HC Deb 02 March 2004 vol 418 cc212-34WH

2 pm

Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab)

I am sure that all of us present wish London's bid for the 2012 Olympics every success. It will have particular benefits for London, especially the east end of London, in terms of regeneration and economic boost, which are issues that I shall leave to others with a greater knowledge of the capital to address.

I shall talk about how the benefits of the bid and, I hope, of staging the Olympics can go wider than London, which is officially making the bid. Although, under Olympic rules, one city must make the bid, as far as I am concerned, this bid is not just London's, but Sheffield's—in fact, a bid from all cities throughout the United Kingdom. It is not just England's bid, but the bid of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as our competitors who take part in the 2012 London Olympic games will be from the whole United Kingdom.

Potentially, there are enormous benefits for the stimulation of our elite competitors in all Olympic sports. We should consider other nations that have held the event and the benefits that they have gained from Olympic success. In 1988, Spain had one gold medallist, but in the Barcelona games of 1992 it had 13. Even Australia, with its great tradition of Olympic success, had nine golds in 1996 but nearly doubled that to 16 in Sydney in 2000.

Clearly, hosting the games gives a great stimulus to the elite athletes who compete on behalf of the host nation. Those athletes benefit from the improved facilities provided for the Olympic games, and a list of such facilities is being worked up as part of our Olympic bid. That legacy will last not merely for the 2012 games; for many years afterwards, athletes will have access to the best facilities in the world. That will build on the many excellent facilities that exist in this country partly as a result of the Manchester Commonwealth games and partly because of the Sheffield World student games, of which my right hon. Friend the Minister is all too well aware.

Not only elite athletes will benefit: the Olympics, particularly if we succeed in getting beyond the bidding stage and secure the event, will raise enthusiasm for sport among people throughout the country at grassroots level. However good or successful they are, people will be inspired by the Olympics to go out and take part. Those of us who remember the 1966 World cup victory will know how it stimulated interest in football in this country. Only recently, the rugby union team succeeded in generating interest not only in rugby but in sport more widely. Such success stimulates people throughout the country to take part and in enjoy sport.

A successful bid will bring demands, however, such as demands for improved facilities. People who get involved in sport want to do better and want better facilities to achieve that. I am sure that that will stimulate more private involvement, such as private sponsorship and businesses promoting facilities for their employees. Private clubs, gyms, voluntary organisations and local authorities can contribute to the development of sporting facilities. Later, I shall talk about what the Government might do in that regard, as clearly there will be demands on them to meet the aspirations generated by a successful Olympic bid.

That agenda will fit in appropriately with the Government's key targets on obesity. It is a major challenge for our country that obesity levels have tripled over the past 20 years. The Government's 70 per cent.target—or whatever it might be after the Wanless report—is clearly an important issue for the whole nation. The Olympic bid could be key to stimulating physical activity and sport of all kinds, and we would all welcome that.

The Olympic bid can be a force for social cohesion. Recently, the Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, of which I am a member, has been looking at social cohesion in this country. We have developed a multicultural country, but one in which the different cultures often exist apart. Sport can bring people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups and cultures together in a way that probably nothing else can. Again, I am sure that we will want to rise to that challenge as a nation.

The Olympic games are not only about people competing in the elite events, as 70,000 volunteers will be required. I remember that one of the enjoyable aspects of the 1991 student games in Sheffield was the number of people from the city who simply came along for two weeks and said that they wanted to help. They wanted to be involved in the games as citizens of Sheffield and to give their time voluntarily to make the event a success. There will be opportunities for 70,000 people up and down the country to assist in that process as volunteers at the 2012 Olympics.

Let me now consider the facilities. Of course, most events will be staged in London and most new facilities will be built in the capital, but the construction of those facilities will provide opportunities for construction companies and workers up and down the country to gain a benefit. There will also be opportunities for football events to be staged up and down the United Kingdom. Given the prospect of our bid winning, one thing that many cities will want to consider straight away and start planning for is hosting the holding camps for athletes from other nations. Those camps will be established up and down the UK once the games have been awarded to London and countries begin to think about how their competitors will acclimatise before the games.

I understand that the UK holding camp in Queensland, Australia, brought a benefit of 6 million Australian dollars to the local economy, so it need not be only the host city that benefits—there could be benefits for other parts of the UK. Already, centres such as Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Bath, Cardiff and, of course, Sheffield should be eyeing up the possibilities of hosting holding camps and gaining economic and other benefits. It is up to cities and regions to start thinking now, as London prepares its bid, about how they can contribute and get a slice of the action.

Barbara Cassani spoke recently at the annual dinner of Sheffield's chamber of commerce. She made a point of asking local business people what they could gain from the games and telling them to start thinking about that now to ensure that Sheffield gets a piece of the action, as it will be too late if we leave it until 2010. Local strategic partnerships should have that on their agenda already and should be working out what their role can and should be. There will be certain trial events before the Olympics, which could be staged outside London to show that the country can manage to put on major international events. Again, areas or bases that already have facilities should be thinking about bidding to stage such events.

We know from the Sydney experience, and I know from figures that I have seen, that of the tourists who went to Sydney for the games, and indeed before the games, almost half went on to spend time in the rest of Australia. That presents a challenge to the United Kingdom. How can people who come to the country before the games and for the games be attracted to other tourist facilities and locations up and down the country? That will spread the economic benefits of the games far wider than the host city.

I understand from the bid team that thought is already being given to cultural, arts and other events that could be put together as part of a package to go with the games. Such events will take place up and down the country. The Olympic torch will be carried across the country and a series of events will take place along its route. That will mean not only that people throughout the UK can enjoy a flavour and an experience of the Olympic event, but that tourists from outside the UK can see the great delights of the rest of the country, along with the tremendous facilities and attractions that they see in London.

That said, I must raise one or two cautionary points with the Minister. I am sure he feels that I have been very much on track with Government policy on these matters so far—I certainly hope so—but I may now stray offside slightly on one or two points, which I would like him to respond to.

Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South) (Con)

Before the hon. Gentleman gets too deeply immersed in cautionary points, does he agree that, apart from the spin-off benefits in terms of tourism, visitors and enthusiasm for sport, there will also be benefits as a result of the number of sports events that will be held outside London? I have in mind the yachting at Weymouth and the football around the country. Does he agree that those events will be a tremendous stimulus in their own right for the regions in which they are located?

Mr. Betts

Absolutely. The hon. Gentleman is right. I mentioned the football, but not the yachting, and he is right to raise it. Some of those events will be seen by people who will not necessarily get to the Olympic events in London, particularly residents in other regions of the United Kingdom. That will bring the games to a far wider group of spectators, which will have enormous benefits in making the Olympics a truly national, as well as a London, event.

I want to raise with the Minister the concern that the money to fund the Olympics will result in some diversion of funding from other parts of the United Kingdom. I understand that it has been estimated that about £750 million will come from the special Olympic draw. That is welcome, but I understand that that could mean a 4 to 5 per cent. reduction in funding for good causes from other lottery sources. Is that money that other good causes should really have to find or should the Government somehow make up the deficit? The figure involved is relatively small, but it could rankle with one or two organisations that might not benefit as they would have done.

Some £340 million will come from the sports councils throughout the UK. We are told that some of that might be spent in the regions, but will some money that would have been spent in the regions now be diverted to the London Olympic bid? I understand that there may be a need for up to another £400 million after 2009, again probably coming from the sports councils. Will that be money diverted from the regions to London? We need answers on those points, because they are relevant and they could worry people engaged in sporting activities across the United Kingdom. Support from the rest of the UK could be undermined if it appears that the money will be drawn from major sporting facilities that might have been built in the regions or from grassroots sport.

What I am really saying is that the Olympics should be a springboard, not just for elite athletes and London, but for sporting activity throughout the United Kingdom. I shall put this as nicely as I can: the Government should be oiling those springs, not damping them down.

Pete Wishart (North Tayside) (SNP)

The hon. Gentleman is on to a good point, and we in Scotland stand to lose £41.8 million for our good causes and charities because of the new Olympic lottery game. That has worried Sport Scotland to the extent that it says that sport in Scotland could be set back for 20 years as a result. I do not know whether his experience from Sheffield is the same, and I would be interested to hear his views.

Mr. Betts

The point that I am making is that, at this stage, things are not set in concrete. I am trying to raise with the Minister the concern that what should, eventually, be a great national success if we manage to win the Olympic bid could have a downside in terms of the perceptions of the rest of the United Kingdom, if it feels that money is being diverted from projects that would otherwise have taken place in Scotland and the north of England, for example.

The Government contribution towards sporting infrastructure is about £2 per head per year. That does not compare terribly well with what our European neighbours spend or with spending on the arts in this country. I know that there is always a tug of war between the two, but some of us sometimes feel that sports take a back seat to the arts in terms of funding. There is perhaps also a feeling that there is lots of money in sport. There are some very well paid sports people, particularly footballers but also athletes and tennis players.

There is an argument that, as some sporting bodies have sums of money that eventually find their way into high wages for the people who complete in those sports, the bodies ought to give a bit of it up and fund grass-roots sport. I know that the Football Association, for example, will argue strongly when I talk to it that it already allocates more money to grass-roots sport from professional football than is the case in any other European country. It feels that it is in the forefront.

It is fair that professional sports should ensure that some of their money trickles down to the grass-roots level. However, to draw a comparison with the arts, there is never the same argument that Hugh Grant should fund the local amateur dramatics society or that J.K. Bowling should stump up the money for a new local library. Things do not work in those terms. Sport is expected to make contributions that other activities are perhaps not expected to make.

The Government should think about these issues. We are not having a go at the Minister personally: he is a colleague from Sheffield and I want to restrict our rivalry to the professional football pitch and our two clubs. I hope that the arguments we raise today will strengthen his hand in discussions in other places about funding. When we consider the stimulus that the Olympic bid may give to grass-roots sport, we should take account of the recent Sport England analysis of the state of local authority sports centres, which shows that about £550 million would need to be spent to bring them up to a reasonable standard. There are concerns about those issues.

I support the Olympic bid because I want it to bring benefits to sports at the highest level and at grass-roots level. I want it to provide benefits for London and the rest of the United Kingdom, and I want it to be the centrepiece of the Government's drive on health problems, particularly obesity. The Government must grab this opportunity with both hands. In doing so, I want them to think through the financial support that they give not just to the Olympics, but to grass-roots sport more generally. I do not want arguments and concerns that might be raised about the diversion of existing sports funding away from the regions and grassroots sport throughout the UK to cloud the general support that I believe exists for the London Olympic bid.

I support the bid and there could be major benefits for many parts of the United Kingdom. I will also be looking at what Sheffield can do to benefit from a successful Olympic bid. I hope that the Government will deal with sports funding and see what more they can do to support the Olympic bid and sport in general.

2.17 pm
Mr. David Amess (Southend, West) (Con)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) on securing this debate and on the manner in which he addressed the Chamber. I thought that I would speak in the debate because I was born in Plaistow in the east end of London and it is mainly the east end that will benefit if the UK is successful. Many members of my family, and friends still live in the east end. I have no doubt that one of the great achievements of my party, when it was in government, was the regeneration of docklands. That is an outstanding success, as is the channel tunnel rail link at Stratford and other matters. Sport is of great importance to the east end of London. If the UK is successful, there will be a tremendous beneficial effect on the region.

As people grow older, they become a bit cynical about events, so I ask the Minister, "Are we likely to be successful?" I suppose that as politicians we should not be naive and take everything at face value; we should question these matters. I was delighted that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said last May that the Government would give total backing to the UK bid. Although I have not seen any evidence since then that the Government are not doing that, I would like to know whether a successful hid is a straightforward matter. Is it decided entirely according to the merits of the bidding countries' facilities, or might other slightly dark matters be operating?

Looking around the Chamber, I would say that there are not too many hon. Members here who saw the 1948 Olympic games. This country did the world a great service when, at very short notice, it agreed to hold the Olympic games in London. On that basis alone, London has a strong case. The fact that it coincides with the diamond jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen is a strong point, too, as is the fact that a lot of people in the United Kingdom speak English.

London is the greatest capital city in the world. People might cringe at such a statement because we do not have the weather. We might not have the transport. The British people are always moaning about everything under the sun. That aside, London is the greatest capital city in the world. So why should the Olympics not be held here? I accept that the countryside in Scotland is more beautiful and that Wales has other bonuses, as no doubt does Ireland, but the capital city is the right place for the hid. I hope that the Minister will share with the Chamber the precise elements of the plan to secure the majority vote when that takes place.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe mentioned obesity. When I suggested to the Select Committee on Health, of which I am a member, that we have an inquiry into obesity, I had no idea at the time that it would have a huge impact on the United Kingdom. Indeed, the way in which the Government are trying to get ahead of the Health Committee report is rather amusing to its members. We are still taking evidence and we shall not be reporting for a couple of months. However, the fact that the Health Committee decided to examine obesity is encouraging everyone to talk about healthy lifestyles.

In 1985–86, only 20 per cent. of children were driven to school. That figure has now doubled. I could go on about the adverse impact of obesity on the lifestyle of the general public. There is no doubt that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: if the United Kingdom is successful in its bid, that will have a good effect on people's health.

As for the various tables, I am sure that it did not escape the notice of hon. Members that, when a country hosts the Olympic games, it tends to be more successful at winning events. I welcome that. The hon. Gentleman is right. If we are successful, there will not be a region in the United Kingdom that will not benefit from that. Essex, in particular, has welcomed the bid. We consider that it would bring real economic and social benefits to that county, which, as we all know, is the largest in the country.

It is anticipated that an estimated 9,000 full-time jobs would be created by the games, together with tens of thousands of visitors and participants arriving from all over the world. That would be a huge boost to those counties on London's borders and Essex in particular. Stephen Castle, the councillor who is responsible for sports, said:

This is an important step towards the prospect of the greatest sporting event in the world being staged in our area. We wholly support this move and will play every part we can to ensure the London bid is successful, and to bring the benefits of the Games to Essex. Although we are unsure at this stage whether Essex will be able to host any of the actual events"— can the Minister comment on that?— we are still very positive to be able to host training camps and provide the training facilities. Councillor Castle said that that could mean massive investment in sporting facilities in Essex and went on to say that we have some great young sporting talent in Essex many of whom are still at school. What better incentive could they have but to strive for the highest sporting achievement in the world? It is a thrilling prospect. My constituency of Southend, West has a strong case for having a holding camp for the 200 visiting Olympic teams. Southend is also fortunate in sport. We have a very successful athletics club, which has produced top performing Olympic athletes for some years. Two locals took part in the Sydney Olympic games in 2000: Sarah Wilhelmy in the 100 metre sprint relay and Simon Hughes—not the Member of Parliament, I might add—in the pole vault. We hope that at least one of those athletes will be sent to this year's Olympic games.

It would be wonderful for the UK if we were successful with the bid. The whole UK would benefit. Thousands of UK construction, manufacturing, accommodation, catering and services companies would be directly involved in meeting the needs of the games. The football tournament would be played across the UK-in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Newcastle, Manchester, Aston Villa in Birmingham and London. The 2012 Olympic torch relay would visit almost every major town and city in the UK in the months leading up to the games. I am sure that every Member of Parliament would like to be photographed at the torch relay ceremony in their town. There would also be a UK-wide cultural festival, beginning at least a year before the games.

Up to 70,000 volunteers from across the UK would help to run the games. A London 2012 Olympic games could act as a catalyst to boost physical activity levels at all ages and help to combat rising obesity. I am sure that disabled people would stage a better games through the Paralympics than able-bodied people.

Any Member worth their weight as an MP will support the UK's bid for the Olympic games. I would like to hear how serious the Minister is about securing a successful bid and how he views Essex and Southend in that particular scheme of things. Given that London hosted the Olympic games in 1948, it would be right to be awarded the games to coincide with Her Majesty the Queen's diamond jubilee. I hope that we are successful and that we are serious about the bid. I hope to be at the London 2012 Olympic games with all hon. Members.

2.28 pm
Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) (Lab)

First, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) on securing the debate, which is about an important topic. As he said, the potential benefits of bringing the Olympic games to London in 2012 are enormous, particularly for sport throughout the UK.

I want to focus on the relationship between the Olympic bid and grass-roots sport. A successful Olympic bid would involve a two-way relationship. A London Olympics, and the seven-year preparation period that would go before it, could make a huge difference to the profile of and participation in sport at all levels. However, the converse is also true. In the crucial period between now and 6 July next year, during which the success of our bid will be determined, the UK's commitment to sport at all levels may yet have that critical impact on the success of the bid.

We know that technically our bid is strong; I believe that it is a world beater. London can produce a compact, well run games. The money invested would result in lasting benefit for the local community and the UK as a whole. I have taken the opportunity to visit the area involved along with the London development Agency. I have seen it first hand, so I can say how much that redevelopment impetus is needed and how magnificent the regeneration plans are. The London Development Agency hopes to transform the area with or without the games, but with the games it believes it can make the changes up to seven years more quickly.

As we have already heard, the games will be the catalyst for the regeneration of 1,500 acres of east London, creating thousands of new homes and jobs, doubling the amount of green space in the area and restoring the River Lea's unique waterways. They will also help to tackle shocking inequality. It is disturbing to hear that, on average, people in Newham live five years less than those in Kensington and Chelsea. We need only look at the impact of the Commonwealth games on Manchester—with the direct and indirect creation of 2,400 jobs—to see the potential value that such an economic carrot can have for the area.

With such a strong technical bid, it is important that the country does not let itself down in another key respect. An Olympic host nation should be a sporting nation. We are a nation that is passionate about sport, certainly when it comes to watching it. Some 14.5 million people tuned in at 9 o'clock in the morning to see England defeat Australia in the rugby World cup final, and 5.4 million people tuned in at 1 am to see the Scottish curling team take gold in the 2003 Salt Lake City Olympics. When our teams are on TV, we watch them.

Unfortunately, we are not so strong on participation. According to "Game Plan", the Government document that sets out the future for sport, Australia—the last host of the summer games—has 48 per cent. of its population participating in sport in a serious way at least once a week. More recent surveys have found that 57 per cent. of Australians report doing at least two and a half hours of moderate and vigorous physical activity per week. Finland, where the figure is 70 per cent., is a world beater.

According to the latest figures, the UK comes in at 30.4 per cent. I also have the figure for France, arguably our main rival to host the games—48 per cent., the same as Australia. We do not have to go far to find out why there is such a discrepancy. According to Sport England, the French Government spend approximately £5 per person per year on sports and physical activity. That would buy a football, a rugby ball, a child's racquet or bat—or, in an off-licence, a bottle of French wine. What are we spending? In 2002–03, considering the Treasury spend in England, we find that Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent £2.09 per person per year. That would buy half a bottle of wine or a pint of beer.

At a conference last Wednesday, the Secretary of State said: We didn't decide to bid for the Olympics because it's the greatest sporting festival in the world-although that was part of it. We also decided to bid because the Olympics are an inspiration that can help us to change the culture of this country so that sport and physical activity is part of people's daily routine. She is right. I am sure that the Government will acknowledge that we cannot expect the games to transform the culture of our nation on their own. They will be a tremendous catalyst, but for them to have a lasting effect the country must have an infrastructure that is adequate to facilitate and sustain that massive increase in sporting and physical activity. If we are serious about the Olympic games, and we are, we must show that we are also serious about sport. To show that we are serious, we have to be prepared to invest serious money.

It is no good crying out for the Government to spend, spend and spend again unless we can suggest a way to spend the money that will make a difference. Despite the millions of pounds that the Government have spent on sport over the past five years, participation has risen by only 0.3 per cent. We must spend effectively.

There are many areas in which the Government could invest more money: community sports club facilities, school facilities and school-based programmes. I am aware that the Government have invested in those areas, but I call for them to do more. Sport England estimates that £550 million is needed over the next five years to bring the condition of the £4.5 billion stock of local authority owned sports centres up to an acceptable standard. A commitment to meet those needs would be welcome.

Physical resources are just one side of the coin. Another area that I particularly want to discuss is human resources in coaching, which is key to the cultural shift to which the Secretary of State referred. One of the great opportunities of the Olympic bid is to inspire people to become active by emulating their heroes. Who did not want to go out and kick a rugby ball around the garden after seeing Jonny Wilkinson score that match-winning drop goal? I acknowledge that my colleague, the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart), would demur on that, but it applies to English MPs and those who represent English constituencies.

We must nurture the desire to achieve, to better oneself and to fulfil the Olympic ideals of citius, altius, fortius—swifter, higher, stronger—to turn it into sustained activity. The emotional boost from the event will soon fade if we do not have an infrastructure in place to harness and sustain the enthusiasm. That infrastructure would require not only good physical resources, but first-rate human resources—good coaches.

Coaching is the thread that ties grass-roots participation to Olympic medals. A good coach will take youngsters from an early age and help them to develop the basic skills that are prerequisites for all sports. Preschool and early-years provision are especially vital to ensure that every child can kick, throw, strike, catch, run and jump. Only four in 10 children can do all those. What do we do for the 60 per cent. majority who cannot? Resolving the problem requires coaches who specialise in working with children of pre-school and primary school age rather than inexperienced coaches, or those trained to work with adults, imposing inappropriate adult training programmes on young people. We need level 4 coaches to work with young children as well as top athletes. We must develop coaching programmes and models that establish level 4 coaches for under-14s or under-sixes. We need top children's as well as adult's coaches.

To ensure that the Olympic bid and, I hope, the games have the impact on sport that we hope for, we must ensure that investment goes to grass-roots facilities and coaching, as well as to funding stadiums and elite sporting programmes. The Government have committed —28 million to community coaching and, this month, 22 sports were formally invited to be part of the first wave to implement the new national coaching certificate. However, whereas we were initially promised 3,000 full-time coaches through that scheme, there will now be 3,000 full-time and part-time coaches. When the feedback from the field made it clear that creating part-time coaching posts was more attractive to those wanting to move into the profession than creating full-time posts, the Government should have taken the opportunity—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Edward O'Hara)

Order. We must suspend the sitting while a technical matter is sorted out, because it is difficult to report the proceedings.

2.39 pm

Sitting suspended.

2.44 pm

On resuming—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I should inform the Chamber that the time taken up by the interruption cannot be added on. However, it is still my intention to begin the winding-up speeches at 3 o'clock. I call Mr. Gardiner.

Mr. Gardiner

When it became clear that it was preferable to have full-time and part-time coaches, the Government should have taken the opportunity to create more coaches, rather than cut a corner and lower the investment. We will not make the changes in the culture of the nation that the Government have alluded to if we keep cutting corners like that. The Government must recognise that investing in coaches to inspire and guide young people will not only promote sport and good health—the problems of obesity have been mentioned—but contribute to the fulfilment of key policies involving social inclusion, education, crime diversion and community regeneration.

Money is invested in sport in this country in a complex way through the lottery and local authorities. The role of local authorities in particular must be recognised. Those in local government have the potential to link the games to other social inclusion strategies and to engage young people in and out of school. As the local authorities are responsible for so much of our investment in sport, greater guidance and support should b given to them on what their responsibilities are with regard to sport and physical activity.

For the Olympics to have the positive effect on sport throughout the UK that we would like, the mechanics must be right and the finances adequate. There is also a practical issue involved concerning the funding of the Olympics. The new Olympics lottery distributor, which is being created under the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill, will inevitably take a share of the lottery pot away, not only from Sport England, but from Sport Scotland and other bodies as well. That must be addressed.

The existing lottery distributors have a wealth of experience. Sport England, for example, played a key role in the Manchester Commonwealth games, and with that in mind, I want to raise questions and seek a number of assurances from the Minister. Will he explain why a completely separate funding body must be created, rather than creating funding streams that work in the existing structures? Will he assure us that a new distributor will not create extra bureaucracy and duplication? Will he assure us that any new body that is created will be given a remit to consult existing funding bodies—in particular Sport England, UK Sport and Sport Scotland—on the legacy of the facilities that it will fund? Will he assure us that any new funding body will have explicitly in firs remit the authority to distribute funds that will be for the long-term good of British sport?

Will the Minister assure us that, rather than funds for grass-roots sport dropping as a result of the games, with the lottery pot being spread a little thinner and sales in decline over recent years, central Government will guarantee not only current funding, but an increase over the years of the bid And up to 2012, so that the physical and human resources will be in place to facilitate a cultural change in inspired by the games, just as the Secretary of State has said? In short, will the Government ensure that we match the French and offer the full bottle of wine rather than a pint of beer?

2.46 pm
Pete Wishart (North Tayside) (SNP)

In the time-honoured and traditional way, I congratulate the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) on securing an important and worthy debate.

This is the third debate on the Olympic games that I have taken part in during the past year and all have been based on the assumption that these London games will be good for London and for the rest of the United Kingdom. I do not know on what basis that assumption has been made and I would question it, because I am not sure that a London games will be good for the rest of the United Kingdom. It is not as if we have never heard this before: every time that London secures a massive infrastructure project, an international games or an event, we are told that it is good for the rest of the country. We were told that by the Prime Minister when he opened his bid a few months ago, and we will no doubt be told that in future.

I remember being told something similar in the 1990s when the millennium dome was being constructed. I saw glossy advertisements for it and was told that it was something of which I, as a Scot, should be proud as it was going to be an icon for the rest of the United Kingdom. We saw exactly what happened to the millennium dome.

Anybody who questions why London is always awarded such events and projects is labelled unreasonable or anti-London, but surely it is right occasionally to question why all the big infrastructure projects and events go to London. That is not making a case against London, but just questioning why such things always go there. No other city in the UK was considered for an Olympic bid even though the most successful Olympic games held in Europe in modern times were in devolved Catalonia. Why does it always have to be London?

There is no doubt that the games will be very good for London, but it is questionable whether they will be good for Scotland, the rest of England and other regions of the United Kingdom. We know that they will be good for London because the Government employed consultants, Arup, to consider how they would benefit London. The conclusion was that 1,000 jobs would be created in the regeneration of the east end of London. It was also said that there would be a further benefit of £70 million from the fiscal impacts of growth in the local economy and that a growth in tom ism would generate between £280 million and £507 million. Furthermore, it was concluded that once the games had been and gone, there would be further benefits to London, including legacies such as the future use of newly built sports facilities and more work in the regenerated east end of London.

There is no doubt that London would do well out of a London Olympics, but I have seen no such equivalent quantifiable study of how Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other regions of England would fare if the games were secured. All that we have seen so far is Barbara Cassani running around our chambers of commerce having business breakfasts and telling us that we had better get our finger out or we will lose out if London succeeds with the 2012 games. She gives a spurious example of how Queensland did well out of the Sydney Olympics, but always fails to say that the other Australian states were pretty miffed that most of the tourist traffic was diverted to Sydney when the games were held there four years ago.

We do not know how good the games will be for London, but we know for certain that our grass-roots sports, charities and good causes will be dramatically affected by the new Olympic lottery game. I said in an intervention on the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe that we stand to lose £41.8 million from our good causes if the London Olympic bid is successful. That made Sport Scotland raise concerns with the Scottish Executive when we were putting its concerns to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

A spokesman for Sport Scotland said: If we lose over GBP 40 million from lottery funds because of the London Olympics we'll need to end whole programmes which provide support to grass root and elite sport in Scotland". He went on: There is a terrible irony in the fact that bringing the greatest sporting show on Earth to the UK could devastate the regeneration of sport in Scotland and set is back 20 years". What will we get in return? We are told that we might get the odd football game at Hampden. That is fair enough, but one thing is certain: we will not get any of the semi-finals or quarter-finals or the final at Hampden. We might be lucky if we get Tonga versus Azerbaijan. Unless football somehow turns into a blue riband event in the next 10 to 12 years, I cannot see this amounting to much more than a hill of beans. We are also told that some international teams might come to Scotland to set up a base, but we have also been told clearly that we will have no new resources and no new facilities to host the teams.

I say those things not because I do not want the London bid to be successful; I do want it to be successful. It is a good bid and I think London will secure the games, but my second major point is that if London wants to secure and succeeds in securing the games, London should pay for them. I find it completely unacceptable that the rest of the United Kingdom should be paying for a London Olympic games out of our good causes, our charities and our grass-roots sporting facilities and events.

London is the most prosperous city in Europe. It can more than afford to pay for the games. It has a gross domestic product of some £180 billion—larger than that of Sweden, Austria or Belgium. Surely it can afford to pay for the games itself; it has more millionaires per square mile than any other city in Europe. It has prosperity beyond the dreams of us in the rest of the regions and the other nations of the United Kingdom. It is not as if London does not receive its fair share of public spending; it soaks up some 80 per cent. of all expenditure on transport alone. Extending the Jubilee line to docklands cost £3.5 billion and heaven knows how much the proposed Crossrail will cost. That does not take into account the non-identified spending of Whitehall Departments, the defence of the realm, the BBC and quangos.

Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con)

I represent a London constituency. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that London will contribute more than other parts of the UK towards the London Olympics, so I hope he corrects the impression that London is not contributing.

Pete Wishart

I gratefully take the hon. Lady's rebuke and I recognise that Londoners are paying more than their fair share for this proposal. I have received several e-mails from disgruntled Londoners about the prospect of paying increased council tax to subsidise the games. Further to the impression created in the debate, I do not think that there is unanimity in London on the Olympics, as there is not unanimity throughout the United Kingdom.

As well as discovering that the rest of the UK will be paying for a share of the London Olympics through the lottery, we now find that the UK taxpayer is to underwrite the London Olympic games. We are told that the cost of the London Olympics is not likely to exceed £2.735 billion, but I was told that the Scottish Parliament would not cost more than £40 million—it now stands at £430 million. It is a big risk for the UK taxpayer to finance and underwrite the London Olympic games.

When Sydney hosted the games, the New South Wales Government paid for and underwrote the games. New South Wales is not nearly as prosperous as London. If New South Wales could underwrite a Sydney Olympics, surely London, with its devolved local authority and the office of the Mayor, should underwrite the cost if things go pear-shaped financially. If that happens, it is likely to be the UK taxpayer who once again has to bail London out.

I return to the central premise that the games will be good for the rest of the UK. For example, hon. Members have said that they will boost sport at grassroots and youth level, but the simple and obvious fact is that if money is diverted from grass-roots projects to large infrastructure projects in London, it is inevitable that grass-roots projects will suffer. In Scotland, there are massive health and lifestyle problems—including obesity, about which much has been said-notably and sadly among our young people and children. However, for years we have been selling off community and school recreational facilities the length and breadth of our country to bolster the public finances.

We must invest money in grass-roots projects, not in massive infrastructure in London. Our team sports are in decline: one need only mention Wales's performance over the last few weeks to recognise the difficulties that our national teams are experiencing. I remain convinced that money will drift out of local projects and be sucked up in the London Olympic bid.

I hope that London is successful, but I do not want the good causes of Scotland to pay for the London bid. I hope that the Minister will take these points on board and consider the funding of the London Olympic games. Other hon. Members have already mentioned the fact that a lot of money will be drawn from good causes and grass-roots sports events. I hope that the Minister will reconsider how the London games will he financed.

2.56 pm
Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op)

In view of the time, I shall try to be brief to allow the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) to speak. Many points that I wanted to make have already been made, so there is no need to repeat them.

I am grateful to follow the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart), who challenges us to think about the issues. Every speaker has laid some of those questions before the Minister, and those of us who served on the Olympic lottery Bill Committee have already done so. I support the London bid, not because I am from London—I am from one of the regions—but because it will add to the enormous drive that we need to put into regenerating sport and replicating that across the country. The choice is either to have a bid or not to have a bid. Which would be better for sport? On balance, I think that a London bid would have an enormous impact on sport and regeneration throughout the country and would be worth while. However, we must answer fundamental questions, especially on funding and the possible impact on grass-roots sport throughout the country over a long period. I hope that the Minister will talk about that.

We will benefit in the regions, and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) mentioned the role that Loughborough will play; the constituency is already geared up to host teams that will be based there. The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) said that a couple of athletes at the last Olympics were from his constituency. There are about 140 international athlete s in Loughborough, many of whom are in training. I met an Olympic gold medal hope from my constituency only yesterday.

We have a great desire for Athens to be successful, and that also applies to the next generation. Children in schools who are starting to train now will be excited by this year's Olympics; and could compete in London in 2012. We must use and enhance the galvanised interest in sport that we saw at the rugby World cup and that we shall see this year in Athens and in Portugal at football's European championships. We need to translate that from watching on television to ensuring that up and down the country individuals are excited by sport. We must have the infrastructure so that they can move from school to local clubs and can participate at whatever level.

As most hon. Members here know, I play rugby every Saturday at grass-roots level. I have no ambition—perhaps I have a slight ambition to be Jonny Wilkinson and to have dropped that goal—but as one realises from the age of 22 that it is not going to happen, one can enjoy those glorious moments at whatever level. That is the beauty of sport: it brings so many of us together.

It is crucial that the regional impact is driven though and delivered on the ground, as has already been mentioned, and we must ensure that that is done not only for traditional sports. The hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait), who intervened earlier, was at a meeting yesterday with the Women's Sports Foundation. This is a golden opportunity for female sporting heroes—Paula Radcliffe is a constituent of mine—to be seen day in, day out, on our televisions throughout the Olympics. I hope that we can build on that and that women who are excited by the Olympics this year are galvanised for the 2012 games.

There are so many things that I want to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am conscious of the fact that others want to speak. I give the games my support, but account must be taken of those cautionary questions, many of which have been asked by other hon. Members.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With less than half a minute available, I call Mr. Roger Williams.

2.59 pm
Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire) (LD)

I am tempted to try for a world record in getting the information out, but I am pleased that everybody here today supports the bid, albeit in their own manner. I would like to support it too, although I should also report the fact that there are some negative feelings in the regions and the devolved nations. The Minister would do well to address those, because we do not want any negative feedback to spoil the bid.

The Sports Council for Wales has already cut the third tranche of the community investment programme, which will mean a reduction in sporting facilities in my constituency. I have had letters from the local authority and from the sports council complaining about the Sports Council for Wales. I would like the Minister to assure us that more funding will be put in place, so that we have the athletes to compete successfully in the Olympic games should the bid succeed.

3 pm

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey) (LD)

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) had to make such a brief contribution, but I am pleased to go into bat with others, not just for a London Olympics, but for a UK Olympics for 2012. Although I am a London MP and I have another London interest in the pipeline, I would still argue that London must put in the bid in a way that commands the support of the whole UK. I am convinced that we are going in that direction.

The tradition of Olympic and Commonwealth bids in the UK and elsewhere shows that successful bids benefit more than just the city hosting the games. I was brought up in south Wales and I remember when the Commonwealth games—the Empire games, in those days—took place in Cardiff. They left a legacy that was used not just by people who lived in Cardiff, but by those who came to Cardiff for many years after. The same was true after the Commonwealth games were held in Edinburgh and certainly the same, applied last year, after Manchester had hosted a hugely successful Commonwealth games. The event benefited more than just that part of the country.

The same has been true of Olympic games held in other countries. Of course, the Olympic games have been based in a city—Rome, Munich or Barcelona—but they have had a much wider impact on the country concerned and, if we succeed in the bid next year, that is what an Olympics in London would do.

I want to make three points, one of which addresses head on the concern that there will be a detriment to other parts of the UK. I understand the arguments from Scotland and Wales: we must meet those arguments head on and show how the interests of the rest of the country in promoting sport, participation, healthier living and aspiration to succeed can be met around the country.

First, I shall reiterate the point, although I shall not amplify it in any detail, that if we win the bid next year, many parts of the UK will have a role to play in the build-up to a 2012 Olympics, planning to bring people to the UK, training them and providing venues. That will extend beyond the use of a few football grounds, yachting in Weymouth, shooting in Bisley or rowing at Eton, as all sorts of other venues can and should be involved. Every region of England and every country in the UK must see their place in that

As a positive contribution, I suggest to the Minister that one of the ways in which all parts of London and all other parts of the UK could ensure that they gain something, and are seen to be gaining something, is for each local authority to carry out a consultation with the British Olympic Association. In that consultation the authority would specify the one facility—the one capital investment—that it would most like but which it does not have, such as a swimming pool, an athletics track or a football ground.

The authority would also specify what revenue project it would like, such as coaching in a particular sport. If such consultations could be included in the Olympic project, whether they took place in Brecon and Radnorshire, Tayside, Loughborough, Sheffield or anywhere else, people would start to own a project because they would say, "We are going to get something that will be our legacy." They would consider the project funding linked to the Olympic bid.

I would ask that such consultations also take place throughout Greater London. When the idea of the bid was mooted, I said to Barbara Cassani and her team that this must be seen as an all-London bid, not an east London bid. It is important that Wembley, Wimbledon and the centre of London are used, so that all parts of the capital—north, south, east, west and the middle—feel that they have part of the action. I hope that the Minister will be kind enough to consider that suggestion, and I will put it to the BOA that that is a way that we might lock people into the project.

Secondly—this is my contribution that relates specifically to London—there will be legacies from a successful bid that will benefit everyone in the capital, although they will originate in east London. It will be in everyone's interest for a part of London that has suffered from under-investment—where there is still great poverty and where the land is not used to the full—to receive investment. Just as the Thames is cleaner than it was, which is in everybody's interest, so the Lea valley can be cleaner, which is also in everybody's interest.

If we have a much better social and economic infrastructure, if there is a much better transport infrastructure—for example, if the East London line works, is extended and does really well—if more use is made of the river and if there is a Crossrail project, as I hope there will be, everybody who comes to do business in the UK, or comes through London on the way to somewhere else, will benefit. This is not just a London benefit.

Thirdly, our area has the greatest population in the UK. People from all over the country come here for a while as students, trainees or workers—they are Scots, Welsh, English, northerners, southerners, people from Cornwall and everywhere else. The reality is that if facilities are left after the games, people will be more likely to cycle, run, swim or participate when they come to the capital city, so we will be creating a healthier country.

I know that conversations are going on and, to raise an example, we in London are significantly short of major Olympic-size pools. I went on holiday to Tayside last year and visited the swimming pool in Dundee, which is brilliant. I took my nephew there—it was the most exciting thing in the whole of his holiday. He spent the entire day going down the flumes, even the ones that he was not meant to go down. Of course, children always go for the ones that are above their pay grade or age entitlement. The reality is that those activities are not elitist; they engage everybody, including people on holiday. I hope that there will be a project for a decent Olympic-size pool in Hillingdon—in Uxbridge—and another to expand the Crystal Palace pool to full length as well as one in north London to complement the proposal for east London.

It will be in everybody's interest if sustainable jobs are created. It may surprise some colleagues to know that London has the highest unemployment rate of any region in England. It is the wealthiest place, but as in any great metropolis or capital city the wealth is not shared equally. We must do something about that and the jobs ought to go to a part of the country where unemployment is particularly high.

The more tourists we bring in as a result of the anticipation of the games, the better—and not just to the London venues. People will come to watch football at Hampden Park or Old Trafford; they will add on a trip to the Olympics that keeps them here. I have friends who have worked in support of Olympic venues around the world. Working people such as them visit the country, but not just for the period of the games, as they stay before and after and visit the rest of the country. This is a great opportunity to bring people to UK plc and sell the whole country.

I want to deal with the financing of the bid. It is important that we deal with this issue head on. There are two stages: there is the bid finance, where we know the Government are making a contribution and when, as I understand it, the figures are simply put in ball park terms. If the bid is successful, it is expected that half the income will come from the private sector by way of revenue. It is proposed that the rest will be split, with two thirds coming from lottery contributions and one third from London. London is contributing; in fact, it is the only place where a public sector contribution is provided for. That contribution is provided by a council tax add-on and from money from the Greater London authority via the London Development Agency.

As I have said on behalf of my party and on my own behalf, if I am lucky enough to take over from the Mayor in June—I hope that that will be the case, because I assure this Chamber, the House, Parliament and the country that I will bat as well for London on the Olympics as anybody could, as I am a passionate sports supporter—it will be on the basis that Londoners make an extra, additional and significant contribution above the rest of the country.

We must ensure that the lottery contribution—the two thirds of the half, or the third of the total—does not suck money out of lottery contributions in the rest of the country. I say that in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart) and others. This is about seeking an add-on, rather than a reduction; it is about ensuring that people contribute more; it is about making sure that we do not lose what we have got.

I am committed to making sure that this is a win-win Olympic bid for the UK and London. I know that all those who are involved in the London promotion take that view. It is important for the bid to be seen as "London for the UK", with all the UK benefiting.

3.10 pm
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath) (Con)

I, too, warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) on obtaining this important debate, and I congratulate all those who have spoken so positively about the Olympics. The one person who was relentlessly negative was the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart), but I shall come to him later.

I want to reinforce the point made by the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) about the importance of grass-roots sport bringing people together. Having spent my 12 years in the House so far playing for various Lords and Commons parliamentary sports teams, I have made a huge number of cross-party friends. It is no surprise to see here the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe, with whom I have played a lot of football, and who introduced the debate, and the hon. Members for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) and for Loughborough, with whom I have played a lot of rugby. If it were not for our party differences, I would be tempted to call then, my hon. Friends, and I hope that they would not mind my describing them so.

Sport means the same for people from all walks of life. Through sport, it is r of just politicians who raise money for charity, enjoy themselves and keep fit—it is the same for everybody involved. As hon. Members know, I am delighted to have been made shadow sports spokesman, but I have been a passionate sports competitor and enthusiast all my life. My main sporting involvement as a teenager was in swimming. I was not quite good enough for the Olympic team, but I was lucky enough to be coached by the treat Britain Olympic coach who took our swimming I earn to the 1972 Munich Olympics, and I did swim for the midlands against Wales and Scotland.

The experience in my early life of being coached by a British Olympic coat h meant that I had the opportunity to swim for the same team as many of our Olympic swimmers. Brian Brinkley, the club captain of my swimming club, the Bedford Modernians, was the captain of the British Olympic swimming team at the 1972 games. Subsequently, he has become the coach to Northampton swimming club, and he is in the process of taking over from Charlie Wilson, who used to coach us both as teenagers— I am glad to say that Charlie is recovering from a stroke, and recently I was lucky enough to be able to entertain him for lunch at the House. Having inculcated in young people all the sporting ambitions of generations of swimmers, Charlie carried on coaching at the top level well into his 70s, and is only now handing over our old club to Brian Brinkley.

The Olympics encourage sporting achievement and the application and commitment of volunteers down the generations. I have seen that for myself, and I see it now in my constituency and throughout the country.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon, Hughes) mentioned shooting at Bisley. Many hon. Members will have heard me refer to the fact that my constituency is bound to be involved if the UK wins the bid for 2012, which we hope it will. Shooting can take place at only one venue in the UK, because of changes in our laws on shooting after the terrible tragedy at Dunblane. Bisley is the only place in the UK where shooting for the Olympics can take place, and it was where shooting took place for the Commonwealth games, despite their being held in Manchester. Bisley was the only southern venue, and my constituents were proud to play a part in the Manchester games—I was lucky enough to be invited to present some of the shooting; medals. To return to the theme of the debate, I know that areas away from London, such as my constituency will benefit from the Olympics, because we benefited from the Commonwealth games.

It is important to recognise that all our constituents, from throughout the UK, including Scotland and Wales, will benefit. People from the north of Scotland, the most rural parts of Wales and Northern Ireland and the furthest reaches of Cornwall will benefit. Constituents such as those of the hon. Member for North Tayside will also want to attend the Olympics. The crucial point, however, is that, as we found with two sadly unsuccessful Manchester bids, only a capital city will give the UK the chance of winning a bidding competition—nobody else has mentioned that this afternoon, but I see the hon. Member for Brent, North nodding. I very much agreed with everything that he said, because in the build-up to what we hope will be a successful bid, we must accentuate the positive. Perhaps the Scottish nationalists feel that filling their leaflets with relentlessly negative anti-London propaganda will strike a chord with some of the people who they hope will vote for them.

My reading of the economics of the UK as a whole is that it is the fantastically successful invisible earnings of the City of London that have helped to subsidise UK plc. Constituencies represented by SNP Members have benefited from a London-driven subsidy involving the contributions that all taxpayers make. That has been provided to Scotland by all taxpayers for generations. The Scottish nationalists say that only London will benefit. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) knows lot about matters north of the border, and has pointed out that Londoners are paying more than their fair share under the enhanced precept. London supports the bid, and I believe that the whole of the UK will do so. I hope that the Scottish nationalists will drop their relentlessly negative anti-London approach.

I want to put some points to the Minister in the same constructive spirit as that of the hon. Members for Brent, North, for Loughborough and for Sheffield, Attercliffe. Since I took on my shadow brief, I have had many discussions with lots of leading administrators in various sports. The same matter has been raised by many people and organisations. The Football Association is responsible for the pitches that soccer is played on at every level. People sometimes think that there must be plenty of money in football because the premiership clubs spend so much, but the vast majority of football is played by amateurs on local authority pitches. There is a shortfall of about £2 billion with regard to the need to upgrade local authority pitches.

The Government have said that they are committing money to sport. Much of that has riot got to the sharp end, but I want it to get there. Lots of that money is wrapped up and lost in departmental bureaucracy. That is not this Minister's fault. Three years ago, the Government promised that £750 million of new funding would go to school sport, but less than £9 million has been spent so far; that is less than 2 per cent. The Prime Minister announced that with a great fanfare, but little of the money has got to where it is needed.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey talked about the need for the private sector to be more involved in the Olympic bid. He is right. There are a number of things that could improve the Government's preparations for winning the bid. In recent deliberations on the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill, we said that the Olympic lottery ought to start earlier to bring money in sooner. The Government have conceded that it would be possible to do that under International Olympic Committee rules. We also believe that the Government are wrong to concentrate so much on public sector involvement. A much bigger private sector element ought to be involved in all the Government's planning from now on. I hope that the Minister will respond to that point.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey came up with the idea that every local authority in the country ought to identify one new capital project. I think that part of the problem with funding for sport is that there has been far too much concentration on brand new, bright and shiny capital facilities and not enough on revenue funding. That has certainly been the case since this Government came to power.

On the concerns of the FA and other governing bodies about pitches, local authorities have found that although the Government keep claiming that they have put a little bit more money the local authorities' way, it has not been enough to compensate for all the extra statutory duties, which cost a lot of money, particularly for small local authorities such as mine in Surrey Heath. Some of the money for local authorities must be ring-fenced to be spent on upgrading sports pitches.

The competitors who are using the local authority pitches now are going to be the athletes who we hope will win medals in 2012. They are using substandard facilities such as badly drained pitches. We want them to have better facilities so that we can win the bid and ensure that they win gold, silver and bronze medals for us in 2012.

We must get the money out of the bureaucracy, where it is swallowed up. Leading figures in sport such as Trevor Brooking could tell the Minister how to get that money to the sharp end. He should get away from the shiny new capital schemes, spend it on revenue and ring-fence it. I see that the hon. Member for Brent, North agrees with me.

3.20 pm
The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) on securing the debate. He has represented his constituents very well. I am one of them. I disagree with his criticism at the end, but I will take issue with him about that later at the management committee.

There has been support from all sides—even slightly grudgingly from the Scot nats. The International Olympic Committee will know that there is unanimity of purpose in securing the bid in 2012. There is popular support for this bid right across the UK. Indeed, the opinion polls that we did before the bid showed support at around about 80 per cent., and it was higher in Scotland than in some parts of London. There is therefore support right across the nation. That is to be welcomed. As we go into the more difficult parts of this bid when the competition will get much fiercer internationally, it is important that that unanimity of purpose holds together. The English language newspapers are probably reported disproportionately around the world. What is said by leading spokespersons on this issue is reported.

I should like to put the timetable on the record. As everyone knows, on 15 January this year we submitted the big questionnaire to the IOC. The next date is 18 May when the candidate cities will be announced. On 15 November submissions from the candidates will be filed to the IOC. The IOC valuation team will visit the candidate cities in February and March next year and the selection for the host city for 2012 will be made on 6 July 2005. The launch got off to an extremely good start. It was well reported and there was unanimity of purpose.

There are two areas that I shall focus on in the limited time available. One is the regions and the other is expenditure. I was a little bit disappointed by the comments of the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart). Barbara Cassani is going around the whole of the UK. Her first port of call was rightly Scotland. She got an extremely good reception there. She stressed the opportunities that would be opening up over the period up to the bid and, we hope, beyond. Her work has been welcome. She has also been to Wales, Gateshead, Newcastle and Sheffield. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe and I were present when she gave a speech to Sheffield's powerful chamber of commerce. She was well received. It was not just about Sheffield. She brought in the whole of Yorkshire, the decision makers in local authorities, businesses, and the communities.

Barbara Cassani's next visit will be to the south-west. She is hoping to cover the whole of the United Kingdom within the foreseeable future. I hope that hon. Members will take the opportunity to make their points to her and her team as she goes around the UK. She is incredibly receptive to that. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) asked whether we could focus on a particular project. That should be taken up with the members of the 2012 bid. Again, I have no doubt that when they read the record of this debate, they will respond.

Activities outside the capital include shooting at Bisley, sailing at Weymouth and rowing at Dorney. The development of Weymouth and the extension of the holiday season based on one sport have brought about quite a lot of regeneration in that area. The Olympic football competition can go round many cities in the United Kingdom. Holding camps are extremely important. If we do not look city by city, we must consider counties. For example, Yorkshire is already considering what it can do collectively as a region to attract teams and whether facilities can be shared in Sheffield, York, Leeds and so on. It is examining matters strategically.

Volunteers must not be underestimated. I hope that a lot of them will come from Scotland. Many say that the success of the Commonwealth games in Manchester was due to the volunteers. Manchester gave them a tremendously warm welcome. They helped to produce what many say now were the best Commonwealth games ever. In fact, 24,500 people applied for just over 10,000 places. About 60,000 volunteers were employed at Sydney—47,000 at the Olympics and 15,000 at the Paralympics. Many people in north-west England now have jobs who would not have done were it not for their training and development at the Commonwealth games. That had a big impact on regeneration through sport.

The bid will leave a legacy that could be managed slightly more effectively than was the case in some other cities that hosted the Olympics, and we are carefully considering such matters. If the hon. Member for North Tayside was being honest about public financing, he could have mentioned the Barnett formula. That would have put public finance into real perspective, but I shall put that to one side.

Our bid has been unique. The first estimate from Ove Arup for holding the Olympic games was £3.6 billion. We considered that, and the income that would be raised. Television rights and ticketing would raise about £2.5 billion, and we calculated that we would be left with a deficit of £1.16 billion, to be found from public funding.

As the Secretary of State and I visited cities throughout the world that had hosted the Olympics, the single message that came across was, "Do not underestimate on the finance. Once you set the budget and you go below it at any stage, the bid will seem a failure." Sydney said loud and clear to us that, if there was one mistake that it made, it was not putting in the contingency that was necessary. It is about creating atmospheres, and that is exactly what happened at the Commonwealth games in Manchester. Those games became the best Commonwealth games ever, but during the first three months of preparation there were real financial problems. More time was spent on trying to manipulate budgets to meet the expenditure than on organising the games, as should have been happening.

We have rightly doubled the £1.16 billion estimate to £2.375 billion, which has put more than £1 billion of contingency into the figures. The criticisms about London not bearing the costs are unfair. The council tax will bear £625 the lottery will bear £1.56 billion and, as been said, the London Development Agency will bear £250 million. The public subsidy will come from such sources, but I believe that putting the other £1.1 billion into the equation will ensure that the games can be set up robustly.

There was a big debate with the official Opposition about whether we launch the lottery before or after the hid for the games in July 2005. We decided that it would be right to do so after that time because of the impact on good causes. We believe that once that comes on board, we will see an increase. There will be a displacement—of that there is no doubt—of around £64 million per year. We—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We must now turn our attention to acute hospital services.