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This project is in need of a performance-enhancing drug, but that is not what will sustain the Olympicsthe lottery will sustain them. Let us be clear about what we mean when we refer to the lottery. The lottery supports good causes in each of our constituencies, including the grass-roots sports events that we regularly open and visit and the organisations that traditionally support the disadvantaged, the dispossessed and the marginalised. It is they who will lose out to pay for this massive infrastructure and regeneration project in London.
Mr. Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the Outer Hebrides, my constituency alone will lose about £1 million on a per capita basis? What benefit does he think will be directed to the Outer Hebrides from the London Olympics?
Pete Wishart: That is the kind of question that I, too, am asked. The Secretary of State sits there laughing as he listens to the difficulties facing my hon. Friend. My constituents ask why we, in Perthshire, should pay for this massive infrastructure and regeneration project in London. I do not know the answer to that question.
Barry Gardiner: The hon. Gentleman talks about the monumental fiasco of the Olympics, but will he enlighten us about whether the resignation today of the chief executives of SportScotland and the Scottish Institute of Sport is another indication of monumental incompetence? Could they be telling the SNP to get its own house in order?
What we nationalist Members say is Not one penny more. In fact, we did not want one penny in the first place, as we disagreed with using the lottery to pay for the London Olympics. We have consistently taken the approach that we do not want the Olympics to decimate good grass-roots causes in our constituencies. That is why we will oppose the motion this evening.
I am disappointed that the Conservatives and the Liberalsthe so-called larger Opposition partieshave been bought off so cheaply. I can hardly believe that they are prepared to believe in the Governments commitments. This is a Government who told us that the Olympics would cost £2.3 billion, whereas actually they will cost more than £9 billion. How can anyone believe a word the Government say? We should protect our good causes and grass-roots support this evening and I hope that, even at this late stage, Conservative and Liberal Members might think about joining us.
As I say, we have been wholly consistent. I believe that it is wrong, unfair and counter-productive to use the national lottery to pay for the Olympic games and the associated regeneration in London. The matter was first raised in 2004 when we debated the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill, and only the Scottish National party expressed concern about it. Every other
party was carried away in the euphoria of securing the games, but we warned that it would be dangerous to our good causes and to our grass-roots support. The other Opposition parties were totally silent, so it is perhaps not too surprising that they are not going to act to save those causes this evening. That euphoria has now long gone and there is now a healthy scepticism about everything to do with the Olympics. Thank goodness that at least the other Opposition parties are prepared occasionally to question the Olympic budget. Are we to believe that there will be no more black holes? When that was raised today, the Secretary of State brushed it aside as though it were of no concern whatever. As sure as night follows day, however, other black holes will emerge.
Mr. Andy Reed: As the hon. Gentleman knows, we spent many an hour in Westminster Hall and elsewhere debating this issue. I am delighted to see that he is sticking to his position, but we are where we are today and we need to know the position of the Scottish National party. If the SNP does not vote for this motion, is it saying that it wants the Olympics to collapse in a heap? Is it willing to bid for it? Real politics is about making tough choices. Where is the SNP going if it will not allow lottery funding to be used in this way?
Pete Wishart: I am grateful for that intervention because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we have debated the issue on several occasions over recent years and we have consistently said that London stands to gain from the fantastic legacy that the city will receiveregeneration of the east end, a fantastic new infrastructure and so forthso it is London that should pay. London is about the richest city in the world, so London should pay for these games.
Adam Price: I have an alternative funding proposal. Why not slap a windfall tax on the bonuses about to be sent out next week by the likes of JP Morgan and Citigroup? If there is to be an extra burden, should it not fall on the richest citizens in one of the richest cities in the world rather than on the weak, the disadvantaged and the poor?
Pete Wishart: As always, my hon. Friend makes a very powerful point. There are many creative solutions. London is the richest city in the world, so why should the poor, the disadvantaged and the underprivileged in my constituency pay for this infrastructure and regeneration in London?
Let us go back to 2004, when we were told about this £410 million from the lottery. That had as much credibility as a Labour party fundraiser. Nobody believed it then. The initial budget could not even be said to have been drawn up on the back of a fag packet. Indeed, that would be to do a gross disservice to fag packets the world over! It was a total fantasy: it started as a fairy story and it has ended as the darkest of tragedies, with an estimate of £2.3 billion going up to £9.2 billion. That is what we are dealing with. We are asked to believe that this is now the end, but where will it all stop and when will the Conservatives and the Liberals say, Enough is enough? So far as we are
concerned this evening, enough most certainly is enough.
We have examined the position very carefully, and have found that Scotlands contributionthe London levy that Scotland is to pay at the expense of our good causes and grass-roots sportswill be £184 million. As I said earlier in an intervention, SportScotland alone will lose £13 million, at a time when we have the Commonwealth games to pay for.
The Secretary of State can relax: I am not going to chap on his door asking for £9 billion for the Commonwealth games. I am not even going to ask for £1 billion. What I think fair and reasonable, however, and what I think the Minister should consider, is for some of the money that we are losing through the London grab for the Olympics to be returned to us so that we can pay for our games in Scotland. Why, when we are to have games in Scotland, are we losing £187 million of our money for grass-roots sports and good causes to pay for games in London? It is unfair, and I should like to hear what the Secretary of State has to say about it.
What is the cost to everyone? The Alliance, formerly the Coalfield Communities Campaign, estimates that the eventual cost will be more than £2 billion. We have analysed all the local authority areas in Scotland, and we have discovered that the cost to my local authority, Perth and Kinross council, will be some £5 million. Every single person in the United Kingdom will have to pay £33: that is the true cost of the London levy that will be imposed on us. When London Members get up and talk about this mythical subsidy for Scotland and all the disadvantages for London and the rest of England in comparison with Scotland, we will point out that this is a real and tangible London subsidy.
I hope that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will vote this measure down. For us, it is a watery grave too far. We will stand up for the underprivileged and the dispossessed. We will ensure that their money is not lost. We will vote against the measure, and I urge the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, even at this late stage, to join us in the Lobby.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): I think it fair to say that the Olympics remain the worlds greatest sporting event, and an important showcase for both the host city and the country as a whole. However, it is also sadly the case that successive Olympic gamesnotably those in Sydney, Athens and now Londonhave radically overshot their initial budgets, and in view of that it is probably not surprising that this has been a heated and at times controversial debate.
Let us start with the positives. Two main themes have run through the speeches of Members on both sides of the House. The first, which I think extremely positive, is the support for the Olympics that exists across the main political parties. That support, first evident at the bid stage, continued throughout the passage of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill, and remains intact. There are of course differences of opinion over the control of the budget and policy issues such as the legacy for sport, but support for the
concept of 2012 is still intact, and I hope that the Minister for the Olympics will feel able to offer the International Olympic Committee assurances to that effect.
The second main theme replicated across the House is widespread recognition of the benefits brought to the country in general, and to good causes in particular, through the national lottery in the decade or so since it was introduced by John Majors Government. In our view it is vital that the lottery does not become a reservoir into which Government can dip when money is needed, or become the poor mans tax that some commentators have dubbed it, as that would inevitably affect its popularity and thus the amount of money that it is able to distribute to good causes.
As only a short time is available, it makes sense to be entirely clear about what we seek from the Government, and why we are seeking it. As always with London 2012, our concern centres on two main issues, the budget and the legacy, particularly the mass participation sports legacy.
Tonight is not the occasion on which to examine why the Olympic budget went so badly wrong. However, as the Minister for the Olympics will confirm, we co-operated closely with the Government over the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill, and helped them to get it through in record time. That earned us a commendation from the IOC. I hope the Minister will understand that, given the former Minister for Sports countless assurances in Committee and on Report that the original budget was robust and deliverable, we were dismayed to discover that that was so dramatically not the case. For that reason, as well as any Oppositions democratic remit to hold the Government to account, it would be wrong for us not to seek reassurances over the new budget.
The Ministers recent approach, particularly since November, has helped immeasurably, and I wish publicly to record my thanks to her for that. However, in order to build on that, we want three simple reporting mechanisms: first, a six-monthly report to Parliament; secondly, quarterly ministerial and shadow ministerial briefings; and, thirdly, monthly cash flow forecasts. I cannot see why any of those demands should cause the Government any problems. I am perfectly happy to receive those reports on Privy Council or confidential terms, if the release of any details might affect commercial sensitivities.
There is also the matter of the legacy, which is why the national lottery is so important. Without the lottery, the amount that can be done in legacy terms will be dramatically less than it would be otherwise. For that reason, I entirely welcome the Secretary of States announcementor concessionthis afternoon that the lottery will not be hit again to pay for future cost overruns; I thank him for that.
Given that concession, for my party this debate comes down to one simple point: will the Government commit to the reporting mechanisms that I have just laid outa six-monthly report to Parliament, quarterly meetings at ministerial and shadow ministerial level, and a monthly cash flow forecast? If they can give us that assurance, despite our concerns over the budget and the national lottery, in recognition of the Secretary
of States earlier concession and in the interests of maintaining the cross-party consensus that we have all worked so hard to achieve, we will not vote against the Government tonight.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): This has been a good debate, with a frank airing of views from all parts of the Chamber. At least the Scottish National party is consistent. It opposed bidding for the games; it has opposed the Olympic games for the United Kingdom in London root and branch ever since the Government first made the proposition. It, therefore, will have to answer to the seven out of 10 people in Scotland who support the Olympic games. It will also have to answer to its talented young elite athletes who hope to represent Great Britain in Beijing and then to bring glory to Great Britain at the Olympic games in London.
gives full support to the London Olympic bid and wishes those leading the London 2012 Olympic bid the very best of luck?
Tessa Jowell: My hon. Friends excellent research has probably found a sotto voce endorsement by the SNP. However, the SNP is against the Olympic games, and I think it is fair to say that it is the only party in this House that holds that view.
Let me begin with the substance of this evenings debate: the importance of the trade-off involving the Olympic games, and the decision to divert an extra £675 million from the national lottery to the Olympics. The Government considered carefully before coming to the House with the proposal, but just as the Conservative party determined that the millennium would be a further good cause benefiting from the lottery for a period of time, so the Government agreed that the Olympics would be a sixth good cause: 20 per cent. of the national lottery was earmarked for the millennium, and a smaller proportion has been provided to the Olympics16 per cent. or 23 per cent. of the overall Olympic budget.
The safeguards have been addressed by Members in all parts of the House. When I made the announcement in March about revised funding provision for the Olympics, we undertook that no existing lottery funding would be affected, that the Big Lottery Fund would honour its commitment to the voluntary and community sector, and that, in line with the memorandum of understanding, the £675 million would be repaid through land sales. In this debate, we have dealt thoroughly with the prudent assumptions on which those calculations were madeand the Mayor clearly set them out in April last year. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also made clear the commitment that there will be no further diversion of funds from the lottery good causes to the Olympics.
A point was made about legacy transformation. The costs for legacy transformation are provided for within the overall funding package, and the Mayor has already made a commitment of £10 million towards the costs of running the Olympic park. Work is under way to establish governance arrangement for the legacy, the park and so forth. I can also give an assurance that
once its job is done in 2012, the Olympic lottery distributor will be wound up.
Much has been said in the debate about the importance of cross-party support. That is critical to the success of the Olympics, but it must be proper cross-party support. The right to scrutinise and ask questions must not be surrendered, but there must also not be the kind of opportunistic flip-flop that we have witnessed this afternoon, and figures must not be misrepresented, such as those for the cost of the Olympic stadium, which have been carefully and meticulously explained to Opposition spokesmen. I hope that from this evening there will be a new resolution to make this cross-party consensus work properly, and to maintain proper scrutinybut to do so on an honest basis that reflects the information that has been provided to Members in briefings.
We will provide six-monthly updates to Parliament and quarterly briefings to Opposition Members. Next week, the Olympic Executive will publish its first ever annual report, which will set the baseline for that, and I pay tribute to the Select Committee for its rigorous scrutiny in that regard. We will provide continuing and regular financial briefings to Opposition Front Benchers.
This matter should not be seen as a battle between the Olympics, arts, heritage and sportthe debates on it in this House should not allow that. We decided to bid for the Olympics because we knew that it would give us an opportunity to enhance every aspect of our national life right across the United Kingdom. Through the cultural Olympiad, there will be events and celebrations across the country showcasing the British talent and creativity of which we are so proud, and the lives and opportunities of millions of children in this country will be transformed through sportparticularly those of children living in some of the most deprived circumstances in the poorest parts of London in the boroughs most directly affected. Two thirds of the money that will be spent on the Olympic park will go on regenerating an area that has been wasteland for generations.
Tomorrow, we will launch a new business opportunities network, extending the practical opportunities for businesses right across the UK to be part of those economic opportunities. Those are the reasons why public support for the UK hosting the games is so high: the Olympics will enthral the nation and inspire a generation
It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16(1) (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents).
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