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Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution and pay tribute to his advocacy and that of other hon. Friends in continuing to make the case for a London bid. It is an essential justification of a London bid that bidding for the Olympics is part of, not apart from, the Government's wider strategy for engaging more people in sport and identifying talent at an earlier stage. Earlier this week, I announced our new programme of talent scholarships, which will make financial support available to thousands of our most talented young athletes, who, without that extra money
Nick Harvey (North Devon): I wholeheartedly welcome the statement and the Government's decision to back an Olympic bid. A London Olympics will be good for British sport at every level, good for London, putting it at the centre of the world stage, and good for the whole country.
The Secretary of State says that the bid team will operate at arm's length from Government, but may we be reassured that there will not be too much distance between the two? The success of the Manchester games has shown that we can put on a very good show, but there is a credibility gap to be filled following the world athletics championships saga. Does she accept that, although the Prime Minister's involvement in the 2006 World cup bid was entirely positive, it transpired at the voting stage that other Heads of State had been massively more involved? We should learn a lesson from that.
On funding, what assessment has the Secretary of State made of the impact on the other lottery good causes if there is a new game for the Olympics? May we be reassured that, if the lottery does not yield the anticipated sums or if the costs overrun, the Government will be fully behind the bid in a financial sense as well?
The Secretary of State says that the bid is not contingent on Crossrail being completed. Can she explain how, as my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) has been asking, we shall get the spectators out to the new facilities without Crossrail?
Finally, on the legacy, does the Secretary of State accept that some of the most successful games have had some of the least advantageous legacies, and that Government will need to be involved completely, from the word go, to ensure a legacy for London and the country of the best possible quality?
Tessa Jowell: I thank the hon. Gentleman and his party for their support for the London bid. We intend to implement a very clear structure for running the bid, at arm's length from Government but with accountability to what will be described as a public funders panel, on which I, the BOA and the Mayor will sit. I am the responsible Minister in Government and in Cabinet and I will report personally on progress to the Prime Minister.
We have been very mindful of the problems that have arisen for large events in the past. We have learned the lessons of the Commonwealth games, not only about what went wrong at an early stage but also about why they were such a success and did so much for Manchester. The focus on social inclusion, the nearly 10,000 volunteers and the participation of people throughout the north-west are a real inspiration for London to try to emulate.
Finally, I accept the hon. Gentleman's pointit is a serious lessonthat we must address the legacy now, which is why we have emphasised the importance of ensuring that the stadium that will be the centre of the world during the Olympic games also has a useful life afterwards and that we do not have a stadium that, as Sydney has found, is a constant drain on the public finances.
Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the fairness with which she and colleagues in her Department have approached the bid. Does she agree that, although the immediate benefits of hosting the games in London may be for the people of London, in fact it is the children who are now in years 7 and 8 in schools in Aberdeen, South, in Glasgow, Pollok and in Cardiff, Central who will be winning Britain the gold medals at those games, and that if those games are truly to have a legacy that is spread throughout the country, we must press ahead with the programme for school sports co-ordinators, and with getting coaching into schools, to get those young people the expertise that they need to become our gold medallists in 2012?
Tessa Jowell: I could not agree more. This morning, I spoke to two of our Olympic athletes, Matthew Pinsent and Paula Radcliffe, whose personal advocacy for the games has been incredibly persuasive. Of course they, as role models and great icons for our young athletes, understand precisely the importance of my hon. Friend's point.
Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South): I give my unequivocal and unswerving support, and congratulate the Secretary of State on piloting the whole process this far. I welcome her reference to the Paralympics, whose United Kingdom branch is based in Croydon, and which is often forgotten in such circumstances.
May I probe on the question of cost overrun? The right hon. Lady said that the precept will last for 25 years in London. If there is a cost overrun, will that precept be extended or will the overrun be underwritten by other sources?
Tessa Jowell: The funding package that I have announced today, to which the Mayor is also a signatory, includes within it, based on the Arup figures, a contingency of at least £1.1 billion, so there is a very substantial contingency. In 2005, when we know whether we have won, we will obviously take stock of the costs in the light of what will by then be greater
Ms Bridget Prentice (Lewisham, East): I am delighted by my right hon. Friend's statement today; it shows confidence and pride in London that we should all appreciate and share. The whole country should appreciate the benefits that will come to London in terms of not just sport but tourism and regeneration. Will she perhaps expand on her statement to reassure people elsewhere in the country that they, too, will benefit whether from events during the games, or in economic and other terms thereafter?
Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend, who has been a constant advocate for the games and recognises the economic and other benefits that will come to her constituency as a result of our decision today. We made as careful an assessment as we could at this stage of the wider benefits, and it is worth noting that all the regional development agencies have expressed their support on the ground of the benefits to their regions of the games hosted in London produced by inward investment driven by tourism. It is essential that we see that as one of the important measures by which we judge the success of the games. Of course the way in which we spread the benefit is by our continued investment in grassroots sport and in sport for children in school, to build the opportunities for the champions of tomorrow. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) remarked, we hope that children from Inverness to Truro will have the opportunity to compete when the time comes.
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove): Like all other hon. Members who have spoken today, I congratulate the Secretary of State and the Government on having the courage and the vision to take forward the Olympic bid in what could be a fantastic year to celebrate Her Majesty's jubilee if we were to be successful. The Secretary of State will face scepticism from some of the public, not least in regions such as mine, where people still do not quite understand why the bid has to be based on London. I understand that it needs to be London, but will she tell the House why it needs to be London and spell out the prospective benefits for people in the other regions, who will feel disappointed?
Tessa Jowell: I have considerable sympathy with the hon. Lady's view. Of course, we did not rush to take a decision that London should be the bidding city without looking at the case for the alternative, but the simple fact is that the British Olympic Association advised us that the only way that we would stand a chance of winning would be to bid for London. That is why we are bidding for Londonwe are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to win.