Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420 - 439)

TUESDAY 20 MARCH 2001

THE RT HON IAN MCCARTNEY MP, MR CHARLES ALLEN, COUNCILLOR RICHARD LEESE, MS FRANCES DONE, MR HOWARD BERNSTEIN AND MR ROBERT RAINE

  420. Just one more question before we go back to Claire. As a consequence of that you have mentioned the role of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In the House of Commons tomorrow we shall be having both the Secretary of State and the Minister for Sport and obviously we shall be questioning them closely. The fact is that the structure that is represented by the six witnesses at this table today did not result from anything which came out of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for Sport simply does not have the powers that you have or the access to the Prime Minister that you have. Of course we recognise that you are the Minister for the Commonwealth Games and not the Minister for Events, though for my part I wish you were the Minister for Events as well—I see you shaking your head but the Prime Minister makes these decisions, Mr McCartney—but is it not worrying that until we made that recommendation the kind of structure and partnership represented by these six people at the table did not exist and might not have existed?  (Mr McCartney) I would rather look forward than back. You made your recommendations and the Government has responded. I think you should just go away and slap your backs and let us get on with it. You invite me to make a comment. All I can say is I have got a very good working relationship with the Minister for Sport and Chris Smith. From the outset when I was appointed to this specific task I have had total co-operation with them and working with the team. Much of the resource that I need to deploy lies in their Department and, therefore, they are part of the team too, a very critical factor. The Secretary of State does have access to the Prime Minister, he is a member of the Cabinet.

  421. He cannot just walk through the door the way you do.  (Mr McCartney) That is maybe because of my weight rather than my close proximity to the Prime Minister. It does not work that way actually. There is a lot of myth about. Like any other Minister I get access to the Prime Minister on request. The Sports Minister gets as much access to the Prime Minister as I do on occasions. The issue for me is not to go and see the Prime Minister with problems, my job is to go with solutions to problems. I hope I can continue to manage to do that. You do not like to go to the Prime Minister and say "I have failed", do you? It is important those relationships are maintained. There is a very good working relationship with DCMS and myself. I said earlier about the changing culture. None of the departments now in the task force has been anything other than very supportive. From having no engagement to absolute total engagement in just over a year is a tremendous achievement. Without being complacent about it because there is still a lot to be done here and a lot of decisions yet to be made, sometimes difficult decisions, I am absolutely certain that whether it is Ministers in DCMS or Ministers in DfEE or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Home Office, I will get total support in trying to achieve the objectives which the Prime Minister set out for me when he appointed me to this job.

Ms Ward

  422. What other departments are involved in the task force?  (Mr McCartney) I have brought a list with me just in case you asked me. We have got DCMS. The Home Office, of course, is involved not just in relation to logistics with the police but they are also a link into the Jubilee. The Home Secretary has taken personal involvement and that is why he is chairing a new Cabinet Committee. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are involved because of their over-arching role in the Commonwealth but also their expertise in dispute resolution over contacts and issues around security. DfEE have been very much involved both in terms of the curriculum, very much involved in the Friendship Festival. In the curriculum next year in primary schools there will be a pack to give help, advice and knowledge of the Commonwealth Games and the relationship with the Commonwealth. The Department of Social Security is involved with us in relation to issues around the volunteer programme and the role of volunteers and those who are on benefits and how they can play an active part. DFID is involved because of its commitment around the Commonwealth. The Ministry of Defence is involved in logistical issues and issues around what they can bring to the party in terms of the opening and closing ceremonies. The Department of Trade & Industry is involved because of their role with inward investors and helping with sponsorship arrangements and also the links with the regions to develop regional links. The Treasury, of course, are involved in all parties in government but play a very pro-active cost role with us. The Department of Health are involved. We have just appointed to the Games a senior official to co-ordinate the logistics around health for a large influx of people who will come in because, unfortunately with a large influx, there will be people who will become ill and we have to ensure the structure is in place. They are also playing a good role in seeing the Games as an ability for them to promote healthy living, healthy lifestyles, involving young people and others in sport, recreational purposes. The Government Office for the North West, which is the link between the Government in the centre and the regions, are closely involved, working on a daily basis to co-ordinate things with Manchester. If you had asked this question, as you probably did do in your previous investigation, this list would have been simply DCMS and the Treasury. So you can see from your recommendations how we have moved things dramatically in terms of a total engagement across all government departments. Of course we keep Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland intimately involved too, because of the need for them in the implementation phase of encouraging interest in each of those parts of the United Kingdom to participate in the Games and also to participate in tourist attempts to bring people into the North West to see the Games and stay for a few days to boost the tourist industry.

  423. So there is not a single department not involved?  (Mr McCartney) Maybe that was the easy way to answer it but, you know me, if ten words will do I will give you a hundred. I wanted to put it in that way to show we have taken very seriously the views expressed in May 1999.

  424. I think what it underlines is that DCMS could not have done it without a Minister in a position to draw all of those departments together.  (Mr McCartney) I think that is grossly unfair, to be honest. Whoever got the job to co-ordinate it would have done it in the same way. I think the point to be made here is that you cannot have a single department, however good it is, do a huge event like this. If you want to make an impolite criticism, that is fine, but I would not want to be associated with that. The fact is, we took seriously what you said, it was not a decision by us as a Government that we did not think DCMS could deliver it, it simply means the Government could have done better in delivery and we have done that. The final department involved is of course the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, which is linked to local government and the regions. So it has been a Government effort to respond to your request to brush up our act and do better and that is what we have done.

  425. How will the Government assess the success of this working together to decide whether or not a post of Minister of Events should be made permanent?  (Mr McCartney) The Government assesses all the programmes and this will be assessed and is continually assessed. As to the structure of Government, that is thankfully for others to decide. From your point of view, you can sleep easy in your bed at night knowing there is co-ordination in this event and there will continue to be co-ordination and it will be successful.

  426. One final question to all of you. What work have you been doing with the British Tourist Authority to ensure we get as many people as possible to come over for the Games and that they not only look to enjoy Manchester but a much wider part of the UK?  (Mr McCartney) This is one of the areas which I decided to look at. I received yesterday from the Tourist Association their new strategy. I asked them to develop a quite specific strategy. That has been delivered to us. I have no doubt at the end of the page there will be a request for additional money to go with it, so I have only read half way through it just in case. It is vitally important that we attract people to come to the United Kingdom, not just to come to the Commonwealth Games but to get out of the golden triangle in the south east and visit our heritage in the north of England. We are very lucky here in Manchester, we are within less than an hour's travel distance of the Peak District, the Lake District, we have a massive industrial heritage, we have two of the most growing and vibrant cities in Europe, so we have a very, very good product to sell. We need people to come to the United Kingdom and to stay for more than two or three nights. We need them to stay for the Commonwealth Games and stay on and to come back again and retain a patronage. This would be very true anyway but since the events of the last few weeks it is even more true, and I see the Commonwealth Games as a real opportunity to have a step change in our strategy in attracting tourists to areas outside London and into other parts of the United Kingdom. So I am very much on board to ensure this strategy is not just on paper, it is one which can be effectively deployed to attract people into the United Kingdom but also a strategy to attract people who are our citizens to have holidays in the United Kingdom too. We all want to go overseas for holidays and nobody wants to stop people doing that, far from it, but there is also a capacity to build a market place here too in terms of what our own citizens can do to come to the Commonwealth Games and have long weekend breaks or winter breaks and come to the north of England and the North West in particular. So there is a range of markets which will better attract people and encourage them to come. It is not just about coming to the North West, if you come to the United Kingdom and come this far to the Games, you can also visit Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, because again the North West is geographically well-placed to serve the rest of Britain. Within four hours you can reach 90 per cent of Britain from the North West. That is a fact and we should use that as an advantage in developing a tourist strategy. That is another job I am not responsible for!

  Chairman: We ought to set that to music, Ian!

  Mr Keen: First of all, can I congratulate you all because you have recovered so well from what must have been a deep psychological blow when you realised the whole of the Games would not fit into our Chairman's Gorton constituency.

  Chairman: That is a tragedy, I agree. We could do it given the opportunity actually.

Mr Keen

  427. I am sure. One thing I learned from the Dome experience was that the close involvement of a minister right from the very beginning gave a target for the press. They treated it as if an alien species and a space craft had landed and was going to exterminate the world. It gave them a lead straight back to Government and the media attacked the Government and so did the main Opposition parties. With your involvement, Minister, this is a more complex situation, and maybe your involvement will protect Manchester City Council from media attacks, or is the media treating it as their Games rather than as they did the Dome? How does it work?  (Mr McCartney) It is difficult at the top, is it not? It goes with the territory. If you are a politician involved either in a high profile policy area or a high profile event in the United Kingdom, just do not expect to get any favours. The issue here for me is that the UK press have a real opportunity to be well on board, and I do not mean the press should not query, challenge, question, long may that be the case, and if they can dig up errors and mistakes in this or any other event, fair enough, we will respond to them, but what has not yet happened in the United Kingdom is that there has not been a buy-in by the sports press or a buy-in by the general press yet. What we are organising here in the United Kingdom is not just the biggest sporting event but it is a window to the wider world about what we are as a nation and what we can be as a nation. I think you should be terribly ambitious about your country and really ambitious about what we can achieve. Recently I visited Japan as part of my role in the DTI. There is a funny story but it has a tale to it and it is this. I was asked to go and visit a Japanese electronics company. They wanted me to see their latest robots. I was put in front of the 300 staff by the head of the company who proceeded to tell me that these robots were designed to play Japanese drums. I knew it was going to happen, I knew he was going to ask me to respond at the end of it. So these robots played the drums, wonderful drums, you would shut your eyes and think they were being played by drummers themselves. My response to him was this "When they can play the bagpipes come back and see me". The underlying trend there was that he and the Japanese press were so proud of their achievements and were proud to promote their country. That is one of the other roles, as well as being an advocate in Government, I think you should also try to be an ambassador for these Games, wherever you go, to promote your country, to promote the Games. I would like the press in Britain to take on an ambassador role here, it is wider than just the Games in Manchester, it is about our nation, how we feel about our nation. It is a multi-cultural nation, it is a nation full of talent. We have a generation of young people who have got lots of talents and we should celebrate those talents. We should celebrate as a nation, we have got great engineers and architects, you can see from the structures we have built. We have got event venues here which will compare with anything in the world, architecturally and in engineering skills. We need to sell it. The other thing we need to sell is our country through tourism as an attraction to get inward investment into the country. People do not just come to the country simply on wages alone, they come because of the nature of the country, the people, the structures and what else the country can bring to the party. It is a big opportunity, I think, the Commonwealth Games, to sell our country and feel a sense of pride in it. We need to get the press behind us and do that on a regular basis. There was an article in a national newspaper recently saying that people were not coming forward to be sponsors. That newspaper had only two weeks previously agreed to be a major sponsor. There are issues around. We have to put up with the nitpicking but there comes a point with 500 days to go to stop the nitpicking and get behind the Games and be an ambassador for the nation. For once everybody get behind these Games, get behind the country and be proud about it.  (Councillor Leese) Could I just add one thing. It would be a mistake to put all of the media into the same basket. It is the case that from the regional media within Manchester and the North West the level of support that we have had has been both very, very good and has been increasing all the time. I do not think any of them have ever suggested that the City Council was wrong with its partners to go into this enterprise. I need to be clear that we do have that level of support here.  (Mr McCartney) Yes, I was talking about the national media.

  428. Can I say I think all of your attitudes will help make it our Games rather than some alien situation. Can I ask about the stadium legacy. What arrangements are there for the stadium after the Games? I understand the physical changes that will take place but financially, how is that to work?  (Mr Bernstein) Immediately beyond the Commonwealth Games we convert the stadium into a football stadium which will be occupied by the football club, Manchester City. In terms of the financial arrangements, Manchester City assume the operational responsibility for the stadium and then there are rent share arrangements based on performance which are captured by the public sector for the benefits of sport generally. There are also other arrangements in relation to the stadium in order to guarantee certain performance levels around community use, so certain times of the year the community have the right to use the facilities.

  429. The stadium is built with public money. So Manchester City will pay a rent for operating the stadium.  (Mr Bernstein) Yes.

  430. Will they operate the stadium for the other events that will be held?  (Mr Bernstein) Yes.

  431. They will be the official operators?  (Mr Bernstein) Yes.

  432. The stadium will always remain in the public ownership?  (Mr Bernstein) Yes.

  433. Can I ask a question which affects my own constituency, on a subject that you have already mentioned, about involving other people. I have got a very high percentage of people from the Punjab in India and some from the Punjab across the border in Pakistan and hopefully we will have some strong teams coming over. Although the community that I am part of shout for England a great deal of time in different sports events they have a great interest in the Commonwealth Games. What can I say to them when I go back to West London?  (Mr Allen) If I can pick up on that. I think they have the opportunity to be part of one of the most exciting world events as such. I hope they are supporting India and the Punjab and I hope they are supporting England. I hope they actually come to Manchester. We hope through the whole communication programme to really ensure they see this as a big sporting event, a big cultural event. We actually aim to celebrate the diversity in this country. That is the thinking behind the whole Spirit of Friendship Festival that we are a diverse country, we want to use the Arts Festival which is the year of diversity for the Arts Council to celebrate our heritage and culture. We want to ensure that children in schools through the schools programme understand the heritage and understand what the Commonwealth Games is. We want them to participate in the Schools Programmes in terms of playing the sports themselves. We want them to come, we want them to own this event, we want them to be part of the best and biggest event that is happening in 2002. I think the key thing here is making the whole thing inclusive. One of the key things we have actually worked very hard on is making this what we believe will be the most inclusive event, whether that is on gender, there will be more women in this event than ever before, over 40 per cent of the participants will be women, there will be more countries involved, there will be more sports involved. The whole idea is to make it as inclusive as possible. I think that is the important message that people should take away from what we are doing.  (Ms Done) Could I just add one thing which I think might be particularly relevant to that question, Mr Keen, which is that we have been offering the opportunity to North West Local Authorities to adopt a nation and to set up arrangements so that they can communicate with the team. They will put events on for the team, maybe link the team and the information about that particular country to schools in their own local authority and so on. At the moment we have only really offered that opportunity to the North West local authorities because of the distance issues but many of them are very interested and there is absolutely no reason why that opportunity could not be taken up by a local authority somewhere else in the country. I would quite like to have a word with you about that afterwards because I think that would be something that would really have an impact.  (Councillor Leese) In terms of the volunteer programme we are working with Manchester Council for community relations to make sure that in terms of recruitment of volunteers that all parts of the community, including particularly those from Commonwealth country backgrounds, are involved in that programme.

Mr Faber

  434. Could I return to the issue of sponsorship and television income. I quite accept that you do not wish to give precise details of actual deals struck but actually reading through the oral evidence we received from you two years ago there was a considerable amount of detail given then and I think it is a reasonable yardstick. If we could return, first of all, to IMG. You told us in 1999 they were looking at between 10 and 12 sponsorship deals of £2 million each. Now I understand you have got four sponsorship deals agreed, as I say I do not want to know the precise value of them. If you were looking at ten to 12 sponsorship deals of £2 million, perhaps it is immediately clear where some of the shortfall is.  (Mr Allen) If I can just clarify. What is already in place now are five sponsorship deals and seven partnership deals. The key thing as well as the cash element of the sponsorship is ensuring you actually have the right partnership. If I can elaborate on that. If I take something like Adecco, Adecco are helping us with the whole recruitment process and therefore as well as the cash they are helping us with the overall recruitment, the overall structure, training and package. What I am very comfortable with is that we have actually brought on board the right partners, it is not about just somebody writing a cheque, it is about somebody who can deliver. Adecco have a lot of experience because they have done a number of deals. We have been quite selective in the process to make sure we are getting the right partner. If I then look at something like telecommunications, we are bringing Atlantic on board who are very integral to the whole process and they will actually leave an infrastructure here in the North West that will benefit the North West and benefit Manchester. I think we are pleased with the progress that we are making in each of the key categories. Some of those categories are time critical. You can imagine telecommunications has a long lead time. As you can imagine, recruitment and bringing enough people on board is an important part of the process. In terms of who we are, then we are ahead of the internal plans at this particular time. One of the things again we looked at in terms of Sydney was when the sponsors came on board and in certain categories they came on board right up to days before the event. So in terms of progress, I am encouraged not only by the quantum but more importantly by the quality of the partnership we have been able to get.

  435. I quite understand you cannot be held responsible for what your predecessor said but he directly contradicted that. Two years ago he said he hoped within the next two years sponsorship deals would be in place, but, as I say, I do not hold that against you.  (Mr Allen) I think one of the things we learned, and one of the reasons the review touched on IMG, was exactly what was done in this process. There were expectations there on timing which were not realistic and when we reviewed it we said, "Let's look back and look at what is do-able" and we were quite encouraged by where we were.

  436. The reason IMG walked away from their relationship with the Dome, and they were originally appointed to run the sponsorship for the Dome, was they were unable to agree with ministers on who should be held responsible for some of the sponsorship leads and they were subsequently paid off. Have you severed your relationship with them? Has that been accounted for within your budget? Are they responsible for a large part of the sponsorship income you have already received?  (Mr Allen) There were very few they were directly responsible for. They were paid the appropriate commission for the ones they actually delivered, including ones like the BBC.

  437. They delivered the BBC?  (Mr Allen) Yes, they delivered the BBC as part of the original agreement. The key issue was having the right partnership and the right people on board. Frances Done and I did a very thorough review, following our discussions with the Minister, and we felt we could achieve the sponsorship by having a different partnership in place.

  438. You mentioned value in kind a moment ago. Again I apologise to the Minister but there are very many potential parallels to draw with the Dome, whatever he may say. One of the great problems with the Dome was actually it proved almost impossible to quantify the value in kind sponsorship by the end of the project, and in fact a lot of what had been promised was never delivered. Of your £30 million you have already raised, I accept some of that is television, and again I do not want to know the precise figure, what sort of percentage are you talking about of your overall sponsorship figure is in kind rather than hard cash? I think I would be very worried if you were relying too heavily, however admirable the sponsors may be in terms of what they are providing for you, on sponsorship in kind because you often end up getting things you do not need or want.  (Mr Allen) I agree. Because of my background in the television business I have a very good understanding of that. We took a very hard-nosed view that we would only count it if it was in the original budget. In the sponsorship game people want to give you lots of things you do not need or want. The view we took was VIK sponsorship could only be related to direct items in the budget. So if there was a cost for recruitment and Adecco were going to do that, that would count in VIK. In terms of the proportion, it works out roughly 50 per cent in cash and 50 per cent VIK but with a very specific definition of VIK because, as you say, people want to give you things you do not need and it does not count towards the budget. There are some elements which are nice to have but it is not counted in the 30 million we quoted.  (Ms Done) The 50 per cent is 50 per cent of the sponsorship.

  439. That is what I meant. To come on to television revenue, Mr Allen told us earlier you did not have a specific target for television income but I am afraid your predecessor back in 1999 gave us a specific target. He said he was looking at receipts of £23½ million. Do you think with hindsight, given that was originally built into the budget, that was a little ambitious? I actually said, "More than has ever been raised for a Commonwealth Games?" and the answer, and Councillor Leese was involved in the exchanges as well, was basically along the lines that in spite of the fact the Kuala Lumpur Games were more attractive for Australian television you still felt you would do better than Kuala Lumpur. Is that clearly going to the case any more? Do you think that perhaps £23½ million target was ambitious at the time?  (Mr Allen) I think the budget has even moved on from there since I came on board because I do not recognise the £23½ million. I think what you have seen is us out-perform in certain categories, for example telecommunications where we got substantially more than they thought. As I said earlier, the key to this is understanding that balance between television and the sponsorship packages we can achieve. The way we are managing it is very much to run it as a total package rather than say X or Y fall into each category.


 
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