, there should have been a ceiling on the number of tickets each person was allowed to purchase.
It is also unjustifiable for 14,000 tickets to have been set aside for central and local government officials, while huge numbers of the public failed to get any tickets at all for the Games. If a ballot was the fairest way of selling tickets to the public, the same system should have been used for government officials.
LOCOG promised that a significant number of tickets would be affordable but has so far refused to publish details of the number of tickets sold at each price point for each event. This has resulted in widespread suspicion that too many tickets for key events have been allocated to VIPs at the expense of the public.
The final lesson we must learn concerns the behaviour of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC’s demands increase with each successive Games, yet, given the keen competition to host the Games, no one dares to challenge it. But how can “Zil lanes” for chauffeur-driven limousines, and traffic lights that automatically turn green as they approach, be justified when they result in gridlock for the rest of London? Sooner or later, some host city must have the courage to stand up to the IOC and say, “Enough is enough. We will happily treat you like honoured guests but we are not prepared to treat you like gods”.
The fact that the management of the Games has gone so well is due in no small measure to the exceptionally talented team of people who have been in charge right from the beginning. I have sometimes vehemently disagreed with some of their policies, but I have absolutely no doubt that they will produce the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games ever staged.
So let us celebrate the extraordinary achievements of the past seven years. Let us rejoice that Britain has demonstrated to the world that it can deliver major construction projects successfully, on time and within budget—a powerful message at any time but especially in the current economic climate—but let us never forget the promised long-term legacy and let us do everything in our power to ensure that the legacy is honoured.
My Lords, I start where my noble friend Lady Doocey finished by recognising London 2012 as a story of great achievement, great British creativity and great British involvement. The fact that the Olympic park was completed on time and on budget is to a great extent thanks to the skill and professionalism of more than 1,000 British businesses. The Olympic Delivery Authority’s contract for the construction of the Olympic stadium resulted in work for 240 UK companies, with many more subcontractors. This included the supply of steel from Bolton, turf grown in Scunthorpe and seats from Luton. More than 40 UK companies won contracts to work on the velodrome, including supplying the timber for the cycling track from Sheffield and seating structures from Barnsley.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been a catalyst for delivering this urban regeneration of the East End in six years rather than 26. My noble friend in sport, the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has been the torch bearer in the project to steer that area of London into a vibrant urban legacy for future generations—I emphasise that to my noble friend Lady Doocey—of the local communities. That has been at the heart of everything she has done, for which she deserves the congratulations and support of us all.
We are now ready for 15,000 athletes from more than 200 countries to come to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They will be competing for 4,400 medals. More than 3,000 officials will preside over the world’s fiercest competition and—would you believe it?—20,000 accredited media will carry the action to billions of people around the world. We are holding the equivalent of 26 world championships at the same time over 19 days, transitioning the city and then holding another 20 world championships for the Paralympic Games over 12 days. More than £700-million worth of goods will be procured for the Games, including 900,000 pieces of sports equipment—every one to perfection. For example, there are 8,400 badminton shuttlecocks, 6,000 paper archery target faces and 510 hurdles for the athletes. We expect around 8 million spectators, with 800,000 people expected to use public transport to travel to the Games on the busiest day. I say to my noble friend Lord Davies that, of course, transport is a concern and security has also been expressed as a concern. However, to have an investment because of the Games of some £6.5 billion, not least in upgrading and extending transport links to get people to and from the Games, to ensure that London keeps moving, is surely beneficial both for the Games and as a legacy project.
I shall refer to the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Haskel; I was going to say my noble friend, as he frequently is on the subject of sport. He raised an important issue. I am not here to defend the definition of a breakfast menu; nor, I am sure he would accept, am I here to argue over the margins of the legal definition of ambush marketing. I hope that I can give him some comfort by saying this from the London organising committee perspective. It raised some £2 billion from the private sector to put into the Games. That has come not least from TV rights and, of course, ticket sales. Above all, it has come from sponsorship rights. Protecting those sponsorship rights is inherently important in retaining the value of that essential contribution to a £2 billion package which has not resorted to government funding.
I think that the noble Lord was focusing more on the future. In that context maybe I can give him some comfort as I have a good degree of sympathy with his point. At the end of this year, the rights will return from the London organising committee to the British Olympic Association. We are in discussion at this time—well in advance of the end of the year—to see how we can showcase British expertise among the contractors and subcontractors who have been involved with the project, to ensure that they get some recognition moving forward, without losing the right of those commercial advantages that the British Olympic Association will have to support the young athletes of the future once the Games have moved on from London 2012. The noble Lord makes a very important point but I give him the assurance that we are already in discussion with those contractors, such as Sir John Armitt—he has been critical in this, as the noble Lord knows—and with the Government to see whether we can find a solution to recognise and showcase the outstanding work that has been done for these Games, and to work with those companies to make sure that not only they succeed but that young athletes in the future are given the support they so richly deserve when it comes to moving on to future Olympic and Paralympic Games.
I have made a distinction, I hope, in trying to assist the noble Lord about what happens when those rights return to the British Olympic Association. He made a very important point about the future benefit to those companies being showcased for the work that they have done and what is happening today. What is happening today is clearly a matter for the legal department and, as I say, I am not here to defend a legal department that is looking in detail at the definition of a breakfast menu. However, I am very concerned as chairman of the British Olympic Association that companies that have done a huge amount of work for these Games should be able to showcase in the future and win further contracts in the future. Sports facilities around the world are a multimillion-pound business, and it does not end with the Games in London. For them, it is the beginning of a long road, and we should be there to support them on that road. We need to get the balance right between ensuring their recognition—which is important to their business—on the one hand, and on the other the return of the rights of the British Olympic Association, which for over one hundred years had to rely purely on private sector funding; there was not a pound from government in those hundred years. The only way to do this is through the sale of the rights through sponsorship. I believe that we can achieve that balance.
I will move on to the work of the Government. The House should have nothing but praise for the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson. He fought for our athletes in maintaining funding for our Olympic and Paralympic teams after London 2012, going into the Rio cycle. He has boosted the credentials of this country to make sure that we have a decade of sport, by supporting our successful bids—and I emphasise that all these have been successful—to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2013; the Commonwealth Games, of course, in 2014; the Rugby Union World Cup in 2015; the World Athletics Championships in the Olympic stadium in 2017, and what a magnificent achievement it was to win that bid; and, not least after our great victory today, the Cricket World Cup in 2019. This will be a decade of sport for the United Kingdom.
However, Hugh Robertson will not be short of future challenges when the curtain falls on the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There is a need to restructure British sport. It is still a myriad of too many quangos and of public sector-driven and overlapping bureaucracy. I have always believed that the role of government in sport is to empower, not to micromanage. Where sport is at its best, it is driven from the athletes up, with the support and enthusiasm of their parents, families, friends, clubs and schools. It provides the ideal opportunity to implement the Prime Minister’s earlier objective of “big society, not big government”. The months after the Games will provide the best chance in a generation for fundamental reform. A leader like Hugh Robertson, who has won respect across the sporting world, has the ability to take on the forces of the past and deliver a true sporting legacy for the future. However, delivery of that sporting legacy will be our biggest challenge.
Against this background, the British Olympic Association will continue to perform its role as an independent voice for sport. When the Government, the mayor’s office’s attention and the Olympic movement move on and LOCOG is disbanded, we will still be there for the athletes. It is my view that sport holds a mirror to society. The values of sport reflect the values of society. Many of the principles and ideals inherent in sport have a broader application to our lives as a whole. The standards of probity and integrity in sport should mirror the highest standards of behaviour in society. The corresponding forms of sanction and discipline should apply if that behaviour is flouted. Keenly contested though it is, winning at any cost is inimical to the very essence of sport and to its philosophy of team spirit, honesty and loyalty.
The concept of fair play is one of sport’s most cherished tenets. Cheating, by whatever means, from overt fouling to match fixing to doping, is not fair play and has no place in sport. On 7 November last year, the greatest living Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, stated, with reference to the World Anti-Doping Agency:
“A two-year ban for doping is almost saying that it’s acceptable”.
He was speaking for clean athletes across the globe. Yet last month was marked by a deeply disappointing development. The Court of Arbitration of Sport formally declared the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban for serious drugs cheats unenforceable. That effectively denied the British Olympic Association the autonomy to select Team GB athletes. We held a special meeting of all the governing bodies of sport to consider the effect of the ruling. There was a universal condemnation of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to reduce to two years the bans for first-time offences. Let us hope that it is not tantamount—as postulated by my noble friend Lord Higgins—to giving a green light to the use of drugs in sport. If this proves to be the case, and nothing is done to stem the tide, we will drift inexorably towards a sporting world in which competition between athletes is equally competition between chemists’ laboratories. At the British Olympic Association and in the corridors of the IOC, national Olympic committees and international federations, we may have lost the battle. However, on behalf of the athletes whose interests we represent, we must win the war.
My noble friend Lord Higgins suggested that the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs may pass and go away during a period of two years. That may be a seriously wrong observation. If I had taken growth hormones throughout my teens and had ended up six feet tall like my noble friend Lord Bates, I guarantee that I would not have shrunk back to my present height in my 20s. That was a light-hearted way of making a serious point. If one takes a cocktail of drugs to enhance one’s performance in training and can do eight, nine or 10 times more circuit training in the winter than one would otherwise have done without those drugs, even when one comes off the drugs one can attain high performance levels with the muscular structure one has now acquired illegally by taking the performance-enhancing drugs, sometimes for a very long time. The case of growth hormones is extremely important, especially for people in their teens.
I am delighted that I did mishear—and if I did, I may have done so slightly mischievously in order to make my point. I am more than grateful to my noble friend for raising the subject.
I turn briefly to the Paralympic movement. There is no doubt that the Paralympic Games this summer will be one of the highlights of 2012. When I was Minister for Sport, I went to see my then Secretary of State, Nick Ridley. He was not the greatest fan of sport. I recall a packed House of Commons for the Second Reading of the Football Spectators Bill. I was a nervous Minister for Sport and he, kindly as ever, offered to do the most difficult task, which was to take on the Second Reading speech in a packed House. The former Minister for Sport, Denis Howell, leant across the Dispatch Box. I had been going to football matches regularly for the previous couple of years in order to be able to answer questions. Denis Howell asked: “So, Secretary of State, when was the last time you were at a football match?”—to which Nick Ridley replied, “At Eton, under duress”. It was a classic example that contrasted with how many days I had spent at football matches, watching 18 First Division games and 14 from the rest of the divisions. He was a great Secretary of State.
I went to see him that Wednesday morning. My headline requests were that we should have £1 million to set up the British Paralympic Association; that we should establish a ministerial review of disabled sport; and that we should request support from government to encourage the IOC to make it a requirement that any city bidding to host the Olympic Games also hosted the Paralympic Games thereafter. Nick looked at me and simply said, “Fine”. I did not stay for further discussion, but said thank you and exited to a broad smile from his private office.
True early heroes of the Paralympic association such as Bernard Atha and Dr Adrian Whiteson in particular—the latter has gone on to mastermind the Teenage Cancer Trust—should be celebrated this summer. Since that time, many Paralympians have inspired us, showing a generation that it is the ability of athletes that we should focus on rather than their disabilities. The seeds of this transformation in society were to be found in Headley Court, Stoke Mandeville and the work of Jack Ashley and the others in Parliament who steered through much-needed legislation on behalf of the disabled. This year’s Paralympic Games will be the culmination of all their work.
The British Olympic Association has been transformed over the past four or five years. It has listened to the voice of athletes as never before. The voice of athletes has been heard in the meetings of the advisory board, on which my noble friend Lady Wheatcroft and the noble Lord, Lord Paul, continue to sit and give their guidance and wise advice. When I walk in to meetings of the National Olympic Committee, I am proud to see in front of me one of the most expert boards in British sport, which is why the BOA will continue to play a central role in the centre of sports policy.
However, what we will focus on now, above all, is giving maximum performance support to our athletes, all 550 of them who will be selected for Team GB this summer. One hundred and one have already been selected. Why should we give them that support? One example gives the answer. If you were fortunate enough to watch the Games in Athens, you would have seen the great gold medals that Britain won in the coxless four, Kelly Holmes’s 800 and 1,500 metres, the men’s 4 x 100 and Chris Hoy’s first gold medal in the 1 kilometre time trial. The final times of those five gold medals added together were 12 minutes and six seconds, but the difference between all five being gold and all five being silver was 0.545 of one second. That is why it is so tough to win gold medals at the Olympic Games, and that is why the work of the British Olympic Association should be devoted—every minute, every hour, every day—to supporting every one of our athletes on Team GB to deliver their best performance on the day. If we do that, we have the talent to match the success that we had in Beijing.
Our aspirational target remains fourth place in the medal table. It will be tough, incredibly tough. We will not beat the Chinese, Russians or the Americans, and the Germans and the Australians will be very much on our heels, but if we can continue to support our athletes, along with their families, their coaches and their governing bodies, we will see remarkable feats of sporting success this summer. I have every confidence that our Olympic and Paralympic teams will deliver, and I wish them well.
My Lords, it is a joy and a pleasure for me to follow the noble Lord, as I have done more than once during these debates. It is great that we have this opportunity so near the event to remind ourselves, and those who care to listen, what it is all about.
What it is all about came to me this morning when I went to see my doctor. I spoke to the nurse and said, “Was it not great this weekend?”. She said, “What do you mean this weekend?”. I said, “Chelsea winning the cup”. She said, “Oh!”. I said, “You have got two daughters; surely they are interested”. She said, “Oh, they are mildly interested but they are waiting for the Olympics. They are in their teens and they are keen and excited”.
This reminded me about the theme which ought to be running through this debate. What we are about to enjoy and participate in is a chance in a lifetime; it is something that many of us have thought about and wanted to take part in. One of the joys of being in this House is recognising the quality of people from different spheres of activity. One knows the various people I am talking about. When the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, entertained us with his wisdom, I remembered him when he ran for England or Britain and I was behind him. I was the shadow; I was behind him all the way.
I have jotted down some names—the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, the noble Lord, Lord Coe and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and in the other place Kate Hoey and Tessa Jowell, have been towers of strength in getting us to where we are. I can remember the excitement when Tony Blair was able to put to the top of his list of achievements getting and persuading the world that Britain was ready and ripe for what is going to happen in the next three months.
I recall the manner in which people can have their enthusiasm bought. I remember the 1948 Games, when I was working for the Newcastle Co-op. We had a sports field and after the Games the runners McDonald Bailey and Arthur Wint came to us and performed; before that I saw Sidney Woodison there. I saw all of them and remember the names and the people but not the events themselves; I was proud to have seen them perform. They left a deep impression of their capability.
I have been staggered at the extent to which all the mistakes that have been made in other parts of the world seem to have been taken into account by the various bodies responsible for getting us this far. When I went to the Library and asked for something on the Olympic Games they gave me a compendium. It is here next to me. The scope and complexity of the matters and the manner in which they have had to be dealt with is fantastic. I have enjoyed listening to debates in this place and on the radio and elsewhere. The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has had a major part to play in managing the event. I congratulate her and her committee. It seems to me that all of the lessons that could be learnt from the past have been learnt. We will wait and see.
Some of my friends have asked me what I am going to do during the Olympics. I said that I am going to sit at home and enjoy it. When I asked them what they were doing they said they were going on holiday because they did not want to be here. I am amazed. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The sight of the supporters of Chelsea and Manchester City going daft in front of their neighbours and friends was hilarious. As someone who takes an interest in sport I can appreciate it. We want to see the same reaction from the people of this country when a British Olympian takes part. Even if they do not win, if they do well or do not disgrace themselves, we should be proud of the fact that they are there.
I am a prominent member of London Councils, together with the noble Lords, Lord Jenkin and Lord Tope, and others. It has done a fantastic job in co-ordinating the activity of councils. I was the leader of a London borough council, more than 50 years ago now. I know the pressures that are on my colleagues on the council now. Despite that, London Councils has a magnificent record of responding to what is going to happen.
I wish the event well. I can remember the excitement of 1948. My wife Margaret and I would go to dinner parties and inevitably people would say how marvellous the Olympic Games had been and mention all the names, and my wife would sit there and smile. They would finally say, “Come on, Margaret, you remember it”, and she would say, “I was there”, and she was able to tell them what she had seen and heard: Fanny Blankers-Koen and people like that. My wife played netball for Essex and enjoyed it. My claim to fame is that I once had a trial for Newcastle Boys—that is as far as I can go. We lost 5-0, and the fact that I happened to be in goal had nothing to do with it.
You are either with the Olympics or you are not; you are either excited or you are not. The media have done a great job, especially through television, of introducing me to sports that I had heard of but had not seen. Everyone who participates on our behalf should have the feeling that the country is behind them. Never mind politics, never mind north or south, never mind the problems—we are all behind them in this great adventure. I congratulate those who are going to represent us and I wish them well.
My Lords, today’s debate has been truly outstanding, with so many experts sharing their expertise with us. It has been a privilege to be in the Chamber today.
We are on our way. The torch bearers carrying the Olympic flame are the Pied Pipers who will ignite the enthusiasm for everyone around them. Travelling 8,000 miles to more than 1,000 communities, the torch relay will link up the whole nation in preparation for the Olympic Games, the greatest show on earth.
The Games will be a showcase for Britain, a chance to shine in a gloomy world, proving to the world that we can plan and produce the Games and ensure that they will be exciting, successful and, above all, peaceful. The mantra that the Games are on time and on budget is in itself cause for celebration. It is a huge achievement and those involved with the outcome are to be warmly applauded. It is a model for teamwork and dedication.
There are many reasons to welcome the successful bid for the Games, not least the magnificent injection today of additional funds from the legacy budget and Sport England into disabled sport. The Paralympics have achieved unparalleled enthusiasm with our Games; ticket sales, media coverage and sport in the community all reflect that. The Paralympics go from strength to strength and make sport for all the reality that it ought to be.
Regeneration of one of the poorest boroughs in the UK comes high on the list of successes: 75% of every £1 spent on the park has gone into the regeneration project. Without the Games, none of that would have happened. It is a huge boost for the area and will benefit people for generations to come. After the Games, there will be five world-class sporting venues, which are much welcomed and indeed needed. Up to 8,000 new homes will be built and the accommodation of the Olympic village will become part of the housing legacy. Again, none of this would have happened or been possible without the Games.
At the very heart of the Olympic project has been the emphasis, highlighted during the successful bid, on the creation of a genuine sporting legacy. A cornerstone of the bid was to inspire a generation of young people through sport. During the latter years of the Labour Government, investment in school and community sport, which laid the foundation for the sporting legacy, was remarkable. The commitment to make available at least five hours of sport for almost every child was a huge breakthrough. Those of us involved in sport, whether in schools or the community, knew that this was the key to a fitter, happier sporting nation. There appeared to be a political consensus; indeed, we had as tremendous role models political leaders who not only paid lip service to the place of sport in their lives but realised that others could benefit. I know to my personal advantage the enthusiasm with which our Prime Minister plays tennis. We have an excellent record playing together for the Lords and Commons tennis club. His fiery enthusiasm and commitment are a joy to behold. Both being left-handers, we argued only over who should take the left court for the return of serve and, needless to say, he gave way very gracefully.
All appeared positive, with new sporting opportunities and help for schools to provide them. That is why I say today that the greatest threat to the hoped-for sporting legacy has come from Michael Gove’s disastrous plan to demolish the school sport programme in his reorganisation of curricula in state schools. Those schools may become sport-free areas. Heads who are driven by school league tables may decide to transfer funds from sport to their academic programme. It is sporting vandalism. Yet the 7% of students attending fee-paying schools still enjoy two afternoons a week of sport and still achieve good academic results, all within the same school week and with extracurricular activities thrown in for good measure.
Many weasel words have been uttered to justify the scrapping of the school sport programme. “It did not always work” is just one feeble excuse. The reality is that it was a stunning success. Michael Gove has dealt a devastating blow to the fundamental way in the majority of young people get started in sport. Of course, parents, clubs and national governing bodies can and do play an important part, but for the vast majority of young people it is the physical education programme in schools which gives them their first taste and love of sport in many guises.
Everyone who signed up to the sporting legacy notion has a duty to return to the Gove decision. It must be reversed, or all our aspirations as to a sporting legacy for all will come to nothing. Will the Minister undertake today to deliver this message to the Secretary of State for Education and to the Minister for Sport? They bear full responsibility for the future.
Already, Sport England’s Active People survey is producing disappointing results, showing that, of the 30 sports measured, only four have seen an increase and 19 have shown a decrease. The implication that the destruction of sport in state schools will have no impact on the Olympic legacy aspiration seems extraordinary to me and others. Does the right hand of the Government have no idea what the left hand is doing? It will undoubtedly negate all the good work that has been done.
As the Games move nearer, practical problems emerge. People see that they may be affected personally, sometimes negatively. Every day, we see new issues highlighted in the media, creating questions and some unease which have to have to be addressed. In this, I echo some of the points made earlier by my noble friend Lord Davies.
I put to the Minister a series of those issues in the hope that, in her usual highly competent way, she can give us reassurances to allay those fears. Security has become even more high profile; the years between the bid and today make it even more so. Against the background of deep cuts to police funding, can she reassure us that there will be no relaxation of security, to ensure the safety of everyone attending the Games? Allied to that, with the potentially damaging cuts, can she reassure us that access to Britain via our airports will not become a nightmare, with visitors standing in line for hours on end? The world will be watching and making judgments. That experience could deeply damage our tourism trade. Again, can the Minister reassure us that adequate measures are being taken?
What about ticketing, which has already been mentioned? It has been a thorny issue from the outset. Are too many tickets being ring-fenced for sponsors and dignitaries? Is the balance towards the favoured group outweighing the competitors and the general public? More transparency is needed. It appears that large sums of money can still secure tickets on the internet. Is that fair?
Travel around London is a difficult issue. Those who have to travel to work, such as nurses, cleaners, public workers, et cetera, face chaos during the Games. Is the balance between sponsors’ limousines and ordinary people’s lives right? Not everyone can be given the luxury, recently given to civil servants, of staying at home. That does not work for care workers attending patients in a care home, does it?
Much has been made of sustainability. At the time of the bid, it was a huge and important issue, but following economic pressure, the Government have taken a less green approach. Can it be right to weaken our commitment to sustainability, ditched by cuts in expenditure? The very notion of a physical legacy—the stadia, the sporting facilities of all kinds—has been at the heart of the project. Bear in mind that the public purse has provided about 98% of the Olympic budget, but almost all the infrastructure will fall into private hands after the Games. Is that the outcome that the Minister envisaged? It appears that the deal on the major stadium has yet to be clinched. Does that fill the Minister with as much foreboding as it does me? Has the process been botched? Has the eye been taken off the proverbial ball?
Those are just some of the questions swirling around today. Then there are the views being discussed in the Slug and Lettuce, to say nothing of the Cumberland tennis club. I know that the Minister will do her best to answer those questions. She always responds so sensibly and knowledgeably, but I fear that her bat may have been broken by her captain even before she got to the wicket. Where have we heard that before?
Finally, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the outstanding contributions to today’s debate have emphasised that we are all united in our hopes and aspirations for all the British teams’ success. We will celebrate all their successes and look to them to be the role models for the future.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords very much for their contributions to this debate. One of the wonders of a debate such as this in your Lordships’ House is that many, if not all, of the questions that Members have asked seemed to have been answered by those with far more expertise in the various subjects than I have, but I will do my best to pick up the questions as they came up.
The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, asked about suppliers. The answer from my noble friend Lord Moynihan has gone some way to respond to his queries, if not to satisfy him. The contracts for suppliers permit specific mention of their involvement with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in particular cases, but it is for the major sponsors to have exclusivity over rights, because without those we would not be able to put on the Games as we wished. I acknowledge that his story about a flaming torch breakfast seems to be taking these things somewhat to extremes. However, who are we to say what the context is and where you draw the line on these? We feel that sponsors’ rights have to be protected, which is of course an obligation under the terms of the agreement with the International Olympic Committee, both because of that and against ambush marketing. That is quite a comprehensive sector, which we debated when it came through earlier in your Lordships’ House and when we passed the instrument to say that it should go through.
My noble friend Lord Addington talked about the protection of the Olympic brand and the real importance of learning lessons from what has gone right and what has not gone quite so smoothly in these Games, from which we will quite certainly take away a number of lessons. It is not that we are likely to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the UK again for a great many years to come, but all these lessons go back to the Olympic family as a whole to make sure that all Games learn from previous ones.
One or two noble Lords mentioned the matter of tickets. There was an unprecedented demand for tickets, which had never happened in previous Games. The systems that LOCOG set up would have coped if the interest had been as the media predicted in fairly cynical terms. It has obviously been a disappointment for those who did not get tickets, although they have been coming back on sale. I have already heard a number of stories of people who were not successful the first time around but who now have tickets. We hope that that position continues to improve. I enjoyed the intervention by my noble friend Lord Grade. I suppose we can only be grateful that the Prime Minister of the day was convinced that the bid should go ahead.
My noble friend Lord Higgins spoke of his Olympic experiences, and my goodness it seems a different day. I noticed that “Chariots of Fire” is currently on my local theatre and I am about to go for a nostalgic review of that. However, the Olympics of the 1940s were run and competed in a very different mode from the Olympics of today. The big change from amateur to professional has been one key difference. He raised the matter of drugs, a matter which my noble friend Lord Moynihan also took up. We should confirm the very tough line that is being taken on drugs here, because undoubtedly sports and sportspeople suffer tremendously if drugs become permitted, whatever the sport.
My noble friend asked what happens if people arrived with tickets that they cannot use. I do not currently have an answer to that scenario. I know that we have already discussed whether people could use tickets if their names were not on them. The response was that the person who bought the tickets has overall responsibility for them, but obviously they may be used by those who do not appear on the named tickets.
As for protestors, everyone has the right to protest and nothing that is being planned for the Games will curtail the right to legitimate peaceful protest, but that does not extend to disrupting the Games or their preparations. We certainly do not want to undermine years of dedicated training by those competing, or ruin the enjoyment of fans who have paid to see their sporting heroes in action, so we expect that the response to protests will be proportionate.
My noble friend Lord Higgins also mentioned the legacy of the athletics stadium. We are of course encouraged to know that the athletics legacy will certainly continue until 2017, because the stadium will be used when we host the world athletics championships there.
The noble Baroness, Lady Ford, spoke about the legacy. I join other noble Lords in paying warm tribute to the work that she has done to ensure that the Olympic park is indeed a real credit to the country once it has completed its sporting time during the Olympic and Paralympics. She mentioned the importance of not pricing local people out of access or homes. My noble friend Lady Doocey also brought up concerns about local people being excluded from those. Considerable steps are being taken to ensure that the number of affordable homes in the Olympic park remains high. We hope that it will not become the preserve of the rich, because assurances are in place that local people will have their say. We congratulate the noble Baroness on what she has done and are sure that we have not seen the last of her in connection with Olympic matters, but she may act in a more personal capacity in future. We welcome Daniel Moylan, who will be carrying the torch in the post that the noble Baroness has vacated.
My noble friend Lord Bates lived up to expectations by talking warmly about the Olympic Truce being the point of the ancient Games and the torch relay heralding the fellowship and peace of the truce. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is leading on this and we will certainly seek to work with parliamentarians and bodies such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Commonwealth and others to ensure that through an active public diplomacy programme we have an opportunity to increase international public interest and involvement in conflict prevention and peacebuilding and to raise the level of ambition for future Olympic Truces. My noble friend has done an enormous amount to put the Olympic Truce high on the agenda of the Games.
I compliment the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, on all the work that he did in the previous Administration to ensure the success of the Olympics and Paralympics, and I was pleased to see him reflecting optimism in his speech. He raised concerns about faith issues, which I know my noble friend Lord James shares. Four years ago, LOCOG set up a faith reference group that includes the nine faiths recognised by the IOC: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Baha’i and Zoroastrian. This group has looked at all aspects of the plans, including the multifaith centres, prayer spaces, food provision, uniform design, quiet areas and accommodation, not only for athletes but for the workforce, volunteers, media and spectators, where appropriate.
We are conscious that with the Games taking place during Ramadan and on the 40th anniversary of the Munich attacks this multifaith approach has been crucial. LOCOG’s faith adviser, the Reverend Canon Duncan Green, who was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has led this work, but LOCOG has also worked closely with the Muslim Council of Britain and its general-secretary Dr Muhammad Bari, so I hope noble Lords are reassured on this issue. It has been taken extremely seriously, and I assure the noble Lord, Lord Davies, and other noble Lords that considerable efforts have been made by LOCOG to ensure that the needs of faith communities have been addressed appropriately and respectfully.
The noble Lord, Lord Davies, and the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, mentioned Heathrow, which has been overmuch in the news recently with its possible inability to cope. The UK Border Force, BAA, LOCOG and other partners are working very closely together to ensure that visitors have a good experience at the airport and a warm welcome to the UK. We recognise that there is some way to go in ensuring that that is the case for everyone who comes here. Additional resources will be deployed by the UK Border Force to reduce queues to a minimum. BAA is providing a temporary terminal for the athletes’ departure, which will be one of Heathrow’s busiest days, and putting improved services in place to help Paralympic teams, which should provide a real legacy for disabled visitors afterwards. We are conscious of the need for cross-departmental conversations and discussions on this. The Home Office is quite naturally concerned that levels of security should be high for the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games but is also conscious that visitors must be given a warm welcome to our country.
My noble friend Lady Doocey has done an enormous amount to contribute to the Games. I think particularly of the work that she has done on carers and on ensuring that people who need someone to come with them to the Games should be accompanied. She paid tribute to the security staff. I agree that we are in the best possible hands. The people working on security for us have worked enormously hard to try to ensure that all goes well.
My noble friend Lady Doocey mentioned transport, as did other noble Lords. We certainly hope that our lanes do not become Zil lanes. We are keeping the lanes that are reserved for the Olympic family to a minimum, and taking every possible care so that London can go about its normal business as far as possible.
My noble friend also raised concerns about tickets for officials. I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Graham, talk about the hard work of local councils around the Games. I am conscious that there are allocated tickets for officials. However, the Government have kept their allocation to fewer tickets than they were entitled to. On affordability, 2.5 million tickets were priced at £20 or less. There were special prices for tickets for more than 220 sessions. Getting the balance right between having the right level of hosting and people to support the Games and making sure that the vast majority of the tickets were on sale to the general public has been striven for. By and large, LOCOG has got the appropriate balance. I think 8.8 million tickets were on sale. It is an enormous number. The proportion going to the Government and officials is relatively small.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan talked about the British businesses that would benefit from the Games. I accept that there is a difference of opinion between him and the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, on this.
There is absolutely no difference between the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and me. He spoke about the benefit that those businesses will get in the future, when the rights return to the British Olympic committee. I was asking about allowing British companies to use the Olympic Games as a shop window today. It is not about bread tomorrow; I was talking about bread today.
I hear what the noble Lord says. It is important to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic family that they should be very protective of the branding of Olympic and Paralympic goods and services. Part of the contract that businesses signed set out in some detail where they could refer to their involvement in the Olympics. However, one of the other aspects is that officials in BIS and businesspeople throughout the country will use the Olympics as a showcase for British business. Therefore, even if they cannot stick an Olympic brand on their goods, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to meet the international community and build their businesses. We will certainly look for results from that.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan referred to doping, which I have already mentioned. We all agree with him about how tough it is to compete. The figures that he gave about the microscopic differences between those who won gold and silver medals just shows us all how intense the competition is for the athletes.
When the noble Lord, Lord Graham, spoke, I could not help thinking that if the trial for Newcastle boys had only gone differently, we might not have had the benefit of his wisdom in this House over the years. Perhaps we should grateful for some things.
The preparation has clearly gone better than anyone could have expected, bit in the round of very well earned bouquets that have been dished out because of what we hope will be an enormous success, there is a slight omission. Through the National Lottery, Camelot has contributed more than £2 billion to the Games—and I declare an interest as a former chairman of Camelot. Even more importantly, the revenue that it has created, which has sustained many British sports men and women between the Games, has been transformational for the medal tables since it came on-stream. Will the Minister join me in congratulating Camelot?
I am most grateful to my noble friend for that jog. I have no hesitation in joining him in thanking Camelot for its enormous contribution to the athletes and the Games. My noble friend Lady Heyhoe Flint was hoping to speak. Family circumstances meant that she was unable to be here for the opening speeches. Conscious of the rules and courtesies of the House, she took her name from the list. We appreciate her compliance in this matter. Her contributions are always most welcome and we look forward to hearing her speak on future occasions.
I was delighted to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, say what a cause for celebration the Games were and I warmly applaud the positive aspects of her speech. She mentioned her disappointment at the change in school sports policy when the coalition Government came in. I can only assure her that we have been working closely with schools to reverse the decline in sports participation. Under the new sports strategy, as I set out in my opening speech, there will be a particular focus on 14 to 25 year-olds. We are very aware that the interest and participation in sport of most young people severely declines when they leave school. We are working with clubs and schools to ensure continuity when young people move from school to adulthood. A great deal of effort is going on to talk to all parties to ensure that we have sport in all schools and not, as she said, just in independent schools, which would be of grave concern to us.
The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, also mentioned sustainability. We are committed to setting new standards for sustainability in terms of the building and the staging of these events. The London Games are going further than most major events have ever gone in the commitment to reducing carbon emissions. We are confident that we will be able to deliver on an ambition of sustainability for these Games in modern times.
There are fewer than 70 days until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. London is on track for a great Games. The project is on time and on budget. Test events and readiness exercises are taking place. Our wonderful world-ranking athletes are in training and I think that we would all wish to pay tribute to the hours of dedication to their sport which they demonstrate. We may see just the final moments but behind that their effort is truly inspirational. Like my noble friend Lord Addington, the other day I was at a Sainsbury’s reception and I have been at other receptions meeting Paralympic athletes. If we think that our Olympic athletes are inspirational, we have to have the same view of our Paralympic athletes. They are quite unbelievable in their dedication and efforts to achieve world-ranking standards in their sports.
I make no apology for repeating the remark from Jacques Rogge and the IOC at their final inspection in March, already quoted by the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, which hailed London 2012 as “a legacy blueprint” for future host cities. This is a fantastic achievement of which we can rightly be proud. I also pay tribute to all those who have contributed. In your Lordships’ House, we have the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, and my noble friends Lord Coe and Lord Moynihan, who have been very instrumental, and others who have had an enormous impact on the building and delivery of the Games. We owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude.
The official broadcasters will be the BBC for the Olympic Games and Channel 4 for the Paralympic Games. I do not doubt that those of us who cannot be there will be glued to our sets. These Games are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase the UK to a massive international audience. Along with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this summer will show the world what we as a nation can do. The overriding message from what we have heard today is that we can all look forward to a tremendous summer of sport and celebration, and to a wonderful, lasting legacy for London and the rest of the UK. We all wish our athletes every possible success.