HL Deb 19 May 2004 vol 661 cc777-809

3.15 p.m.

Lord Monro of Langholm rose to call attention to the Government's policy on sport and the progress of the London 2012 Olympic Bid; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the outset of this debate I declare an interest as a member of many sports clubs and as past president of three governing bodies. The timing of this debate is most appropriate. We are all extremely pleased that London is on the shortlist for 2012. Of course, that was expected but we must be concerned at the criticism by the IOC on two main counts: transport and public support. I find the latter poll surprising. With the leadership of the bid team and with all-party support, I have confidence that we can improve that figure substantially. But we have a problem with transport. We all knew that it was likely to be a stumbling block but the IOC's criticism is more severe than expected.

I note that the Prime Minister has given full support to the bid and has offered help with transport. It is an urgent matter because plans for the final bid have to be in place by November 2004, which is not that many months away. So there must be a great deal of action between transport, Treasury and planning if we are going to get the bid on the top line. I think that we should aim for 2011 rather than 2012 to give time for everything to bed in and for the snags to be removed. In this Chamber we are blessed with three Olympic medallists—the noble Lords, Lord Coe, Lord Moynihan and Lord Glentoran—who will make contributions from time to time.

It is important that we begin by looking quickly at Athens in 2004. I am pleased that Simon Clegg of the British Olympic Association, the IOC and press reports confirm that all facilities will be ready. That is good news. We wish our team well and hope it will do even better than it did in Sydney. Of course, we are all worried about security and today's events show what can happen. However, I am relieved that the Greek Government are taking every possible precaution. I was the government Minister at Munich on the day of the assassination of the Israeli team in 1972 and I know how it affected the spectators and the participants. Two days later, it was wonderful to be cheered up by Mary Peters winning the gold medal.

So I turn to the 2012 Olympics. Before the Secretary of State made her Statement a year ago, we were critical of the lack of progress and lack of decision. Major disappointments over the World Athletics Championship of 2005, Wembley, Picketts Lock, Sheffield and even the Dome put us on the back foot. But today we want to put all that behind us and look forward to 2012. However, I would ask the Minister to tell me in his reply what has happened to the £21 million that were given to Wembley for the athletics track, which now does not seem to be going to happen.

Twelve months ago, we gave a warm welcome to the Secretary of State. We called for a supremo to head the bid team and we were delighted at the appointment of Barbara Cassani and Keith Mills. I think that the bid team has worked wonders in a year. It has used imagination, it has vision and knows exactly where it is going. It must keep it up until the final vote next year and keep it an all-party, one nation bid.

We had a word of warning at the weekend. Those who watched the announcement about the football World Cup saw that votes were swung at the very last moment by a major personality. That could happen to us in July of next year. It may be that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will have to metamorphise into Nelson Mandela at that time.

I strongly support the Paralympics that follow on from the main Olympics. I went to see them in Rochester when they were called the "Special Olympics". I know how much it means to the participants and to the friends and relatives who travel with them. In winding up, perhaps the Government will give us a rough estimate of the costs for 2012. In particular, can the Minister say how much extra London council tax payers will have to pay?

It is always said that sport and politics should not mix, and in some ways they do not. The late Lord Howell—Denis Howell, whom your Lordships all remember so well—and I were Minister of Sport and shadow Minister of Sport for about 11 years between us. We got on extremely well; we discussed appointments and policies together. I do not believe that we ever had a disagreement, which is as it should be.

However, government involvement in every sport is now great. They fund the four councils—give or take the Scottish and Welsh position—and UK Sport and support the CCPR. That body is immensely important in welding together all the governing bodies of sport in this country. It does a tremendous job. I know that in the future we must deal with its major problem with minimum wages and volunteer coaches, which seems to have reached an impasse with the Treasury.

The Government should keep their distance with regard to major political decisions, which are a matter for the governing body. Therefore I say that they have been right in their handling of the problems of Zimbabwe and the cricket tour. It is inconceivable that England should play in that country in the foreseeable future. The team must not go, whatever the consequences. However, at long last it seems that over the past few days the ICC has accepted that there is a crisis in cricket that must be resolved as quickly as possible. I believe that principles are far more important than money, in which I am supported by the majority of the country.

I am impressed by Sport England's framework for sport, which was published recently. I congratulate Patrick Carter and Roger Draper on its production. Over the years, sport has been bedevilled with bureaucracy, delay, conferences, reports and so on. We want to see more action with the money available being spent quickly. We must support the countless volunteers who run the sport in this country and do so for nothing. They cannot spend their lives filling in forms in order to obtain grants from the Sports Council. The framework should fast track that process and set up a streamlined system. My suggestion to Sport England is that it should aim for an earlier year than 2020 for its completion—more like 2012 or 2015.

Sir Andrew Foster has just produced an exceptional report on athletics, which should help us regain the momentum of Sydney and replicate the achievements of the four-minute mile. It needs early action from the various associations within athletics. They should come together in a spirit of harmony, perhaps with David Moorcroft in charge. There is no time to waste when facing an Olympics and world championships thereafter.

Will the Minister say how much of the £41 million legacy given to athletics after the Picketts Lock disaster is now being actively spent on athletics? Tennis is a similar issue. Wimbledon is a huge and successful national sporting event. Much of the profit from the All England Club goes to the Lawn Tennis Association and helps with the new centre at Roehampton.

Let us hope that it will bring in an early result. We have only Tim Henman in the first 100 men or women. It is time, when there are thousands of club players in the country, that some come forward to set the standard we require internationally.

Will the Minister say a word or two about swimming pools? They seem a frightful headache for many local authorities. I know that the costs of running pools are high, but every child should have the chance to learn to swim and far too many do not.

I turn to playing fields, on which I have sparred with the Minister previously. In its 1997 manifesto, the Labour Party gave a commitment to stop the sale of playing fields, which it reaffirmed in 1998. It is difficult to obtain statistics on playing fields because the base is flexible and sometimes excludes playing fields made into sports halls. But in 1999 to 2003, applications increased from 590 to 1,297. Of those 1,297 applications in 2003, 807 were approved to remove the playing field and turn it into some other development. That is a long way from the manifesto promise.

In the same period, the Government approved 174 out of 176 applications for areas of 0.2 hectares—roughly the same size as a football field. It does not seem that we are doing much about retaining playing fields in schools. Indeed, the Government approved 36 applications against the specific advice of Sport England. Alison Moore-Gwyn and Elsa Davies of the National Playing Field Association are most active in keeping the playing fields of this country at the forefront of policy. They think we should have a proper independent audit of what is going on in the playing field world so that we can get some facts and not a whole lot of smudging as from Written and oral Questions that I have asked in the past.

While we are on the subject of playing fields, I hope that the Government are giving all the help they can to school sports. I know that they announced a programme of £578 million two years ago, but according to the last figure that I was able to obtain only £4.6 million has been spent. Why is it taking so long to get money spent on schools where we want it to be spent?

Team games are so important in schools. They bring out leadership and develop character. They teach people to understand what umpires and referees are about. They are also so good at developing activities in outward bound fields. It is amazing how children can achieve something that they never thought was possible when they are taken to an outward bound event such as climbing hills or mountains. The development of character in education is desperately important.

I want to close with a quick word on drugs, which is such an important issue and so difficult to quantify. I was concerned that Michelle Verroken, who was for 18 years head of the anti-doping unit, was recently dispensed with. She was interviewed by the Select Committee in another place, where she said that her integrity was not for negotiation. Was she being asked to make some changes to the arrangements for drug testing? I want to know, because so many governing bodies find every conceivable excuse for trying to support their competitors against the drug efforts of that team.

Not all is doom and gloom, I am glad to say; far from it. We must be proud of what we have achieved in recent years and the leadership that we give to sport. Clive Woodward has done so much for rugby. Sweetenham has done so much for swimming. Rowing, sailing and equestrianship are going well. I am sure that all those sports and others such as cycling will be bringing back medals from Sydney.

In golf we have three of the four great trophies: the Walker Cup, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and with luck next month we might also have the Curtis Cup. Many things are going well and I am not in any way criticising—I am here to say "well done" to the governing bodies that run those sports. We must aim high at the stars, support our volunteers and coaches; but, above all, we must get on with things quickly and spend the money available wisely and as soon as possible. Action will bring results, and who knows what Great Britain can achieve? I beg to move for Papers.

3.29 p.m.

Lord Paul

My Lords, first, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Monro, on initiating such an important and timely debate. Just yesterday we heard from the International Olympic Committee that London is on the shortlist as a candidate city to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We now have an opportunity to go forward in this exciting competition.

I am sure that noble Lords will join me in congratulating all those involved in building a bid and getting us to this point in such a tough field of competition.

At this point I would like to declare an interest as a board member of the London Development Agency, a key funder and partner in delivering the Games. I am also a member of the board of the bidding organisation, London 2012, and a member of its Ethics Advisory Group.

We have heard today about the tremendous potential the Olympics have for not only delivering excellence in sport but creating the inspiration among young and old alike to participate in sport at every level.

Staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London would be a tremendous honour. It would provide a platform for us to get people active, thereby improving health, social cohesion, and even performance in schools and productivity at work.

The Olympics are, of course, the biggest sporting event in the world. However, perhaps one of the greatest strengths of London's 2012 Olympic bid is that it is about so much more than sport. It is also the greatest cultural festival. It gives us a unique chance to celebrate Britain's rich cultural diversity and promote London as the creative capital of the world. I know, for example, that the Asian community is very proud and most enthusiastic about this opportunity, as are all Britain's other communities.

The London Development Agency, together with London's government and central government, is committed to a large-scale regeneration project in the lower Lea Valley—part of east London that has some of the most deprived wards in the United Kingdom. This area has been neglected for too long. Levels of ill health in the lower Lea Valley are very high. Residents in Newham can expect to live five years less than their not so far away neighbours in Kensington and Chelsea. This is unacceptable.

The Olympics would give us a chance vastly to improve the physical environment by doubling the amount of green space in the area. They would help to create thousands of new jobs, new homes and business opportunities. It is not just east London that would benefit. The whole of London and the rest of the UK will reap huge rewards if we are fortunate enough to host the 2012 Games. I hope that noble Lords will allow me to congratulate my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Culture and the Mayor for London on their great support, enthusiasm and encouragement and on having made it possible to get so far.

Business sectors such as tourism and hospitality, food and creative industries and, of course, the construction sector, would receive a major boost along with thousands of other potential business benefits. What is also so crucial to London's bid is its legacy. London's bid provides a sustainable legacy for communities after the Games, not just in the world-class sports facilities they would leave behind, but also the jobs, homes, improved environment and lasting public health benefits.

I would also like to make a special mention of the Paralympic Games. This country's commitment to disability sport over many years has helped to establish the Paralympic Games in the global consciousness. It will be an honour to welcome the whole Olympic family when they come to visit. The country has taken on a great challenge in bidding for the Olympic and Paralympic Games—one that many thought we were not up to.

After yesterday's announcement it is clear that huge efforts have been made to get us this far, and that there is the commitment to see the job through to the end, hopefully with a successful conclusion in Singapore in July 2005.

For those who question our ability to succeed this is a unique opportunity for us to prove that we can deliver the best Games ever. I call on noble Lords to play their full leadership role in getting behind this bid.

I apologise for the fact that I shall leave the Chamber for about half an hour to attend the Finance Bill sub-committee meeting to hear evidence. However, I shall return shortly.

3.36 p.m.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the optimistic speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paul. I hope that I can follow in the same spirit.

Today's is a debate on sport with special reference to the Olympic bid. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Monro of Langholm not only on securing the debate on a subject that he has made very much his own and on the manner in which he opened the debate, but also on his impeccable timing. He sat on the Conservative Front Bench in the Commons both in government and opposition for more than half his 33 years in the other place, and he served most of that time either as sports Minister or as the opposition spokesman on sport for a whole Parliament. His interests in particular sports are manifold, as he has demonstrated today. He has done your Lordships' House and, indeed, sport a very notable service today.

Around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote a notable parody of Browning's poem, "How We Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" in the form of an account of how the horse, Wooden Spoon, John Jones up, won the Jubilee Cup. Like Browning's it is a narrative poem with John Jones as the narrator, but it is a marvellous farrago and gallimaufry of sporting reference. I quote a verse at random:

  • "The Lascar made the running but he didn't amount too much,
  • For Old Oom Paul was quick on the ball, and headed it back to touch;
  • And the whole first flight led off with the right as The Saint took up the pace
  • And drove it clean to the putting green, and trumped it there with an ace".
It serves as a paradigm for today's debate both because, like today, it embraces all sport but also because the steeplechase it recounts is not dissimilar to the exhilarating, oscillating ride the Government have in mounting the London Olympic bid.

Like many in your Lordships' House, I am old enough to remember the 1948 Olympics, the year of Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zatopek. Our own team had roots in the multifariousness of sports which Quiller-Couch celebrated and which we debate today. Our entry in the 100 metres final, Alastair McCorquodale, had opened the bowling for Harrow against Eton at Lord's. C B Holmes, who I watched play wing three-quarter to dramatic effect for England v Scotland in the first Calcutta Cup Match at Twickenham after the war in the snow was, as I recall, certainly in our sprint relay team and may have been in the 200 metres relay final as well.

I had myself urged once in Cabinet Committee that we should go for the 2008 Games not only because of its being the centenary of our first Games but also because of the remarkable conclusion to the Olympic Marathon that year. No doubt dithering about Crossrail would have been as much a problem then as now—and I acknowledge, of course, the part played by the anti-Crossrail lobbying group from Tower Hamlets in the Private Bill Committee upstairs in the other place. But even with the extra four years we have not so far got our act together.

I dare say that the Minister in reply will reasonably play the card of yoking the Government's predecessors in the dock with the present Government; but this administration has now been in office for seven years and no one could possibly say that the past seven years have been used to the best possible advantage on the Underground, either for the good of Londoners or for the good of this bid. If the Minister exculpates the Government and transfers the blame to the Mayor, the latter is not only the creature of this Government in legislative terms, but has been invited back into the bosom of the Labour Party on the strength of his performance of his first four years in office.

All of that, however, is in the past. We are now in the present and what we need to know now is how the Government are going to put on a catch-up act, not only to eliminate the margin behind Paris and Madrid, but then to surpass them. I remark neutrally that I am glad that the hotels of my former constituency and of neighbouring ones are level-pegging already with those of Madrid and Paris. It is critical that the Government should put out of their minds any idea that the tombstone to our bid should bear the word "IRAQ", even though of course preoccupation with Iraq held up Cabinet consideration of the bid in early 2003. If we set out with a sour grapes scenario, we shall fail; and that failure will be more serious because it will weaken our resolve in Iraq as well. If we believe in the Iraq policy, a measure of that belief will be the conviction behind this bid. We await the Minister's reply with interest.

Because the debate is wider than just the bid, I want to raise three other matters. The first is the Government's recent revisiting of our overall national failure to achieve five half-hour periods of physical activity each week. That was a recommendation derived from the Government's 1998 Acheson report on health inequality, which found that 75 per cent of women and 63 per cent of men failed those minimum guidelines. Two weeks ago the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, teased by my noble friend Lady Hanham in a Labour debate on central government help for local communities by drawing attention to the absence of Conservative speakers in the debate, apart from herself. That was the only Wednesday in the past four weeks in which I did not speak in both debates; so let me make amends now with a quotation from the King's Fund's Five Year Health Check of April 2002: In summary, Labour has stimulated a substantial volume of local and neighbourhood based activities aimed at strengthening communities, improving public services and enhancing the quality of life—all of which may help to narrow the 'health gap'. Much of the time, however, its efforts have suffered from a lack of definition and top-level leadership. It has allowed the media to set the health policy and has become trapped by its own rhetoric". Given the reiteration over the last month of the targets, it does not sound as though much has changed since 2002.

My second concern, analogous to the first, is regarding matching funding to local sporting bodies. The Minister and I had the pleasure of attending the anniversary celebrations of Arts and Business at the Barbican, in which he had a starring role. The matching funding success of arts and business since the 1970s stimulated the creation of Sportsmatch in the 1990s. My favourite fact about the parallel Foundation for Sport and the Arts was that, at the celebration of its first £100 million of donations, it announced that its smallest donation had been of £25 to a village cricket club to fill in the rabbit holes on the boundary. Sportsmatch could clearly do even more than it is doing at the moment. My interest, even if the Minister tells me that Sportsmatch is funded through an interim funder with ring-fenced money, is in how the amount that it receives is determined.

My third concern is that what Ofsted regards as important in youth work can deny voluntary youth clubs funding for their recreational activities from local authorities as being outside Ofsted's purview. I declare an interest as the president of the oldest youth club in the world, which is within half a mile of this palace and which runs a series of teams in a series of sports. An unintended consequence of that non-funding by local authorities of that sort of activity is that the relationship developed between youth workers and their teams, whether football, cricket or basketball, which is often crucial in youth workers imparting lessons about adulthood to their members, is at risk if all funding has to be raised voluntarily.

In conclusion, I come back to Quiller-Couch's poem. Wooden Spoon has won the Jubilee Cup, as we hope the country will win the Olympic bid; and John Jones' final two verses are:

  • "I'm going out with the tide, lad—you'll dig me humble grave
  • And whiles you will bring your bride, lad, and your sons if sons you have,
  • And there when the dews are weeping, and the echoes murmur PEACE
  • And the salt, salt tide comes creeping and covers the popping crease;
  • In the hours when the ducks deposit their eggs with a boasted force,
  • They'll look and whisper 'How was it?' and you'll take them over the course,
  • And your voice will break as you try to speak of the glorious 1st of June,
  • When the Jubilee Cup, with John Jones up, was won upon Wooden Spoon".
Gender suggests that John Jones is either the Minister or the Sports Minister, Mr Caborn. In either case we hope that Quiller-Couch's version has the same happy end to the Olympic story.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Pendry

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Monro, on securing this debate. Although I did not agree with some of his comments, I welcome any debate on sport in this House and, indeed, in the other place. The matter is not debated enough, as we all know. I recognise the noble Lord as a keen sportsman, an excellent former Minister for Sport and a first class rugby player in his day, so I respect his views enormously.

I am very pleased that the Opposition have woken up to the fact that we on these Benches have been more dominant in debating sporting issues. It is good to see that there are more Opposition Members in the Chamber today than hitherto has been the case—no doubt due in part to the active whipping of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, the Shadow Minister for Sport, who was also an excellent Minister for Sport.

This debate, of course, is timely, as has been said, as we in this House can congratulate the London 2012 committee on attaining a place for London in the final five of the IOC's candidate cities list. We all recognise that its efforts to date on behalf of those who support London's bid for this most historic and prestigious of games has to be commended.

It is to the Government's credit that they have taken this bid seriously and are pulling out all the stops to bring about a successful conclusion; not only the Government, because it is heartening to hear that British business is supporting our bid and that is vital to its success. Business has made a good start and I am sure that with yesterday's news there will be an even greater effort from business to assist with funding to secure a successful London bid. Is it not ironic, however, that £1 million from a French-based company, EDF Energy, has been given to the British Olympic Committee? Perhaps that is a good omen.

Although we can celebrate the successes achieved to date, we have a long way to go before we jump the final hurdle and on to the finishing line. But let me reflect for a moment on what we have going for us. We have many world class venues to accommodate the games, including Wembley—when it is finished—Wimbledon, Lord's, the Dome, the ExCel Centre and many more. Additional venues have also been proposed to the IOC, such as the Olympic park stadium and an Olympic aquatic stadium. Such venues would not only help regenerate east London, but would leave a legacy of quality facilities for our future athletes in years to come.

So, a solid basis already exists for a number of Olympic competitions. I would like to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Monro, that we should not be playing party games with this bid because all of us should now be backing it to the hilt.

To that extent I draw the noble Lord's attention to the actions of a Tory council—Westminster Council—and its positive sporting programme, Champion 2012, which allows children to sample coaching in several of the minor Olympic sports, such as judo and table tennis—an opportunity they might otherwise not have had. The approach of investing in our young people is to be commended, and that scheme represents the true spirit of the Olympic movement.

The talented athletic scholarship scheme, officially launched this month by Secretary of State Tessa Jowell, will go a long way towards creating the real opportunities necessary if we are to keep some of our most promising young talent involved in athletics. The recently launched apprenticeship in sporting excellence—which is currently being rolled out by SkillsActive across football, rugby and golf, ultimately extending to other sports—will also make a great contribution to the nation's sporting skill base. The introduction of the new national coaching qualification by Sport England promises to bring further cohesion and credibility to coaches of all disciplines across 31 sports, building a solid foundation for the delivery of the nation's future sporting excellence.

It is with all this in mind, as one who been to every Olympic Games since 1972, that I feel very positive about our chances of hosting the 2012 Olympics, and equally positive about our chances of delivering a successful games, should we win that bid.

Having discussed aspects of the progress of the bid, I turn your Lordships' attention to the part of the Motion that draws attention to the Government's policy on sport in general. Since 1997, admittedly with the assistance of lottery funding—which was, of course, available under the previous government—this Government have invested over £3 billion in the funding of sport. In 2002–03, this worked out at something like £9.30 per head of the UK population. We are ahead of our European neighbours. Germany spent £8 per head, and France only £5.60 per head for the same period.

If we take local authority spend into account, the UK contribution is estimated to be £23 per head. The Government clearly care deeply about sport, as they invest heavily in it. But that is not just sport for sport's sake. Public funding for sport takes the Government's wider policy aims in health, education and the communities forward. We all know that, in the area of health, inactivity levels are reaching crisis point. In the UK, levels of obesity have trebled over the last two decades. Even modest increases in physical activity, however, have recently been shown to have wide-ranging health benefits. The money being pumped into school sport is showing great improvements in young people's self-esteem, as well as in academic achievement. Game Plan, commissioned by the Prime Minister in December 2002, sets out the future strategic direction of the Government's sports policy. Its recently published delivery report recommends developing the UK's sport and physical activity culture, enhancing international successes, improving our approach to mega-events and major sporting facilities.

The Government are now using lottery and Exchequer funding to achieve clear and measurable outcomes in key areas. They are raising levels of community participation by investing in high quality local sport and activity resources, available to all. Sport England and the New Opportunities Fund are now putting millions of pounds into local sports facilities to ensure a legacy of activity and engagement in sport.

At this point, I must declare my interest as president of the Football Foundation. The Government are helping to contribute to the future success of British sport in imaginative ways. The Football Foundation is a true partnership between the Government, the FA and the Premier League, as the House knows, to ensure that football continues its sterling work in sport at grass roots level. The foundation creates the opportunity for all young people to get involved, and stay involved, in football.

Only last Saturday, I attended the presentation of a cheque for over £500,000 to the Longhill Playing Fields in Hull with the Deputy Prime Minister. That money will provide playing pitches and changing facilities for the next generation of young footballers in the area. Some of you will no doubt have watched television on Monday morning and seen the Deputy Prime Minister showing his dribbling skills to the nation, with kids from his own constituency. I can assure this House that he will not be joining Beckham at Real Madrid, as much as people on the other side of the House may wish that to happen.

In conclusion, I hope that this debate demonstrates the Government's commitment to sport, in particular within the context of the Motion before us, and their determination to win the bid for the 2012 Olympics for our nation.

3.55 p.m.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, since we both have a great love of sport. I rise to speak with enormous gratitude, since my noble friend Lord Monro suggested that I add my name to the list of speakers, despite the fact that I notice a great deal of emphasis on 2012 and the Olympic bid. I look down the list and find the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, who I remember 51 years ago on another playing field, playing under the name of Mr Dixon. His team did not win, but they left a lasting impression on me. I used to see him in the boxing ring, too. I should tell you that he is the same man today, with the same competitive nature. Yet in 1964, he gave me and, I believe, millions of other non-participants, the pleasure of watching a somewhat exotic sport, two-man bobsleigh. It required the same qualities that I knew to exist in him then, and exist today, of participation and sport. I hope he would permit making friends.

I will leave the Olympic aspect to my noble friend Lord Moynihan and the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran. Sadly, I do not know where the noble Lord, Lord Coe, is. Perhaps he is doing something about 2012. I wish him well, and hope that he will be able to have lasting success there.

My noble friend Lord Monro spoke about the problems of cricket, the International Cricket Council and touring Zimbabwe. I am sure that my noble friend, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, will tread quietly, watching their toes, when mentioning sport in the arena of politics. Indeed, I think it was probably my noble friend Lord Monro—not the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, although he was involved in this—who was Minister for Sport when the then Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, thought that solidarity should be shown over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I hear murmuring dissent from my noble friend Lord Monro. He probably was the Minister for Sport. What he perhaps does not quite appreciate is that there was considerable difficulty reconciling the views of the Prime Minister with watching our television as a team of college amateurs thrashed the pants—if I may put it that way—off a professional ice hockey team at the 1980 Olympics in Squaw Valley. It was difficult reconciling President Carter's receiving of the American team, and the Olympics, with the disgraceful things that had happened in Afghanistan. I am sure that both my noble friends Lord Moynihan and Lord Monro will reconcile their views. Indeed, I think my noble friend Lord Moynihan has a medal from the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

What concerns me far more today, however, is the Government's plans for sport. We always love hearing the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, recall the day in April 2000 when he gave some news—alas, as Time Magazine said, he was "nearly right". He gave the score but the wrong team. That was, I think, when Real Madrid actually beat Manchester. It caused considerable panic in your Lordships' House, and the rending of garments by Black Rod who had been listening to that debate.

My noble friend Lord Monro raised an important point, when he referred to "volunteers", and what I call "people to supervise". In the late 1970s, the noble Lord, Lord Monro, and I visited the Sobell Sports Centre in Islington, where we met that wonderful gold medallist David Hemery, who was more or less running it. Within 10 years—even within five years—the centre had difficulties. They resulted not from the investment and arrangements made but because not enough men and women gave their time to assist all the participants.

Sport—even the Olympic Games—is not necessarily about age. Indeed, we can think of elderly people who take part in sport. Your Lordships, even the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, may know that the late Lord Orr-Ewing participated in a complicated skiing slalom at the age of 80. And at the age of 62, Lord Digby was the best British skier two years running. So even at that restricted level, age is no bar to participation.

My noble friend Lord Monro spoke of achieving the impossible. I thought that, too. Although in 1959 I broke my leg in three places and spent two years in plaster, even I manage to participate in sport. Indeed, in January this year I broke my shoulder for the second time and it is still on the mend. That shows that participation can be dangerous.

Having put my name down to speak in the debate, I went to my rack and found a note from the Minister's colleague, Mr Caborn. It was an invitation to join the Westminster Mile on 16 June 2004. There are paragraphs inviting us to take part in "movement" through St James's Park. The third paragraph expresses the hope that Roger Bannister will be there to start it off, together with persons such as Steve Cram, Tessa Sanderson, and a gentleman called Gordon Ramsay—I thought that he put weight on you rather than took it off—who will be there to cheer people on. I have a message for the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey: "You, too, Minister". I am looking forward to hearing him say that he will be skipping on 16 June.

Sport exists not only for participation—not just at Olympic standard—but also for watching. It is of great importance. For my noble friends Lord Moynihan and Lord Glentoran, for all sportsmen, and for me, it is for making friends. Nothing has done more for me than sport. I was lucky when crossing Abingdon Green and I heard a television cameraman speaking French. I replied to him in French. I have since struck up a fairly effective working relationship with the French television channel, Antenne 2. In 1996, as a reward for various things I had done, they took me in their car from Dover to Brighton to watch the Tour de France. I read L'Equipe, the daily sporting paper, which does an enormous amount for my French. Your Lordships will know that in the Salisbury Room there are various other foreign newspapers. In them, one can read about Swiss skiing, for instance. There is Gazzetta dello Sport on cycling, which I can understand. And M. Oliver, who used to feed us so well, will be taking no calls as he watches the Giro d'Italia cycle race every day in May.

Sport can build great relationships. It has done it for me and it does it for countless other young men and women. It is an enormous benefit to us all. You can make lasting friends, whatever standard you are. Indeed, you have only to see the conclusion of the Olympic or Commonwealth Games, or others, to see athletes from all countries mixing together. There is no problem. Occasionally, as in 1972 in Munich, a hideous shadow passes over the games, but I believe those Olympic Games were an enormous success.

I take little part in sport, apart from a little in Scotland. Indeed, last Saturday, for the 21st year running, I had the good fortune to sponsor my local football team, Forfar Athletic,

Lord Munro of Langholm

Hear, hear!

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I hear noises of assent from my noble friend. There is one noble colleague of whom I hope your Lordships will take note; the noble Lord, Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden. He and his company give enormous support to sport and football at that low level. Every weekend, my noble friend and his wife are at places like Firs Park, East Stirling football ground, Peterhead and Dumbarton. It is not glamorous. And rightly, my noble friend and his company sponsor the Ryder Cup. Enormous support is given not just by those who participate or speak in support in your Lordships' House. I want to pay tribute to what my noble friend Lord Macfarlane does to support sport. For all I know, he may well be assisting with the Olympics. I am not too sure, but he could do that.

Sport, participating and watching, is an essential part of my life and I give fair warning that I look forward to 16 June 2004. I await the reply of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and look forward to seeing him at No. 10 Downing Street, where I understand the event is due to start.

4.6 p.m.

Lord St John of Bletso

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Lyell. I am afraid that I do not have such a repertoire of anecdotes of sporting events, but we have a mutual passion for skiing and are members of the all-party parliamentary skiing group.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Monro of Langholm, for introducing this topical debate the day after we thankfully have been shortlisted with the last five to stage the Olympic Games in 2012.

Let me say at the outset that I wholeheartedly support the bid. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney raised the stakes and showed the huge benefits of hosting such an event, both financially and in terms of providing improved facilities and infrastructure to promote sport.

The nature of the challenge is simple: to stage a viable and successful Olympics as opposed to an extravagant and unsuccessful Olympics. I have studied the plans and feel certain that the London team has a good chance and is on the right track. We have a bid strong on technical quality, strong on glamour and strong on proven event experience.

In bidding for an event of this magnitude, we are investing in Britain's sporting future. The dividends may or may not be paid out in gold medals at future Olympics, but, more importantly, they will be paid out in youngsters who get off the sofa and into exercise and who get out of drugs and crime and into sport. I am pleased that several noble Lords have mentioned not just the importance of sport, but what an important role sport can play in reducing youth crime.

The Olympics will enhance our status as a top sporting nation and all the available evidence suggests that sporting nations tend to be happier and healthier. Provided that this concerted Olympic bid forms part of a well-funded government sports strategy which ensures that physical education forms part of the national curriculum, encourages more and more adults to take exercise and protects playing fields—mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke—from development, Britain will prosper from the grass roots right up to élite level.

Of course, London needs to win what is unfolding as an extremely competitive race. At present, sources within the IOC suggest that London is running a close second behind Paris, with Madrid and New York also strongly in contention.

An interim IOC report identified two main challenges to face the London Olympic bid team. The first, which was eloquently outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, was transport. The bid team must counter any doubts surrounding the city's capacity to transport competitors, officials and spectators between the Olympic village, the venues and the hotel hubs around the city. In practice, that may prove an easier task than moving commuters around on a normal working day because, effectively, the Olympics will last for only two weeks. Dedicated lanes for accredited Olympic traffic will mean two weeks of disruption for Londoners, but the city will survive the nuisance; and a planned east-west rail link will move people from the main Olympic precinct into the West End in just seven minutes. In short, the transport problems can be solved—if not for posterity, then certainly for a fortnight.

The second challenge is to deal with the single greatest threat to the British bid—that is, public apathy. Too many people appear detached, disinterested or plainly opposed. In letters columns, on radio phone-in shows and in polls to date, too many Londoners talk about the cost of the Games and not the opportunity. The IOC has noticed this point. In its report, each of the five short-listed cities is given a mark out of 10 to reflect levels of public support. London, sadly, is ranked fifth out of five—stone last, with a score of 5.4. Such shortcomings are potentially fatal to London's chances of winning the vote in July 2005. The IOC wants nothing more than to award the Games to a city whose citizens genuinely want them. Any sign of indifference or opposition is regarded as a major weakness.

So this is the challenge: before they can start winning the votes of the IOC members, the London bid officials must start to win the hearts of their own people. That will not be easy. London's 2012 bid needs to discover a mission, a convincing reason for being and even a rallying cry. The Seoul Olympics of 1988 was cast as the platform for the modernisation of South Korea. Barcelona in 1992 became a vehicle to transform a grim city into one of the most glamorous destinations in Europe. Atlanta in 1996 was portrayed as the model of capitalist enterprise. Sydney in 2000 became the athletes' Games, characterised by Australian cheer and fantastic hospitality. Athens in 2004 offers the prospect of bringing the Games home, back to its purest ancient roots. And Beijing in 2008 won appeal as a great leap forward for China, offering access to a vast, untapped market.

So what is the reason for London 2012? What is written on the banner under which people will be asked to come together in favour of our bid? Perhaps it is this: London is surely the most cosmopolitan city in the world—a melting pot where all languages are spoken, all cultures nurtured and all creeds followed. Perhaps in an increasingly divided era, London 2012 can become a demonstration of global unity—a true world Games in what is a true world city.

If we combine that with cast-iron evidence that the Olympics will leave the city with a greatly improved, modernised transport system, the polls may move. Londoners may start to rally behind their city's bid. At any rate, the stakes are high and the prize is great. If London can show that it really wants the Olympic Games, I believe that London can win the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2012.

4.14 p.m.

Lord Glentoran

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Monro for introducing this debate. I suppose that I should also thank my noble friend Lord Lyell for his comments about me earlier as perhaps they excuse me from declaring any interests.

I want to start by talking about the bid. We should congratulate the bid team on having got us over the first hurdle. When Barbara Cassani was appointed, I was not 100 per cent satisfied that she was, indeed, the right person for the post. However, she has clearly done a superb job in getting the bid team up and running with some momentum.

At lunchtime today—this has not been mentioned by other noble Lords—I was interested to see on the one o'clock news that Mrs Cassani has resigned as chairman of the bid team, although I understand that she will stay on as a vice-chairman, and that my noble friend Lord Coe has taken on the chair. Although I have not had very much time to think about it, that sounds to me a clever move. The business of getting a serious project under way, up and running and sorted out requires a tough and experienced business person. Barbara Cassani is certainly that and she has certainly achieved in that respect.

I believe that the name of the game has now changed somewhat. There is momentum and we are starting to move into the final part of the race. Diplomacy, how well known one is and all that goes with being an Olympic personality, as my noble friend is, must be a bonus. I hope that it will prove to be a clever move which is supported by everyone. My noble friend has influence and knows all the people and all the ins and outs of Olympic politics. And, my goodness, there are politics with a small "p" and a big "P" in and behind many scenes in this type of game, as I suspect most of your Lordships will be aware. Seb Coe, if I may refer to him as that, has been there, he has seen it all, he knows the people concerned and he should be able to provide us with an excellent opportunity. However, it is vitally important that the environment out of which he operates works smoothly and well and that his support is seen to be firmly in place.

We have got over the first hurdle as a serious competitor, but I would not say that we have done so very satisfactorily. We just about came second, or perhaps third according to some scoring. However, I understand from information that I obtained from the Internet that the latest odds for 2012 are: Paris, 11/10; London, 5/4; Madrid, 7/1; New York, 8/1; and Moscow, 20/1. Therefore, the competition is tight and we are in there.

We must also be aware—the Government have a role to play in this—that every major sporting event that takes place in this country over the next nine months will be under the spotlight. That includes the behaviour of crowds at football matches, political demonstrations, the risk of terrorism and how we manage those situations. It includes how we manage our security, how we manage our behaviours and how we manage any major events that we may have, including enormous football matches and perhaps cricket matches and other events over the course of the next few months.

I turn—this has already been mentioned by noble Lords—to the transport situation. I suggest that it has been spelt out to us in words of one syllable. Something must be done and plans must be put in place—and very quickly because they have to be announced soon. I believe that we have only 363 days in which to convince the IOC that everything is in place and that we can make it all happen.

One area about which I feel particularly strongly and about which the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, talked very eloquently—it is certainly one of my bullet points—is the attitude of Londoners. Like most noble Lords I spend most of my week here and I feel that at the moment London is not turned on by the bid; it is not behind the bid. If we are to have a hope on earth of winning the bid, London has to be motivated behind it. I do not know how we do that. There was a time when the Government had a very good spinning and PR machine. Let us rediscover it, turn it on and link it to Mr Livingstone, London's Mayor. Let us make it work. If we are not turned on, and we do not get the people of London hyped up about it, we shall not have the Olympics here in 2012.

We also need to make the point that this is a national event. I know that the Olympic Games are awarded to a city, but in a country the size of the United Kingdom the games will take place all over the kingdom. Preliminary matches and knock-out matches will take place in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff; lakes, mountains, roads, tracks and stadiums will be used all over our nation; and teams will come here a year before to train.

We should not lose sight of the fact that it will be a very big national event, so I see no reason why Londoners should have to pay for it all. That would not make sense. I would have thought that the quickest way to turn Londoners off would be to tell them how much it will cost them. The noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, has already made that point very strongly. One can be absolutely certain that Londoners will not be turned on by the rates being loaded for the next 10 years.

However, in order to get the matter right from now on, a balance has to be struck. I believe that the team has a balance of international diplomacy, politics and good project management. There is every chance that, if London can be turned on and if the funding is put in place in a sensible way so that it does not offend people and does not turn off the nation, we shall win the bid. I am not telling the Government how to do it, but they do not have many options. From the way I am speaking, I hope that noble Lords sense that I am right behind it.

The debate is also about other areas of sport. Every time I speak on sport I mention my pet subjects, one of which is still in the headlines—nothing seems to have changed—that is, obesity. Little appears to be happening about obesity from the recreational sport end. That links directly into PE in schools. I believe that only 50 per cent of schools include more than two hours a week of exercise. In my day, certainly most schools in the countryside—I do not know about inner-city schools—had some form of exercise every day. In Northern Ireland children had far more than that because they walked to school, often up to eight miles. Many of us walked or ran a long way. In my house at Eton if you did not exercise every day you had your backside beaten and you could not sit on it for the next day or two. I strongly believe that the Government need to get the education curriculum changed. More organised and compulsory recreation and PE is needed in the system.

We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, who has been a good friend of mine for a long time, particularly where sport is concerned. He spoke about all the good things that the Government have done for sport recently and the fact that they have put much money into sport. I am not sure that they have always put it in the right places. Sport is still ground down by too much bureaucracy, too much regulation, too many levels of local government and goodness knows what else. Small sports clubs and organisations have to spend ages filling in forms to access the money. Too many wages are being paid out of it and, in my opinion, not enough money goes to the right places.

Lastly, I mention the funding of elite sport. As has already been mentioned, before the last Olympic Games a large sum of money from the Lottery went into elite sport. The Lottery is not doing as well as it has done and elite sport still urgently needs money, as it always has done. I remember in 1968 meeting Menzies Campbell, MP, when he and I sat down to try to spread £1 million among many worthy young athletes who had to walk to training and needed bus fares and so on. Even in those days that paid off and we saw people whom we had helped hit the highlights and start to win medals at international level. Elite sport is a must at all times for any nation, but if we are to be Olympic bidders, if we are to have an Olympic Games here, which I sincerely hope we will, we must not allow the funding for our elite athletes to drop.

4.25 p.m.

Lord Jopling

My Lords, I add my voice to those who have congratulated my noble friend Lord Monro of Langholm on instigating the debate. It gives me an opportunity to say what I have wanted to say for quite a long time. Almost 40 years ago, my noble friend came to work in this building on the same day as I did. He and I have worked in both Houses under various governments and I know of no one who has done more to promote sport in this country than him.

It is important that we do not confuse sport as an activity with the professional carnival which is the Olympics. I must be frank: I am not particularly enthusiastic about having the Olympic Games in London in 2012. I am one of those who, in the speeches by the noble Lords, Lord St John of Bletso and Lord Glentoran, has been referred to as somewhat indifferent. A few months ago when the first announcement of the London bid was made in this Chamber, I believe I was the only one who expressed any reservations when I said that I would not shed a tear if the Olympic Games bid did not succeed.

Early in his speech my noble friend Lord Monro said that the bid was something that we all welcome. I have to confess that in a low voice I said, "Oh no we don't", to which one of my noble friends next to me said, "You're quite right". Over the months when I have expressed any reservations about the Olympic Games coming to London in 2012 I have been astonished by the number of people who have said, "I am glad that someone is saying that".

If we are to make the bid, so be it. However, I believe that it is necessary to point out early on that nowadays to have the Olympic Games almost anywhere is a sure recipe for bombs, bullets, bloodshed, boycott, blackmail and bogus budgets. It amounts to that. But if it is what everyone wants, so be it.

Reading today's newspapers I see that it is true that the IOC is not especially enthusiastic about London. It demonstrated that from its own survey: only 62 per cent of London's citizens expressed themselves in favour of London being the venue in 2012. My guess is that that figure will be dramatically reduced when the penny drops and the citizens of London realise that they will have to find £652 million of the projected budget of £2.375 billion of which the London Development Agency will find another £250 million with the balance made up by £1.5 billion from the National Lottery, a good deal of which will be raised by the poor old citizens of London once more.

I have asked a raft of questions over the past few weeks on this topic. The Government tell us that there are no special plans for Londoners to have preferential rights to tickets, having paid the bulk of the money to have the events in London. That seems a little unreasonable. The situation for Londoners is all pay and no gain. Many people have suggested that the budget of £2.375 billion is very likely to be doubled. I am interested to know what would happen if that budget were doubled and another £2.375 billion had to be found. In a Written Answer to me on 5 April, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, said, the Government, as stated in the memorandum of understanding and reiterated in a departmental minute presented to Parliament on 2 December 2003, have given a commitment to be the ultimate guarantor for the Games. On current contingency plans, the Government would expect to discharge this responsibility, should it arise, in a sharing arrangement to be agreed as appropriate with the Mayor of London and for their part seeking additional National Lottery funding". —[Official Report, 5/4/04; col. WA 215.] So if the budget doubles, which a good many people have been saying, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, suggested in Committee on the Lottery Bill, as I recall, then the poor old citizens of London will again have to put their hands in their pockets in order to honour what amounts to a blank cheque.

The Government are supporting the bid for 2012, but they are not proposing to put their hand in their own pocket in order to finance it. I do not believe that that is fair to London ratepayers. It is hardly surprising that there is little enthusiasm, or a good deal of apathy, referred to by noble Lords of whom I spoke earlier, among the people of London. For many years the citizens of London will be charged an extra £13 to £40 per year on their council tax. If there is a 100 per cent overrun those figures will increase to £26 to £80 per year for many years for Londoners.

The truth of the matter is that only a few of the citizens of London will see the events. If they bother to go, some will be able to see something like the marathon, but it will be a fairly expensive outing for those people who merely go to watch that and do not buy tickets to attend the various events. For the huge majority of Londoners who will watch most, parts of, or none of the events on television, it will not much matter whether the Games are in London, Paris, Madrid, New York or Moscow.

It is quite right for noble Lords to ask what is wanted if one does not like the present arrangements. I believe that the funding for the bid should be raised nationally on all ratepayers throughout the country. I believe that the existing arrangements are wholly unfair. It would be much fairer and more equitable if that happened. Surely it is not too late to change the funding of the bid and to make it fairer to the people of London.

4.34 p.m.

Lord Addington

My Lords, we owe the noble Lord, Lord Monro, a considerable vote of thanks not only for raising the subject, but also for doing so at a very apposite time. The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said that we have got over the first hurdle. We could have done so in a slightly neater fashion, but we are over the other side and that is the important part. The expressions of relief by Barbara Cassani are getting through and they are appropriate. We should have done it. London, one of the world's greatest and most historic of cities, should be capable of getting through.

The noble Lord, Lord Jopling, has kindly spoken from behind me as opposed to slightly further along the Bench. He has done us a service in pointing out that it is not just a question of us having done well and that it is going to be a great event. There is a definite note of, "We don't want it here if it's going to cost us any money". The noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, said that unless that is countered fast we will effectively strangle the whole business with the rope of apathy. We must guard against that very strongly. Without enthusiasm the project is ultimately doomed even if we win the bid. Everything will go off half-cock. We must make sure that support is there.

As the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, pointed out, there is the perception that one is paying and not getting a lot back. I believe that that is wrong. There is the redevelopment of the East End which is surely worth having. There is the spectacle and romance of the Olympic Games, which is the greatest gathering together on earth of nations in one city. That has to be worth something.

In practical terms not only London will be involved; it cannot be so. London dominates England, and particularly the south-east, in a way which very few other cities do to the country around them. The financial benefit will go further. As regards the sporting structure, the preparation camps and training facilities will benefit from having the improved infrastructure here in London. There are business opportunities as well as social infrastructure benefits in having the games here. That is not being shouted about very clearly.

If we are going to pick holes in the Government, from what we have heard today we should have a transport Minister here. We know that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, wears many hats with a degree of comfort. I took forward to the Minister telling us exactly what the Government propose to ensure that transport is in place, or at the very least that the perception is going to be good enough for a successful bid. This opportunity will not occur again for some time and many of us in this Chamber will not see it. We must get it right now.

We should think about spreading the financial burden somewhat. If the Government require extra transport infrastructure, the Treasury pocket is the only one deep enough to do anything about it quickly. We must look at the options.

To move slightly further away from the Olympic bid for London and to the general tone about sport in this debate, the Government need to gibe more information about the infrastructure.

The noble Lord, Lord Monro, spoke about the problem of playing fields—every fox that I had was shot in the course of the debate. Last time there was a Question about playing fields in this House, it was a wonderful plant given to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, which was fertilised and watered by his own Benches. The general thrust of it was that the money was being used for other sporting activities. That is possibly the case; perhaps the Government had got their act together at last.

It turned out that it was 90 per cent of the money from, if I remember correctly, school playing fields, and the other 10 per cent was going on something else. OK, 90 per cent going back in is better than it was; we can argue about the other 10 per cent later, but that does not answer a series of questions. If we want greater participation rates and are to invent targets for participation, do the Government have a strategy that says what that means in terms of playing fields for participation and sport?

To put it bluntly, if 34 teams in a Sunday League want to play football on a weekend, we will need exactly half that number of pitches available on a Sunday morning. The fact that there is a wonderful training facility is of no use to them on that Sunday morning. It does not make a blind bit of difference. There may be a wonderful sports hall around there, but they cannot get the time off or bring themselves together. Five-a-side tournaments will thrive, but those playing in the 11-a-side game, around which the game is built, will not get their match. They need those 17 pitches. That was lacking from that Answer.

Do the Government have an idea of how many usable sports pitches they need—what amount of usable turf; that rare commodity around our urban areas, well drained solid bits of turf, which can be used for dozens of different sports? I have had it explained to me that hockey players like to play hockey on new, artificial pitches. That is great if they can all get there. They cannot all get there after work. If they have only the one pitch, with the best will in the world, they cannot get everyone playing on it at once. People are available to take part in sport only at certain times. Have the Government seriously addressed what they want and need in that department? Participation rates require opportunity.

We have covered up the need to have that organised infrastructure in British sport by the great use of small clubs that buy their own grounds. That has cohered up what we can do. The Government have made moves—they have been nudged towards them. It is a pity that my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury is not here to bask in a little of his well won glory. We have made life a little easier for them. But the fact is that if we are to increase participation rates, we need a lot of facilities available when people need to use them.

It does not help if we have only a few shining examples, of, say, modern gym culture. The reason that gyms exist is because everyone joins them and no one uses them. That is why they make money; that is why they grow. If everyone turned up to take part, they would not be able to get through the door. We pay a few hundred pounds for our guilt. We say, "I can go at some point", but no one does. If we build institutions within local authorities that fulfil the same function, we will not address the problem of obesity.

The idea of getting into competitive sport is that people have an incentive to be there every week. Presumably, that means that they will do some training. That means that a greater amount of activity will probably be involved. There are all the other benefits that come through sport, such as learning to have a sense of self-discipline, commitment to others in team games—indeed, even in a solo sport, one has commitment to the people against whom one is playing. That is an important factor.

The Government must tell us whether they have addressed that. What is their strategy? The domesday book of sport is apparently to be published in the next few weeks, when we will have a better idea exactly what our sporting facilities are. That means that when I ask my next embarrassing question about how many national health playing fields we have lost, for instance, we can get an answer, rather than simply talking about school playing fields. If we can get an answer, things will start to make sense. At least the answers will all be coming from the same reference books.

The Government's target is for 70 per cent of people to engage in physical activity five times a week. How does the Minister think that sport will help to achieve that more efficiently? I have heard that ironing counts towards that. Do your Lordships know that extreme ironing is a sport? People go down waterfalls ironing. Next we will have a competition to see who can have the sharpest crease in his shirt in a future Olympics. That will not encourage regular activity. Repackaging vigorous hoovering will not address the fact that we want people to enjoy their exercise, which is the benefit of sport.

Where is the Government's central thrust? Gimmicks such as that, or the proposition that we are all to do manual jobs again to reduce our waistline, will not help. The Government must get away from such gimmicks and address the sporting part of this whole public health debate more coherently. I must say that all those involved in government have been a little slow about this, although it is not totally down to the Government; it concerns the culture that we have inherited—although the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will reply. Unless we can address that problem we will miss many opportunities both at elite level and in participation and public health benefits from sport.

4.46 p.m.

Lord Moynihan

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on his characteristically excellent speech opening our debate. I intend to concentrate my remarks on the bid, for one simple reason. Olympic glory represents the pinnacle of sporting achievement. Its attainment requires a partnership between the highly talented athletes who compete and a national sporting infrastructure that allows those athletes to rise to the top because of it, rather than in spite of it. Olympic success requires a dynamic, vibrant, positive and inclusive approach that reaches up from the grass roots of primary schools and after-school clubs to the pinnacle of elite performance. Thus, the Government's strategy for the Olympic bid should represent the whole of their sports policy, from schoolchildren right up to world-class athletes. Today, we are a far cry from that goal.

This debate is especially timely. As we have already heard, yesterday the IOC formally announced the shortlist of bidding cities for the 2012 Olympic Games. I echo many previous speakers in congratulating the London bid team. In particular, I point out the excellent work that Keith Mills has undertaken in assembling a first-rate, committed, professional and enthusiastic team. As a city, nation, Opposition and Government, we will need to pull out all the stops and work together if London is to win the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is essential that all-party support for the London 2012 bid remains strong.

Let us be clear about one thing. There are no prizes for second place in this competition. The British Government must now begin the process of demonstrating to the world their wholehearted support for London to stage the Olympic and Paralympic Games. From the Prime Minister down, the Government must join us to take every opportunity to showcase Britain as the host nation and London as the host city. On the national level, their work in that direction has been weak, uncertain and lacking in demonstrable commitment. This is the ideal opportunity for the Prime Minister to stand by his famous words and prove that he has no reverse gear. Now it is absolutely the time to step up a gear.

To use a sporting metaphor, while the bid team has been busting a gut to produce a gold medal bid, the Government, through their lengthy initial delays and subsequent performance, have at best been lukewarm and lacklustre in their support. No one can skip the hours, days and weeks of winter training and expect gold. That is especially true in the case of a government whose international popularity is low and who are up against the total commitment of the Spanish and French political leaders.

To continue the metaphor, if I were the chairman of the London bid and my team of Ministers had walked into the changing rooms trailing all the bidding cities 8–1 at half-time, as was stated by the IOC yesterday, I fear that my team talk would be unprintable. For on the criterion of government support—public opinion comprises only 15 per cent of that score; that is how political a bid is—we lay eighth out of nine, behind Madrid and Paris and even behind Leipzig, Moscow and Havana. On infrastructure and transport, we lie third and fourth. We lead on only one issue, on which it has been pointed out that the Government have no involvement; namely, accommodation and hotels.

However, after a few well-chosen words, I would be upbeat. Why? Like my noble friend Lord Coe, whose unstinting work for the bid remains laudable—whom we wish well now that he has taken over from Barbara Cassani as chairman of the bid—I passionately believe in our case for winning this prize. I shall do all in my power to motivate the Government to raise their game. I genuinely believe that they can if they want to. But we need a sea change in attitude from the Chancellor, the Treasury team and everyone involved in international relations, transport and infrastructure.

The Prime Minister has often displayed passionate and messianic verve when he believes in something. Now is the time for him to lead from the front, shoulder to shoulder with Ken Livingstone and, indeed, Steve Norris after next month, and to demand a far higher level of active and unremitting support from his ministerial team.

Security will be a major factor in the decision on who hosts the 2012 Olympic Games. The UK leads in that area. Perhaps I may give an example. Security is an issue that the Greek Government have actively sought to address. Under their auspices an Olympic advisory group on security planning has been set up, which is made up of representatives from seven countries. That group is chaired by none other than the assistant police commissioner and head of special operations at Scotland Yard, David Veness. This UK-led group draws on the expertise of its membership from Israel, the United States, France, Germany, Australia and Spain.

On a fact-finding visit to Athens last week, I learnt from Ministers that the security budget for the 2004 Olympic Games currently stands at £675 million, which is triple the amount that was spent in Sydney. The IOC is known for its caution, and rightly so. It is satisfied that everything possible is being done in Athens to ensure adequate and appropriate security. That confidence speaks volumes. The IOC cannot afford to be implicated in any kind of security lapse at these or any other Olympic Games.

British involvement is at the very heart of the Athenian security operation. A safe and smoothly-run games will significantly increase our chances of securing the 2012 Olympic Games for London. If the Greek Government maintain their current level of security awareness and if international support is forthcoming, I have no doubt that in August a trouble-free Olympic Games will be delivered. Its legacy will benefit us all for years to come, not least in terms of the London bid.

Transport is an area where we desperately need to improve our standing, as was made self evident by the IOC. The IOC ranked London fourth on transport. We must deliver the promised East London Line extension, upgrade the Jubilee Line and, with all-party support, give fresh impetus to Crossrail before we can be confident that the criticism levelled by the IOC at our transport policy yesterday can be overcome.

Critically, the Government, by the actions that I have outlined, must ensure that London and Londoners have ownership of that bid, particularly after the IOC found only 67 per cent support for the bid among London residents. It is essential that all Londoners feel the benefit of hosting the Games.

To date, the Government and the 2012 Committee have focused on touring the regions to outline the benefits to those regions. Indeed, such benefits are manifold. But it is Londoners who are being asked by Government to foot the bill, not only for the sites in London, but also for the rowing and flat-water canoeing events at Dorney Lake in Eton; for the shooting events at Bisley; for mountain biking at Swinley Forest; for sailing in Weymouth; and for the use of football venues from Glasgow to Cardiff to Newcastle to Belfast, for which the local residents will pay nothing.

If Londoners are to be asked to pay for all of that at an annual cost of up to £40 a head for the foreseeable future, the Government must demonstrate tangible benefits for them. That is all the more important when, as has been pointed out, the Treasury has designed a formula that demands additional precepts on Londoners for every pound overspend. There has never been an Olympic Games in the modern era which has not been overspent.

When that was discussed in detail at a meeting with the Minister for Sport on 5 May, he told us that the rate precept formula for Londoners was a "discipline" on Londoners. The idea that the Government need to discipline Londoners is unacceptable. Together—as the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, stated—we need to win the hearts and minds of Londoners, not to discipline them through open-ended precepts when the Treasury is paying nothing towards the cost of staging the Games.

I appreciate that the current Minister for Sport is from Sheffield. Surely he has learnt from the experience of the Sheffield student games in 1991, which is still costing the local taxpayers more than £20 million a year. When asked about this aspect of the Olympic bid, the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, said: To describe Gordon Brown as a little half hearted is possibly a compliment". The current position of the Government is clear. In the event of any overrun in costs, the extra money will be raised through a split between the lottery, the GLA and the London council tax payer. As my noble friend Lord Jopling said, there will not be just one hit on the lottery and Londoners, but a potentially unlimited number of hits. The funding formula for the bid must be reviewed. We stand ready to sit down with the Government to find an equitable solution.

For our part, the Conservative Party has already made a number of commitments to reduce the likelihood of a Government raid on the lottery or on the pockets of London council tax payers. By diverting the tax take on the sale of the hypothecated Olympic lottery tickets, we would raise an extra £340 million, which would be paid directly from the Treasury to the Games. Such is our commitment to bring the Games to London. I call on the Minister to match our commitment to ensure that the tax revenue generated for the Exchequer from the new Olympic lottery game is diverted to the London Olympics where it belongs.

We should never forget that the Games are for the athletes, as Athens is demonstrating so ably in preparation for August. For the UK, it is essential that our Olympic bid is backed by a radical new sports policy. There is little point in seeking to host the Olympic Games in 2012 if our Olympic and Paralympic athletes are ill-prepared to deliver medals. We consistently need an eight-year plan, which would cover the cycles of two Olympic Games. School sport, playing fields and community clubs across the country must not be allowed to wither on the vine.

The National Lottery, which was introduced by John Major in 1995, revolutionised funding for sport in this country. The record lottery investment in elite athletes produced one of our best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000. Yet the Government still have a key role to play in establishing expectations and defining priority given to sport.

It is a telling statistic that some two-thirds of our Olympic medal winners in Sydney in 2000 came from the 8 per cent of our schools that are private. In September 2000, we had the very welcome announcement by the Prime Minister that £750 million of lottery money was to be spent improving state school sporting facilities. Yet, after three-and-a-half years, just £10 million of that £750 million has been spent.

All that time, child obesity is increasing to a record level and the amount of time that is spent on PE and school sport in primary schools has long been, and continues to be, a cause for grave concern. Even in the Government's flagship school-sport partnerships, just 51 per cent of pupils get the minimum two hours a week: only part of that is spent on physical exercise, the rest is in the classroom. That is a very serious issue, which does our Olympic aspirations no favours. However, the Government have the time to act and to raise their game. We stand ready to support them when they do.

Even when the Government spend money, it is not all plain sailing. The Minister for Sport admitted that in another place when he said: We have spent just over £1.5 billion during the period of the lottery"— I repeat, £1.5 billion during the period of the lottery— and have increased participation by just 0.3 per cent. One has to start looking at where things have gone wrong".—[Official Report, Commons, 13/4/04; col. 247WH.] He is absolutely right.

As we have heard already, the case for restructuring the delivery mechanism to our governing bodies and to the sportsmen and women that they represent is urgent. A national system is needed to identify the sporting talent in all our children and a support structure to nurture and develop that talent. We strive for that goal in academia. We have a duty to strive for that goal in sport too.

In conclusion, there remains much work to be done in bringing the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London in 2012. The fundamentals are in place. The hid team is doing a great job. The House continues to encourage and support the bid. However, it is right that today we take notice—not of Conservative Party views or politicians' views inside or outside this House—of the IOC report. To come eighth out of nine in the criteria of government support, legal issues and public opinion is unacceptable. Now is the time for each and every Minister, from the Minister for Sport up to the Prime Minister, to face up to that half-time rap over the knuckles and to go back out and win the bid for London.

This is the moment for the Government to demonstrate that they have the stamina, the staying power and the determination to win the race ahead, and to bring the world's greatest sporting event back to this country. When we last held them, we topped the world rankings for government support, as the one country committed to hosting the post-war games. If we think in those terms, I firmly believe that we have the team, the talent, the enthusiasm and the ability to bring the games to London once again.

5 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

My Lords, I join with all other noble Lords who have expressed their gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Monro, for finding this opportunity to debate sporting issues. I congratulate him, as others have, on his excellent timing, in that he added the London Olympic bid to the subject for debate precisely a day after the announcement that we had been successful in what has been described as the "first hurdle".

I am grateful for the expressions of support from everybody—except of course the noble Lord, Lord Jopling—for our bid for the Olympic Games. I am grateful for a very large amount of what has been said in this debate, because there has been a degree of unanimity and common purpose, which is immensely encouraging. The only issue—other than the views of the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, of course—about which I am a little nervous is the challenge set for me by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, to turn up on 16 June and "skip" a mile from No. 10 Downing Street. Since he will know that I am already under pressure from Richard Caborn, I shall have to think of some very good excuses to be somewhere else on 16 June if I am going to maintain my reputation in this House as a sporting atheist.

However, that does not mean that there are not serious issues of public policy to be debated. Those issues have been debated with an excellent degree of knowledge, understanding and good humour. When the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, disparaged the Government's commitment to sport and to the Olympic Games in his closing remarks, he should have recognised that although Londoners are indeed significantly sceptical, as they are on a large number of issues, the Olympic committee concluded that all of the five candidate cities are either 0.8 or 0.9 in government support. There is no significant difference between us. There is indeed a difference in public support in London. The noble Lords, Lord Glentoran and Lord St John, among others, were right to say that one of the objectives of the 2012 committee in the coming months and years—particularly in the coming months—will be to enthuse Londoners and to rouse them from what I would call their scepticism rather than apathy. Even so, it is fair to remark that Londoners' support for the Olympic Games is 67 to 13. That is a five-to-one ratio in favour. There are not many public policy objectives that enjoy that degree of support in this country at this time.

I shall of course say something about the more general sporting issues that have been debated, but I sense that the House really wants to speak more about the Olympic Games than about the other sporting issues, which have been debated before and can be debated again. At the heart of our Olympic bid is the Government's belief that sport is good for communities, good for individuals and good for the country. It is a good health policy; it is a good education policy; and it is a good anti-crime policy. The Government have invested more than £3 billion of government and lottery money in sport since 1997. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, doubted whether there was a vision or strategy. We have a clear strategy for achieving a fitter nation and world-class success. I could send him a pile of documents in evidence, but I can do better than that. I can indicate the effect that those documents have had.

Lord Addington

My Lords, that is just it; there are piles of documents but there is not one précis.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the more I stand at this Dispatch Box and the more I sit in government, the more I am sceptical about the ability of White Papers to achieve anything. I worry about documents being an end product rather than an indication of what we actually do. Instead of sending him documents, I shall send the noble Lord, Lord Addington, some of the statistical analyses.

Of course, participation in physical activity is incredibly difficult to achieve. That really would be turning the proverbial tanker. With almost all of our population engaged in non-manual work nowadays, with individual transport in the form of the motor car being more widely available than it has been before and even with public transport improving rather rapidly, certainly in London, participation in physical activity in this country is far too low. Yes, we know that, and we know that levels of obesity are rising. Even so, physical activity is not all about organised sport. The Department of Health recommends five sessions of 30 minutes' activity a week. The percentage of people who meet that ideal falls from a very low base as people grow older: 41 per cent of those aged 16 to 34; 34 per cent of those aged 35 to 59; and 13 per cent of those over 60. A very high proportion of people achieves only one session of physical activity a week. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, teased me about ironing and hoovering, but he should have a little respect for his elders and realise that active sport is not necessarily appropriate as one reaches 60 or above, even for those who have been very active in sports in younger years. The department's recommendation is very difficult to achieve, but there can be no doubt about the Government's commitment, in terms of both health and sporting objectives, to work towards it.

There has been unprecedented investment in facilities. Nearly £700 million has been poured into school and community sports through the New Opportunities Fund and Sport England, and 62 per cent of pupils now spend at least two hours a week on PE. I listened with a slight shudder to the reminiscences of the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, about his schooldays, but 96 per cent of schools held at least one sports day last year—which perhaps makes one wonder what the other 4 per cent were doing.

In general, I therefore resist the view that there is government inactivity or any failure of investment in sport by the Government during our period in office. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked for evidence of those achievements. There is of course the sport domesday book project. Sport England's "Active Cases" website will be live this summer, as the noble Lord said. That will enable citizens to know what facilities are available in their area. That will make a rather important contribution.

There were conflicting views about government support for élite sport. The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, thought that the lottery was doing less than it should. He also thought—wrongly, I am happy to say— that the returns to the lottery were decreasing. It looks as if the lottery has turned a corner this year, and receipts are rising again.

I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for his tribute to what has been done in support of élite sport, and we look forward to achievement in Athens from that activity.

I am sorry that we have to go through the same argument about playing fields again with the noble Lord, Lord Monro. There were 800 approvals for playing field applications in 2002–03, but there are huge gains for sport within those approvals, with the planned development of 489 new facilities leading to a proposed investment of £286 million. I do not think that there have been any fudges, as the noble Lord said, in answers that I have given to Written or oral Questions. The record on retaining playing fields is excellent, and I shall not weary the House by contrasting it with that of the previous administration.

I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for what he said about private sector contributions to sport, particularly to grass-roots sport. The concentration by Sport England on grass-roots sport and the work of, for example, Sportsmatch, which has had £3.675 million from DCMS—all of which has been matched from the private sector—is very valuable.

I have spent far too long before getting on to the Olympic Games. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me—I will now move straight on to that issue. There has been virtual unanimity on the London Olympic bid, which is enormously gratifying. The bidding company has recruited a high quality team; we have met the deadlines and have come through the first hurdle. There must be another way of saying that—we have come over the first hurdle. I shall always be caught out even worse than Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch if I attempt sporting metaphors. They will always be mixed metaphors when they come from me.

There is still some misunderstanding about the difference between the UK-wide benefits of hosting the Olympics and the benefits for London. Of course there are very significant UK-wide benefits. As has been said, many of the events in the London Olympics will be in other parts of the country, and people in other parts of the country will benefit from those directly and from coming to London. However, the regeneration benefits—the long-term legacy—will be particularly enduring for London because many of the new facilities will be provided in London.

We think that there is a very proper balance between what London is contributing through the council tax—a figure of £625 million over 10 years—what is to be contributed by the London Development Agency and what is to be contributed from nationwide lottery funds. I hasten to say that the £2,375 million we are talking about is not a budget. People talk as if it were, but it is the sum of the public subsidy which is proposed. Of course, as for all previous Olympics, we anticipate very considerable private support, and we are grateful for that which has already been promised. Of course there will be the income from the activities to be considered. We should look at the issue in that wider sense. When we do, the amount coming from the London council tax seems entirely appropriate.

I noticed the very wise words of my noble friend Lord Pendry and the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, about who has been contributing private funding. I am grateful to them for that.

I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has left the debate about the early Olympic lottery until another, more appropriate, occasion, which will no doubt be the Report stage of the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill. I will be happy to debate that and the Olympic lottery tax with him then.

It is appropriate that I conclude by saying something about the events of the last 28 hours, because they have been considerable. It is a tremendous honour that we have been chosen as a candidate city. Reference has been made to the evaluation report which puts London in third place, behind Paris and Madrid, and just ahead of New York. The strength of the London bid, shown in the IOC's evaluation, are a well planned sports concept with the use of 20 existing venues; the Olympic village, with a very good competition environment for the majority of athletes; and the environmental quality of the bid—the Olympic Park area is the largest ever environmental reclamation and transformation project. The evaluation also refers to the availability of accommodation in London. I know that that is not directly to the credit of Government, it is to the credit of London as a vibrant city, but that is, after all, what we are all about, as the noble Lord, Lord St John, rightly said. There is also the financial package in place for the games. I recommend that bit of the IOC's conclusions in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan.

We are confident that we will have the capacity to continue to reflect those strengths which are shown by the IOC bid, but also to tackle the weaknesses which are undoubtedly there. I have talked about the scepticism of Londoners. I think that it is within the capability of the bid team and particularly of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, as its new chair, to build on the excellent work of Barbara Cassani and to enthuse Londoners and the people of this country more widely, as we get closer to the final bid period, about the virtues of the Olympic Games for this country.

The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said that London is not behind the bid. I find that unhelpful and I do not think it is true. It is just that we Londoners have a lot of things on our minds at the moment, and I think that the Olympics will come to the fore in people's views. Certainly there is, as the noble Lords, Lord St John, Lord Glentoran and Lord Addington, said, much to be done on the transport side. But we are confident that London will have the capacity to deliver the transport requirements for the Olympics.

We already have one of the world's most extensive rail and underground systems. There will be significant improvements to the infrastructure by 2012, not least, as the noble Lord, Lord St John, said, the new link between King's Cross and Stratford that will take passengers into the heart of the Olympic zone from central London in less than seven minutes. We have already planned significant levels of investment in both the Underground and rail transport network to improve safety and capacity.

I have referred already to the work of Barbara Cassani and to the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, is taking over from her. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, for his tribute to Barbara Cassani and his very perceptive analysis of the role that she has played in the early stages; he also discussed the difference between that and the role which the noble Lord, Lord Coe, will be playing as we come closer to the bid deadline.

We have a serious bid and we are in the running. We have the complete commitment of the Government to that bid; we have the commitment of the Mayor of London to that bid and we will have the commitment of the people of London. The best we can do, I think, is to send off those working on the bid with the rousing support of the House of Lords. I repeat my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Monro.

5.20 p.m.

Lord Monro of Langholm

My Lords, we have had an excellent debate and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, for his good-humoured reply to a good-humoured debate. We have learnt a great deal from it. Speakers from all sides of the House were informed and, with one exception, all wished the bid full steam ahead for 2012.

What did come out of the debate—I think it originated from the noble Lord, Lord St John—was the concern about apathy. I mentioned that that was part of the concern of the IOC. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will take the message to his colleagues that we must raise the standard of information and the level of enthusiasm and must consider how we are going to get the result. The sooner that is done, the better. It has to be done by November, when our bid goes in. After that, the door shuts. We must do a great deal in seven months.

I was disappointed on the issue of playing fields; our statistics differ dramatically. But whatever happens, the Government are agreeing to the change of use of far too many playing fields, which is far removed from their manifesto commitment.

Lastly, we did not say enough about the lottery. It is incredible how the income of sport has changed since it was introduced. We want to say thank you to John Major and the Conservative Party for bringing it in and at least doubling the amount of money in grants to the various sports bodies in this country.

All in all, I think that we have had a useful afternoon. I hope that the country will take heart from what we have said and will wish the bid every possible success. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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