HL Deb 01 December 1993 vol 550 cc536-8

2.43 p.m.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce legislation to protect the Olympic ring symbols in favour of the British Olympic Association.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we remain committed to introducing legislation as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows to protect the use of the Olympic symbols and related terms and thereby to benefit the British Olympic Association.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that positive reply. But is she aware that the British Olympic Association receives no government grant and indeed relies entirely on sponsorship? Does she accept that it is therefore vital that the £10 million that the association hopes to raise from its sponsors to assist our athletes competing in the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta is not jeopardised by the unauthorised use of the Olympic symbols?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we are looking at all possible options to speed up the introduction of legislation. We are certainly aware of the demands faced by the BOA and by athletes in the run-up to both the 1994 winter games and the 1996 games in Atlanta.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, will the Minister give an undertaking that such legislation as the noble Lord, Lord Archer, has asked for is introduced as a matter of urgency because people who wish to make a racket out of selling the logo and other goods will soon start to do so unless legislation to prevent them is introduced quickly?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we are actively considering, as I have said, all possible legislative options so that British sport may begin to reap the benefit at the earliest opportunity.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, can my noble friend confirm or deny that the legislation to which she has just referred would be covered by the phrase "other measures" in Her Majesty's gracious Speech?

Baroness Trumpington

No, my Lords. I cannot do so.

Lord Elton

My Lords, presumably the legislation will have effect only in so far as the British jurisdiction extends. I presume protection is required worldwide for this symbol in so far as it relates to British teams. Is it not therefore also a matter for the British Olympic Association to take out patents worldwide in the normal way?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the intention would be to allow the British Olympic Association to market rights to use the Olympic devices more effectively by giving it exclusive rights in these devices which would generate revenue from the private sector to support British Olympic teams. British sport stands to benefit substantially from the extra fund-raising which this protection would facilitate, and a measure of this kind is required by the International Olympic Committee of countries wishing to stage Olympic games. Its adoption would greatly strengthen any future British Olympic bid.

Lord Donoughue

My Lords, the Sports Aid Foundation does good work in raising money for sport, but the sponsorships in which it is involved have often required the use of the terms "Olympic" or "Olympian". Will the Minister assure the House that any such legislation giving monopoly rights would not damage the work of the Sports Aid Foundation?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the Sports Aid Foundation does excellent work in funding elite athletes to help them compete with distinction. The BOA has been discussing with the Sports Aid Foundation how its interests might best be safeguarded.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for all that she has said, but I stress the view that it would help if this important piece of legislation was put through as quickly as possible as the winter games, as my noble friend mentioned, will take place in only 18 months' time.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I hope I have made it as clear as I possibly can that we are looking at all possible options to speed this matter up. It is not for nothing that I am known as "Jeannie the Eagle".