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18 Jun 2009 : Column 1180

Lord Addington: My Lords, having assumed that we are not going to restrict ourselves to a totally sedentary lifestyle, will the Minister give us some guidance on what the Government will do about making casual and enjoyable exercise more readily available to those who, for instance, live in inner cities and want pleasant parks to go to? What drivers are being taken from within government to make sure that casual exercise is readily available to the ordinary person without their having to put their hand in their wallet?

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point. That is why this is a cross-government exercise. We are working with DCLG, for example, on issues around parks and leisure facilities. We are also working with other government departments to make sure that the planning system recognises the need for people to be able to walk on pleasant roads and streets. This is a very long-term programme. Our ambition is to be the first major nation to reverse the rising tide of obesity. That is a long-term aim and one for which we all have a personal responsibility.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, on the subject of cycle training for children, will the Minister say what progress has been made in encouraging children to wear helmets, given that even quite small head injuries to children can be damaging to their lives?

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the noble Earl is absolutely right. I do not know what specific progress has been made and will write to him. My understanding is that, in the training provided through schools, children will not be trained unless they are wearing helmets.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, will the Minister accept that there are deeper questions behind the important ones of diet and exercise with regard to this matter concerning people’s sense of self-worth? These may be about social equality and the quality of community life. People are also what they believe.

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate points to a very important matter. We have seen television programmes such as the Jamie Oliver programme in Rotherham, where it was clear that a lot of barriers to healthy eating and exercise were to do with people’s self-image and managing their income. This is a societal problem; the right reverend Prelate is right.

Lord Clark of Windermere: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the embryonic NHS forest and the aim to plant 1.3 million trees, one for each employee in the NHS, to bring greenery into the heart of the patient and to provide opportunities for exercise to combat obesity? I declare an interest in one of the partners, the Forestry Commission.

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, my noble friend points to an absolutely superb scheme and a good example of the way in which we need to work across government and in imaginative ways.

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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords—

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we are now in the 24th minute.

EU: Alternative Investment Funds


11.30 am

Asked By Viscount Trenchard

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): My Lords, the Government support the principle of a harmonised regime for alternative investment products, to help to develop the single market and to provide a framework for dealing with potential systemic risks on a cross-border basis. The current proposals contain flaws. We will continue to work constructively with our partners in the EU to secure improvements.

Viscount Trenchard: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. However, especially given his great experience in this sector, he may be a little complacent about the threat to London’s competitiveness which will result from a transfer of regulatory powers to Brussels. In particular, can he confirm that the Government would be able to prevent the enactment of some of the more protectionist features of this ill drafted directive, such as those prohibiting delegation of portfolio management outside the European Union and requiring private equity funds and investment trusts to appoint UCITS-style depositories, which is wholly unnecessary and alien to our British way of doing things?

Lord Myners: My Lords, the draft directive was produced without the customary consultation. The equivalent UCITS directive, which applies to a smaller industry, had three rounds of consultation before it was published. As a result of the pace at which the draft directive has been produced there are, as I said, flaws. There are misunderstandings about the role of depositories and the calculation of leverage. Some provisions appear to conflict with the concept of subsidiarity. I am confident that we will be able to help improve the directive. To that end I am meeting people in the Commission and with other countries in the EU, including Sweden this weekend ahead of it taking up the presidency. We are also working very actively with the industry. We have had meetings with more than 100 managers of alternative investment funds and private equity to make sure that we understand their views and we are working with them to assemble arguments.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, important as this draft alternative investment fund managers directive is, does my noble friend recognise that there are other extremely

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important issues on the European Council agenda? In particular, does he welcome the very positive remarks made by the Irish Europe Minister, Dick Roche, on the radio this morning looking forward to a successful outcome of the negotiations concerning the Lisbon treaty, thus enabling it to be ratified in all member states and to come into force before the Barroso Commission goes out of office, which will be of major benefit to all the peoples of Europe?

Lord Myners: My Lords, I regret that I did not hear the radio interview. I was taking note of the preceding question—I was walking to work while the interview was being broadcast. However, I take note of my noble friend’s comments and the encouraging sentiments that he expresses.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, has the Minister read the new book by Marta Andreasen, the former chief accountant of the European Union, which reveals that accrual accounting and double-entry book-keeping remain strangers in that land? Do the Government not agree that the British people will become even more angry with their political class if they learn that even a part of our financial industries has been taken over by the Eurocrats?

Lord Myners: My Lords, the noble Lord’s views on these matters are well known. We are seeking, as we already have with other directives, to strike the right balance between the benefits to UK investors and the companies in which these funds invest of enhanced regulation and supervision while not in any way conflicting with the concept of national responsibility for supervision. Indeed, the Prime Minister will make that point forcefully at the European Council meetings in Brussels today and tomorrow.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, perhaps we might revert to the Question on the Order Paper, eccentric though that appears. Is it not the case that the Minister can be a great deal more robust than he has been so far in these exchanges? Not only is the context for this particular industry global, not European—it is global co-operation which is required—but it is an industry where, unusually, the United Kingdom is not merely larger than any other; in this particular sector, it is larger than all the others put together. Therefore, it would be wholly wrong for us to agree to any European directive on this matter that we are not satisfied is 100 per cent right.

Lord Myners: My Lords, I would not wish noble Lords to believe that I am not being robust on these matters. I recognise the importance of the UK as a centre for hedge fund management; over 80 per cent of hedge funds in Europe are managed from the UK. We are also the regional centre for private equity management, and I am working to make sure that the views of the industry are well understood. I believe that our knowledge and awareness of the issues and our capacity to provide detailed understanding to address some of the flaws that lie in the directive will lead to a positive outcome. I can best do that through constructive engagement with our colleagues in Europe, rather than being unnecessarily confrontational.

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Lord Newby: My Lords, there appears to be growing confusion about the differences of view between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England on banking regulation. The governor said yesterday, in his Mansion House speech,

“If some banks are ... too big to fail, then ... they are too big”.

Does the Chancellor agree?

Lord Myners: My Lords, the issue of the banking community’s size in respect of the domestic economy, and then the size of individual banks, is one to which we are giving considerable attention. We shall be producing a White Paper on the future of financial markets in early July, which will address that issue. In the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Mansion House speech last night, however—which I thought was, truly, an exceptionally good speech by the Chancellor on the steps that he has taken to protect our economy—he set out his own broad views, which are that the critical factors to protect us against bank failure are good governance, good risk control, appropriate regulation and constant supervision. In that context, I am sure that diversity in the scale of our banks can still be a source of strength for our economy.

Arrangement of Business


11.38 am

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, with the leave of the House, my noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham will repeat the Statement on UK climate projections immediately after the debate in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Fowler.

Business of the House

Timing of Debates

11.38 am

Moved By Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Motion agreed.

Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2009

Dunfermline Building Society Compensation Scheme, Resolution Fund and Third Party Compensation Order 2009

Amendments to Law (Resolution of Dunfermline Building Society) (No. 2) Order 2009

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Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment)Order 2009

European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2009

Motions to Refer to Grand Committee

11.38 am

Moved By Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Motions agreed.

Olympic Games 2012


11.39 am

Moved By Lord Coe

Lord Coe: My Lords, I am delighted to have secured the opportunity to debate the progress being made towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am grateful that so many Members of your Lordships’ House are contributing—a sign of the importance that this House places on the Games and sport. I look forward to benefiting from noble Lords’ rich and diverse experience. First, I declare an interest as chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games or LOCOG, as we are known.

January of this year saw us pass the halfway point from winning the bid to the Olympic opening ceremony. Next month, on 27 July, the nation will mark three years to go. Now, more than ever, we are under the microscope. Since being awarded the right to host the Games, we have made solid progress. I place on record my thanks to the efforts of the Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Development Agency. The Games are the biggest and most complex sporting event in the world to stage, and we are precisely where we need to be at this point.

In May, when the International Olympic Committee’s Co-ordination Commission visited us, it acknowledged that every one of our milestones has been met. So let me take noble Lords on a short romp across that landscape. We are a Games with sport and athletes at their heart. We are on track to deliver a compact Games with swift and safe transport and we are building new permanent structures only where there is a long-term and sustainable legacy. All our venues in the Olympic park are on, or even ahead of, schedule and being delivered within the public sector budget set by the Government three years ago.

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The task of cleaning and clearing the Olympic park site will be complete by July. The construction of the Olympic stadium began three months ahead of schedule last May and it is already a defining feature on the east London skyline as the first sections of its roof are put in place. The roof of the aquatics centre is taking shape and the foundations of the velodrome are near completion.

Last week, I was honoured to join Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at the official opening of our completed sailing venue at Weymouth and Portland. In the organising committee we have confirmed almost all our venues and have already recruited all our sport competition managers, who are working closely with the international federations to ensure that the sports facilities and planning remain on track.

The other major project within the Olympic park is the athletes’ village where, again, work is on schedule, thanks to the judicious use of the contingency provided by the Prime Minister, then Chancellor, in 2006. LOCOG’s £2 billion operating budget for staging the Games remains unchanged and is privately funded, as I never grow tired of reminding your Lordships’ House. Nearly a third of this figure comes from domestic business sponsorship. To date, we have raised around half a billion pounds, a figure unsurpassed by any previous organising committee. We announced our 20th business partner earlier this week and our commercial teams are still engaged in a lively and vibrant marketplace.

Our decision to sign up our domestic partners early was important, as this provides our independence as well as the clarity and certainty of purpose as we move from a planning organisation to one that focuses on delivery. It also helps that these partners make the most of their sponsorship. Good examples of this are Lloyds TSB’s Local Heroes, Adidas adiZone outside gyms, and EDF’s Team Green Britain, which noble Lords may have heard about this week.

As I have said, we are moving swiftly from life as a planning organisation to one that focuses on the delivery of an enormous range of services needed to stage the Games. Let me give noble Lords an insight into the scale of these operations. They include: athlete services, accommodation, catering and transport for 10,500 Olympians, 4,000 Paralympians and 15,000 officials and coaches; venue operations such as security and waste removal at 40 venues; spectator services and ticketing for 9 million people who will come to watch the Games; press and broadcast operations, ranging from results services to internet platforms for the 20,000 accredited journalists; workforce services to recruit, train and clothe thousands of staff and up to 70,000 volunteers; a Cultural Olympiad and education programme enabling thousands of community organisations, schools and local authority colleges to be inspired by and engaged in the Games; and our creative teams are working hard to choreograph ceremonies that reflect the best of the United Kingdom.

Of course, no organising committee alone can deliver a Games. Partnership is crucial. I thank Tessa Jowell, the Minister for the Olympics and my colleague on the Olympic board, for her unstinting work and her efforts across government. I am grateful too to the Mayor of

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London, as well as the London boroughs, which are working with us to provide the services and support systems required to keep the city running for residents and visitors during the Games. This level of practical partnership is extraordinary and has been achieved in large part through the continuing cross-party political support for the Games. In another place we are indebted to Hugh Robertson and Don Foster, and in your Lordships’ House to the noble Lords, Lord Davies of Oldham, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Addington, and my noble friends Lord Glentoran and Lord Luke. Indeed, many noble Lords are working at the coal face of London 2012, bringing their expertise to shape and deliver the Games. This House can, in particular, take credit for raising the profile of sport on the political agenda.

The extraordinary surge of support for our efforts, following the herculean efforts of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Beijing, demonstrates that the success of the Games will be judged as much on Team GB and Paralympics Team GB’s performance as our ability to stage the Games. My noble friend Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, and the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Loughborough, chair of UK Sport, are spearheading the preparation and delivery of those teams. With little more than three years to go, we all need to focus now on what we can do to deliver medal success for them in 2012. Alongside them, the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, is concentrating on ensuring the sporting and regeneration legacy of the Olympic park. While there are too many in your Lordships’ House to thank by name today, the speakers list bears eloquent witness to their support. There has been a step change in public attitude since the Beijing Games last year. The organising committee is focused on staging the best Games that it can, so that people will be engaged, involved and inspired by them. Its primary job is to ensure that the Games produce remarkable sporting achievements and experiences on the field of play to inspire young people and demonstrate that sport matters and is for them.

We are also using the power of the Games to create other ways for the country to be involved and inspired. The first two major projects for the Cultural Olympiad are well under way, with artists taking the lead in a project to commission 12 new pieces of art by 2012. “Stories of the World” will bring together 59 leading musicians and galleries. Nearly 5,000 schools and colleges are involved in the London 2012 education programme, Get Set, and 56,000 young people are competing in the London 2012 Make Your Mark Challenge enterprise competition. We are working with graduates to support Teach First. Hundreds of projects have already signed up to take part in the London 2012 open weekend, celebrating three years to go on 27 July.

Every month I visit projects in one of the nations or English regions, and I am astounded by the extraordinary creativity and enthusiasm that communities up and down the country are now witnessing—a direct result of having succeeded in Singapore. On each of these visits, what I am asked most is, “How can I get involved? What can we do?”. This is why we are the first organising committee to have developed, with the

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IOC’s support, a way for non-commercial organisations to be part of the London 2012 experience. We have created the Inspire brand, a special mark for sports clubs, schools, local authorities and community groups to use. The Inspire programme will allow millions of people to become part of the London 2012 experience, and help to deliver a sporting and cultural legacy, such as Street Games—whose Inspire programme, Legacy Leaders, is designed to improve access to sport for young people in disadvantaged areas—and Animation Decathlon, a project that works with young people to create outdoor and interactive multimedia as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Today I am delighted to announce that 175 projects, over 100 of which are part of the Cultural Olympiad, have been recognised through the Inspire programme and carry the sought-after Inspire mark.

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