Question for Short Debate
My Lords, I thank the House for this opportunity to raise the important events which will take place in Glasgow this year on the occasion of the 20th Commonwealth Games. I look forward to hearing the response from the Government by the Minister after our short debate this evening. I welcome those who have chosen to speak here tonight, and in particular I welcome the maiden speech from my noble friend Lord Haughey, who I am sure will be a welcome addition not only to this debate tonight, as a Glasgow boy, but in the debates that we will have in this House for many years to come.
I recall vividly a breakfast meeting on 29 July 2002, after a few glorious days in Manchester supporting Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. It was in the immediate aftermath of Sir Chris Hoy’s first gold medal the night before at the velodrome, when Louise Martin from Commonwealth Games Scotland and I shook hands, having looked each other in the eye and felt, “Yes, we could do this too”. We felt that not just Manchester but Glasgow was capable of hosting the Commonwealth Games and, 12 years on, it will be an immense pleasure to see the Games come to Scotland. In those 12 years there have been many moments, both when in office and after leaving it. I recall the bid presentations in Melbourne during the Games there in March 2006, when the Nigerian bid for Abuja claimed that it was a little bit of Scotland in Africa and therefore we should stand aside for them. There was also the elation when, from Sri Lanka in late 2007, it was announced that Scotland and Glasgow had achieved this success.
In July this year we will see 70 teams with 4,500 sports men and women coming to Glasgow for 12 days of high-level sporting activity and competition across 13 venues and 17 sports. It will include a record five para sports where disabled competitors will take part in the main event at a higher level than ever before. That has been recognised as potentially the best ever representation in Commonwealth Games history for that important aspect of these multisport games.
The preparations are well under way. Today the Queen’s baton relay is in Cameroon. Ninety-two per cent of the tickets have been sold. The venues are not only all ready but are all in use by the public, which is perhaps unique for a multisport Games of this sort internationally. The venues are already being used in a way that will ensure the legacy for the future. The Clyde-siders, who are the Games volunteers, had 50,000 applications resulting in 15,000 successful volunteers being chosen. They are currently being notified and are to welcome the thousands and thousands of visitors to Glasgow and look after the competitors during these 12 days in July and August. There is a cultural programme which will include the first ever music biennial, with newly commissioned works that will ensure that the city is promoted not only across Scotland and the UK but worldwide as a centre for cultural excellence, in addition to sporting excellence.
This has been a tremendous all-party effort, supported initially when my Sports Minister, Patricia Ferguson MSP, was leading the bid in the early days through to the now Scottish Government’s Sports Minister, Shona Robison, who has seen through the implementation of the preparations. This is at all levels of Scottish government—the city council, which is clearly in the lead in all this, has played a key role—and in successive Administrations. Of course, there has been advice, assistance and support all along from London 2012.
Today, in relation to the engagement of the UK Government, I hope that the Minister will specifically address in his summing-up a few important issues where the co-operation of the UK Government is important for the efficiency and success of the Games. For example, on visas for athletes and their team supporters, is the Home Office ready to ensure that that demand can be met? In relation to security and protocol, will the appropriate co-operation be in place to ensure that the Games run smoothly? Will UKTI and other UK bodies support investment conferences in attempts to ensure that the Games can maximise business interest in Scotland? Crucially perhaps, after the last few weeks, will the UK weather forecasting authorities keep everybody very well informed?
We had three key objectives when we launched the bid a decade ago. One was to showcase Glasgow and Scotland to the world as a venue for international sporting events. The second was to ensure that there was a lasting legacy in the city and beyond, both economically and socially—and, crucially for Scotland’s and Glasgow’s health, on a sporting basis. The third was to provide a platform on which Scottish and other athletes could perform to the highest level. As I have said, the venues are all in place. They include some outstanding new venues that have already been used for international competitive events. Those venues and the events themselves have been recognised with Glasgow’s ranking in recent weeks as the ninth best venue in the world for international sporting events. We can safely say that the Commonwealth Games this year will not be the last international sporting event to be held in Glasgow. The city has done a tremendous job, efficiently making sure these venues are ready and that they are of the highest possible international standard.
There is an important economic legacy for the east end of Glasgow and the regeneration of that part of the city. There is an economic legacy in terms of apprenticeships and a graduate training programme as well. There will be an economic legacy in the promotion of Scotland as a destination for tourists and for business. There is also a crucial sporting legacy. Since the bid was secured, sporting participation in the city has risen by 40%, using these new venues and the fresh interest there has been. The potential for a sporting and health-related legacy is clearly there and I am sure the city and the Scottish Government will be focused on that in the months and years following the Games. There is an important role for UNICEF, which has been chosen as the major charity partner of the Games. It will be raising funds before and during the Games to spend on sport and realising the potential of young people, not just in Scotland but critically across every country of the Commonwealth, supporting projects that ensure that sport changes lives in the way that we know it can.
In relation to performance, these stadia are going to be fantastic venues to see some incredible performances. The new Emirates stadium includes not just a marvellous velodrome named after Sir Chris Hoy but a fantastic arena which will be used for other indoor sports as well. The aquatic centre at Tollcross is world-class and recently hosted a contest between the USA and Europe in swimming that was so competitive it went to a swim-off. That is the first time I have ever heard of a swim-off at an international swimming competition. It was so competitive and energetic that it resulted in such an exciting conclusion. The most recent venue to open is a new hockey centre, which I hope will generate an interest in hockey among another generation of young Scots, not just for the Games but far beyond.
My final point is that sport has the almost unique potential to unite people in all kinds of different circumstances and to give people the ambition and inspiration to realise their potential. It is really important that in Scotland and Glasgow in July and August we use these Games to their fullest potential to unite not just people there on the spot but a generation in having ambitions for a better future. From the very beginning these Games—the bid, the operation, the organisation, the preparation and now their actual execution—have been conducted on an all-party basis in Scotland at all levels of government. Therefore, it is critical at a time when Scotland faces a huge choice in September about its future that, for that two-week period in July and August, the two contesting points of view in Scotland for a yes or no vote in a referendum due to take place seven weeks later set aside their differences, call a truce, put an end to public campaigning and do not exploit the Games but instead put Glasgow and Scotland first, join together and make sure that these are the best Commonwealth Games ever.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, on securing this appropriately popular debate and on giving an insightful assessment of the preparation for the Games and the important role government can play in ensuring the success of the Games. He is right; the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will be a powerful and genuine celebration of world-class sport and culture. Their success will be in no small part the result of the work of three people who deserve recognition and praise for their dedication, professionalism and all-party approach, as he mentioned, to the preparation of the Games. Shona Robison has been a superb champion for the Games and for sport in Scotland. The indefatigable Louise Martin has brought a lifetime of experience and expertise to play in preparing for the Games, and Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, deserves full recognition for understanding how the Games can boost the interests of the city of Glasgow and how sport can be a catalyst for regeneration, enhanced reputation and enthusiasm.
My appeal to the Government in their support for the Games is threefold. First, please will the Government reflect the will of the athletes in the political fora surrounding the Commonwealth Games? Politics and sport are increasingly interdependent. The athletes want visas swiftly and a safe, secure and successful Games. They also look to Government to urge all members of the Commonwealth to meet and practise the aspiration set out in Commonwealth Games Federation Article 7, which reads:
“There shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever, including race, colour, gender, religion or politics”.
We are a member of the Commonwealth, where 40 of the 53 member nations—over 70%—have some laws or regulations on their statute books persecuting same-sex relationships. That is unacceptable.
Secondly, I hope the Government can confirm that they have by now learnt one of the more painful lessons from the post-London 2012 experience—namely, the need to invest far more than before into ensuring that we translate the inspiration of the Games into opportunities for participation and that we raise the bar to unprecedented new heights for the young people of tomorrow, particularly in all our schools. That means that work needs to be done now to ensure that local authorities are ready to do more in the provision of access to sports facilities, and that governing bodies are assisted by Government to work through their clubs not just to welcome new members but to have in place the trained coaches, volunteers and equipment necessary to capture the interest of every single individual who will be inspired to take up sport and physical recreation. The capacity and capability to respond with a sports and health legacy for all concerned should be audited now.
Finally, key to the success of this decade of international sporting events is the work of the volunteers. Volunteer Development Scotland and Volunteering in Sport 2011-2015 are excellent initiatives. I hope the Government will work to put in place additional policies to ensure that the 15,000 volunteers—the Clyde-siders—are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to capturing the enthusiasm of all volunteers to work in community sport after the Games are over. We need a raft of new policies backed by investment to increase participation at all levels, both in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth Games gives us a chance to deliver on that agenda.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for bringing forward this debate. It is fitting that the Commonwealth Games are in this great cycle of sporting events that we have had. The run of events that we have experienced over the past few years, and are going to experience, started with the Manchester Commonwealth Games where we British proved to ourselves, much to our surprise, that we could do it. My mother’s home town is a very fitting place to make sure there is investment in the people and the structure behind a successful festival of sport, which is what the Games are, unlike a championship, no matter how glorious. Games are where you bring everything together. The most wonderful thing about sport is the fact that it brings people together on common ground where they have common interests and communication. No other subject can do that.
Games present a greater opportunity than even bigger sporting championships. Thus we must cash in on this to invest in our future. I agree with my noble friend Lord Moynihan about the fact that we have to invest in people at grassroots level. We are on depressingly familiar territory here because we usually agree on this. London 2012’s great legacy is the idea. We were never going to get it right first time. Glasgow gives us the opportunity to build on that—not just for Britain but internationally since the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games are the two great international movements—to learn about how to create enthusiasm and to take it into other sports. The Rugby League World Cup has worked on this and the Rugby Union World Cup will, I hope, go on and do more with it. But this is the great legacy that will come from the Games. I am glad that emphasis has been put on participation and involvement. I hope that we will build successfully on the information and practice that have gone before. That is the true legacy of this. Buildings are great but ideas can last for ever.
My Lords, I should like to declare an interest in that I sit on the Spirit of 2012 trust, I do some work with SSE which is a Games sponsor, and I am also an ambassador for UNICEF. I am very much looking forward to the Commonwealth Games this summer. The reality is that the vast majority of the work needed to deliver successful Games will already have been done. I have every confidence in the Games time being a great success.
Many experiences of 2012 will have been passed on to Glasgow, which has an experienced team. The House also benefits greatly from having the expertise of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, who did a superb job at LOCOG and has first-hand experience of Games delivery. This is my first opportunity formally to welcome him to your Lordships’ Chamber.
The Commonwealth Games are different. There is a reason why they are called the friendly Games. I competed for Wales at three of them and have many happy memories. I am delighted that the Commonwealth Games have led the way in terms of the inclusion of disabled athletes in such a positive way. While in the past there were wheelchair racing demonstration events at Olympics and major athletics events, such as world and European championships, the Commonwealth Games have embraced disability sport with full medal status events.
It is easy to forget that it has not always been that way. In the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990, 1500 metres and 800 metres wheelchair races were included in the programme, but the teams were not allowed to stay with the mainstream teams or to have any kit. I remember that my fellow Welsh athlete Chris Hallam, who sadly passed away last year, and I had to share a single vest. Luckily, my event was first. In 1994, in Victoria, Canada, we were very nearly part of the team. There was a little bit more inclusion, and thanks to the largely negative comments of the Australian chef de mission, who suggested that disabled athletes should not be there, there was suddenly a turnaround in people’s opinions. That set the path forward for Manchester, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, also had a massive effect on the London Games.
While I do not wish to see an integrated Olympics and Paralympics, I think there is much greater possibility within individual sports at international level for the integration of disabled people. The Commonwealth Games prove very clearly that it can be done. In future, I would love to see integrated world championships and European championships. People go to watch the sport, not necessarily to watch disabled or non-disabled people.
Now that the excitement of 2012 is behind us and Glasgow is very nearly upon us, I urge the Government not to forget the importance of elite sport. We clearly see the decline of Australians in Olympic sport—but sadly not in cricket—since they thought that with the major games out of the way they no longer needed to support sport at this level. Nobody wants that to happen in the UK.
The legacy of these Games is not just about participation or stadia, although they are important. It is a massive opportunity for young athletes. For me, it bookended my career. It gave me a step up, and it gave me the way out at the end. We have a huge opportunity to look at how we use those athletes at a local level. With the size and scale of the home country teams, I am really looking forward to seeing what plans they have to keep the momentum of participation going as well as giving the governing bodies another chance to see what they can do for coaching and volunteering. Some really embraced 2012, and some sadly missed the boat completely. They have a second chance to do better. I am also looking forward to what can be done to improve accessible tourism and transport and it gives us another chance to look at PE in schools, which I do not believe we have quite right at the moment.
Finally, I wish the Glasgow Commonwealth Games much success. It will be a great event.
My Lords, it is with a feeling of great honour and humility that I stand before the House to deliver my maiden speech. First, I would like to thank my noble friend Lord McConnell for securing this debate that will allow me to talk on a subject that is very dear to my heart. Before I broach the subject matter, I would like to say thank you to Black Rod and his staff who have been nothing but supportive when I have been lost in the building. I thank the doorkeepers who have been great and supportive and the catering staff who looked after my family famously when we were here on the day of my introduction. I would also like to say a thank you to my mentor, my noble friend Lord Browne, and a very special thank you to my sponsors, the noble Lord, Lord Martin, and my noble friend Lord McAvoy. I also express my appreciation for the extent and depth of welcome that I have received from noble Lords on all sides of the House.
For my part, I would like to talk about the legacy of the Commonwealth Games. As I drive through Glasgow, I see many infrastructure projects that are in full flow on both the stadia and the housing requirements, and I am heartened by the amount of construction jobs that have already been created and, more importantly, the ones that will be sustained going forward. When all the medals have been distributed and the Games have come to a conclusion, Glasgow will be left with world-class sporting infrastructure that I hope will help young budding athletes to achieve their dreams and goals. It is vitally important that we utilise these facilities to the maximum for many years to come. The way the athletes’ village, consisting of 700 houses, will be converted to affordable housing is a master stroke by Glasgow City Council. It is something the east end of Glasgow was crying out for. It will also play a major part in the overall regeneration of the area.
Securing the Games for Glasgow gave us a great opportunity to tackle youth unemployment. Two of the legacy initiatives that went a long way to achieving this are the Commonwealth graduate fund and the Commonwealth apprenticeship initiative. The graduate fund is designed to encourage employers to create new graduate-level jobs in and around Glasgow. It targets the recruitment of unemployed graduates by offering financial incentives to employers to take on a new employee. The fund is worth £l0 million and is providing funding opportunities for 1,000 graduate jobs in the city. The apprenticeship initiative was created by Glasgow City Council as a way to assist suitably qualified Glasgow school leavers into apprenticeships by offering financial incentives to businesses in return for new vacancies. The success of this initiative will not only benefit Glasgow school leavers but will help business growth in the city as well. Over 2,500 apprenticeships have already been created, which is remarkable. As a result of the success of this initiative, the leader of Glasgow City Council, Gordon Matheson, has committed to the continuation of this initiative to the end of the current administration in 2017, which is a great boost for some of Glasgow’s young people at a time when it is most needed.
As someone who employs 170 apprentices and is committed to helping to create opportunities for the young people of today, I applaud these efforts by the council in creating a lasting legacy from the Games. For the unemployed who are part of the 15,000 volunteers, I hope that the experience they gain through working at the Games will give them confidence and enable them to find employment thereafter.
I am sure that the great people of Glasgow will deliver a memorable occasion that will be well received throughout the world and one that we can be truly proud of. This will be equalled only by the legacy that will be enjoyed by thousands of Glaswegians for many decades thereafter.
As noble Lords have probably already heard, people from Glasgow tend to talk a bit faster, so all week I have practising making my speech last a bit longer. I got my six-minute speech off to a tee, and I had a wry smile when I arrived tonight and was told I had three minutes and should make it snappy. I shall finish as I started. I feel truly privileged and honoured to be part of this wonderful establishment. I hope that my experiences in business and life will help me add further value to this noble House.
My Lords, it is huge privilege to follow the very thoughtful maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Haughey. He is a fine example of what apprenticeships can do. We can see that not only has he benefited from an apprenticeship, but he is benefitting others. I share his affection and passion for Scotland because I was a post-graduate student in Glasgow and did my placement in Gorbals. My experience of Gorbals reinforces for me how awe-inspiring the noble Lord’s achievements are. From very humble beginnings as a Gorbals boy, through an apprenticeship he has set up a global business that is now the largest employer in Scotland. He is truly a Gorbals boy made good, not just a Glasgow boy made good. His commitment to giving back to society is equally impressive. Through his City Charitable Trust he supports local and global initiatives, sports, particularly football, and entrepreneurs and he acts as a role model by visiting schools. The commitment of the noble Lord, Lord Haughey, to social justice and zero youth unemployment and his real-life experience and commitment to giving will be a great inspiration to this House and we all look forward to his further thoughtful contributions. I thank him for a wonderful maiden speech.
It is clear that a great deal of effort is being devoted to ensure the success of the Commonwealth Games, and they will be successful. Crucially, these Games also provide opportunities above and beyond the hosting of a major event. They offer the potential to inspire cultural engagement, creativity and learning. This is an opportunity to promote intercultural relations, global citizenship and the values of the Commonwealth as enshrined in the Commonwealth charter, and also to deepen connections between the people of the Commonwealth. Intercultural and interdisciplinary learning, and the international links they will foster, will be important in developing understanding and trust among the nations of the Commonwealth, which in the long run will help with the prosperity agenda. Glasgow has a rich cultural tradition, and the Commonwealth Games are an opportunity to add another chapter to the city's cultural story and further enrich its cultural and educational credentials through intercultural experience.
As deputy chairman of the British Council, I am delighted that the British Council, in association with others, will be using education and the arts to make such connections between Scotland, the wider UK and the Commonwealth, through projects such as Commonwealth Class, and a rich and diverse cultural programme, which will provide a platform for voices from across the Commonwealth to be heard through music, dance, visual arts and the written word.
It is important that such activities are seen not just as a sideshow but as an integral part of these friendly Games. They will lead to long-term connections between the citizens of the Commonwealth and help to promote the values of the Commonwealth for the common good. After all, the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth of the people, not just an intergovernmental organisation. Its strength is its people, and these Games are an opportunity to showcase that, particularly after the controversial CHOGM held in Sri Lanka. It will be helpful if the Minister can assure the House that these educational and cultural activities will be both highlighted and supported in the long run.
My Lords, the Commonwealth Games are unique, with a personality of their own, and will be truly sensational in Glasgow this summer. They are not the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, but they have the potential to ignite that same spirit that we all felt so keenly in the summer of 2012. I know this from my own experience. When my swimming career was coming to an end, I realised that I had the opportunity to do my final swim at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games trials—finishing not so much on home soil as in Mancunian waters.
I am delighted that Glasgow is following the tradition of holding events for disabled athletes; indeed, there will be the most events ever for disabled athletes at a Commonwealth Games. Post-Glasgow, we will all need to look at how we can develop this element further to make it even more meaningful and impactful. I am also interested in the whole idea of soft power, and the impact that the Games can have in that respect. Will the Minister comment on what is happening, particularly with his colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to ensure that we have the largest number of high-level Ministers and Heads of State at the opening ceremony and throughout the Games this summer?
Glasgow will get it right if it puts athletes at the centre of the Games, if it has sport at its heart, and if it builds an extraordinary, exceptional experience for athletes, spectators, the Commonwealth family and the media. Thousands of people are already working to this end, and they are in the final straight of their preparation. Hats off to Louise Martin, who has already been mentioned. Hats off, too, to Mike Hooper and his team at the Commonwealth Games Federation, whose expert eyes have been all over this project from the outset.
We should also look further than Glasgow, because it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we could think about another home nation bid for a future Commonwealth Games in the not-too-distant future—perhaps in Wales, perhaps in London, but certainly another event that could extend further that decade of fantastic sport throughout the UK. Glasgow 2014 has the potential to be sensational, to light up this summer with the golden hue of sporting success and to leave a sporting, social and economic legacy. It has such potential for Glasgow and for Scotland. It will be great for Britain and great for the Commonwealth.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, on securing this debate. Before I go further, I also congratulate a fellow new boy in your Lordships’ House, the noble Lord, Lord Haughey, on his maiden speech—a snappy but sincere speech about the benefit for young people in his native city. When the eyes of the world are on Glasgow and Scotland, they will see the friendly Games in the friendly city, which will afford the athletes the best platform to strive their hardest in their given sport.
In what both the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, said, we saw politics and sport mixing. However, as the wise counsel of the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, indicated when he talked about the caution that we should exercise, politicking and sport do not mix. The noble Lord’s warning about the constitutional and political debates that will be taking place in Scotland at the same time as the Commonwealth Games should be heeded.
For completely understandable reasons, major events such as the Commonwealth Games are hosted by cities. However, in view of the level of funding that goes into them, I hope that your Lordships will allow me to make one comment about the areas and sports that are not from the cities. That includes a sport—rugby sevens—that originated in the constituency that I formerly represented in the Scottish Parliament. Rugby sevens is one example of how the Commonwealth Games can show, in a microcosm, the benefits that sport can bring. It will now be featuring in its fifth Games, and I hope that friends from New Zealand will not be too disappointed when I say that I hope that they will not win the gold medal, because they have won it for every Games that they have participated in so far. The sport originated in 1883 in the Greenyards in Melrose; it will now be in Glasgow, and then an Olympic sport for the first time in Rio in 2016. With the World Cup sevens coming soon in 2018, we can see the best example of an amateur sport, with a community basis and a strong heart, also having a global profile.
As the purpose of this debate is to ask the UK Government to do what they can, I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, about using all the might and all the persuasive powers of the United Kingdom Government to promote this sport as one element of the Commonwealth family—the family of sports in the widest sense.
Last week I was in Taiwan, and I flew from Hong Kong, where the Hong Kong sevens is now possibly the biggest sport in the area. It is sponsored by Cathay Pacific. Then, coming back to London, when you are on the Heathrow Express you see that that sponsors the English rugby sevens team. This is a local sport with a massive heart, and with, we hope, a global following to come. It is one of the examples of the sort of sport for which Glasgow will afford one of the best windows that we can secure.
May I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for securing this timely debate? I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Haughey, on his excellent maiden speech. He is a man of great achievements, who will clearly add much value to this House.
As noble Lords have said, there is no doubt that the Commonwealth Games is a fantastic sporting event, but it is much more than that; it is about the wider Commonwealth family. It was sport that first brought my father to Britain in the late 1940s after serving in the British Army in the Second World War. As a Jamaican, he was a member of the Commonwealth, and in coming to England he did not see himself as travelling to foreign parts. As far he was concerned, he was coming to another part of the extended Commonwealth family. He was coming home, in effect. Even the fact that it snowed on his first day as a professional cricketer for Warwickshire did not diminish his feeling of belonging to that family. But he did remark that he thought he had signed for Warwickshire as a professional off-spin bowler, not as a professional snowball thrower.
The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, made a point about cricket, and I note that cricket has been included in the Commonwealth Games only once, in 1998 in Malaysia. I was going to suggest that one way of securing the success of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games would be to bring in cricket, even at this late stage. However, given the current state of the England cricket team, perhaps we need another four years to reflect on that idea.
The Glasgow Games will be another opportunity to promote para-sporting events. One of the most exciting developments in sport over the past few years has been the recognition of Paralympic athletes as stars in their own right. The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, have played a huge role in that success.
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games chief executive has wisely ensured dialogue with LOCOG 2012, so that lessons learned from the London Olympics can benefit the Glasgow Games. In particular, there is an awareness that the ticketing system must be efficient and the cost of tickets affordable for most people. As he has said:
“It’s your Games. Filling the stadia has been one of our key principles”.
As the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, said, the fact that 50,000 people from all over the United Kingdom have applied for 15,000 volunteer roles shows the level of interest.
This event is a great one for sport, but it is bigger than that; it is about the wider Commonwealth family. It is a window to the benefits of that family—and that is a gold medal message.
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, on giving us this joyous subject to debate. On a really lovely summer day in 2012, I was fortunate to have a ticket for the stadium for both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. I was with my family, all of us wearing the obligatory GB T-shirt and equipped with the union flag, and so on. As we boarded the Tube, it was such fun to see other families similarly attired and excited in anticipation of what was to come. After all, we knew it was unlikely that any of us would ever see such a glorious event in our lifetime again.
The welcome we received from the Games-makers was exceptional and certainly made a huge contribution to the excellent organisation. They also created a great atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. Our seats for the Olympics were in row 57, which was quite a climb, particularly when once I went up the wrong staircase. In contrast, at the Paralympic Games, row 20 was a fantastic change, from which we watched the wonderful achievements of the Paralympians. Both days made me very proud to be British, and I am sure that the support given to our athletes lifted their magnificent performance. They gave us a superb and humbling experience, and one I shall never forget.
The Government’s role was imperative throughout, and the organisation and attention to detail was of the highest standard. I am sure that lessons were learnt which must be of assistance to the Scottish organising committee as it makes the final push to fine-tune its plans and to enthuse the public. I am sure that it will be the greatest success, so I can only encourage everyone to enjoy this most important sporting association.
This year, I am off on what I hope will be an equally balmy summer’s day to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I am geared up to be suitably attired and ready to roar our home teams on as they battle to win. Whatever the results, I know that we will have had another very special day, when probably some will indulge in a wee dram.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord McConnell for securing this debate and, in particular, for not being in any sense modest about the way in which the Games came about, and the distinguished role that he played in that. It would not have happened without his foresight and his thinking about it, and that it has happened has been because, as with our experience of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, these things work only if they are done on an all-party basis. My noble friend exemplifies how that can happen.
I played a very minor part in the Paralympic Games, as I was involved in distributing the flowers as part of the medal ceremonies. A flower girl I was, and I enjoyed it very much; it was one of the highlights of my summer in 2012. Through that, I met Shona Robison, and was impressed, as has been said already in this debate, by the care and concern expressed and her acknowledgement of the need to work together across parties towards this event. I am sure that it will be successful.
I thank all speakers for the wide-ranging contributions, which will help us to focus on some of the important issues. In particular, my noble friend Lord Haughey made a very good point in his snappy maiden speech that a lot of these things are very local. The great value that comes from these huge projects is that they can and do invigorate across all sectors of the host city and town, with the apprenticeships and the work involved on graduate schemes, and will have a lasting legacy around that.
The Question asked the Minister to respond as to what steps Her Majesty's Government were taking to ensure the success of the Games. However, as has been pointed out, there are very limited direct steps that the Government can take, since this is not a reserved issue. Indeed, if noble Lords read the reports from the organising committee, the Games preparations are going extremely well, so I do not think that there will be much to say on that. But the wider context that has been raised in this debate by many speakers is that we need to think again about how we do big projects in the UK and the values that come from that. The investment is not just in the Games itself but in the enthusiasm that it generates, and the focus on the sport —and how good it is that my sport, squash, is being played in Glasgow, although it does not yet appear in the Olympic Games. All that makes for a much better country, with a much better engagement of people in the activities that make us the nation that we are.
When he comes to respond, I hope that the Minister might pick up on some of the legacy issues that have been touched on. I was very struck by what the organising committee said about this when they did a survey which asked people what they wanted the legacy to be. They found that in Scotland—and I would not think it would be different in the UK as a whole—people wanted a successful Games, of course, but they also wanted their children to be more sporty, which is shorthand for them doing more exercise and being involved in sport. They also wanted to ensure that funding for sport in primary schools was continued and that more girls could be enthused to enjoy sport. As we have heard today, that might also be applied to those with disabilities. Although one could expect the Government to say that this is not their responsibility, a lesson which was picked up in the excellent report from one of our own committees, Keeping the Flame Alive: The Olympic and Paralympic Legacy, is that we need to invest more in these activities. I hope the Government will pick this point up and respond to it.
My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, on securing this debate. I believe that he can take great pride in what he and others embarked upon and are now seeing fulfilled. It has been an excellent debate, and the maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Haughey, was, rightly, warmly welcomed across the House. With all his roots in Glasgow, the noble Lord could not have a more appropriate debate to launch what I am sure will be a long and fulfilling career in your Lordships’ House. We all very much welcome the many contributions he is going to make.
It is a privilege and opportunity that the 2014 Commonwealth Games are taking place in Glasgow, in Scotland, in the United Kingdom. The Games are expected to draw around 6,500 athletes and officials, competing in 17 sports in 40 venues—I have increased the number from the one suggested by the noble Lord, Lord McConnell—with a global audience of around 1.5 billion people. We have the prospect of watching countless great athletes—the likes of Usain Bolt, Laura Trott, David Weir and Jessica Ennis-Hill. My noble friend Lord Purvis of Tweed highlighted the rugby sevens, and I do not think that a sport could not have a more robust champion. The Commonwealth Games are the only major games where the sports programme for elite athletes with a disability is fully integrated with that for non-disabled athletes. As the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, said, this is something that we want to build on in the legacy of Glasgow. I also agree with the points made by my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond on this matter.
As has been said, preparations for the Games, led by the organising committee, are proceeding extremely well, with venues such as the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome already open and hosting major events. The Government are committed to strengthening our engagement with, and role within, the Commonwealth. A strong Commonwealth is important to the national interests of all its members and can help promote UK objectives of democratic values, good governance and prosperity. The noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, spoke powerfully about the importance of the Commonwealth for cultural engagement, international relations and the effect on its people. My noble friend Lord Moynihan also mentioned the equally important values of democracy and non-discrimination.
With over 2 billion people, the Commonwealth makes up nearly a third of the world’s population, including some of the world’s fastest growing economies. It provides a platform for trade, investment, development and prosperity. Glasgow 2014 provides an exceptional opportunity to build on the experience and legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to promote Glasgow and Scotland worldwide. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the UK Government will do everything they can to ensure the 2014 Commonwealth Games are a success. I know of his visit to the arena, for instance, and his personal commitment.
Working closely with the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the organising committee, the UK Government have a number of reserved responsibilities, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, including managing the border and national security, facilitating entry to the UK of athletes, coaches and support staff from the Commonwealth nations and accrediting them to use the Games venues and managing the more formal international relations with visiting Heads of State and Heads of Government. The contribution of the UK Government is managed through the Cabinet committee system in the normal manner with regular meetings of officials and Ministers. There have been meetings in the past two days while I have been hearing more about these matters. There is no doubt at all that Ministers are fully seized of the importance of their responsibilities to fulfil the reserved matters and to co-operate with those in Scotland.
As has been said, legacy was a key element of the plans for the 2012 Games and the Glasgow Games, from the start of work on the bids. It is striking that the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, said that London,
“raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy”,
“a legacy blueprint for future Games hosts”.
I am in no doubt that Glasgow will be very much in the forefront of legacy.
Noble Lords in their places tonight have played a crucial part in the delivery of the 2012 Games and their legacy. I mention in particular my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond, a distinguished multi-gold medal-winning Paralympian who played such a part in delivering the 2012 Games. The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, an exalted Paralympian, is now a trustee of the Spirit of 2012 Trust—an independent trust established to keep the 2012 Games’ legacy flame alive. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Moynihan, an Olympic medallist, chaired the British Olympic Association with such distinction. I mention this because we wish that all the experiences and knowledge from those Games are shared with all those concerned in organising such an important Games later this year.
The noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Haughey, mentioned regeneration, apprenticeships, infrastructure and employment. All these matters will make a huge difference to east Glasgow and well beyond. They are part of this economic legacy. UK Trade and Investment has announced that more than £11 billion in trade and investment has been generated from the 2012 Games. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games offer another platform to promote the UK as a partner for business and an investment destination. Her Majesty’s Government, in conjunction with the Scottish Government, will host an inward investment and business conference during the Commonwealth Games. I express particular gratitude to Glasgow City Council for making the city chambers available during the Games.
The economic benefits from the London Olympics and Paralympics have been extremely well spread. In fact, it is estimated that those Games will have created the equivalent of between 51,000 and 62,000 jobs each year between 2004 and 2020. These figures are hugely important, and I am sure that they will be reflected in Glasgow. As regards tourism, VisitBritain is now actively engaged in using the 2014 Games to promote Scotland across the world. The GREAT campaign is also seeking to promote the Commonwealth Games.
The Games makers and other Games-related volunteers were one of the extraordinary aspects of the 2012 Games. My noble friend Lady Seccombe highlighted this. The organisers of the Glasgow Games have been recruiting 15,000 volunteers, known as Clyde-siders. These opportunities were heavily oversubscribed, a testament to the esteem in which the Games makers are, and I am sure the Clyde-siders will be, held. I agree with my noble friend Lord Moynihan about the importance of ensuring that volunteering and fostering the volunteering spirit are enshrined in policy and the way in which we conduct business.
I also want to raise the cultural aspect of the Commonwealth Games. The two strands are a Scotland-wide programme called Culture 2014, and a Games-time celebration running alongside the sporting action called Festival 2014. They will make a very powerful contribution indeed.
A number of points were raised about a truce, including by the noble Lord, Lord McConnell. I have to say that this is very much a matter for the two sides in that debate to decide upon, but my hunch is that most people are going to be rather more interested in the sport and the athletes than in political exchanges.
A number of noble Lords mentioned the Queen’s baton relay. As has been said, it is in Cameroon tonight. British high commissions across the Commonwealth have played an active part in supporting the relay and raising its profile.
In July and August 2014, the Commonwealth family —as my noble friend Lord Taylor of Warwick mentioned; that is absolutely the right reference for this institution—will come together for a festival of sport. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, rightly used the words, “coming together”. It will be a positive celebration of peace and unity. This precedes the first official event to mark this year’s centenary of the start of the First World War, which will take place in Glasgow the day after the end of the Commonwealth Games. It, too, will be a time for the whole nation and our Commonwealth partners to come together and pay tribute to the brave men and women of the Commonwealth who sacrificed so much.
A number of points have been raised, about which I had better write to noble Lords. When future bids are made is a matter for the Commonwealth Games associations of the nations concerned. However, it would be fair to say that if any of the nations were minded to bid, I am sure that it would be very much welcome to the Government. The Games will be in Australia in 2018. There have been five occasions when that country has generously hosted the Games, so let us see.
I conclude by expressing my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, and to your Lordships who have spoken in this debate. There is much that I would wish to reflect on regarding the importance of the sporting legacy and, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, of ensuring that the next generation of people are playing more sport. I understand that 1.5 million more people are engaged in sports since 2012. We need to build on that, and I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Grey- Thompson, will keep us up to the mark on these matters.
I wish the organisers of the Glasgow Games—the friendly Games, as has been said—and the people of Glasgow all the very best for a successful Games. I know that the UK Government will do all that they can within their reserved responsibilities to support the Games and to ensure that they are a great success for Scotland, for the United Kingdom and for the Commonwealth.