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Mr. Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent, South) (Lab): I, too, would like to praise all those involved in the bid, but I would like specifically to single out those who have not been mentioned by name earlier. Over the past few days, we have discussed the difficulties involving our cleaning staff here in the House who have been campaigning hard for an increase in their pay. I want to pay tribute to all the back-office staffsecretaries and the likewho have worked so hard on the Olympic bid and who have not been named. Yes, a lot of good work has been done by Lord Coe and his colleagues, but without the support staff, none of it would have happened. So I want to put on record my praise for them.
Many right hon. and hon. Members have commented on the tremendous opportunities offered by holding the Olympics and the Paralympics. I hope that we take the opportunity to embrace what has come out of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the good will that exists to ensure that people with disabilities are rightly and fully included in our wide-ranging society. In that regard, we must ensure that we give equal weight to the Olympics and the Paralympics.
My constituency can look back for inspiration to the 1920s, when Bob Leavers from Longton was a swimmer of some renown. More recently, it has seen the emergence of a brother and sister sprinter partnership in Alex and Ashleigh Nelson, who have won some championships in the past few months. It is important that we start now to identify those inspirational athletes, and that we inspire our young people to come forward to be trained and brought through.
I would like the Minister to consider this suggestion: across the country, we have many specialist sports colleges; let us rebrand them. Let us make them specialist Olympic colleges. Let us really seize every opportunity provided by the Olympics and the Paralympics to ensure that we inspire our young people to embrace this opportunity. There are other, more wide-ranging facilities in our communities. Many of the schools in my constituency have swimming pools. Over the years, there have been various swimming galas, but they seem to have lost the impetus that they had in the past. Let us take the opportunity to ensure that all our facilities used to the maximum. Let us do an audit to determine which schools have swimming facilities, running tracks and so on, and ensure that they are being used to the utmost and made available to the community. There are also many new facilities such as children's centres springing up in my constituency. Let us look at those to see whether we can bring them into use for the Olympics and Paralympics.
The difficulties involved in ensuring that athletes are able to compete has been mentioned. This might sound corny, but I urge all our communities around the UK to
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adopt an athlete. Let us identify the athletes in our communities and embrace and support them. Let us help them and work with them to give them every opportunity over the next seven years to get into pole positionI hope that I am not mixing up my sportsso that they can fully participate, up there with the best, and bring home gold for us.
Of course, the not-so-young can also get involved. I am sure that hon. Members will be amazed, seeing this athletic form standing before them, to learn that older athletes or potential athletes can get involved, not only in sporting events but in other areas such as volunteering. It is important that it is not only Londoners who feel able to volunteer. We need to ensure that people across the UK can volunteer to take part.
Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): I chair the National Strategic Partnership for Volunteering in Sport, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will be pleased to learn that we have just held a meeting here in the Commons this morning. Indeed, some of the other members of that body were in the Gallery a moment ago. More than 25,000 people have already signed up for volunteering. I do not know what I am going to be doing in seven years' time, but I want to endorse the point that my hon. Friend is making: everyone in the country can participate in the games by signing up, and they can sign up now.
Mr. Flello: I am grateful for that intervention, because it is important to make sure that every community is involved. Given some of the difficulties that some communities are facing at the moment, this is a good time to stretch out the hand of friendship to them, and to make sure that they are part of the plans in the lead-up to the Olympics and Paralympics.
Several Members have started to put forward their constituencies as possible training venues. [Interruption.] I hear the cry, "Surely not" around me. It is important that a complementary approach is adopted, as some constituencies might have facilities that are perfect to host a particular training venue, and adjacent constituencies might have other facilities that would support and complement that. We must avoid a bidding war, and work with rather than compete against other areas to ensure that bids are coherent.
As many Members have mentioned, sport and volunteering are not the only possibilities arising from the Olympics. Over the past couple of days, colleagues representing north and east Staffordshire constituencies have come together to try to give some political leadership to the region. We are looking to form a north and east Staffordshire Olympic taskforce to engage with various agencies such as the regional development agency, the north Staffordshire regeneration zone, the various city and county councils, the Staffordshire sports partnership and, as has been mentioned, trade unions. A tremendous opportunity exists for trade union membership across the UK to be used as a conduit to bring in volunteers and to spread the message about how people can get engaged and take part in various activities. That huge network needs to be tapped into.
Builders, plumbers and the like will be required to construct facilities in London. Many Londoners already find it difficult to obtain a plumber, however, and if they
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all go off to work in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) and in Hackney, Hendon and other areas, there will be a gap. Let us therefore encourage our young people to go into careers in plumbing and buildingthere will also be vacancies locally as others go off to do work in the areas being developed. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Joan Walley) has a facility in her constituency for training people with such potential, and we must make sure that learning and skills councils are on board.
The north and east Staffordshire area is ideally placed for logistics. Teams travelling from all over the world will wish to set up in different parts of the UK and to bring over equipment in advance. Storage and distribution facilities will therefore be necessary. Without wanting to plug north and east Staffordshire too much, it is a perfect location for such activities. As a final plug, the Olympics will need an official supplier of ceramics, and where better than Staffordshire?
I hope that the Olympic team will consider setting up regional park-and-ride facilities across the wider UK, to which people can drive and then get public transport into London, rather than everybody being required to drive down to the south-east and then get a train. That would ease congestion in the area and ensure that the whole package is better for those coming to the Olympics.
On ticketing arrangements, which several colleagues have mentioned, I hope that the International Olympic Committee will give careful consideration to providing better concessionary arrangements for hard-working families. I also hope that steps are taken to ensure that people across Britain are able to afford the tickets and that a suitable public transportation package is put together.
The question of fair trade has already been raised in the debate. It is vital that we make sure that the Olympics and Paralympics do not provide an opportunity for manufacturers to sell sports equipment and national team clothing put together by child and sweatshop labour in developing countries at poverty wages. We must show real world leadership and make sure that these Olympics and Paralympics are the fair trade games.
In conclusion, the news about the Olympics is excellent for the UK. People across the country must be able to seize the opportunities that come their way and take advantage of every possible spin-off. We must work collectively as a country and not in competition with each other. We should save the competition for the Olympics and Paralympics.
Mrs. Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con):
I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I shall keep my comments brief to allow other hon. Members to make their contributions, but first I want to congratulate the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mark Hunter) on his excellent maiden speech. I had the opportunity to visit his constituency recently and can confirm that it has many beautiful and leafy roads for people to walk along. I look forward to returning in the not-too-distant future.
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I want to echo many of the sentiments already expressed in the debate about the benefits that staging the Olympic games in London in 2012 will bring to the UK. I am very proud that Scott Wilson, an engineering consultancy in my constituency, will play an important part in some of the logistics behind the event. The Secretary of State spoke about the potential benefits for the whole of the UK, and I agree that the Olympics will provide a lasting legacy in terms of sporting facilities. The games will give us a unique opportunity to showcase our country and to unite behind the event.
However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) said, it is time to ask questions. I want to bring to the attention of the House concerns that the scope of the Bill could make it difficult for community organisations and the business community to show their support for the 2012 Olympics. Community organisations and many small and medium-sized firms can never hope to be official sponsors of this great event, as such a role costs many thousands of pounds, but I am sure that they will want to support an event that will be an integral part of our lives for the next seven years.
One specific concern is that the Bill will prevent any references to the games from appearing in our communities other than those made by the media and the official sponsors. There is an important balance to be struck between protecting the official sponsors of the games and people's broader freedom to note this important event.
Official sponsorship is an important part of the revenue stream needed to fund the games, and I understand that we must protect the value of the games for potential sponsors. In many ways, the Bill is designed to prevent ambush marketing, in line with one of the IOC's requirements. I am sure that hon. Members will be familiar with the IOC's definition of ambush marketing, which refers to all
The inclusion of the relevant clause in the Bill is understandable, as large corporations have engaged in blatant ambush marketing in many recent high-profile sporting events. However, I believe it important that we distinguish between unfair association, involving an implied endorsement and a consequent marketing gain, and mere reference to or allusion to the games, in which an Olympic logo might not even be used. Here, I am referring to schedule 3, under the terms of which, any reference that may
There is a big difference between ambush marketing and reference to the event by a third party who is not an official sponsor. Such a party could be a small local business or even a community group. That the use of the words that I have listed might infringe the law is a matter of great concern, and it does little to support our cross-party efforts today to get as many people as possible involved in the forthcoming event.
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If there is no implied suggestion that an organisation or business is an official sponsor, or that people could be confused into thinking that such an association existed, such an organisation should not fall foul of the legislation. We need to consider this issue very carefully. The danger is that we will tip the balance away from encouraging the country to support the event, toward what could look like censorship. That is a particular danger for community organisations and businesses. A passing reference by them to the games could mean that they were committing an offence, and they could face a fine of up to £20,000.
I fully understand the need to provide certainty in order to protect sponsors' rights and, indeed, the integrity of the Olympic movement. But I want the Minister to reassure us today that care will be taken and that we will not gold-plate this legislation. We must not put in place draconian rules that exceed the needs of the IOC, and which risk alienating the public and business by outlawing reference to the games in publicity or in events, for fear of incurring the heavy fines to which I have referred.
This is a unique opportunity to unite the whole country, but it is important that we strike the correct balance between guarding against ambush marketing by those who seek to benefit from the games commercially without being sponsors, and taking account of those who want to support their community and the gamesbe they businesses or other organisationsand to be part of one of the most important events in our country's history.
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