HC Deb 05 November 2001 vol 374 cc12-3
7. Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston)

What discussions she has held on arrangements for the security of the Commonwealth games in Manchester. [10025]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Security arrangements for the Commonwealth games are being reviewed, following the events of 11 September. They will be kept under constant review between now and the games. Greater Manchester police are in daily contact with the Commonwealth games organisers, the relevant local authorities, other emergency services and all other relevant parties in respect of security planning for next year's games. Greater Manchester police are confident that all planning is on track and will deliver a safe games for athletes, spectators, VIPs and the residents of the Greater Manchester area.

Mr. Hendrick

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that it is important for the games to go ahead, if possible, without terrorist incident—first, because of the obvious economic benefits to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, and secondly, to show the world that the UK, and Britain in particular, is capable of hosting a major world sporting event that requires new stadiums?

Mr. Caborn

I have no doubt that that will happen. We will produce a Commonwealth games of which not only Manchester and the north-west, but the UK and the Commonwealth will be proud. I pay tribute to Charles Allen and Francis Done, the chairman and chief executive of Manchester 2002, and their team for the tremendous work that they are doing. Now that they have a robust financial structure, which was put into place on the recommendation of Patrick Carter, we can deal more effectively with issues such as 11 September. As we now have more credibility, more sponsors are coming forward. That shows that the plan undertaken by Patrick Carter and the work done by him are paying dividends in many ways.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale. West)

Does the Minister accept that since 11 September the cost of policing the Commonwealth games will be higher than it would have been before, and is likely to be more than £8 million out of the budget of Greater Manchester police? Will he undertake to make representations to the Home Office and his colleagues there to ensure that the people of Greater Manchester do not bear the burden of the cost of that policing? Will he ensure that the Home Office takes on the whole of that cost, to ensure that my constituents and others across Greater Manchester do not suffer from a diminution of police resources?

Mr. Caborn

No request has been received by the Department. The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to go into detail about security planning for the Commonwealth games, but from the contingency fund of £25 million that we put into the finances, we have been able to cater adequately for what the police believe would be the worst-case scenario. As regards the knock-on effect on the revenue spend of Greater Manchester police, I have no doubt that if representations were made to the Home Office, they would receive serious consideration.

Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reassurance. In Manchester five years ago, we learned something of the devastation that terrorism brings when an IRA bomb exploded at the heart of our city. Although it is important to take every precaution, will my right hon. Friend join me in emphasising that next summer in Manchester there will be a warm welcome for thousands of competitors and spectators from across the world, and an opportunity for them to enjoy the competition and the friendship that these important Commonwealth games will bring?

Mr. Caborn

I hope that that sentiment will be echoed on both sides of the House and in the national press, because it is certainly recognised in the north-west. There has been a tremendous take-up of tickets that are available now, and a lottery for that area will start in the next few days. Some 12,000 people have already volunteered, and people are volunteering at the rate of 200 a week. There is a real appetite for the games' success and I have no doubt that Manchester and the north-west will ensure that, contrary to what the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo), the shadow spokesman, said—[Interruption.] I am having difficulty in getting his attention. He has just been critical of facilities in the UK and has run down the UK. Now, he cannot even listen and support Manchester in hosting one of the best international events to take place in 2002. His performance at the Dispatch Box is quite disgraceful.