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Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Volume 739: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2012


Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current estimate of the outturn cost to HM Treasury of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It is clear that the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer were a great British success story. Much credit should go to all those involved in the complex planning, organisation and implementation of these events. Following the post-bid review of costs, we announced in 2007 a total public sector funding requirement of £9.3 billion. Our quarterly report in June 2012 showed that we were below budget, with £476 million remaining in uncommitted funding. We await the October report, due out soon, and there is every reason to believe that we will remain below budget, so we still expect the total outturn cost to be less than £9 billion.

My Lords, in wishing the Minister well with his new responsibilities, I concur with his sentiments and those expressed yesterday about the undoubted success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. I congratulate all concerned, particularly the Paralympic competitors, who taught the world to maximise personal achievement, despite handicap, through their own endeavours.

As the next major international athletic competition in the UK will be the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, will the Minister confirm that the same principle of direct Treasury financial support will be given to the Glasgow games as was given to the London Olympics? Likewise, will he confirm that, in the event of the 2026 games coming to Cardiff, they can work on the same assumption?

I thank the noble Lord for that question. I do not have any details, looking ahead, of those particular events. I do not believe that we are quite at that stage. However, I will absolutely keep the noble Lord’s sentiments in mind and will return to him when I can.

My Lords, the Games have meant that it has been a remarkable year, but there has been one failure. The Minister will recall the promise made at the outset of the Games that all parts of the United Kingdom would benefit from the expenditure. In fact, the regions of Wales have benefited very little indeed from this £9 billion. It has amounted in effect to a massive subsidy to London and the south-east. In what way, perhaps for the amount not spent or in other ways, will Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, the north-east and the north-west be compensated for the failure of a clear promise?

I do not agree with the noble Lord’s question to the extent that I believe that the whole of the United Kingdom has benefited. I would point out that the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be seen for some time. I would also point out, as we have Welsh representation here today, that £38 million of business was generated from Wales. Indeed, a lot has happened throughout the United Kingdom and we should remember the thousands of sports clubs that have been set up, the school sports around the whole country and the youth sport strategy, which covers the whole country, not just London.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the soft legacies of the Olympics are probably the most important and that a classic example of such legacies must be the role of the volunteers? What activity are the Government undertaking to ensure that such events as next year’s Rugby League World Cup, the Rugby Union World Cup in 2015 and the Commonwealth Games maximise and build on that model of volunteering, which has been so valuable?

I am delighted that my noble friend has brought up the issue of the volunteers. They were absolutely fantastic. Noble Lords may or may not know that there were 70,000 Games makers. They were volunteers. It is fair to say that their travel within zones one to six was paid for, and I think that they managed to receive their lunch, but otherwise they very willingly and always with smiles gave of their time. In answer to my noble friend’s question, looking ahead to the rugby events that he mentioned, I do not quite know where we stand but I hope to come back to him soon with that information.

My Lords, looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in 2014, are the Government aware that the new Emirates indoor arena in Glasgow is now open, including the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome? It is not only open but was delivered within a budget of £113 million and on time. It is now being used by the public two years ahead of the games. Will the Government congratulate Glasgow City Council on this achievement, wish it and the organising committee well and ensure that the work of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, on the legacy from the Olympics includes every part of the United Kingdom?

I am delighted that the noble Lord has mentioned Glasgow; I come from north of the border. I wholeheartedly agree with the comments that he has made.

Before my noble friend is led astray by those who want to complain about things or ask that they should be extended, will he repeat that this is a remarkable achievement, that it was brought in within budget—something that most people said was impossible —and that there should be very clear congratulations from this House to those who have achieved that end?

I wholeheartedly agree with my noble friend. Indeed, it is a tremendous feat that we are looking as if we will come in well below budget. The House should remember that that particular budget was set as far back as 2007, although it was admittedly revised from the 2003 pre-bid. I pay tribute to LOCOG, which produced a balanced budget and did tremendously well in sponsorship. It should be congratulated wholeheartedly.

Does the Minister agree that among the many successes of this remarkable summer has been that of projecting the Paralympics on to the national stage in a way that has never happened before? Can we congratulate the television people—I think it was Channel 4 in this case—on giving the people in the Paralympics that enormous prominence, which I believe will change attitudes to the Paralympics for ever?

I wholeheartedly agree with the noble Lord. Having watched much of the Paralympics, I was greatly moved by the events. I was also greatly impressed by the television coverage, to which the noble Lord alluded, and by the previews of all the events, not just the Paralympic ones. For example, I thought that the UK editing was outstanding. I do not think that we have ever seen that before in any other Olympic Games.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the great successes of the Olympics and Paralympics was how well our military stepped into the breach and made them run well, and that they deserve immense congratulations on that? That means that the cost figures may not be exactly what they seem. The military can always provide a capability in an emergency of any kind in this country. Does the Minister agree that reducing our military by some 30,000 is a bit of a problem when one looks to the future?

I take note of what the noble Lord has said. I do not want to go into the cuts element of that, but say only that I wholeheartedly agree with him that the military stepped into the breach, as it were, extremely readily, again with smiles, and that they should be wholeheartedly congratulated.

My Lords, I wish to reinforce what the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, has said. Will the Minister bear in mind that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 will be a spectacular event and a major help to this country vis-à-vis its position in the Commonwealth network, which is growing in strength at all times? The fact that one of the biggest indoor athletic stadiums in Europe has been built bang on time and well within budget is a major achievement. Will the Minister tell all his colleagues in government that it should be supported to the maximum and that the public should give all the encouragement to it that they gave to the Olympic Games?