HC Deb 14 January 2003 vol 397 cc606-53

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Jim Murphy.]

4.16 pm
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell)

This debate is indeed well timed, and I am grateful to the House for this opportunity to set out the arguments for and, indeed, against London bidding for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and to hear the arguments of right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House and with constituencies across the country.

The debate is well timed because the Government have undertaken to take a decision on whether to support a London bid by the end of this month. Only the British Olympic Association can make a bid on behalf of a British city to the International Olympic Committee. The association must indicate its intentions to the IOC by July this year at the latest, and it can bid only if it can show that all costs will be underwritten and that it has full Government support.

To give the association sufficient time to prepare for July, we feel that a Government decision by the end of January is necessary. Just mounting a bid is a two-and-a-half year marathon. By January next year, applicant cities must reply to the IOC's questionnaire. That reply is then examined by the IOC, and it will announce its shortlist in June 2004.

The final assessment will be completed by May 2005, after visits by the IOC evaluation commission. The final vote will take place in July 2005. To have any chance of success, a British bid would have to be wholeheartedly supported by the Government. If the Government decide to back the bid, we will back it to the hilt, and we will expect similar commitment from the other stakeholders.

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) for convening sessions of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport today and tomorrow to take evidence and hear views on the prospects for a London Olympics. Today's debate and the Select Committee hearings will help to inform the deliberations of the committee, chaired by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, that will consider the Government's position on the Olympics, for this decision has to be taken by the whole Government, not by one Department.

We must take the decision with our eyes very clearly open and it must be tested against four clear criteria, the first of which is affordability. Can London and, indeed, the nation afford the investment needed? The second criterion is deliverability. Can the necessary infrastructure be defined, designed and built in time and to standard? The third criterion is the legacy. Will the games infrastructure leave behind a sporting legacy and a regeneration legacy that are worth the very considerable cost? The last criterion is winnability: however good and however credible a London bid can be, the question is whether it has a good enough chance of winning and is worth the expenditure of the many millions of pounds which mounting a bid would cost.

Any decision to bid must therefore be based on a thorough analysis of all the costs and all the benefits. I must therefore take into account all the risks, which is why I have set in train a full assessment of the costs and benefits: an analysis of the fit between potential Olympic development and the wider regeneration proposals for east London; an examination of transport options; consideration of legacy issues; and discussions with the private sector about the level of its contribution. I have also commissioned an assessment of winnability, and tomorrow I will publish some survey research on public opinion in relation to an Olympic bid.

Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

Why is it assumed that the only successful bid that could be mounted would be by London? A very successful Commonwealth games was organised in Manchester. People in the north-west feel that they have been betrayed, given that, after organising such a successful games, there is no prospect of an Olympic bid by Manchester being organised and supported.

Tessa Jowell

The hon. Gentleman's point will be received with some sympathy across the Chamber. The British Olympic Association, however, has made it clear—in discussion, I presume, with the International Olympic Committee—that London is the only credible UK city for a bid. As he will know, both Manchester and Birmingham have bid unsuccessfully in the past 15 years.

Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)

As someone who had grave reservations about the development of Wembley as an international football stadium when better opportunities existed around the country, I take a completely different view of the Olympic games. I do not believe that any other part of Britain can bid successfully for the Olympic games, which would bring great benefit to our young people and to sport in general. Those of us who represent northern constituencies recognise that if Britain is to make a bid, London must be the city.

Tessa Jowell

I thank my hon. Friend for that helpful intervention. In assessing whether to bid, we have drawn on the lessons to be learned from the management of big projects in the past in which the Government have been involved, such as Wembley stadium, which have led the Government to commit more money than was originally intended.

Mr. David Watts (St. Helens, North)

Will my right hon. Friend also consider the impact that a successful bid would have on other regions? Would they lose resources that would have gone to them if the bid were not made?

Tessa Jowell

That is an important question. Clearly, any bid, if one is to be made, will be made for a London Olympics. As the Sydney Olympics showed, however, investment in training facilities prior to the Olympics can lead to new facilities in different parts of the country. Part of our assessment of the economic benefits of the Olympics would be to ask precisely my hon. Friend's question: how dispersed are the benefits, and will the rest of the country benefit?

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster)

The right hon. Lady says that one of her four main tests is winnability, and that she has already commissioned research in that regard. Will she tell the House precisely how that research is taking place, and whom she has asked to determine that vital criterion?

Tessa Jowell

In relation to assessments of winnability, we have sought advice from the British Olympic Association and UK Sport, from which we have commissioned a report. My departmental officials have also made an assessment, and this Friday I will meet Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, in Lausanne, to discuss the matter further. I will say more about that as I develop my argument to the House. The first three criteria of affordability, deliverability and legacy are more measurable than winnability, which is more of an art than a science. However, we have to make an important judgment before we commit a substantial sum to making a bid. We also have to assess whether the expenditure of time and effort across the Government and beyond will be worth it.

Mr. Mark Field

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Tessa Jowell

No, I want to make progress.

Dr. Rudi Vis (Finchley and Golders Green)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Tessa Jowell

I hope that my hon. Friend forgives me, but I will not. I want to make some progress because many hon. Members wish to speak.

Let me be the first to say that a powerful sporting case has been made for bringing the games to London. A successful bid would bring sport to the centre of our national life for a decade between now and 2012. It would motivate and inspire the young athletes who are beginning to enjoy the new facilities, opportunities and additional coaching provided by the lottery and directly by Government investment. It would also intensify the focus on elite sport, so that our athletes have the best possible chance of winning in front of our home crowds. The evidence of previous Olympics makes it clear that countries win more medals when they host the games.

The world of sport understandably relishes the prospect of a London games. Its only concern is that the expenditure needed to stage an impressive event and to prepare the UK athletes should not be at the expense of existing expenditure on sport. It understands that investment in sport at the grassroots—in talent identification and development, and in facilities and coaching to bring sporting opportunities to every community and school in the UK—should not suffer if we bid for the games. However, it is not unreasonable of others to suggest that if the Olympics games are of such high importance to the world of sport, it should be willing to reorder its spending priorities accordingly. The impact of any potential diversion of resources from within sport is one factor that we will weigh carefully before taking the final decision.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

Given that it will be 2005 before a decision is made and that the spending programme of the Government and the new opportunities fund only run until then, does the right hon. Lady agree that there are still a further six or seven years in which to make the investments required?

Tessa Jowell

To some extent the hon. Gentleman is right, but he should remember that if we decide to bid for the games and win, every pound spent on developing Olympic facilities in London is a pound that will not be spent on schools, hospitals or grassroots sporting facilities in other parts of the country. We are confronting a tough set of choices and I welcome the debate as way of informing those choices.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

The Secretary of State rightly referred to the opinion in the sporting world that holding the Olympic games in London would be hugely motivational, but she also implied that the money might have to come from other parts of sport if we decide to bid for them. Does she really believe that to be the case? Surely if we want to bid for the Olympics and the Government support that, the money has to be over and above anything that is already going to sport.

Tessa Jowell

Money for an Olympic bid and for building the Olympic facilities would come from the same pool as money to fund the Government's other priorities. It would have to compete with schools, hospitals, the development of grassroots sporting facilities and the renewal of our transport infrastructure. That is a fact and it is why the decision requires us to face tough choices.

Every host city has found that the games come at a price. Past experience informs us that early estimates for the cost of major events or for other capital projects tend to escalate before their completion. The costs of the Manchester Commonwealth games, one of the great sporting festivals of the summer, more than doubled from Manchester city council's first bid, and the games had to be rescued by the Government and the national lottery before becoming the success that they were. The costs of the new Wembley stadium were originally forecast at £250 million, whereas the project that was finally agreed is budgeted at £760 million. Escalation of costs is not unique to Britain. Sydney found it necessary to spend double its original estimate, and Athens could be heading the same way.

Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

As a northern MP, I am very supportive of the proposed bid for London. However, as costs rose so much for the events that my right hon. Friend just mentioned, we have to be sure from the beginning that we are not underestimating the likely costs of London's bid; otherwise we will hear damaging stories about costs escalating out of control, which will detract from the good news about the event. Hopefully we will win the bid.

Tessa Jowell

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He almost makes my point for me. I am determined to ensure that, as the funder of last resort, the Government are absolutely clear about the extent of any possible liability before we make a commitment.

Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

My right hon. Friend will know that many of us in London are greatly excited by the potential hosting of the Olympic games in London. That could do wonders for the regeneration of the city as well as for sport and Britain's standing in the world. She will know also, however, that the bid depends crucially on investment not only in sporting facilities and the running of the games but in London's infrastructure. Will she take the message from the House to the Chancellor that without Government investment in London's infrastructure, particularly in transport and housing, the games cannot be the success that they should be?

Tessa Jowell

I am sure that the Chancellor will have heard my right hon. Friend's intervention.

To ensure the extent of any Government liability, we have developed the work undertaken by Arup, which concluded that the total cost of hosting the 2012 Olympics would be £3.6 billion, requiring a net public subsidy of £1.1 billion. In our view there is a significant risk of the total cost rising to £4.5 billion, with a net public subsidy requirement of £2.5 billion. The scale of work needed, the impact on the regeneration of east London and the total costs involved mean that sport alone cannot fund the Olympics, nor can sport alone justify the total expenditure. Those wider considerations must be weighed before a decision can be made.

Mr. Gareth Thomas (Harrow, West)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Tessa Jowell

I shall make some progress.

Any public subsidy of the games must, by definition, come from other areas of public spending. It is the job of Government to balance what are inevitably competing claims, and I hope that one of the outcomes of the debate that we seek to have will be greater public understanding of the extent of those choices. If the Olympics would carry forward the regeneration of east London, if they would contribute substantially to the UK economy and if they could be financed without distorting other spending priorities, they could be affordable. However, if they would do none of those things, but rather inhibit regeneration and fail to leave a valuable legacy, the argument is clearly considerably weaker.

Many, if not all, Olympic host cities have justified their expenditure by those wider considerations. Hon. Members will know that the Minister for Sport and I have, over the past few months, visited a number of past and prospective Olympic cities in order to understand those points at first hand. For the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona wanted to rebuild and even reinvent itself—to turn it round to face the sea, as one resident put it to me when I visited. It wanted to emerge as a new, modern city and as the capital of a vibrant region, to increase hugely its capacity as a tourist destination. It spent accordingly, perhaps £8 billion in today's terms. Beijing clearly wants to use the Olympics to promote the city and to turn it round to face the rest of the world. Athens, too, is using the impetus of the games to rebuild and rebrand its city.

In this context, it is important to recognise what our Olympic expenditure would cover. It would cover the cost of making the bid; land reclamation and the development of sport sites and the village in the east end; transport enhancements for the period of the games; preparation for our elite athletes; a world-class Olympic fortnight; and the Paralympic games. The level of funding would not provide for wider Thames gateway redevelopment. Those who look admiringly at Barcelona and Athens, with their dramatic changes to their cities, and assume that the London gain would be similar, need to know that public works on that scale would increase the costs still further and would not make a London bid any more winnable.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Tessa Jowell

No. I shall make some progress.

The third test is legacy. The best estimate to date is that the lasting legacy of the Olympic buildings and associated infrastructure could be otherwise provided for about £300 million. That would include the stadium, a 50 m swimming pool, some improved sports halls and other facilities in east London, around 160,000 sq m of employment floor space and about 400 permanent jobs, 4,000 new homes, and expanded rail capacity at Stratford station.

The subsequent use of the stadium is important. More recent Olympic and world event stadiums have been economically unsuccessful unless a viable anchor tenant has been found. That is true of Stadium Australia and also of the Stade de France. Arup's preferred solution is for the £280 million, 80,000-seater Olympic stadium that London would need to be reduced after the games to 20,000 capacity and to be used for athletics. However, even at that capacity, the stadium would make a loss and would require continuing subsidy. An alternative considered by Arup was to follow the Manchester example and find a football club to take over the venue. That would leave the stadium with a 60,000 capacity, but Arup felt that residential and commercial neighbours might be wary of being close to football grounds, and that that would be reflected in the development prospects.

There are other legacies to consider. The Olympics could bring a substantial boost to London's tourism. The benefit is estimated at £400 million to £600 million over four years.

Mr. Gareth Thomas


Tessa Jowell

It is true that London is already the most popular destination in the UK, and steps would have to be taken to encourage visitors to venture beyond the capital so that the rest of the country would benefit from the Olympic impact. There could be a legacy of people enthused to take up sport because of the excitement generated by the event, but experience shows that that immediate effect is short lived, when high standard facilities and coaching are available. Even in Australia, which in 2002 had one of the most successful Olympic games ever, participation levels have fallen away, and its couch-potato population is estimated to be equal to ours. To capitalise on the Olympics in that way would require further expenditure if people are to be engaged in sport in the longer term.

Mr. Hawkins


Bob Russell (Colchester)


Tessa Jowell

No, I shall make progress.

A further consideration is the impact that the games decision could have on the wider Thames gateway, giving confidence to investors that it is an attractive place to invest. The games could revitalise the image of London in the eyes of the world, confirming its position as a leading world city. There is the potential for improving the image of the UK around the world, something done to great effect for their countries by Sydney and Barcelona. There is the undoubted value of the games in terms of national pride. We had a foretaste of that in the Manchester games this summer, which showed that we really are a can-do nation.

Deliverability is the third of our criteria and perhaps the one in which I have greatest confidence. There is absolutely no doubt that Britain can stage a great Olympics in 2012. The Queen's jubilee and the Manchester Commonwealth games show how we can organise and deliver vibrant and exciting events, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to celebrate. Some of our detractors will point to Picketts Lock and say that we cannot be trusted to deliver, but Manchester, the jubilee and the 1996 European football championships all show otherwise, as do the outstanding regular events that this country hosts in football, cricket, rugby, golf, tennis, rowing, sailing and many more sports.

Of course, the Olympics are on a different scale and level of complexity, but given the time available and provided that the games are fully funded and that we are confident about the costs, we can be confident about delivering an impressive event with which London's infrastructure is well able to cope. Our current assessment is that transport would not be an obstacle to a successful bid. The Government are currently considering what measures would be necessary. We would also ensure that the necessary planning and development powers are in place—an important lesson from other Olympic cities—and that the Mayor of London and relevant local authorities have all indicated their support for a bid. We would look to the mayor and the London development agency for a substantial commitment of their resources, to reflect the fact that London would inevitably be the main beneficiary of the games.

I am very grateful for all the work undertaken across government in assessing the practicality and deliverability of the games, and I should like to thank my colleagues for their wholehearted co-operation. As a result of all that work, I can say that a high-quality games is well within our reach to deliver.

I turn finally to winnability, which, as I have indicated, is not an exact science. The ballot is secret and the delegates are drawn from more than 80 different countries, each with different traditions and attitudes. We know that the competition will be intense.

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Tessa Jowell

I am going to draw my remarks to a close.

It is obviously in the interests of the IOC to have as many high-quality bids as possible. Nevertheless, I welcome the encouraging remarks made by Jacques Rogge, its president, and look forward to meeting him in Lausanne on Friday. However, as he says, any London bid will face very stiff opposition. We can expect New York, Paris, Moscow, Toronto, a Spanish city, a German city, possibly a city in South America and others to throw their hats into the ring. Paris and Toronto have both made recent bids. Athens and Beijing both failed with bids before they subsequently won. No matter how good the London bid is technically, we must acknowledge that winning will be difficult. Our bid will have to be highly convincing. It will have to be well organised and professionally run, it will need dedication and hard work and it will cost a substantial amount.

The final decision by the IOC will take place in July 2005. In the intervening years, we will have to show that our proposals are sound, fully funded, protected against risk and capable of being delivered on time. We would be up against cities that, in some cases, will have much more of the necessary infrastructure in place. We are also advised that we would have to demonstrate our commitment by beginning key elements of the work well in advance of the 2005 vote. We would have to begin land assembly, as well as construction of at least one key venue and probably a 50 m pool for the aquatic centre. In all, we would expect to have to incur costs of more than £200 million even before the vote took place.

London is a great city, however. It is truly a world city, the match of any likely competition. None of the competitor cities has a unique winning proposition. Although winnability is a tough test, London remains a force to be reckoned with.

In conclusion, affordability, deliverability, legacy and winnability are the key tests. We know that people love the Olympics and that they are stirred by the prospect of people coming to Britain. Our poll of public opinion, the details of which will be released to the Select Committee tomorrow, suggests that 75 per cent. of people in this country are in favour of the games coming to London, and by and large believe that expenditure on health, education and transport are all more important.

Kate Hoey

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Tessa Jowell

We know that it would be wrong to waste money on an expensive hid if we had little chance of winning. We know that a commitment to the Olympics must boost regeneration to the east of London and must not hold it back. We know that a commitment to the Olympics must fit with a broader strategy for sport and not be at the expense of the rest of sport. And we know that a commitment to a London Olympics must not starve the rest of the country of the resources that it needs to develop sport or divert much needed resources from other key priorities.

This is an important decision, and the arguments are finely balanced, which is why before reaching a conclusion the Government are examining with such rigour and such care the extent of the liability that would fall on them. The Government are genuinely open minded, and I look forward to the opportunity to hear the views of right hon. and hon. Members throughout the House.

4.46 pm
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

I begin by reminding the House of my entry in the Register of Members' Interests.

Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham)

What has that got to do with this?

Mr. Greenway

I am not sure that it has anything to do with this, but it is important to remind hon. Members that we have a wider experience than just politics.

This debate is very welcome and also very timely. It really is "make your mind up time". I note that the Secretary of State has made it clear that the Government intend to reach a decision by the end of January. We want that decision to be "Yes". There is no time left for any further prevarication.

My hon. Friend the Shadow Culture Secretary, the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale), is currently in Standing Committee on the Communications Bill, and so is unable to be here for this important debate.

Mr. Banks

This is the hon. Gentleman's big chance.

Mr. Greenway

I have had other big chances before. I like to think that they have at least maintained my position. I have been doing this job for almost three years, and that speaks for itself. With no disrespect for the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) or the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), I am still in my job.

On 6 August, the day after the conclusion of the Commonwealth games, I issued a press release which included the following statement: A well-organised, viable British bid for the 2012 Olympics will naturally enjoy the support of the Conservative Party. We had twice supported an Olympics bid for Manchester and then the Commonwealth games bid, which was a huge success. I will not go into party political semantics as to who was responsible for that success; I make the point simply to say that our support for this bid is not opportunistic. It is part of a pattern of support which we showed when in office.

Since August my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made it abundantly clear that the Conservative party supports a London bid for the 2012 Olympics. I hope that this debate will equally convince the Government that the prize of a successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics is so great that they should throw the full weight of the Government behind the bid and work with the British Olympic Association to secure the games for London.

The public have every reason to expect support. I found in my cupboard a copy of Labour's Sporting Nation, the Labour sports policy document published early in 1997, which I think was written by Lord Pendry, for whom I have the greatest respect. It is not what he said that I wish to quote; it is what the Prime Minister said: if we are to make the most of the wealth of talent we have in this Country, we must be ambitious as we strive to put Britain back on the sporting map. That is why a Labour Government will provide full support for British bids to host international sporting events. That is my first quote—I shall use more later.

The Arup report concluded that if all levels of government and other agencies are committed to a common proposal, the potential advantages of the 2012 games centred on the lower Lea valley could be developed into a world-beating bid. We see no reason to doubt the wisdom of that conclusion or to challenge the BOA assessment that a UK bid based in any other city would be unlikely to succeed. A London-based bid, however, has an excellent prospect of success if, as seems likely, the International Olympic Committee decides that under rotation the games should return to a European venue in 2012. The Secretary of State is right—it is not an exact science, but that is the current indication.

The Minister for Sport, in an interview in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, said: My job as sports Minister is to put the case for sport. The case for sport is indeed overwhelming and has been well documented in both the summary of the Arup report published by Ministers and the BOA briefing for our debate.

I should like to emphasise four points. A successful bid would secure significant benefits for elite sports, with Team GB greatly increasing its medal haul, as other host nations have traditionally done so; create a lasting legacy of coaching and sports infrastructure, with 100 training venues throughout the UK, including refurbished school gyms, leisure centres and community facilities; create a legacy of encouragement and motivation so that more young people will take part in sport—for me, that is one of the most important reasons to support a bid; and secure the right to host the Paralympics, in which we lead the world—a not insignificant opportunity.

Mr. Hawkins

I strongly support what my hon. Friend is saying in my capacity as the deputy chairman of the all-party group on sport and leisure. However, does he agree that in her amazingly downbeat reading of her solemn brief the Secretary of State showed no enthusiasm for this matter and overlooked the clear evidence, starting in Los Angeles, of profitable gains to be made from the games, which The Daily Telegraph has highlighted in its very good campaign for a London bid for 2012. Back in 1984, Peter Uberroth made a profit of £260 million for sport, and $6 billion was generated through long-term advances in the tourism industry. Should we not be talking about that legacy when we look at making a bid?

Mr. Greenway

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and will make three points in response. First, we cannot always repeat the experience of others—we have to make a hard-headed assessment of the position in London. I shall return to that point in a moment. However, my hon. Friend is right that a huge public subsidy is not necessarily needed if the games are organised correctly.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Greenway

I want to respond to my hon. Friend and make two further points.

Secondly, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers have, we hope, run a successful campaign and have certainly made the argument for holding the games here. Thirdly, this debate is an occasion on which we ought to try to have as much unity in the House as possible, so I will not overindulge in the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, save to say that at the end of the right hon. Lady's speech, I felt that we had reached half-time with a stalemate nil-nil draw. I hope that we can move on and put some balls in the net.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Greenway

I shall give way to the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) first, then the hon. Members for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas), but that is all.

Mr. Banks

I join the hon. Gentleman in hoping that we will bid for the 2012 Olympics, not least because many of the facilities will be in my patch of east London. As he has talked about the Ove Arup report, will he tell the House whether he agrees with its cost estimates? He has rather brushed over that, but I am sure that he will come back to it. My instinct is that the report grossly underestimates the cost of mounting the Olympics.

Mr. Greenway

I intend to come to that in a moment. I will give way to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas), whom I am going to mention in a minute.

Mr. Gareth Thomas

I am grateful for that advert. Does the hon. Gentleman share my concern that if Arup has underestimated the cost of bidding for and staging the Olympics, it has probably also underestimated the benefits of the games? It admits to using the relatively conservative figure of £610 million for tourism income, when Sydney benefited to the tune of £2 billion, and Barcelona estimates that the net economic impact of its games was £11 billion.

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman has, as ever, anticipated precisely what is in the text that I have prepared for the House. I will give way to the hon. Member for Leigh.

Andy Burnham (Leigh)

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the public subsidy that would be required. It will be significant, as we have heard. We also know that the Conservative Front Bench is committed to a 20 per cent. cut in public spending. In that context, is the hon. Gentleman absolutely clear from which budget he would take the money required to stage the Olympic games?

Mr. Greenway

I shall address that issue as well. The Conservative party is committed to ensuring a viable and strong economy, and the Olympic games would provide a huge opportunity for wealth creation and job creation, and for more revenue, not less, for the Exchequer.

I want to finish my assessment of sport, then I must make some progress. New facilities need only be permanent when that is essential, and when a long-term future has been identified. We accept, as the Secretary of State said, that the future use of a new main stadium to host the games remains to be settled. It is important that we face up to that. We do not, however, believe that that is an intractable problem, as the initial 80,000 capacity could be reduced, depending on its future use. The Secretary of State mentioned two such possible uses.

Sport will not be the only winner at a successful Olympics. This debate gives us the opportunity to highlight the significant wider benefits of staging the Olympics in London. The benefits from social change alone that a successful Olympic bid would secure would include a more fit and healthy generation, less crime and vandalism, and the regeneration of a wide area of deprivation in east London—the constituency of the hon. Member for West Ham. Those gains would, in themselves, justify hosting the Olympics here in Britain.

I also suggest that all the interests for which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible would benefit from a successful Olympics bid; not just sport, but tourism, culture, art, heritage, the media and broadcasting. All would be major beneficiaries of a UK-based Olympics in London. The English Tourism Council has said in a letter to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that the 2012 Olympic Games in London represents a major 'once in a generation' opportunity for UK tourism. It will strengthen London's claim to be one of the top five cities"— in the world— and promote huge opportunities for tourism in the rest of Britain, both during the Games and for many years afterwards. The ETC goes on to give examples of how tourism in the north-west of England benefited from the Commonwealth games, bringing in some 300,000 additional visitors and more than 6,000 new jobs. I well remember visiting the British Tourist Authority office in Dublin when it launched its campaign for more people to come to the north-west from Ireland, both in association with the Commonwealth games and more generally.

The Arup report estimates up to £610 million from additional tourist revenue but points out, as the hon. Member for Harrow, West mentioned in his intervention, that Sydney benefited by some £2 billion from new inbound tourism. I would like to suggest to the House that London is a bigger attraction with a much larger hinterland for potential visitors from the near continent. The inbound tourism sector—a major growth area—includes events, conferences, meetings and incentive travel, and would also be expected to experience a significant increase in associated activities if the Olympic games were held here. The British Tourist Authority estimates that, on current trends, business tourism could account for as much as 45 per cent. of inbound tourism expenditure by 2010. In opposition, the Government agreed with that and the sports-tourism link. The document to which I referred earlier states that international events provide a major boost to the earnings of our tourism and hospitality industries and the Exchequer. I agree with that.

As the Secretary of State knows, the Athens Olympics will revive the cultural Olympiad, and United Kingdom arts organisations will participate in those events. There is a great opportunity for us to do the same in London. The world would spend 16 days being reminded through television of our unique heritage that is unrivalled in so many ways. More than 3 billion viewers watched the Olympic games in Sydney. Our broadcasting media will have the opportunity to demonstrate what we know: they are the best at covering major international events. One has only to compare the coverage of English or British teams overseas with that in Britain to appreciate the difference.

Can we succeed? The British Olympic Association recently said: we don't want to bid for the sake of bidding. We want to bid to win". I understand the Secretary of State's desire to ensure that a bid has a good chance of success—her "win-ability test"—and I agree with her analysis. However, we should not ignore the positive benefits of the bidding process. The bid that Manchester submitted helped to stimulate regeneration in that city and in the north-west and put the area back on the map.

News coverage of the bidding process, especially the visits of leading athletes and sports administrators and the International Olympic Committee, would encourage interest in sport, provide significant media opportunities and help those who promote tourism to the UK, especially to London. Positive promotion of London and Britain during the bidding period would support the process and the chance of winning.

Public support and cross-party unanimity are vital. It is rumoured that more than 75 per cent. of those polled by ICM for UKSport said yes to the games. Will the Secretary of State or the Minister tell us whether that is accurate? When do they expect to publish the results?

It is important to be open and candid about costs and the significant challenges of delivery. The point has been made that it is easy for the press to be on side now but off side when bad news arrives. Let us therefore have the whole truth. We would have liked the Ove Arup report to be published in full, but we understand that parts of it are confidential and could give competing bidders an advantage.

Nevertheless, more of the report could have been published, thus helping to confirm the quality of the study, and the advice and conclusions given to Ministers and other members of the key stakeholders' group. Will the Minister confirm that the Ove Arup study represents the most thorough in-depth analysis in advance of an Olympic bid and that no major city that wanted to stage the Olympics has had the benefit of such a detailed, location-specific analysis?

In an interview in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, the Minister said: We should not be events-driven, we should be strategy-driven. He has made that point previously. However, surely any long-term strategy should be ambitious and aspirational. If we want our athletes and our teams to win more often in international competition, the strategy for sport should include the aim of hosting international events such as the Olympics, World cup and so on. Again, I pray in aid the Labour party's pre-election document—[Interruption.] I believe that it was written by a first-class parliamentarian who is a good friend and now in the other House. The document states: A Labour Government will provide full support for British bids to host international sporting events. There it is—it could not be clearer, and one could almost describe it as an election pledge. The public need to ask the Government to think about realising that pledge, notwithstanding the fact that, as I accept, challenging problems do exist.

The Minister for Sport also said: we don't want a Wembley or a Picketts Lock". We certainly agree with him on that, but if we want to learn the lessons of these problems, we must first understand that they occurred under this Government. We also need to decide what we think is more important. It is perhaps tempting to argue that we should not make promises and enter into commitments that we cannot deliver on, and that is certainly one lesson of the bid for the 2005 world athletics championships. [Interruption.] The Minister is agreeing with me, but it was his Government who made that promise.

Arguably, the real lesson is to understand more clearly the role of the Government. They cannot adopt an arm's-length approach, just dipping in and out when it suits them. A successful Olympics would require strong leadership at the highest Government level, and—I say this with no disrespect—probably not even within the right hon. Lady's own Department. Someone must he able to ensure prompt and decisive action across Government Departments, but that did not happen with Wembley, as those of us members of the all-party group on football who took part in the various meetings with the planners of Brent quickly discovered.

The key stakeholders group represents a good start. Ironically, of all its members only the Government have yet to make clear their position, or to voice any real enthusiasm for the bid. We also need to engage a fourth partner: the business community.

On costs, Ministers have challenged some of the conclusions of the Ove Arup report, and they now suggest that the cost of hosting the games could be as much as £5 billion. A different figure seems to be given every time that a statement is made, and we shall have to read tomorrow's Hansard carefully to find out the exact figure that the right hon. Lady quoted. However, the Arup consultants do not accept that their original costings of £1.8 billion were wrong to anything like the extent suggested. Having re-examined all their Costings—they based them on 2002 prices, as the key stakeholder group asked them to do—they believe that the new figure should be no more than £1.9 billion.

On a like-for-like basis, the Arup figures are robust, but if the Treasury were to use inflated prices on costs, and if no account were taken of the increased revenue that the same inflation costings would generate, it would not be surprising if a higher figure came out at the end. The calculations must be made on a like-for-like basis. There is a real suspicion that costs are being loaded just for the sake of it, and the Government seem determined to adopt a "more than worst case" position in their deliberations, over-egging the contingency to take account of other failings such as the millennium dome.

Bob Russell


Mr. Banks

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Greenway

No, I will not give way. I know that many Members want to speak, and I am getting close to the end of my remarks.

If we want to learn a lesson from the millennium dome, it is to have a clear view on whether the investment under consideration is likely to deliver value for money. I suggest to the House that an Olympics bid, with all the advantages that I have outlined, is far more likely to deliver long-term, lasting value for money than the millennium dome. Whatever figure is arrived at, the total cost is not the cost to the Government. The cost to Government is much less because of grants from the IOC, sponsorship and inward investment.

The hon. Member for Harrow, West got it exactly right when he said in the Westminster Hall debate of 26 November that he sponsored: I believe that London could host the Olympic games at a much lower cost than is perhaps widely accepted at the moment."—[Official Report, Westminster Hall, 26 November 2002; Vol. 395, c. 45WH.] I agree with his analysis. Having commissioned the Ove Arup report, the members of the key stakeholder group need to show more support for its conclusions.

It is argued that the money could be better spent on hospitals and schools—the philosophy of despair advanced by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) in an interview the other day. That approach misses the point completely. It ignores the benefits for health, education and the fight against crime that would accrue from increased sporting activity among young people. The Government's own performance and innovation unit confirmed as much: the news may have been slipped out on the last day before Christmas, but the unit confirmed that those would be major benefits.

The approach that I have described also fails to recognise that a London-based Olympics would be the engine of increased economic activity, especially through tourism and regeneration. That would lead, in turn, to more jobs and more revenue. That potential was instantly recognised by the Conservative party and it underpins our enthusiasm for the project.

A London Olympics would be the inspirational catalyst for the realisation of many worthy and vital public policy objectives. For us, it is inconceivable that the Government should say no unless they can demonstrate some deep-seated and major practical obstacle that is not apparent from the Arup study. A lack of political will would not be tolerated by the public at large as the only reason not to go ahead.

In her closing remarks, the Secretary of State said that Britain was a "can do" society. There is no better way to prove it. I urge Ministers not to be afraid of failure, but instead to recognise the enormous benefits that our nation, not just our capital, would derive from success. Ministers should recognise the tremendous feel-good factor that a successful bid would bring. Above all, they should recognise that a country with the fourth largest economy in the world, which gave so many sports to the rest of the world and which has a capital city still widely regarded as one of the world's finest, ought to be capable of hosting the world's biggest sporting event. If Athens can do it, why cannot London?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord)

Before I call the next speaker, I remind the House that Mr. Speaker has placed a 10-minute limit on all speeches by Back Benchers in this debate.

5.12 pm
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport is conducting an inquiry into the potential Olympic bid. I am Chairman of that Committee, and I speak today in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the Select Committee. In the near future, the Committee will publish its report, by which I shall be bound, whatever it says.

Considerable reference has been made to The Daily Telegraph, which yesterday published an interview with Matthew Pinsent, a member of the International Olympic Committee. He asked a series of questions to do with who, where and how: he wanted to know where the village was going to be, how the transport would work, and so on. This afternoon, I want to ask a series of questions to which we need precise answers. Those answers must cohere if a bid is to be justified. Regardless of my personal opinion about whether a bid should be lodged, I believe that a bid will not be tenable if the questions that I am about to ask are not answered in that way.

I hope that my questions can be answered at the end of the debate by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport, or when Ministers come before the Select Committee tomorrow. If not, I hope that they can be answered pretty soon, as I think that the country has a right to the information.

The first question has to do with costs. So many different estimates have been made of the cumulative costs of staging the games that it is impossible to be sure about the matter. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) quoted the Ove Arup report, but only a short time ago the Financial Times said: The cost of a London bid for 2012 is estimated at up to £5.4bn, with almost £3bn coming from public funds. We must be clear that the cost of any public sector project will be higher than originally estimated—and probably a lot higher. The building of the British Library cost seven times the original estimate, and took 30 years rather than the estimated five. The costs of such projects tend to balloon, so it is important for us to know them.

I want to know the cost of the projected stadium in east London. Can it be built? Can planning permission be obtained? What is the timetable, and can the stadium be built on time? If not, it is not worth building.

I note that my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) is present. The whole basis of Sport England's support for a rebuilt Wembley stadium, and the whole basis on which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State eventually agreed to Government support for it, was dual use: the stadium was to be used for athletics as well as football. This morning, the Select Committee heard that there would be a new stadium for athletics, and that Wembley would be used for football and for nothing else. What, then, was the point of that laborious process involving Wembley stadium?

Then there is the question of the village. Where will it be? How much will it cost? What about planning permission? What is the timetable? Moreover, several swimming pools are to be built, of which one, apparently, is to be retained. Where will they be, what will they cost, and can they be built on time? We need to know those things, or we shall walk blindfold into a morass.

There is also the utterly bewildering question of transport. The Ove Arup report assumes that although Crossrail is not due to be completed until 2016, it will be available in time for games that will take place in 2012. The Mayor of London—whose main contribution to transport has been to make the west end static for months on end—says that he hopes for Government approval of Crossrail very soon. He says: Trains could start running by 2011, providing a crucial boost to London's chances of holding the 2012 Olympic Games". In its submission to the Select Committee, however, Transport for London says: The transport strategy described in this paper assumes that Crossrail is not in place for the Games. The provision of Crossrail would provide significant additional capacity… However, the transport strategy should not be made contingent on the successful delivery of Crossrail by 2012.

Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman

If the hon. Gentleman does not mind, I will not.

So there are three different attitudes to Crossrail, which is the key link to a stadium in the east end of London. We must also bear it in mind, even if the timetable is accepted, that such projects are not necessarily delivered on time. The Jubilee line extension to North Greenwich was supposed to be ready at least two years before the opening of the dome, but it was ready only a few days before that—and the budget was so enormous that Mr. Tunnicliffe of London Underground did not even know what it was. We cannot operate on the basis of huge blank cheques being signed by our constituents, as taxpayers, without knowing what will happen.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Ryedale to say that there is huge public enthusiasm for this in 2003. Of course there is—The Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard are running campaigns—but what will happen in 2005 or 2006 if things start to go awry, as the track record shows they will? The Government will be about to be re-elected or will have been re-elected, and all the people who are now saying that we should bid for the games will regard this target as an Aunt Sally. That is what happened with the dome, which the Conservatives started. Indeed, under the Conservatives, £120 million was given by Sport England for Wembley stadium. It does not stop them being opportunistic.

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Kaufman

No, because I have only two minutes left.

There is also the question of organisation. Huge tributes are paid to the success of the Commonwealth games. The only reason they were a success is because my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister appointed my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) to create a structure for the Commonwealth games that had not existed before. That enabled the athletes and volunteers to achieve their superb successes.

We have no such structure now. Instead we have a concordat whereby a bevy of organisations all put their oars in. If we are to bid for the Olympic games, we must have a Minister in charge. The New South Wales Minister for Sport, for example, was in charge of organising both the games in Sydney and the transport.

It is not negative to ask these questions, it is essential. Unless the answer to every one of them is yes, our constituents will say that spending £5 billion or £6 billion—$12 billion was spent on the Barcelona games—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


5.22 pm
Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)

I welcome the opportunity for this debate. I am proud to sport my Team GB tie. I admit that it is not very subtle—in fact, it makes the ties of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) look positively anaemic. However, it has the advantage of making Liberal Democrat support for the bid clear from the outset.

Our reasons for supporting the bid have been well rehearsed, and the Secretary of State set out many of them in her opening remarks. The bid is not London-centric. There is no doubt that other towns and cities would benefit, whether from holding camps, football competitions or the resulting increase in tourism. The Secretary of State referred to Barcelona. Between 1991 and 1997, Barcelona witnessed an increase in overnight stays of 70 per cent. That is the sort of increase that we could hope for in tourism in London and beyond. She spoke about the need to spread the benefits of tourism and to export it to other parts of the country, which we support.

We should support the bid for reasons of regeneration. Parts of east London have objective 2 status and clearly need regeneration. The bid could act as a catalyst for transport projects such as Crossrail. Even if Crossrail were not completed, having a portion of the line up and running would contribute significantly to increasing capacity in London, which would benefit the games. Furthermore, it is possible that, as happened in Greece, EU grants might be available to assist with some transport projects.

A further reason for supporting the bid is the fact that Londoners back it, as other Members have said. The Government pushed ahead with something that Londoners most certainly do not support—the part-privatisation of the tube. Why do they not push something that Londoners actually support? The issue does not affect only Londoners. Disparate bodies such as the Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, the Mayor and the London chamber of commerce and industry agree on their support for the bid, as do many London Members of all parties.

Sport has an impact on health. If the Olympic games took place in this country in 2012, it would act as a strong motivator to our children. The health of many children is at risk because of our sedentary lifestyles and the games would give them something to aim for. Ten and 11-year-olds who turn away from sport as they become interested in other things might focus on the date of the Olympics, perhaps because they want to compete or because it would make them realise the importance of keeping fit.

The Secretary of State referred to the competing demands on funding—for example, for hospitals or schools. However, when the costings are being drawn up, I hope that she will take into account the effects on health that could result from motivating a generation of youngsters to participate in sport and, we hope, to maintain that participation.

I understand that Arup's presentation to the Select Committee was not entirely convincing, but if there is more confidence in the figures, we ought to support the bid. As the Cabinet will discuss the matter on 30 January, we have written to all its members asking them to back London's bid; we want them to be lions rather than chickens. As Members will have noticed from my tie, the lion is part of the British Olympic Association logo. The Government must trust our capital city and the entrepreneurial skills and drive that exist there and throughout the country—the can-do culture—to deliver on this important project.

There are as many reasons for opposing the bid as there are for supporting it, as the Secretary of State outlined so even-handedly. There is the problem of overrun that we have experienced in many sporting projects. Surely, however, the Government and the private sector have learned their lesson and we can complete projects on time and to cost.

There is a risk that we might lose money if the bid is not successful. One cannot really deny that. However, the Government push local authorities to bid for specific grants or pots of money. If they are encouraging local authorities to do that, should they not do the same?

When the Minister for Sport sums up, I hope that he will confirm that the overriding reason for the Government refusing to back the bid is not their concern that the Mayor and the Government cannot work together. That would be a great pity. If that is one of the Government's reasons they will, in effect, have been hoist by their own petard. They were scared to give the Mayor a full range of powers, so they have been left in a situation where neither party has sufficient power to push the matter through. I hope that the Minister will confirm that that will not stop the bid going through.

What is needed from the Government? First, we need the Government to state their full support for the bid. We have heard a series of very mixed messages. Obviously, the media will spin what Ministers have said to a certain extent, but today's Evening Standard quotes the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as pouring cold water on the campaign to stage the Olympics". She is also quoted as saying that Ministers had not yet made up their minds. Yesterday, The Times said that the Secretary of State was going to argue that there was a very strong sporting case for hosting the Olympics. Such messages do not give us a clear picture as to where the Government stand on this important issue, and her remarks have not clarified matters further. When the Minister sums up, perhaps he will make the Government's position a little clearer.

We need a clear statement from the Government on what they expect the costs to be. Arup has said that the Treasury might have to contribute about £500 million, but the Government suggest that £2.5 billion of public subsidy might be required. We need to know how they arrived at that figure. What does it include and how much is for projects such as transport that are necessary but that have been brought forward? How much could be described as "wasted"? If the research commissioned shows that the bid has a significant chance of success and that the games will make a small surplus, as Arup have suggested, or will require a costed and controlled financial contribution from the Government, I hope that the Minister will be able to guarantee that the Government will come out in favour of the bid.

As a country, we are capable of sending, at just weeks' notice, an armada to the other side of the world. Our scientists are working with other European scientists to land a space probe on a comet—in 2012, as it happens. A rocket will have to be launched in the next couple of weeks and a probe will loop round Mars and twice round the earth before it slingshots to make contact with the comet in 2012. However, it seems that the Government's prevarication and poverty of ambition are such that we could, as a country, be deprived of the opportunity to bid for and host the world's greatest sporting event.

5.33 pm
Alan Keen (Feltham and Heston)

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), I am a member of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. I will not prejudge the issue; I will listen to the evidence tomorrow and to this debate. However, I am also chair of the all-party football group, one of the vice-chairs of the all-party sports group and joint secretary of the Lords and Commons cricket team, so I should at least express an opinion. It will not be surprising if I say that I support the bid. [Interruption.] Attack is usually the best form of defence, and I shall leave it to my hon. Friends to determine when I find time to enjoy myself.

The Olympics have a special value for me. I may not look it but, in 1948, I was old enough to be taken by my father, who was a racing cyclist, to Herne Hill to see the sprinting. We had the disappointment of seeing Reg Harris being beaten by the Italians in that event and in the tandem sprint. I also have a special memory of Windsor great park. Among the only 12 words in French that I remember are, "Allez, allez, allez".

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

Only nine left then.

Alan Keen

I obviously know another nine words. The hair still stands on the back of my neck when I picture the scene. One of the French team had blown a tyre and his whole team stopped while he changed it. When he got back on his bike, the call was, "Allez, allez, allez". I can remember being greatly inspired by the Olympics when I was a kid. They were drab days, of course, in 1948, after the war, and the Olympics made a big difference to everyone. I can remember the atmosphere in London and being taken to Harrods to see the special display that was then in that shop. Those games were an inspiration to many people.

If we bid for the Olympics in 2012 and our bid is successful—I expect that it would be—the games would also inspire many young people and show those in my constituency and the four London boroughs that would be the main hosts of the 2012 games that the world is multicultural and that the fact that they exist in a multicultural community is just as things should be.

The world may not be so drab now, but it is pretty drab for those who live in housing that is not of an acceptable standard and whose jobs are not as good as they would want them to be. The Olympic games can make a big difference to people. They can teach young people that it is well worth living healthily. The Olympics inspired me to work hard and keep free of crime—at least until I was elected to the House in 1992, anyway. Let us hope that the games will have that effect on many young people, especially those in east London. We want people to aspire not only to be world champions, but to look outside their own lives and realise what they can achieve if they set their minds to it.

I want to give one or two examples to illustrate what sport can do. Again, I very well remember the 1966 World cup, when Middlesbrough, which I still regard as my home town, hosted the North Korean side that played three first-group games and knocked out the favourites, the Italians, in the first round, probably helping England to win the 1966 World cup. Hon. Members should bear in mind the fact that that was only a few years after the Korean war, yet the people of Teesside took the North Koreans to their hearts and supported them. Thousands travelled to Liverpool to watch the North Koreans play at Everton's ground in the quarter-finals.

That friendship still exists today. The North Koreans from that original team came over here, and Mr. Speaker entertained them in his apartments. We took them to Middlesbrough, and there was a special dinner for them. The man who scored the goal against Italy was led out on to the pitch at Riverside and allowed to put the ball into the back of the net, as he did way back in 1966. Sport can cement friendships. On the day the North Koreans arrived here, we heard the first announcement that North Korea was not going to get rid of its nuclear weapons programme, but friendship through sport can overcome many difficulties.

It is worth talking very briefly about the Manchester experience. We members of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport were lucky enough to attend the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games, and I attended the first day of athletics the following day. I stayed in one of the hotels at the airport and travelled on public transport and then on the special buses out to the stadium. The Manchester people were absolutely thrilled and proud of their city on that day. The athletics were good and the opening ceremony was brilliant, but what I remember was that the hair on the back of my neck stood up—sport often causes that—as I listened to the conversations on the train and on the buses. People were really inspired; they were proud of their city.

More than anything else, what came out of the Manchester experience for me was the fact that those on the volunteer scheme—I met a lot of the volunteers, and they had given up work to do the job or had already retired—were so proud to be part of something. Many of them realised that they were able to give something, probably at a time in their lives when they thought that they were past it. Again, we should build on that example.

I do not want to digress too much from sport, but we are all concerned about the future of the nation's health and social care system. As fewer people work and more are retired, how will we look after people? A controlled, co-ordinated and supported voluntary system will probably help to get us through the next half a century, when public services cannot get the funding that is needed because the working population is getting smaller and smaller. Apparently, 50,000 people have already volunteered for the Greek Olympics, and what we learn from such volunteer schemes can be applied outside the sporting world.

We are 10 years away from the 2012 Olympics, and if we set our minds to it, we can win this bid. I put out a call to those who are much higher up in politics than me: if we put our minds to it, we can use the Olympics as an example, and if we really work at it, the only conflict in the world in 2012 could be the competition at the Olympic games in London.

Before I finish speaking, I want to thank those who have already worked hard, such as the BOA and others, to advance the case for London. I hope that we make the bid, and that we are successful, because I believe that much more will come from that outside the world of sport.

5.41 pm
Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South)

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the Government are having this debate, which all of us in London appreciate. The bad news is the downbeat assessment by the Secretary of State of the outcome of the Government's deliberations. She made a realistic assessment, but it left many questions open. Given that only two weeks remain before the Government must make a decision, I cannot help feeling that they must already have answered some of the questions, and the bid is getting the thumbs down. I hope that the outcome of the debate will be to give the Government confidence to support the bid.

First, I support the bid because it is no less than the catalyst for the regeneration of London. Secondly, I have pride in my city, and I believe that the Olympics will leave a legacy of which London will be proud not only for decades, but, possibly, for centuries. The three most important factors in making an Olympic bid are confidence, confidence and confidence. I see confidence in the British Olympic Association, confidence in the other place, confidence in every business group in London, and confidence in British Airways, which is supporting the proposals. The London boroughs have confidence, as has the London Development Agency.

There is hesitation, however, on the part of two of the three major stakeholders: the mayor and, sadly, the Government. The Greater London Assembly has confidence, but today's debate has not really focused on the key role that the Mayor of London will play in the whole process. He is a central figure in the process: he has published a press release saying that he is in favour of the bid, although his support is fairly lukewarm, if he does not mind me saying so. He answers a few questions but then returns to arguing with the Government about the underground.

The question is whether the Mayor of London will offer the leadership that the bid deserves. If London ever needs a champion, he is the guy to be the champion, and this is the moment to do it. He should organise the shadow London organising committee. Where is the shadow Olympic development agency? He should be arguing the case and banging the drum. The difficulty—this is a serious point—is that his communications with the Government are not perfect at the moment so it is difficult to have a dialogue with them over something so central, in which he is a key player and in which he must lead the bid.

The Government are the second hesitating stakeholder, seemingly for two reasons: first, cost; and secondly, they had their fingers burned over the Wembley stadium and the dome. The Government should learn the lessons from Wembley. They saw where they went wrong, and now they can get it right. The lesson of the dome is even clearer—the problem was that they did not know what they were going to put in it, and they did not know what they were going to do with the dome afterwards.

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn)

It was your project, not ours.

Richard Ottaway

And we would have made a better job of it. What did the Government expect, leaving it to the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) to decide what went in it? It is crystal clear what the dome is for. All the infrastructure will produce a legacy that lasts for a substantial time.

Those of us who have not had a chance to consider the detailed Ove Arup report because it has not been published are slightly in the dark, but it is possible to get a feel for its approach. It says that the cost of hosting the Olympics will be £1.8 billion and explains that although the cost in Sydney was £2.2 billion, the revenue was more than double that, at £5.5 billion. Other cities will also benefit from events such as football and sailing. We should remember that the cost will be spread over nine years. The difficulty is trying to do a cost benefit analysis of civic pride.

There are a couple of things on which the Government have to show confidence and leadership. I agree that that must come from the very top, from the Cabinet and lower levels of the Govt. The conservative estimates of Arup were that the games would break even. If they are well planned, well marketed and well run on a world-class basis, and not in a half-hearted way, they can be profitable.

The role of the private sector will be important. The dome and the Excel exhibition centre are in place. We will, of course, need a new stadium. Frankly, it will have to be built by the private sector and, as the Secretary of State said, it must have an anchor tenant. Perhaps the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) can tell us whether West Ham football club might be interested in taking it on.

Mr. Banks

I am a Chelsea supporter.

Richard Ottaway

I know where the hon. Gentleman spends his Saturdays; I also where his votes come from.

An anchor tenant of that nature is important and the Olympic village will become low-cost social housing afterwards.

The Secretary of State's second test is deliverability: can we do it? The answer is yes, of course we can. Much of the transport infrastructure is already in place. The Jubilee line goes right up to the lower Lea valley. Whether it needs another station or platform remains to be seen, but it has the capacity of taking 400,000 passengers a day. We have the docklands light railway and the Stratford channel tunnel rail link. If the Minister wishes to revisit Conservative Government decisions, perhaps he will agree that locating the terminal in Stratford was a visionary decision. We may also have Crossrail. The games could take place without it, but if that can be completed, so much the better.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) asked whether the transport infrastructure could cope. In the morning rush hour, between 7 and 10 o'clock, 1.1 million people come into London on public transport. If we contrast that with the estimate of 500,000 people a day moving around during the Olympic fortnight and a peak movement in the morning of 150,000, it is clear that the existing infrastructure can cope providing it is running efficiently. On any Saturday afternoon, the grounds of Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Millwall and Twickenham turn out at a quarter to five. The infrastructure in those areas copes with hundreds of thousands of passengers and we can cope with the extra people who come to the city because of the games. We can deliver. We have the hotels and airports and can build the necessary infrastructure.

So let us consider the legacy. Manchester is a good example because it has been left with decent stadiums and facilities from which it can benefit. It can rightly be proud of those. The games will give a tremendous boost to the sporting culture. London has many world-class facilities and it can become the sporting capital of Europe. There will also be economic benefits for the constituency of the hon. Member for West Ham. That area has some of the highest unemployment in London, so it is a great place to locate such an economic development. The benefits are obvious; for me, the whole question is a no-brainer.

We come to the final test, which is winnability. Can we win? Can we see off Paris? It is down to us. If we are confident, if we have the leadership and if we go ahead, we will win. If we are half-hearted, unsure and hesitant, we will not. This is a unique opportunity. By 2012, it will be 60 years since we last had the Olympic games in London. To delay would be an absolute disaster. I understand that our next opportunity would be 2024, and by then the land in the east end of London will almost certainly be developed and unavailable. This is a golden opportunity. Let us face it—if the capital city of the world's fourth largest economy cannot stage this bid, it does not say much, does it?

5.50 pm
Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham)

I thank the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) for the nice things that he said about my constituency. We are grateful for his support, and he is always welcome to come and have a curry with me in the East India Tandoori. There are plenty of curry houses and they serve good dinners.

Obviously, I have to declare an interest, although it seems that most Members have declared it for me. Most of the proposed Olympic site is in east London; 50 per cent. of it is in Newham, and a substantial amount of that is in my constituency. Naturally, but not for that reason alone, I support the bid. I fully believe that there will be long-term economic and sporting benefits not only for London but for the country as a whole. Having said that, and knowing how much my area will benefit, we should bid for the games only after the most rigorous, dispassionate and objective assessment of the costs and benefits leads to that conclusion.

If we are to proceed, it is essential, as hon. Members on both sides of the House have emphasised, that the Government demonstrate their total commitment, both financially and politically, to the bid. Without that there can be no success and it would be folly to contemplate bidding. We also need to be aware of two inescapable basic facts. First, the organisers and supporters of major sporting bids invariably overestimate the revenues and benefits and underestimate the costs and difficulties. That seems to be almost an immutable rule.

Secondly, bids are usually launched amid intense media and public enthusiasm, but as soon as the first problems are encountered, the supporters who have been cheering from the sidelines largely disappear or become prophets of doom. They cross their arms and say, "I told you we should never have gone for it in the first place." We must be wary of listening to siren voices, whether they are those of Opposition Members, the Evening Standard or The Daily Telegraph. We must say, "If you're going to support the bid, you must continue to support it when the problems emerge."

Problems will emerge, because every bidding city has run into problems. Athens, Sydney and Barcelona ran into problems, and we will run into problems. Will we be able to count on those who have been huzzaing from the sidelines? Frankly, I think not. It seems to be one of the harsh rules of politics that if it all goes well, someone else takes the credit, but if it goes badly, the Government take all the blame, so it is little wonder that Ministers are treading very carefully. They are on a hiding to nothing. In the end, all the rhetoric in this Chamber is no substitute for a critical examination of the facts. If we go for the bid, everyone has to sign up, preferably in blood, and that includes the media, who are so negative when things go a bit awry.

Turning to the costs, my instincts and bitter experience tell me that Ove Arup's projections, both for the bid costs and the capital costs, are a gross underestimate. It is not just public projects that go over budget. A private project such as the channel tunnel went grossly over budget. I have seen costs estimates ranging from £1.8 billion to £5.4 billion. The Government would be wise to take the thick end of that estimate—£5.4 billion—and add a further sum. Then they might come somewhere near the outturn budget. Any optimistic estimate of costs at this stage, which there always are, should be ignored. If they get it wrong by overestimating the costs, they are quids in. If they get it wrong by underestimating the costs, all the problems will come their way. We should examine the matter closely and assume that all the costs that we have been told so far are an underestimate.

When I went with the Secretary of State on an inspection tour of the east end sites, I pointed out to her that the regeneration of most of those sites and the investment in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham will take place eventually, because it is such an obvious area for development, if one looks at the map of London as a whole. Clearly, the impetus of the Olympic games coming to London will make that development happen so much faster, providing, as I said at the outset, that the Government are fully signed up to the bid.

Crossrail has been mentioned, and it is a good case in point. London and the south-east desperately need Crossrail. That has nothing to do with the Olympic games at all. We have needed Crossrail for decades. We should have had Crossrail before we had the Jubilee line extension. It has been one of the facts of transport life in London for ages. Crossrail is essential to the success of an Olympic bid. I know that the Government support Crossrail and will be providing the money for it, so it seems sensible to bring that money forward and add it into the bid costs. We need Crossrail, whether or not we get the Olympics.

I shall deal with some of the other aspects. The after-use of an Olympic village in the east end of London is obvious. It will provide a large concentration of affordable, decent, new housing in an area that desperately needs it. We can see the benefits coming through immediately. Crossrail and other transport improvements will be good not just for the Olympic bid, but for the whole of the south-east region. The village will provide us with decent, affordable houses. We begin to see how a bid stacks up in terms of its long-term economic benefits.

There is a different problem arising from the after-use of the Olympic stadium. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have discussed the matter. An 80,000-seater Olympic stadium is far too big for athletics. Even if it were scaled down to 20,000, it would still be too big. Clearly, as the hon. Member for Croydon, South suggested a moment ago, the Government need to look for a football club to take it over. West Ham is a possibility, and so is Tottenham. I might add, having read the Evening Standard tonight, that with Craven Cottage being sold off by al-Fayed—there's a surprise, I might add—perhaps Fulham might be a candidate. Knowing football fans as well as I do, I recognise that it is a lot easier to make those suggestions than to bring them to fruition. It is a problem that we need to consider.

The boroughs in the east end will be worried about inheriting sites and facilities that no one wants to use or which are under-utilised. It is not just the capital costs that matter at that point, but the revenue costs. We cannot afford another dome in the east end of London. The dome came in on budget, but we did not have any set idea of what the after-use would be. When I was a Minister, I went to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) when he was the dome Minister of blessed memory and told him that that would be an ideal site for the Olympic games. Unfortunately, he did not see any sense in that, and we still have a very empty dome.

In summary, a successful Olympics are a wonderful showcase for a city and a country and could provide long-term economic benefit, particularly in terms of transport, jobs and regeneration. We should go for the bid. It is important for London and its status, but as I have said time and again, it has to be done on the basis of a cold, calculated and even cynical view of the costs and benefits. It is easy to hear people in a pub on the Romford road, where I am, say that we should go for the Olympic games, but whatever public opinion says now, when the problems come in, we can sometimes find that the people who were cheering us on have all disappeared. That is the bitter experience of the past. That point is not downbeat, but realistic. Unless we are realistic, we will find ourselves running into difficulties.

Finally, will the Secretary of State bear in mind the Olympic truce? Anyone who re-reads the founding principles of the 1894 congress will see how the political, cultural and economic objectives of the Olympic games were stated and how many of them have now been lost. I hope that she will consider that point.

6 pm

Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham)

We have just listened to a most fascinating contrast in styles. When we read Hansard tomorrow, we will see that the message from the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) is pretty similar to that of the Secretary of State. However, we got a "can do" message from the hon. Gentleman, while from the Secretary of State, we got not just a "can't do", but a "won't do" message. That is very sad, as having an Olympic games in London is the most exciting and thrilling prospect that we have to look forward to. I hope very much that the message from this debate and all the work that the Secretary of State says that she has set in train will change her attitude to a "can do" one and move it away from the negative and very low-key response that we got this afternoon.

I should like to point out to everybody who has mentioned Crossrail, which is a key part of any Olympic bid, that contrary to what the hon. Member for West Ham said, I understand that London Regional Metro has just formulated a proposition that it is putting to the Government in which the private sector would build and run the project without any cost to the Government and in time for the Olympics. I hope very much that the Secretary of State for Transport will hear the message from London Regional Metro that it can deliver Crossrail on time and at no cost to the public purse.

The reason I wanted to contribute today was not to put in a second bid for the site of the Olympics, as there is clear agreement that it should be in the east end of London, but to raise the constituency issue of the future of Crystal palace. The Secretary of State will know Crystal Palace well, as it is next door to her constituency, although it lies wholly in mine. It has been the national athletics centre and is still very well used as an athletics centre. I am sure that Ministers will know that the lease that Sport England has on Crystal Palace is due to come to an end, and that it had a full repairing lease. There are £20 million worth of dilapidations to the centre to be made good when Sport England gives up the lease, as I understand that it plans to do. There have been negotiations about a very exciting and innovative renovation, working with Bromley council, and a situation in which minimum dilapidation costs are paid and the whole thing reverts to Bromley.

I do not want to go into the ins and outs of the situation, which are far too tortuous. Indeed, I am conscious that a lot of hon. Members want to speak and I do not want to take too long on this point, but until a stadium is built in the east end, there will be no athletics venue in London for grand prix events other than Crystal Palace. Once a stadium is built in the east end, it is possible that it may continue as an athletics stadium after the Olympic games, but it sounds more likely that a football ground will be used. So London would be left yet again without a venue for grand prix athletic events.

There is a real need for the Government to make absolutely clear to Sport England what they see as the future of Crystal Palace, so that London is not faced with an interim situation in which there could be no grand prix athletics events at all between the end of this lease and the Olympics events and beyond. That is the crucial matter that the Government have to clarify, because I am sure that, without that pressure from the Government, Sport England will dither and duck and dive so that we may be left with no athletics for London held in London and no grand prix events.

I very much hope that the right hon. Lady and the Minister for Sport will take on board this constituency point, which, while it directly affects me and everybody in Bromley, is also key to the future of athletics provisions in London. It is also key to attracting the elite athletes, a group whom, with their investment in sport, they are trying to develop not just in London but throughout the rest of the country. If there is no venue, it will be a very sad day for athletics in London.

6.6 pm

Mr. Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley)

I should like to make it clear that I believe that at some time in the future it would be right for this country to host the Olympic games. In many ways, I regret the advice that I shall give to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, which is not to support the British Olympic Association in its bid for the 2012 Olympics. I regret it not least because I formed many friendships with members of the BOA when they supported the previous two British bids for the Olympic games, in 1996 and 2000.

There are three prime reasons—one could have a longer debate and go into many more—why the Government should not, in the next two and a half weeks, rush into a bid for the 2012 Olympics. The first reason, which annoys me the most, although it is probably not the most important issue, is that every other time this country has decided to bid to host the Commonwealth games or the Olympic games there has been a national competition in which any city in the country that wanted to bid to host them could put its case forward and it would be considered by the Commonwealth Games Council for England or the British Olympic Association. On this occasion the British Olympic Association has decided that it can only be London. I find that completely unsatisfactory.

It may well be that, in competition and under examination, it turns out that London is the best bid. I doubt it, because over the past 18 years or so London has bid three times, twice to host the Olympic games and once to host the Commonwealth games. Each time when the issues that are important to hosting the games—transport, legacy, the local political structures—have been examined, London has been found wanting. I believe that if the British Olympic Association organised that competition as it has in the past it would look at the political structures in London, which are defunct, look at the relationship between the Mayor of London and the Government, which are not good, and have second thoughts. It would examine the transport structure in London and find that it would be very difficult to host the Olympic games within London.

Mr. Banks

I would ask my hon. Friend to clarify the point about London having bid before. We had the Olympic games in 1908 and 1948, but I do not remember our being a bidding city. We might have been interested in becoming a bidding city, but it was at a time when we had no one to represent London at local government level, because the Conservative party had abolished the Greater London Council.

Mr. Stringer

I am sorry if I was not clear. London tried to be the bid city for both the 1992 and 2000 Olympic games, as well as the 2002 Commonwealth games. When its case was examined by the appropriate bodies, it was found wanting. Such an examination should have been undertaken on this occasion, not least to assure the Government and everybody else of the viability of the bid.

Tom Brake

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the BOA did not receive advice that, from an international perspective, only London would have competitive status, or that that advice was wrong?

Mr. Stringer

I was going to come to the reason why the BOA made that decision after receiving advice on an IOC survey. Before I answer the hon. Gentleman, I advise my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench not to take seriously anything said by the Liberal Democrats in support of an Olympics bid, as they opposed holding the Commonwealth games in Manchester, even though they supported such a proposal in the Chamber. That is exactly the kind of problem to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) referred.

On the specific point made by the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), the IOC conducted a survey in 1994 after the failure of a previous bid. IOC members, some of whom have since been sacked for corruption, found people who were willing to say that only London should be considered. Over the years, I have talked to IOC members, and a body of them holds that view. There is also a body holding the opposite view—six of the last eight cities chosen to host the Olympic games have not been capitals. The most important power of IOC members is their power to choose a bidding city, and they do not tell the absolute truth when asked which city they will support. The voting population is 100 or so, but when we talk to bidding cities we find that their votes add up to about 500.

The Government are mainly interested in the issue of whether London and Britain can win the bid. I do not believe that they can, partly for the reasons that I have already given. It was a mistake not to hold a competition for other parts of the country to bid, and it is now difficult to get them to back an Olympics bid. I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham—if we spend the public money envisaged by the Government, that sum is almost guaranteed to double. At a time when the health service, the transport system and the criminal justice system are not perfect, within six months of a bid many people will say that the money spent on it and the facilities required should have been spent on health. One of the enormous strengths of the Manchester bid was the fact that, until the very last minute, when the Government put in £30 million and Manchester city council put in £30 million, we did not use ratepayers' or council tax payers' money—that advantage will be absent from a London bid.

It has been assumed in our debate that the successful bid will come from a European city. Toronto and New York made increased television rights part of their case, so it is highly likely that many IOC members will be seduced by the prospect of having more money. Atlanta, not the most attractive city in the world, managed to win the 1996 bid basically because of the television rights it offered. The value of such rights is always higher when the Olympics are held in US time zones.

There has never been a time when British sport has had a weaker position in international sport's corridors of power. A small number of people make and have influence over decisions. We have two members of the IOC but, as far as I know, we do not have a single officer in international sporting federations for any of the recognised sports in the summer games, which puts us in a weak position, particularly when combined with the legacy of bad feeling after Picketts Lock and the bid for the world athletics championship. On that occasion, we promised to do something, but failed to do it, and that is remembered.

It is also remembered that, apart from at the Commonwealth games, we have not performed at that level for many years. We have been going backwards. It is false logic to say that because we organised the Commonwealth games in Manchester very well, we can also organise the Olympic games well in London. That logic does not follow when we look at the different projects that have taken place in London: the Wembley fiasco, Picketts Lock and the dome, for example. Those projects were not supported nationally, and they have given us a bad reputation internationally, in the case of two of them, and nationally in the case of all three. There is a long discussion to be had about whether we could win the vote. I do not believe that we can, at our current strength in international sport and with our recent legacy.

I realise that my final point will not be popular with hon. Members from London. If London represents the best bid, which has not been proved, we also have to ask ourselves whether the bid is a national priority. The Minister for Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), regularly tells us about regional disparities, and about the fact that London is, with the possible exception of Luxembourg, the richest region in Europe, while every other English region performs below the European average. If we are going to put investment into east London over and above the investment that would naturally occur, when more public money per head already goes into London than anywhere else, will that make regional disparities greater or will it lessen them? Frankly, I do not believe that spending what may well be £10 billion in London is a national priority when we have those regional disparities. If London is the answer to that level of investment, it is a very strange question.

6.17 pm
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster)

I must confess that I instinctively support the enthusiasm shown in the positive comments about sport made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway). I am a keen sports fan and, without going too far down memory lane—I could not go as far as the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Alan Keen)—I, too, recall the first time that I came to London to watch a sporting event. It was the Ashes test match at Lords in 1972, and it has left me with a very positive approach towards sport over the past 30 years. I am sure that that experience is replicated by millions of schoolboys and schoolgirls.

I share some of the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks). We must take a hard-nosed view of this issue and I know that he, too, is a keen sports fan. One might ask how any London Member of Parliament could possibly oppose these plans, but we have to ask whether this is a realistic proposition, or whether there is a great danger that, in spending the £13 million to £30 million that it would cost simply to put a bid together, we might be throwing good money after bad.

We have seen the story of the London Olympics bid in recent weeks, and, as ever in recent London governance, it has been a shameful mix of Mayor Livingstone's grandstanding and central Government's dissembling over their financial obligations—to the capital, at least. Of course, the Mayor desperately needs a PR win. He has an election of his own to run within the next 18 months, and there has been an apparent lack of delivery in the two and a half years he has held office. Transport is in a desperate state, and my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) rightly pointed out that Crossrail is key to what we are trying to achieve in London. Above all, the Mayor sees this as a way of distracting attention from his own failures with a prestige bid, but we should not be fooled. This is opportunism masquerading as vision. Rather like King Midas in reverse, anything that Mayor Livingstone has touched has tended to turn to dust.

I know that we have all tried to have a positive outlook in this debate but, without being over-critical, I believe that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has lived up to its reputation as one of the most monumentally useless Departments of Government. Its lack of clout means that the Treasury's view prevails too often. An Olympics bid would detract from other sporting priorities. I was sorry that the Secretary of State put the dampers on by saying that schools, hospitals and transport could suffer. I should like to believe that that would not happen. However, other sporting priorities throughout the United Kingdom would inevitably suffer if we won the bid.

Many hon. Friends drew attention to the great worry that the Treasury appears to have changed the financial goalposts several times in recent weeks. The initial report suggested a subsidy of approximately £495 million. Even on the Secretary of State's figures, that sum has increased to £2.5 billion, possibly rising.

After the Wembley fiasco and, perhaps more important, the Picketts Lock debacle, when financial squabbling resulted in our being forced to give up the 2005 world athletics championships, we must ask whether there is a realistic chance of winning a 2012 Olympics bid in the next two years. We cannot assume that the International Olympic Committee has suffered collective amnesia.

I am worried that the Government want to get out of a hole and are keen to find a pretext, as the Secretary of State showed today. We must wait and see what happens in the Cabinet discussions in a fortnight. The Government would ideally like to find a financial or, at worst, logistical reason to walk away from the bid. Perhaps the decision will depend on the "win-ability test", whatever that means. The Secretary of State did not make that any clearer during her comments.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)

Is the hon. Gentleman personally in favour of bidding for the Olympics? Is he expressing unequivocal support for Conservative Front-Bench Members' positive view of a bid?

Bob Russell

The Secretary of State refused to say whether the Government supported the bid.

Mr. Field

It is a rare occasion on which I take advice from the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell), but he is right. I have spoken for five minutes; the Secretary of State's speech was six times as long, yet we did not get an answer to the question that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Kevin Brennan) asked.

I personally support making a bid, and I should like the Olympics to take place in London. However, I am worried about "win-ability" or other tests. If we have no viable, realistic chance of winning, there is little point in making the bid. We need leadership, support and vision, unfortunately not from the Conservative party but from the Secretary of State.

Mr. Reed

I agree with many of the hon. Gentleman's points, but the matter comes down to a crucial question, which the Secretary of State and the hon. Gentleman should answer. At what level does the cost become unacceptable—£2 billion or perhaps £5 billion? I support the bid, but there must be a cut-off point at which it becomes too expensive; the Government cannot write a blank cheque. Has the hon. Gentleman any views on what that figure should be?

Mr. Field

That is a fair point. As the hon. Gentleman knows, my constituency contains this country's economic powerhouse. The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Stringer) pointed out that even in depressed economic times, London tends to provide a net output of £15 billion to £20 billion. That contribution alone probably means that we should run with the bid if there is a realistic chance of success.

Clearly, the tourism benefits could be huge. A conservative estimate is £750 million. The benefits for my constituency, which contains the west end and its hotel trade, would be enhanced not only during the Olympics but before and after the games.

However, it would be best for the Government either to commit themselves wholeheartedly to a bid for 2012 or to take the longer-term view of making a bid sometime in the future. Much depends on who wins the 2012 Olympics. If the winner is a non-European country, London would be in the running for 2016. Above all, I hope that Ministers, not only in the Department but throughout the Government, and especially in the Treasury, commit themselves to spending the next four years in the run-up to any formal bidding procedure improving London's infrastructure, especially its transport. Only then can Londoners be confident that our city is worthy of being home to the global showcase that we are considering.

6.24 pm
Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

I wonder why we spent five years on Wembley, which we were told would be both a football and an athletics stadium, given that we may now have a new stadium in the east end of London. I find that extraordinary.

This morning, Sir Steven Redgrave said something to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that struck me. He said that if London does host the games, many cities and towns in Britain will be partners in that project. We could put the Japanese team in Sunderland, which built the Japanese imperial navy and is now home to Nissan. As a result, five or six years of cultural and artistic activity could be established in Sunderland. Peter the Great came to Chatham, which is near my constituency, to discover how to build a modern navy, so we could create Russian events there. The whole of Britain could be partner to a London bid that is in fact a British bid.

Sir Steven also pointed out that the British Olympic Association spent £1 million on building a brilliant rowing centre on the gold coast to win more gold medals than we have ever won before. Look what that did for Brisbane, even though the games were actually held in Sydney. The games would have a regenerative impact on the whole of Britain, because the overseas Olympic associations—of which there are more than 150—will ask us to build first-class facilities, not all of which could be sited in London. We should therefore bear it in mind that this is not just a London bid.

I am not sure why we need a stadium that can hold 80,000 people. Can the Minister confirm whether that figure relates just to the opening and closing ceremonies? As I said this morning, on 31 December 1999, 300,000 people were in The Mall, and some 3 million people were in London, to celebrate the millennium in the most spectacular way. We could bring a new buzz to the Olympic movement by changing the way in which the opening and closing ceremonies are conducted. We could celebrate the ceremonies by holding them among our people. I see no reason why we cannot twin with every city that has hosted the Olympics, and have an opening ceremony for them as well. We have the most amazing technology, so we can do all that. We could bring a different pizzazz and feel to an Olympic bid.

If we do not need a stadium that can hold 80,000 people, perhaps it would be better to build a smaller one. That would give West Ham United the chance to move, or enable athletics to make such a stadium its home. I should like confirmation of the 80,000 figure.

Wherever the games might be held, I wonder whether we might nick a few names to make the bid sexier. Instead of saying that it will be held in the east end of London, we could say that it will be held in "the royal city" or "the Olympic city". Perhaps we just need to brand the bid differently. At the moment, what we are saying is rather boring, and the bid needs to rise in our estimation. Have we considered putting an ambassador for sport in our Swiss embassy? FIFA and the IOC, the bodies responsible for the major sporting events, are based in Switzerland, and we need to be at that table. We no longer have political clout on the world's sporting bodies, and we need to get it back. I repeat that we should consider putting an ambassador specifically for sport in our embassy in Berne.

On the question of the best site, I take a deep breath and suggest that there is perhaps an alternative site. If the Government tick the idea that we should bid, I hope that they will allow an alternative bid from north Kent. [Interruption.] Hold on—hear me out. I have talked to Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, the leader of Kent county council. Three weeks ago, the Audit Commission gave Kent county council premier league status. Kent should be allowed to open discussions with the Government, because if its bid were accepted, there would be a single owner, rather than having to involve the Greater London Authority and four boroughs as co-hosts. We must consider organisation. The recent Commonwealth games worked because Manchester city council owned them. If the GLA is not prepared to own the Olympic games, they will not work. I want us to take a deep breath and allow Kent to make an alternative bid.

Mrs. Lait

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wyatt

No, I will not give way.

In the next couple of weeks, an education paper will be published. Many of the university colleges in London are in a mess, and many do not have student accommodation. The need to provide accommodation in the event of a successful Olympic bid gives us the opportunity to give Imperial college, University college, or Queen Mary college a new campus site. After the games, students could use that accommodation. We would need to find a working campus after the games, and the greatest legacy that we could provide would be to give Imperial college university status, and the chance to be as good as the great Massachusetts institute of technology.

We cannot do these things in two weeks. We cannot bully the Government into saying on 31 January, "Okay, we are going to bid." We need to look rationally at the alternatives and the costs of the investment.

How do we cost the bid? I have a couple of ideas. In July 1997, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor created what he called a domesday book. What is in it? I could probably find £1 billion by privatising Channel 4, and another £4 billion by privatising BBC 1. I am sure that the book contains 10 properties worth at least £1 billion.

The Wall street market is up 20 per cent. this week. It is said that if that market rises in the first week of January, it will end the next year another 20 per cent. higher. The City of London is recovering too, so the price of projects from the Chancellor's domesday book would be higher than what could be achieved at present. I should like some of what is listed in the book to be costed.

Who will own the games? As I said, a bid from north Kent would mean that there was only one owner. That should be taken into consideration.

Finally, the Select Committee noted in its 1999 report on international events that such events require a Minister of Cabinet rank. That is most important: we used to have half a Minister acting in that role with the present Minister for Pensions, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), and he did a fantastic job. We need someone else to do the same job.

I want us to bid for the Olympics. I do not think that we have an alternative on 30 or 31 January, but we must be careful about rationalising the costs and looking at the opportunities open to us.

6.31 pm
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

Both personally and as deputy chairman of the all-party sports committee, I am totally and unequivocally in favour of a 2012 bid. I was delighted by the passionate speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) and by the support that he received from all the Conservative Members who have spoken. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) said, that contrasted strikingly with the downbeat way in which the Secretary of State read from her brief. She accentuated the negative: if that was her being enthusiastic, I should hate to hear her damn something with faint praise. If she is meant to be a champion of sport, I am fearful of what the Cabinet will do.

I want to accentuate the positive in my speech. Hon. Members of all parties know of my passion for sport. I was never fortunate enough to be able to compete in an Olympic games, but I was lucky enough to do quite a lot of competitive swimming in my teens, including at international level. My coach was Charlie Wilson, who took the British swimming team to the 1972 Olympics and who remained involved in international swimming through 1976. I was lucky enough to host him at this House only a few weeks ago, after his recent recovery from a stroke. He is long past normal retirement age, but still coaches swimmers.

The captain of my swimming club, the Bedford Modernians, was the captain of the British Olympic swimming team at the 1972 games. I have seen what Olympians can do, as have all those in the House and outside it who have worked with them. I have seen the enormously positive effects that sport can have in turning around people's lives. That cannot be measured on a balance sheet. One cannot measure the positives accruing to the Australians from the success of their Olympic games.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) is Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Before that Committee has started taking evidence, he has already told The Daily Telegraph that he opposes a UK bid. It is beyond me to know how he can separate his role as Select Committee Chairman from his personal opinions. It is scandalous that so much doom and gloom should come from leading Labour Members.

The Government have set certain tests. I hate the word "winnability", which is an abuse of the English language, but the Government are right to say that there would have to be a legacy from the games. We must also look at the financing that would be necessary from now on.

The Government say that they do not want to bid unless they can win, and that they cannot fix the result. The Prime Minister is the antithesis of Bob the Builder—with him it is not, "Can we fix it? Yes, we can", but, "Can we fix it? No, I don't think so, so let's not go in for it." The Prime Minister should not approach the matter in that way. He is worried about his place in history, but if the bid were made and won, the games would not be held until long after his time. He is really worried about making an unsuccessful bid in what may well turn out to be an election year.

All Members must be very conscious of the fact that far more people in this country care about sport than about politics. None of us should forget people's passion for sport and the good that it can do in turning the young away from the drugs subculture, encouraging them to keep fit, reducing obesity and saving money for the health service. Such benefits cannot be valued in the Red Book. It is vital that we give proper weight to those factors as well as so-called winnability.

In the few moments I have left now that our speaking time has been reduced, I want to mention extra ways in which funds can be raised. I said in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale that we should think of Olympic successes, starting with Los Angeles, and the amount of additional money that has been put into tourism as a result. The hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said that the costs always go up and the income figures always prove to be inflated, but that is not true: although the costs tend to increase with inflation, estimates of the income generated by recent Olympic events have been too low.

Various commentators have drawn attention to sources of income that have not even been considered in the Government's report. The possibility of re-energising the lottery through money provided by a successful Olympic bid should not be underestimated. The columnist and distinguished former editor, Donald Trelford, has pointed out that, unfortunately, the lottery has lost £1 million a week because of controversial—and, in my view, wrong-headed—decisions that allowed the community fund to provide grants for things that were not worthy of grants. But if we said that the lottery would support a successful British Olympic bid, it could indeed be re-energised.

There is a lot of business support out there. The London bid for 2012 has already received support from the London Business Board, a coalition consisting of CBI London, the London chamber of commerce and industry and London First. Unprecedentedly, those bodies have sent the Prime Minister a joint letter pointing out that the bid represents a "unique opportunity" for London. They say: The Government's wholehearted commitment to the bid is essential. To be successful requires central, London and local government to work together effectively as a team throughout the bidding and implementation stages. Business is keen to play its part. To gain business's full support, we must be wholly engaged in the development process from now on. A DCMS official spokesman has told the press, "We are worried. What the Government is keen to avoid is starting with a low figure and then seeing it rise dramatically so people end up thinking, 'Oh Christ, where is the money coming from?'" Apart from the fact that that is a disgraceful thing for a Government spokesman to say to the press, I think that we can give answers on where the money is coming from. It can come from business and from re-energisation of the lottery.

Let me end with a constituency point. Only one venue would be the same in the 2012 Olympics as it was in 1948. The only place where the Olympic shooting event could happen is Bisley, a range that is partly in my constituency and partly in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins).

It is vital that we take at face value the words of the hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt). An Olympic bid can help the whole country, including my constituency, which would be one of the venues. I unequivocally support the bid; I only wish the Government showed real signs of doing so as well, but I do not think that they do.

6.38 pm
Mr. Gareth Thomas (Harrow, West)

Like the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), I am enthusiastic about the bid, but I think the hon. Gentleman did its prospects no favours with his weasel words attacking my right hon. and hon. Friends for the way in which they have conducted the debate and the discussions in Government. I think they were entirely right to visit countries that have hosted the Olympics in the past and to assess the benefits, and I also think they have been entirely and consistently clear about the criteria they would use to decide whether a bid should go ahead.

Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt), I do not support the case for north Kent or indeed the case for Manchester. I am a passionate supporter of the case for London, which would accelerate the regeneration of east London—so long the poor relation of our capital. It would stimulate new investment in housing, which London and the south-east desperately need. It would also stimulate new investment in transport capacity and sporting facilities, which the Commonwealth games helped deliver for Manchester.

Before the last election, the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport published an excellent report on the decline of swimming in the United Kingdom, highlighting the decline in the number of swimming pools in London. Holding the Olympic games here would help generate investment in grass-roots sporting facilities, which London is crying out for.

Above all, the case for holding the Olympic games in London rests on the prospect of huge benefits to British business, from engineering and construction to tourism and conference industries. It would provide a powerful opportunity to stimulate new pride in London and Britain and to foster a new sense of ambition for many of the communities that would benefit directly from the Olympic games.

I recognise that the case for a London bid is finely poised and that the most obvious argument against it, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, is the cost. There are a number of estimates—will it cost £1.8 billion, £2.5 billion, £4.5 billion or even £5.4 billion, which I saw flagged up in The Sunday Times only this week? The one financial appraisal made, which has been conducted by Arup, estimates that the net cost of holding the Olympic games here would be half a billion pounds. I am not an accountant, and I am not an advocate for Arup. Its figures may be underestimated, but those who criticise the Arup report should publish their assessment of why Arup has it so badly wrong. If Arup is wrong about the costs, it may also be wrong about the benefits of the games. As I said in my intervention on the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), Sydney benefited from £2 billion-worth of in-bound tourism and the net economic impact of the games on Barcelona was some £11 billion.

It is worth stating that Arup did not carry out its analysis in an ivory tower but before a reference group, which included some hard-headed civil servants from the Treasury, no less. Its analysis includes considerable cost overruns in the last three years when most of the construction work would take place. It is also worth highlighting the fact that the highest costs will inevitably be for the infrastructure—the stadiums, the swimming pools and warm-up tracks that will be necessary for the Olympic games to take place. However, those facilities offer a benefit long before and long after the Olympic games take place.

Some people, thinking of Picketts Lock and Wembley, fear that London cannot get its act together and deliver the games. However, London agencies regularly work together to deliver ceremonial and sporting events, and proper facilities for our tourists. To be fair to Manchester, the fact that the games held there were so successful is a powerful reminder that Britain could bid successfully for and deliver the Olympic games.

I agree strongly with the point of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton and of my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. We need a Minister for international events, of Cabinet rank, to organise the bid and work alongside Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Manchester showed, albeit on a smaller scale, that the UK can be appealing.

The worst argument that I have heard against an Olympic bid is the suggestion that London—and, implicitly, Britain—does not need the Olympics. We are, after all, one of the world's great cities already and, unlike Sydney, we do not need to use the games to advertise the benefits of our city, because tourists flood here already. According to this argument, east London needs regeneration but the Olympic games would simply confuse or delay the plans that are already in place. Proud Londoner that I am, I think that such an argument reeks of complacency about our city. In a global culture, where information, money, jobs and business are moving in and out of countries ever more easily, the idea that we should pass up the opportunity to showcase our capital and our country to a massive international audience at their time of maximum receptiveness to the case for London and for the UK seems little short of lunacy. The Government could make no greater statement of intent about the case for regenerating east London than to launch a bid for the Olympic games.

There are people who say, rightly, that we might not win the bid and that New York may stand a better chance, given the emotion generated after 11 September, and the financial case that could be made. Paris, too, may have a better chance than us. The competition will certainly be tough. We may not win but we have a realistic chance of doing so; no less a figure than Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee, has made that clear. We may not start as favourite in the bidding competition but, given the British media's love of building a pedestal for its favourite projects or people and then tearing it down, perhaps that is no bad thing.

We need to be realistic with the people of Stratford, London and the wider UK about the prospects for an Olympic bid. A well planned, albeit unsuccessful, bid could still help to accelerate investment and regeneration in a part of the UK that has been crying out for that for much of the past 30 years. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will succeed in persuading the Cabinet to back the bid.

6.46 pm
Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge)

One of the facts of life on the Opposition Benches is that we always seem to be opposing things. Being negative sometimes gets depressing so it is a great pleasure for me to endorse something enthusiastically. An advantage of being called at this late stage of the debate is that although I am short of time most of what I wanted to say has already been said.

I shall briefly reiterate what the Olympics would mean not only for London but for the country more widely. An important aspect of the bid is that it would give us a deadline for dealing with some of the problems in London—on law and order or transport. We keep talking about all those problems, but nothing seems to happen. If there were a deadline, we could finally sort them out.

The Paralympics were mentioned. All the facilities generated by a successful bid would be replicated for disabled people. They would come to this country from all over the world and that would give us the opportunity to ensure that our facilities in London and elsewhere were up to scratch and were the best in the world. We should flag up the importance of the Paralympics.

I do not want to echo the comments about the Secretary of State sounding downbeat on the radio, because she has been enthusiastically nodding throughout the debate, to show that she really loves the whole concept and will put everything into it. Of course, I do not blame her for sounding downbeat. The trilogy of Picketts Lock, the millennium dome and Wembley is a little depressing and gives the impression that the Department cannot even run a bath.

There are some successes, however: the Millennium stadium in Wales, for example. The bid would be an opportunity for London and for the whole country. Football matches would be held throughout the country—apart, I think, from Northern Ireland because there is not a big enough stadium there.

There will be opportunities for tourism. With our skills in that industry, I am sure that once people arrive in this country for the Olympics we will be able to persuade them to travel throughout the country.

I am most enthusiastic about what the bid will do for our young people. We need to get a culture of sport under way and ensure that it brings fresh impetus to sport in schools and elsewhere.

As we know, the lottery has lost some of its popularity. I like the idea that the bid might bring some excitement back to the lottery and get the nation behind it again. I have pride in my country and in London—my city—but the Olympics would be an advertisement for British business and expertise and for the British people.

I am rather worried by the word "winnability". When athletes go out to compete—whether they are disabled or able-bodied—are they really thinking about winnability? Do they say that they will not enter because they may not win? They go out to try to win because they believe in themselves.

Of course, we must consider the bid carefully, because we cannot rush around spending lots of money. However if we do not go ahead with the bid, that will show an incredible lack of ambition by this country. It would be an opportunity wasted.

6.50 pm
Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)

If being a new Member making a speech were an Olympic event, it would be a sprint. We always speak at the end of the debate and we do not have much time.

I am not a London Member of Parliament; I represent a seat in the capital of Wales. However, I want to make it clear that I am a strong supporter of the bid for London to hold the Olympic games, for a number of reasons. The first is that Britain has not held the Olympic games since 1948. It is about time we did. Secondly, the bid has the potential to bring benefits to London, as many hon. Members have said, and to the whole country. Thirdly, I am pretty sick and tired of the country's growing reputation for not being capable of organising world-class events. We should be able to take on the challenge and to do it with enthusiasm and effectively. We can win the bid.

This country has held world events in recent years. The Commonwealth games are mentioned very frequently, but the rugby world cup has been ignored. It was held in 1999, with the final in Cardiff. The event was spread around the country and to Ireland and France. It was hugely successful and showed that this country can hold world-class events. I am not suggesting that the Olympic games are not much larger than the rugby world cup, but the evidence is that we can host such events if we get our act together. It can be done.

We should, however, be clear about one or two issues. Despite Manchester's laudable ambitions and the bids that it has made in the past, I seriously believe that no Olympic bid from Britain would be successful unless it were a bid from London. Ironically, that is also a weakness. Many Members have pointed to the weaknesses in London, not least the political weaknesses in the lack of cohesion between the Mayor of London and the Government. The failure of Britain to hold the 2005 world championships in London also represents a serious handicap. We must try to overcome it by bidding for events such as the Olympic games.

I believe that the bid for the world championships went wrong mainly because people gave in to the football lobby over Wembley stadium. It will be a huge white elephant unless it finds a tenant, as it will cost £700 million to build. Although I agree with the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) about the Millennium stadium, it is becoming a millennium millstone round the neck of the Welsh Rugby Union and it nearly bankrupted Laing's construction division. Although it cost more, the Welsh Rugby Union paid only £100 million for it, and £46 million of that came from the lottery. However, the debt on the stadium, even with the low interest rates that we have now, is already a millstone round the neck of the Welsh Rugby Union. It is actively considering selling the stadium.

The cost of Wembley stadium and the debt that will be carried on it will be huge. As I have argued all along, a Stade de France option should have been chosen for Wembley, as such a stadium could then have been used to host an Olympic games. If we are building an athletic stadium for the Olympic games in London, it is vital that it will provide a legacy and can be used by a football club afterwards; otherwise an 80,000-capacity athletic stadium will become a huge white elephant. Let us make sure that that point is built into the plans.

Despite that warning and despite what I have said about the Millennium stadium, it has proved a huge success. It is important that we remember the economic regeneration impact and benefit that can be brought to London and to other parts of the country by a London Olympic bid. I hope that rugby—perhaps its seven-a-side version—will be in the Olympics by 2012. Along with other events such as football, rugby could be played around the country. The competing teams will need training facilities around the country and I hope that some of them will base themselves in south Wales and in other parts of the country. However, I want to make it clear that, even if there were no direct economic spin-off to my constituents, as a Member of the UK Parliament I would support a bid for this country to hold an Olympic games.

Several people have been mentioned during the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) mentioned Sir Steven Redgrave in his very clever little name-drop during the debate. Well, I want to drop in a name that many people may not have heard of before. [Interruption.] The Whip is waving at me, but I will finish this point. Before Sir Steven Redgrave, Britain's greatest Olympian was undoubtedly Paul Radmilovic. I see nods of recognition around the Chamber. He was born in Cardiff; won four Olympic gold medals and competed in five Olympic games if the interim games of 1906 are included. He would have competed in two more if Britain had bothered to enter the 1904 games in St. Louis and if it had not been for the first world war. He won three gold medals for water polo and another gold medal in the four by 200 m freestyle relay. We have heard a lot about swimming, and, in the spirit of Paul Radmilovic, I wish to say that he would not shilly-shally about our bidding to hold an Olympic games in Britain. He won two gold medals at the 1908 games in London. Let us have an Olympic games here in 2012.

6.56 pm
Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire)

This has been an excellent debate, although a little curtailed by the time allotted. We welcome the Government's decision to hold this debate on a very important issue, and we look forward eagerly to the Government's decision in a few weeks' time.

I should like to reiterate the key points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) in his excellent speech. Although he pointed out some of the difficulties, he was positive and bullish about an Olympic bid and its likely success. That view is shared by all in the shadow DCMS team. It is still not clear, however, where the Government stand on this issue. Perhaps the Minister can come a little closer in his winding-up speech to mirroring my hon. Friend's enthusiasm.

Several hon. Members commented on the Secretary of State's rather downbeat contribution. That may have been because of her delivery or body language, but I am sure that she will want to give a slightly different impression from that which she gave. Indeed, with so many doubts being raised in her contribution, and with only two and a half weeks before a decision will be taken, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) feared that a negative decision had, in fact, already been made. That view was endorsed by my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait), who bemoaned the impression of a "can't do", rather than a "can do" or, better still, "will do" mentality.

Most hon. Members spoke positively and supportively, none more so that the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas). The negative contributions came from northern Members, such as the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) and the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Stringer), both of whom challenged the costing and the provision of adequate infrastructure and housing.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley went even further and challenged head on the accepted wisdom that London is the only possible location. Although his idea of holding a competition between London and other centres for the privilege of bidding for the 2012 Olympics has some merit, no doubt the Minister will confirm in his winding-up speech the Government's view that London is their only realistic choice on grounds of winnability alone.

There is no question among Conservative Members but that London is indeed the one and only location. We were grateful to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) for his support. He represents a northern constituency, but he recognises that London is indeed the only viable location throughout the United Kingdom.

Other hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), emphasised the fact that the United Kingdom's bid would be not just London-centric, but would involve many other regions and cities in this country. My hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale emphasised the knock-on effect of investment in sporting facilities across the board and throughout the country.

My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South primarily supported London's bid in his contribution, particularly because of the opportunity that it will afford regeneration in the city. However, he referred to the role of the Mayor of London, who appears to have adopted a slightly ambiguous position. He says that he is for the bid, but he seems keener on the parallel improvements to transport and housing infrastructure. Perhaps the Minister will clarify in replying to the debate the significance, as he sees it, of the relationship between the Government and the mayor and whether the current political difficulties represent a hindrance or a benefit.

The Secretary of State referred in her comments on funding for a bid to the potential distortion of other areas of Government spending, and implied that if the choice were between money for schools and hospitals versus an Olympic bid, there would be only one outcome. In addition, she implied that the sporting community may have to adjust its spending priorities to accommodate an Olympic bid. That view was challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale and by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey). Both expressed incredulity that, given the huge importance of the Olympic bid for the nation as a whole, the Government were not prepared to commit their resources fully to the success of that bid. Will the Minister confirm the Government's position on that when he winds up the debate? If the Government decide to back the bid, will they finance that independently of other investment in sport?

Mr. Reed

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Moss

I am afraid that I do not have enough time.

On costings, a number of contributors, including the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), alluded to the underestimates, as they described them, of the Arup report. The question is: why does such a large discrepancy exist between the figures from Ove Arup and those from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport? On the one hand, it is £1.8 billion, while on the other, it is £4.5 billion to £5 billion. It is pertinent to ask the Minister to clarify which model is being used in the calculation, particularly in his Department. Are we comparing like with like in this instance? Why should we give greater credence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's figures, which are worked up by civil servants with little or no experience in analysis of this kind? Given that only a few weeks remain before a decision is taken, it is imperative that we have figures that are universally accepted as accurate.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale said, it is now time for the Government to make up their mind. It seems inconceivable to the Opposition that the Government could turn down this opportunity, given the case made in this debate alone in relation to regeneration in London, the economy as a whole, future tourism, the country's pride in its sporting achievements, the knock-on effects in terms of sport infrastructure and facilities, and the health and wellbeing of the nation as a whole. We want the Government's decision to be yes, and we want the full weight of Government, right up to the steps of No. 10 Downing street, to be thrown behind a bid. We believe that we can win, and if we believe that, we will win.

7.2 pm

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn)

First, I want to thank the 17 Members who have contributed to the debate this afternoon. It has been an excellent debate, and we can infer from the interventions that have been made that a consensus exists to move forward, which will be taken into account by the Cabinet in making the decision.

Some of the comments made in the House this afternoon have been unfortunate, as we are genuinely trying to make sure that the we engage the House properly in the decision-making process on a serious matter that will have an impact for the next decade. If the Cabinet agree to go forward, and our bid is successful, it will concentrate a lot of minds and involve a lot of expense, and I hope that there will be a degree of unity in the House to support that. I genuinely welcome the contribution of the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), who said that he would be very supportive and called for the whole House, the population outside and the media to get behind the bid, if the decision is taken to make it.

That is why I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). It is about time we changed the way we make these major decisions: not by having a fancy dress parade around the country, but by having serious dialogue and discussion. If we had done that in relation to many major projects in the past, some very expensive mistakes, which have been made by Administrations of both parties, would not have been made. When we say that we are strategy driven, not events driven, it is important that we mean it. What has become clear to my right hon. Friend the Secretary and State and me as we have visited many of the cities that have staged the games is that an exit strategy must be in place. Consequently, when the games are finished—they all finish on a high—the infrastructure can be used in a sustainable way for sport or other activities, thereby providing added value. That is what the debate is all about. It will feed into further discussions, as we said in the PIU report, because the Olympic games are the mega-event.

Let me say at the outset that although people have tried to undermine the Department, it has used its power to engage in a partnership. I want to thank the British Olympic Association and the Mayor's office for coming together to fund the first cost-benefit analysis—the Arup report—which has formed the basis of our debate. Indeed, we have gone further than that. We have again engaged the BOA and the Mayor's office to discuss the differences in the figures. They are with their professionals at the moment working out the differences and ensuring that the terms and costs that go to the Cabinet represent a shared view of the tripartite.

I can go further than that and make an offer: the official Opposition spokesmen can see the Arup report and how we evaluated the figures. If we are to move in partnership and bat for UK Ltd., we all have to understand our approach. Unfortunately, one or two hon. Members made glib remarks. We could all do that, but we are trying to act in a partnership, within the terms of the modernisation of the House, so that we act in unison for UK Ltd.

We have held discussions with the IOC and its new president, Jacques Rogge. He is an extremely honourable man and it is clear that he wants to modernise the Olympic movement. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) said, he has returned to its fundamental principles. The president wants to remove the tarnished image of the Olympics. I hope that with our support he will be successful. Part of the modernisation is to make the games manageable so that most countries can run them. What Jacques Rogge is doing is right and I hope that his efforts will yield results by 2005, when the bid is made.

As I cannot address all the issues raised, I shall cover the main points. On the cost, no modern Olympics has taken place without a subsidy by the host country except the Los Angeles games, which came on the back of the Montreal games. The Los Angeles games used existing facilities and little capital. However, they received a heavy subsidy from the IOC, which wanted to ensure that the games after Montreal did not go into bankruptcy and again bring the IOC and the movement into disrepute. So every Olympic games except Los Angeles has received a state subsidy.

We are working through the broad figures with the BOA and the Mayor's office in a constructive way. It is Arup's view that the games will cost £3.6 billion and that the revenue will be £2.5 billion. That leaves a subsidy of £1.1 billion. As a result of the uncertainty over the 10 years, we have revisited the figures in a realistic, not a destructive, way. We have gained experience from the dome, Wembley, Picketts Lock and Manchester. We could also put Silverstone into the pot. Hon. Members who said that the civil servants in my Department do not have the necessary skills should retract that allegation. My civil servants are very skilful in such matters. We have taken their advice and revisited the figures to ensure that the Cabinet is given sound information. Our officials have worked out that the games would need a subsidy of £2.5 billion. We are working through that with the BOA, which challenged the figures to some extent, and I hope that we will agree a position that we can present to the Cabinet.

It is not for the BOA or the Government to decide the size of the stadium. That is a matter for the IOC and it is one thing that Jacques Rogge will investigate. There was some discussion at the last bidding process about whether we needed an 80,000 seater stadium. It is debatable, but we will see what happens. We will bid according to criteria laid down by the IOC.

Those who say that Wembley could be used for the Olympics are not taking into consideration the extent of the games. The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world, and they could not take place at Wembley, even if we wanted them to, simply because the area could not accommodate the athletes. We must remember that these are the finest athletes in the world, so we could not stick them on the tube and tell them to get over to Wembley from accommodation that may be 20 miles away across London.

The aim of the Olympic park is to bring together the facilities so that the best athletes in the world have access to them, with minimum disruption, and can perform at the highest standard. Anyone who thinks that we can build an Olympic village in Wembley is wrong. We have considered that, and I think that it would be extremely difficult even to put a warm-up track around Wembley.

We must consider the size of the Olympics and what it entails. Apart from the number of athletes, there are 20-odd events, perhaps more.

Mr. Banks

More like 30-odd.

Mr. Caborn

That is right. There were 17 events in the Commonwealth games, which was one of the largest Commonwealth games ever run.

I turn now to the questions asked by the hon. Member for Ryedale about the opinion poll. The results of that have been given to the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, so that the Committee can consider them tomorrow. They show that 73 per cent. of respondents are in favour of the games, and that result is for people who were asked about the costs. In fact, about 81 per cent. of people support the bid, and I hope that people will consider that figure. Regional analysis of the poll results has been undertaken.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton asked about the project costs. I know that the Select Committee has gone through Arup's costings, and I hope that when its report is completed, it will give us a view on Arup's realistic assessment. Tomorrow we will present the Committee with evidence about the development of facilities that is needed, and we will try to answer questions on transportation.

Departments are still in the process of realistically considering the potential problems and cost implications raised by Arup. We will work through those and make sure that the Cabinet has the necessary information when it comes to make a decision. That is the job of the DCMS, as the lead Department for sport, and nobody can say that the Secretary of State has not championed sport in the quest to host the Olympics.

As the lead Department, we also have a wider responsibility to the Government. It is our job to co-ordinate the partnership, outside the Government, with the BOA and the Mayor's department, and to try to convince our colleagues within the Government. Sometimes that takes a little quiet diplomacy and a little persuasion, and sometimes matters are better kept out of the press. I hope that when push comes to shove, the press will be behind us all the way, as I know that the Secretary of State will be behind us, all the way.

I say to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) that I, too, am wearing a tie. Mine is from Sapporo in Japan, where England beat Argentina. We both boast sporting ties this evening, but mine is more successful than his—at least we beat Argentina in Sapporo. I welcomed the hon. Gentleman's remarks, and I hope that the Liberal Democrats, including those in local authorities, will remain consistent.

Bob Russell

It is the Government we are worried about.

Mr. Caborn

The hon. Gentleman should not worry about the Government; he should worry about the Liberal Democrats. I hope that they will pass on the sense of partnership and unity in the House to their minions in local authorities who will, like their colleagues in Manchester, bash the hell out of the bid.

I have no doubt however that the comments of Opposition Members this evening were genuine. If we decide to make a bid, we accept that they will support it.

I assure hon. Members that we are working with the Mayor's office. In the event of our making a bid, it would be a red herring and a dangerous sign to send from the House that there were differences between us on the project. The partnerships that we have forged with the Greater London Authority, the Mayor's office and the City—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been working hard with City leaders and the Bank of England to make sure that we know the attitude of the private sector—will stand us in good stead. A message should not go out from the House that there are major differences of opinion. There are not. We are working together with those other bodies to make sure that if we do make a bid, there will be unanimity.

May I tell my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Alan Keen) that, in my opinion, his command of the French language is brilliant? What he said was true: one can know the price of everything and the value of nothing—

It being three hours after commencement of proceedings, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put, pursuant to Order [7 January].

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am seriously concerned that Parliament is not being kept properly informed of very significant changes in Government policy.

Over the past few hours, it has become evident that the Government are planning to make a statement tomorrow on Government policy on missile defence. It is being reported already on the Press Association wires, and the written press is preparing to report in detail, that the Government are minded to accept the American request for the use of the Fylingdales base in Yorkshire, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway). I hope that you will share my concern that the announcement appears to be being made outside this place, instead of in this place as a courtesy to Members and to allow proper scrutiny.

If that were not enough, earlier today a written statement was issued on further contingency preparations being made for possible military action in the Gulf. Little was made explicit in that written statement, but it is being taken by the informed defence press to mean that that constitutes the final decision to deploy 7 Brigade and elements of 4th Armoured Brigade, possibly comprising as many as 20,000 men. Although the Government may have made no final decision about that deployment, it again seems that they are trying to smuggle announcements out to avoid embarrassment and proper scrutiny, instead of being honest with the British people, Parliament and the armed forces. Will you express this concern to the Government and ensure that we have proper statements tomorrow on both subjects?

Mr. Speaker

This is the first that I have heard of the matter and the complaints that the hon. Gentleman makes. The best thing that I can do for him is to investigate the matter. I will reply to him as soon as I can.

  2. c653
  3. HUMAN RIGHTS 33 words
    1. c653
    2. Arms Controls 112 words