|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the arms industry obviously provides a considerable number of jobs. It is subject to a stringent regime which I think is totally appropriate, given the nature of the industry.
Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that while the Government should take credit for having pioneered the European code on arms exports, it is now essential to have the strictest possible approach to the application of our own criteria when decisions are being made about exports? Does he also agree that following 9/11 and the reality of international instability that confronts us, we must change the culture from one in which it is okay to export arms unless there is a very good reason for not doing so to one where it is very dangerous to export arms unless there is a very good reason for doing so?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is of course government policy that there should be a strict application of the criteria for licences for the export of weapons. The important thing is to apply those criteria
19 May 2004 : Column 775
very stringently. That is government policy, and I think we should act in line with that policy rather than introducing any other criteria.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, having reached agreement on a transitional federal charter in February, the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference lost some of its momentum. However, we understand that Foreign Ministers from the region plan to meet Somali leaders in Nairobi tomorrow to discuss a way forward.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is there any reason to suppose that if tomorrow in Nairobi the faction leaders agree to a parliament, as they are meant to, they will honour the agreement any better than they have done the ceasefire or the transitional charter? Does the noble Baroness agree that the peace process is fundamentally flawed because of its changing cast of warlords, the repeated violations of the ceasefire, the violations of the UN arms embargo and the general attitude of the players to the process itself? Would it not be an idea for Her Majesty's Government to suggest repatriating the peace process to Mogadishu, where large bills would not be run up at expensive hotels and the minds of the participants might be concentrated on the security problem?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I respectfully disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. The Government do not believe that these talks are futile. This process, as the noble Lord has said, has been very long and difficult, and of course there is no guarantee that it will ultimately be successful. However, fear of failure is no reason not to try. We owe it to the Somali people to support all credible efforts to bring peace, stability and democracy to their troubled country. In those terms, I believe that we have a hopeful initiative from the regions' leaders to try to restart these negotiations tomorrow.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, what support have Her Majesty's Government provided to help the estimated 35,000 internally displaced people resulting from the latest clashes? What support have Her Majesty's Government given to the UNICEF programme to help to eradicate female mutilation in Somalia?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, DfID has given up to £6 million of support for humanitarian assistance throughout Somalia, and that is just from last year's budget. That assistance will cover humanitarian aid and health issues particularly where children are
19 May 2004 : Column 776
concerned. The noble Baroness will know, from her own experience, of the enormously serious problem of malnutrition in children in Somalia.
Lord Addington: My Lords, has the monitoring group on the arms embargo reported recently? I am informed that it has not done so for over six months. The flood of arms into Somalia is a serious cause of its destabilisation.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, has the noble Baroness seen the report of the international crisis group? It suggests that the process should be widened to allow traditional elders, representatives of civil society, religious organisations and private sector figures to participate and that Somali ownership of the talks should be encouraged. Does she not think that the reduction of the number of participants from 355 to 203, as is being done for the meeting tomorrow, is likely to limit Somali participation and reduce the chances that the outcome of that meeting will be accepted by the Somali people as a whole?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, as the stakeholders have worked so hard to get to the point of restarting the talks, we will make as much effort as we can to support them and to facilitate the talks starting and not failing. However, I note what the noble Lord has said and if these talks fail againthe noble Lord will know that a time limit has now been set for these talks and that they cannot go beyond the end of Maythen one of the areas that the international community will consider is the building blocks approach that he suggested. That is an approach in which we work with the diaspora, civil society, business representatives and women's groups in stable parts of the country to help them to develop consultative and democratic structures at grassroots level.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, are we not trying to impose our type of democracy on to what is still essentially a clan society? Should we not be trying to get the heads of the clans to work together, especially the minority clans that have been very downtrodden? We have a lot of asylum seekers from those clans in this country.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I agree with the noble Countess. Our approach is not to impose our model of democracy. As she rightly says, Somalia is a country built on clans and decisions are made through the leadership of those clans. Therefore, we are looking for an assembly or legislature that will be the end-product
19 May 2004 : Column 777
of the talks and that will be built through the clan system. We are doing everything that we can to support that.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I will get back to the noble Baroness on whether the African Union has played a part. Of course, the region's frontline countries have played a part, that is the west African and Horn of Africa countries. The talks are in Nairobi, Kenya, and all the neighbouring regional countries have been very involved. On the specific question of the African Union, I will come back to the noble Baroness.
I regret to inform the House that the people involved in the incident earlier today at Prime Minister's Questions were there at my invitation. I am, of course, deeply distressed by this. As your Lordships would expect, I am giving all the information I have to the authorities. I have also seen the Speaker of the House of Commons and apologised to him unreservedly and, through him, to all Members of the House of Commons. My Lords, I should also like to apologise to everyone in this House.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the outset of this debate I declare an interest as a member of many sports clubs and as past president of three governing bodies. The timing of this debate is most appropriate. We are all extremely pleased that London is on the shortlist for 2012. Of course, that was expected but we must be concerned at the criticism by the IOC on two main counts: transport and public support. I find the latter poll surprising. With the leadership of the bid
19 May 2004 : Column 778
team and with all-party support, I have confidence that we can improve that figure substantially. But we have a problem with transport. We all knew that it was likely to be a stumbling block but the IOC's criticism is more severe than expected.
I note that the Prime Minister has given full support to the bid and has offered help with transport. It is an urgent matter because plans for the final bid have to be in place by November 2004, which is not that many months away. So there must be a great deal of action between transport, Treasury and planning if we are going to get the bid on the top line. I think that we should aim for 2011 rather than 2012 to give time for everything to bed in and for the snags to be removed. In this Chamber we are blessed with three Olympic medalliststhe noble Lords, Lord Coe, Lord Moynihan and Lord Glentoranwho will make contributions from time to time.
It is important that we begin by looking quickly at Athens in 2004. I am pleased that Simon Clegg of the British Olympic Association, the IOC and press reports confirm that all facilities will be ready. That is good news. We wish our team well and hope it will do even better than it did in Sydney. Of course, we are all worried about security and today's events show what can happen. However, I am relieved that the Greek Government are taking every possible precaution. I was the government Minister at Munich on the day of the assassination of the Israeli team in 1972 and I know how it affected the spectators and the participants. Two days later, it was wonderful to be cheered up by Mary Peters winning the gold medal.
So I turn to the 2012 Olympics. Before the Secretary of State made her Statement a year ago, we were critical of the lack of progress and lack of decision. Major disappointments over the World Athletics Championship of 2005, Wembley, Picketts Lock, Sheffield and even the Dome put us on the back foot. But today we want to put all that behind us and look forward to 2012. However, I would ask the Minister to tell me in his reply what has happened to the £21 million that were given to Wembley for the athletics track, which now does not seem to be going to happen.
Twelve months ago, we gave a warm welcome to the Secretary of State. We called for a supremo to head the bid team and we were delighted at the appointment of Barbara Cassani and Keith Mills. I think that the bid team has worked wonders in a year. It has used imagination, it has vision and knows exactly where it is going. It must keep it up until the final vote next year and keep it an all-party, one nation bid.
We had a word of warning at the weekend. Those who watched the announcement about the football World Cup saw that votes were swung at the very last moment by a major personality. That could happen to us in July of next year. It may be that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will have to metamorphise into Nelson Mandela at that time.
I strongly support the Paralympics that follow on from the main Olympics. I went to see them in Rochester when they were called the "Special Olympics". I know how much it means to the participants and to the friends and relatives who travel with them. In winding up,
19 May 2004 : Column 779
perhaps the Government will give us a rough estimate of the costs for 2012. In particular, can the Minister say how much extra London council tax payers will have to pay?
It is always said that sport and politics should not mix, and in some ways they do not. The late Lord HowellDenis Howell, whom your Lordships all remember so welland I were Minister of Sport and shadow Minister of Sport for about 11 years between us. We got on extremely well; we discussed appointments and policies together. I do not believe that we ever had a disagreement, which is as it should be.
However, government involvement in every sport is now great. They fund the four councilsgive or take the Scottish and Welsh positionand UK Sport and support the CCPR. That body is immensely important in welding together all the governing bodies of sport in this country. It does a tremendous job. I know that in the future we must deal with its major problem with minimum wages and volunteer coaches, which seems to have reached an impasse with the Treasury.
The Government should keep their distance with regard to major political decisions, which are a matter for the governing body. Therefore I say that they have been right in their handling of the problems of Zimbabwe and the cricket tour. It is inconceivable that England should play in that country in the foreseeable future. The team must not go, whatever the consequences. However, at long last it seems that over the past few days the ICC has accepted that there is a crisis in cricket that must be resolved as quickly as possible. I believe that principles are far more important than money, in which I am supported by the majority of the country.
I am impressed by Sport England's framework for sport, which was published recently. I congratulate Patrick Carter and Roger Draper on its production. Over the years, sport has been bedevilled with bureaucracy, delay, conferences, reports and so on. We want to see more action with the money available being spent quickly. We must support the countless volunteers who run the sport in this country and do so for nothing. They cannot spend their lives filling in forms in order to obtain grants from the Sports Council. The framework should fast track that process and set up a streamlined system. My suggestion to Sport England is that it should aim for an earlier year than 2020 for its completionmore like 2012 or 2015.
Sir Andrew Foster has just produced an exceptional report on athletics, which should help us regain the momentum of Sydney and replicate the achievements of the four-minute mile. It needs early action from the various associations within athletics. They should come together in a spirit of harmony, perhaps with David Moorcroft in charge. There is no time to waste when facing an Olympics and world championships thereafter.
Will the Minister say how much of the £41 million legacy given to athletics after the Picketts Lock disaster is now being actively spent on athletics? Tennis is a similar issue. Wimbledon is a huge and successful national sporting event. Much of the profit
19 May 2004 : Column 780
from the All England Club goes to the Lawn Tennis Association and helps with the new centre at Roehampton.
Let us hope that it will bring in an early result. We have only Tim Henman in the first 100 men or women. It is time, when there are thousands of club players in the country, that some come forward to set the standard we require internationally.
Will the Minister say a word or two about swimming pools? They seem a frightful headache for many local authorities. I know that the costs of running pools are high, but every child should have the chance to learn to swim and far too many do not.
I turn to playing fields, on which I have sparred with the Minister previously. In its 1997 manifesto, the Labour Party gave a commitment to stop the sale of playing fields, which it reaffirmed in 1998. It is difficult to obtain statistics on playing fields because the base is flexible and sometimes excludes playing fields made into sports halls. But in 1999 to 2003, applications increased from 590 to 1,297. Of those 1,297 applications in 2003, 807 were approved to remove the playing field and turn it into some other development. That is a long way from the manifesto promise.
In the same period, the Government approved 174 out of 176 applications for areas of 0.2 hectaresroughly the same size as a football field. It does not seem that we are doing much about retaining playing fields in schools. Indeed, the Government approved 36 applications against the specific advice of Sport England. Alison Moore-Gwyn and Elsa Davies of the National Playing Field Association are most active in keeping the playing fields of this country at the forefront of policy. They think we should have a proper independent audit of what is going on in the playing field world so that we can get some facts and not a whole lot of smudging as from Written and oral Questions that I have asked in the past.
While we are on the subject of playing fields, I hope that the Government are giving all the help they can to school sports. I know that they announced a programme of £578 million two years ago, but according to the last figure that I was able to obtain only £4.6 million has been spent. Why is it taking so long to get money spent on schools where we want it to be spent?
Team games are so important in schools. They bring out leadership and develop character. They teach people to understand what umpires and referees are about. They are also so good at developing activities in outward bound fields. It is amazing how children can achieve something that they never thought was possible when they are taken to an outward bound event such as climbing hills or mountains. The development of character in education is desperately important.
I want to close with a quick word on drugs, which is such an important issue and so difficult to quantify. I was concerned that Michelle Verroken, who was for 18 years head of the anti-doping unit, was recently dispensed with. She was interviewed by the Select Committee in another place, where she said that her
19 May 2004 : Column 781
integrity was not for negotiation. Was she being asked to make some changes to the arrangements for drug testing? I want to know, because so many governing bodies find every conceivable excuse for trying to support their competitors against the drug efforts of that team.
Not all is doom and gloom, I am glad to say; far from it. We must be proud of what we have achieved in recent years and the leadership that we give to sport. Clive Woodward has done so much for rugby. Sweetenham has done so much for swimming. Rowing, sailing and equestrianship are going well. I am sure that all those sports and others such as cycling will be bringing back medals from Sydney.
In golf we have three of the four great trophies: the Walker Cup, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and with luck next month we might also have the Curtis Cup. Many things are going well and I am not in any way criticisingI am here to say "well done" to the governing bodies that run those sports. We must aim high at the stars, support our volunteers and coaches; but, above all, we must get on with things quickly and spend the money available wisely and as soon as possible. Action will bring results, and who knows what Great Britain can achieve? I beg to move for Papers.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|