The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I have to notify the House that the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Habgood, and the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, have both indicated their wish to retire permanently from the service of the House, and their retirements take effect today. I am sure that the House will wish to join me in recognising the service of both noble Lords to the House and wishing them well in their retirement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, our cancer outcome strategy sets out our ambition to improve outcomes for all cancer patients and save an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15. Specifically on breast cancer, the strategy outlined commitments on local awareness campaigns, expanding breast cancer screening, measuring the prevalence of metastatic breast cancer, and one-day stays for breast surgery. Good progress is being made in all these areas and the strategy's first annual report will be published in the winter.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, may I remind the House of my interest as chief executive of the research charity Breast Cancer Campaign? I thank the Minister for his response. I have two brief questions. We know that radiotherapy is a very cost-effective treatment, improving outcomes for people with cancer at 5 per cent of the NHS cancer spend. Can the Minister explain to the House what progress is being made to ensure that the additional investment set out in the outcomes strategy is actually being converted into improved outcomes rather than lost in the bottom line? Can the Minister say what steps are being taken to improve access for women to IMRT radiotherapy, which is, of course, the modern version of this treatment and which can be so beneficial for appropriate referrals?
Earl Howe: My Lords, the noble Baroness, with her expert knowledge in this area, is absolutely right that access to appropriate treatment, delivered to a high standard, is critical to improving outcomes. We have made a commitment to expanding radiotherapy capacity by investing around £150 million more over the next four years. That is intended specifically to increase the utilisation of existing equipment, establish additional services and make sure that all patients who need the therapy can get it. We are investigating a tariff for IMRT; that is part of our work towards the aspiration to ensure that IMRT is available in at least one centre per cancer network by 2012. It is a matter for local decision-making, but an IMRT development programme is now in place.
Lord Alderdice: My Lords, would my noble friend agree that progress in this important area of breast cancer is likely to be found in the identification of molecular markers and the design of appropriate targeted medications, as has been the case in breast cancer with HER2 and Herceptin, for example? Would he acknowledge that it is a very expensive treatment? Although it really improves quality of life as well as mortality and outcome, the expense of not only the medication but the tests themselves is considerable. How will the NHS cope with this important but very expensive progress?
Earl Howe: My noble friend makes an extremely important point. That is why we need a body such as NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, to advise the health service on what treatments represent cost-effective value for money. The tendency of drugs to impose considerable cost on the NHS is very great, as he points out. It is important that clinicians focus on those drugs that really do the best for patients. I am aware that a number of drugs are currently being assessed by NICE with regard to breast cancer.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I apologise for my conference throat-it is all the cheering I did last week. The Government published a strategy for cancer in January 2011 and set a target of improving cancer survival rates, so that by 2014-15 an extra 5,000 lives will be saved each year. What progress has been made towards meeting the target that was expressed in Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer and saving those extra 5,000 lives a year?
Earl Howe: My Lords, there are broadly three ways in which we can attain that target. The main way is through early diagnosis-in particular, by making sure that women are aware of the signs and symptoms that could indicate breast cancer-but also by improving access to screening and to radiotherapy, which has already been covered in the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan. To support the NHS to achieve earlier diagnosis of cancer, the strategy has been backed by over £450 million over the next four years. That is part of over £750 million additional funding for cancer over the spending review period.
Lord Patel: My Lords, we know that one of the reasons for the poor outcomes on cancers is the late referrals of patients who suffer from cancers. We are
3 Oct 2011 : Column 953
Earl Howe: Yes, I can, my Lords. It is very important that doctors should feel absolutely free to refer patients. I remind the noble Lord that it is a right for patients, under the NHS constitution, to expect to be referred within the laid-down waiting time maximum periods, so we are very clear that there should be nothing to interfere with doctors' clinical judgment in this area.
Baroness Fookes: My Lords, am I right in thinking that screening comes to an end after a certain age for women? If that is correct, does it make any sense when the incidence of breast cancer increases with age?
Earl Howe: My Lords, my noble friend is right that we have historically targeted women in a certain age group for breast cancer screening. We are looking to see whether that age group should be widened but it is generally true to say that screening is more cost-effective in older women. It has certainly been the case that the breast screening programme over the past number of years has increased the detection of cancer and saved an estimated 1,400 lives a year.
Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that there is something in the NHS called the two-week procedure whereby GPs can refer patients to a hospital and they are therefore seen by that hospital within those two weeks? If I am right in that, will that be more widely used and advertised so that patients know what they can ask of their GP?
Earl Howe:The noble Lord is right. We are not changing that target, which we believe is clinically well founded. It is largely up to GPs to make sure that, if cancer is suspected, that referral pathway should be followed.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, the Government recognise the significance of metal theft to the United Kingdom. The Home Office is in discussion with other government departments to identify whether any legislative changes are needed to tackle metal theft, including the possibility of moving to a cashless model.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on his promotion. I express my regret at the departure from the Government of the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, and wish her a full recovery.
I am pleased that the Government appear to be taking the problem of metal theft seriously. Is the noble Lord aware-I am sure he is-that ACPO reckons that the cost to the United Kingdom economy last year of this crime was something in the order of £770 million and that the problem is getting worse with the rise in the price of scrap metal? I doubt whether there are many Members of your Lordships' House whose trains have not been delayed as the result of the theft of signalling cable, which is adding thousands of hours of delay to train schedules. Does the Minister agree that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 is now out of date and that it needs to be replaced by new legislation that increases maximum penalties, eliminates the payment of cash as a means of settling transactions and moves to a system of licensing in place of the registration that exists at present?
Lord Henley: My Lords, I join the noble Lord in expressing regret at the departure of my noble friend. We will all miss her very much on these Benches and I only hope that I can perform even half as well as she did, although I hope that I can get majorities larger than the equality that she got on the last Division that she took through this House. We will certainly miss her on this Front Bench.
The noble Lord is right to point to the problems of metal theft. There is not just the direct cost but the cost to the transport industry, to the power transmission industry and to others. We will look at all possible changes that we can make. The noble Lord is right to draw attention to the 1964 Act and possible changes to bring in a cashless model. Whether that would necessarily improve matters needs looking at, but it would certainly improve the traceability of metals and might make it harder for criminals to dispose of them for cash. That is why we want to look at it.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, does my noble friend recognise that we are still legally in the age of Steptoe and Son and that it really is now time to bring the legislation up to date, in particular to give the police stronger powers to intervene to close down illicit scrap merchants who trade in stolen property and make absolutely no effort to discover where it has come from?
Lord Henley: My noble friend is quite right to draw attention to the problems, but it is not just the police who have a role in this; I am thinking of the previous department which I had the honour to serve in. The Environment Agency also has a role, although, admittedly, that role is reserved purely for environmental matters. There is no reason why that role should not be extended to deal with those who are trading in an irresponsible or criminal manner. Having said that, one should always be aware of the danger that one just shifts the problems on to illegal sites and it is therefore very important that we look very carefully at anything we do and what the consequences of any action are likely to be.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, in comparison with the very large figure quoted, £26 million, which is the bill for the lead theft from church roofs, might strike noble Lords as rather small, but it is a very
3 Oct 2011 : Column 955
Lord Henley: My Lords, I am very grateful to the right reverend Prelate for drawing that to our attention and for emphasising the problems that we and the church are facing. I know that he has been in touch with the Home Office and that Ministers have responded to the church's concerns about these matters. He is quite right to draw attention to the advantage of the cashless model, but there are other matters that we could look at, such as design, material and even, I understand, reviewing the properties of the copper and lead themselves to see whether they can be made more traceable in due course.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that it is not only the railways and power transmission that are affected but telecoms cables? Is he also aware that a lot of these people just stuff the cables into containers and export them? Am I right in detecting a lack of urgency in the Government coming up with a solution, which could be very serious?
Lord Henley: I completely refute the idea that there is a lack of urgency. Only the day before my noble friend left the job that I am now in, she hosted a meeting of Ministers from a whole range of departments to look at the problems facing us and what we ought to do. However, I am grateful to the noble Lord for pointing out that an awful lot of this metal is not going to scrap metal dealers but going straight into containers and being exported. I have mentioned the role that the Environment Agency has to play in that, which we will look at.
Lord Tope: My Lords, I encourage the Minister in his urgency in dealing with this problem by letting him know that only last week in my borough 14 brass memorial plaques were stolen from Carshalton war memorial and a local church discovered that its bell had been stolen. This almost everyday occurrence is being experienced all over the country. In addition to the methods suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, will the Minister also look at making it a legal requirement for scrap metal dealers to register and to check the details of all those selling scrap metal to them?
Lord Henley: My Lords, my noble friend is right to draw attention to the fact that not just the more valuable metals like copper and lead are affected but a whole range of others. He mentioned that brass plaques have been stolen; I assure him that there have even been cases of things such as cast-iron manhole covers being stolen, which have relatively little value but can cause major problems if they are stolen. That is why, as I have tried to make clear, we treat this problem urgently and wish to address it as soon as possible.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My Lords, since the 2003 Iraq conflict there has been a convention to debate military intervention in the House of Commons. This Government have been clear that we will abide by that convention. The Government are currently exploring options for formalising the convention, including the future role of the House of Lords in such matters.
Lord Grocott: With respect, my Lords, this question goes to the heart of the issues of the powers of a revised House of Lords and the relationship between the two Houses. I put these simple questions to the Minister: if Members of the Commons were allowed to vote on matters of war and peace and senators in the newly elected senate were not, how on earth would that be explained and justified? If, on the other hand, the Commons and the Lords could both vote on matters of war and peace, what on earth would happen if one voted for war and the other for peace? I put it to the Minister that if the resources of the Deputy Prime Minister cannot even come up with an attempt to answer these fundamental questions about a reformed second Chamber, they should tear up the draft Bill and go back to the drawing board.
Lord McNally: The noble Lord, Lord Grocott, continues his search for the silver bullet that is going to shoot down Lords reform. The fact is that we are approaching the matter of war powers rather more seriously. Of course there is the matter of the power of the House of Commons, and we are considering carefully how such legislation would be couched. When the reformed House of Lords comes into being, as has been made clear by the Cunningham committee, the conventions between the two Houses will be up for re-examination but the conventions of the two Houses will still be in place. The Government have made it quite clear that it will be the House of Lords-sorry, the House of Commons, that will have the-[Laughter.] War powers are a rather serious matter. If the noble Lord would address it as such, instead of as one of his regular "catch them" questions, we could well debate it.
Lord Elton: My Lords, my noble friend is mistaken in thinking that this is a flippant approach simply because it comes from somebody with a known record of trying to sabotage reform. Surely reform is intended to be democratic and representative. This House will not be representative unless it can represent those who elect it in all respects. This is the most important
3 Oct 2011 : Column 957
Lord McNally: My noble friend's last point is exactly why the Government are being very careful in thinking about just how these matters should be put into law and how Parliament should discuss them. However, the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, is dealt with by the CRAG Act. Treaties will be debated in both Houses and can be voted on by both Houses, but the CRAG Act makes it quite clear that the view of the House of Commons would prevail in such matters. That is one precedent that we could look at but, as I say, let us wait.
Lord Kakkar: My Lords, if a future election to the other place were to result in no party being able to form a Government, alone or in coalition, do the coalition Government's proposals for abolition of your Lordships' House offer a constitutional impediment to the leader of the party that enjoys the confidence of the elected second Chamber being invited to form a Government?
Lord McNally: Absolutely and clearly-again, the conventions are clear. The statement in the White Paper is quite clear. It is the person and party who command the confidence of the House of Commons that will form a Government in any future circumstances. That will remain.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the Minister has cast aspersions on the seriousness of my noble friend's Question. I am not alone in your Lordships' House in believing that the Government should have looked at this matter first, rather than produce a Bill to change things with a plus ça change attitude towards the future role of this House or an elected second Chamber. Why will the Government not go away and do their job properly? Before the noble Lord attacks me, I am one of the Members in favour of reform. However, I do not want it done back to front, with the Government unravelling the system and then discovering that they have to work out how it will work in the future. That is the wrong way round.
Lord McNally: That is precisely why the proposals put forward by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister are the most thorough, the most consulted on and the most open proposals for reform of this House that have ever gone before Parliament. Again, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that war powers-and the right of Parliament to debate them-are a very serious matter, for which the Government have promised to bring forward proposals. Again, I put forward the very clear statement in the White Paper: the conventions and powers of the House of Commons will remain supreme. That would be the case for war powers, as for any others.
Lord Tyler: My Lords, my noble friend will recall that two Joint Committees looked at these issues with great care in the previous Parliament. I served on both of them. The Government of the day then accepted the advice of those committees. Would my noble friend like to speculate on why the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, raises this issue now, rather than exerting his influence in that Government?
Lord McNally: No, I prefer to look forward on this matter. We have given the noble Lord, Lord Richard, a task. If the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, wants to write to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, with any doubts or concerns he has about war powers, particularly after the Government have made their statement, so be it. Of course, it is legitimate to address one of the regular Questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, on Lords reform, but I hope that the House will debate the war powers issue with due seriousness when the Government come through with proposals. There are a lot of examples around the world of parliaments that have taken war powers which have made it virtually impossible for those countries to deploy forces. At the other end of the scale, we have the example of Iraq, when Parliament felt that it had not been fully consulted. The Government are looking at this very carefully and seriously and will bring forward proposals in due course.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My Lords, the Government have discussed the role of private credit rating agencies with other European Union Governments in numerous meetings. These include the Financial Services Committee, the Economic and Financial Committee and ECOFIN, attended by Economics and Finance Ministers. The Government have also discussed this issue in depth with your Lordships' EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs, and International Trade during its recent inquiry on sovereign ratings.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for a full reply, but does he recall that these credit rating agencies actually promoted the sub-prime mortgages which precipitated the crisis? They have been accused of a conflict of interest as they vary the ratings of both banks and countries, which exacerbates the crisis and can advantage the owners of these agencies? I asked in a previous Question whether the Minister would consider promoting an intergovernmental agency to take on this role. If he is not prepared to do that for ideological reasons, will he, with his EU colleagues, at least ask the competition authorities within the European Union to see what they can do to curb the excesses of this cartel and break up what has become an insidious oligopoly?
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, there are quite a number of points wrapped up in that question. The first point to recognise is that the credit rating agencies plainly got it wrong when it came to the structured products which were at the heart of the financial crisis. On the other hand, their record in other respects during the financial crisis, and particularly the sovereign debt crisis, has been reasonably good, and all the evidence shows that. Having said that, I completely agree with the noble Lord that competition is very much what the Government would like to see, but the way to introduce competition is absolutely not to have any publicly funded or publicly sponsored credit rating agency. Indeed, Mr Barroso himself recognised this recently by opposing any suggestion of a European publicly funded agency. I agree with the noble Lord that we want to see competition, but not through setting up a government sponsored agency.
Lord Bilimoria: My Lords, to follow on from the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, surely the Minister agrees that these credit rating agencies were instrumental in causing the credit crunch and financial crisis by rating what ended up being worse than junk bond instruments as triple-A? They were allowed to get away with being funded by the people they were reporting on. Is there moral hazard with the banks? This is moral hypocrisy. Is enough being done to address it?
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, I have already said that the credit rating agencies got it completely wrong when it came to the rating of structured products. As a result of that, there have already been two regulations, so-called CRA1 and CRA2, out of Europe since the crisis and a third set of proposals is expected in November this year. The first two sets of proposals address the matters which the noble Lord raises. There is now a system of registration. There are new regulations around conflicts and how to handle them, as well as around transparency and disclosure. I agree that the issues he raises are serious, but they are very much the ones which the European regulations have addressed.
Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that there are great shortcomings among the credit agencies when it comes to derivatives and so forth, but that that does not extend to their rating of sovereign debt? Does he further accept that when Standard and Poor's downgraded American debt, that debt then became cheaper and bonds went up?
"The criticism that credit rating agencies precipitated the euro area crisis is largely unjustified; their downgrades merely reflected the seriousness of the problems that some Member States are currently facing".
Lord Eatwell: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sassoon, has made it clear on several occasions that appeasement of the private credit rating agencies is a central plank of government policy. What reconsideration of that policy have the Government undertaken, given the point just raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton?
3 Oct 2011 : Column 960
Lord Sassoon: If the noble Lord means by appeasement what the Government want to do in terms of reducing the over-reliance of the market on credit rating agencies, getting away from being hardwired into arrangements that drive the debt markets, and what we want to do through increasing transparency and disclosure by the credit rating agencies, increasing competition and seeing more new entrants into the market, that is what I mean by appeasement, but I do not think it is what he means by it. We want a much more healthy market. We are going about it through a series of practical suggestions in discussion with our European partners in advance of the next proposals from Brussels.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: My Lords, I have it in command from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that his Royal Highness, having been informed of the purport of the Sovereign Grant Bill, has consented to place his prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My Lords, I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this important Bill and I look forward to our debate. It was clear from debates in another place that there is wide recognition of Her Majesty the Queen's long and conscientious contribution to public life. It is vital that we continue to provide the Queen and the Royal Household with the finances to perform her official duties with dignity, but it is equally important to take this opportunity to modernise the current system for supporting the Royal Household.
The sovereign grant will replace the current three-grant system with a single consolidated payment. It will provide the household with flexibility to prioritise its use of resources in the most effective way. The level of the grant will usually be equivalent to 15 per cent of the profits made by the Crown Estate in the financial year two years earlier. That is, profits in the current financial year, 2011-12, will determine the level of the sovereign grant in 2013-14, the first year the new calculation method will be used. Of course, we cannot say with certainty what that profit will be, but the Crown Estate has indicated that it expects profits to be broadly the same as last year. That would mean a 2013-14 sovereign grant of about £34 million. That is in line with Royal Household expenditure in the five years between 2006 and 2010, which averaged about £34 million per year. However, that can be only a projection, so there are safeguards to ensure that the sovereign grant can be kept on a sustainable path.
First, the Bill would establish a sovereign reserve fund. Any unspent sovereign grant will be paid into the sovereign reserve at the end of the year, and could then be called upon in a subsequent year to cover a shortfall. Importantly, there will be a target limit on that reserve to avoid it rising above about half of the total expenditure in that year. If the sovereign reserve were to exceed that level, the royal trustees could intervene to reduce the sovereign grant to an appropriate level.
Secondly, the Bill provides for regular reviews to determine whether the percentage used in the formula, initially 15 per cent, remains appropriate. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already accepted the principle of some of the Opposition's amendments on this matter. In response to those, the Bill now provides for the first review to happen in 2016 rather than 2019, as previously envisaged, and reviews will take place every five years thereafter instead of every seven. Any increase in the formula would require agreement from Parliament by affirmative orders.
Thirdly, there will be a cash underpin that will go some way to protect the monarch from dips in the profit of the Crown Estate. It is important to note that the royal trustees may override this underpin should there be sufficient funds in the reserve.
Because the sovereign grant is being brought into the Treasury estimate, it will be treated like other central government bodies. The Treasury will apply in-year controls on public expenditure to avoid waste, seek value for money and prohibit spending ahead of need. At the same time, we are improving accountability to Parliament for the spending of public money. From 2012, the National Audit Office will have full access and will become the statutory auditor for all the Royal Household's use of the sovereign grant and the sovereign reserve. This is a significant step that should be welcomed.
The Bill is also an opportunity to modernise other aspects of current legislation. For example, under current arrangements, only a Duke of Cornwall receives financial support from the Duchy of Cornwall. The Bill will enable the Treasury to provide a grant to heirs to the throne who are not the Duke of Cornwall, to ensure that they can be supported to similar effect. A significant result of this modernisation is that, in effect, it enables female heirs to benefit from the Duchy of Cornwall.
In addition, the Bill repeals a number of parliamentary annuities that are currently payable to other members of the Royal Family to relieve expenditure incurred in connection with their official duties. These annuities have for many years been reimbursed on a voluntary basis to the Exchequer by Her Majesty from her Privy Purse. The Bill puts an end to this anachronism. Noble Lords will be aware that Her Majesty intends to continue to provide for these annuitants from her Privy Purse. Those arrangements were set out in a letter from Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of Her Majesty's Privy Purse, to my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was placed in the Library on 30 June. There is no change to the parliamentary
3 Oct 2011 : Column 962
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, noble Lords may well wonder why I am speaking on a Treasury Bill. The reasons are two. First, my colleagues in the Treasury team all have long-standing engagements at this time during this unexpected week of business. Secondly, I hold Her Majesty in the greatest esteem, and, since I am a former Lord President of the Council and a former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, both positions of which I was immensely proud, it seemed appropriate for me to speak on behalf of the Opposition.
The Bill seeks to modernise and simplify the way in which we finance our Royal Family. It brings up to date the method of grant allocation and greatly increases the transparency of the finances of Her Majesty and the wider Royal Family. It facilitates accountability to Parliament via the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee. On behalf of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition, I begin my contribution to this Second Reading debate by putting on the record our particular support for this element of the changes that we are discussing today.
I am glad that the business managers in this House have made proper time available for consideration of this short but important Bill. I understand that in the Commons there was no Second Reading because the previous business overran. This is yet another signal to the Government that their legislative programme really is far too full to enable the proper scrutiny that is rightly demanded by the citizens of this country.
This debate is happening 250 years after the current system for allocating funds to the Royal Household was first decided upon. It was in 1760 that King George III surrendered the entirety of the income from the Crown Estate to Parliament in exchange for an annual grant to fund his and his family's duties in his role as monarch. With time, this grant has in fact developed into four separate allowances. The Civil List is the annual grant to meet the core official expense to enable the Queen to carry out her role as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth, and it comes from the Treasury. There is a grant in aid for royal travel, which is funded by the Department for Transport, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport provides both a grant in aid for maintenance of the royal palaces and a grant for expenditure on communications and information.
There is no permitted crossover between those pots of money. Their hypothecated nature has prevented a surplus in the travel grant being put towards the urgent upkeep of a particular royal palace, for example. The Bill before us today will put an end to this rigidity, giving the Royal Family the flexibility that they have always wanted, and it is extremely welcome. The new sovereign grant will be able to be used as the Royal Household sees fit under the guidance of the Keeper
3 Oct 2011 : Column 963
I shall focus my comments around three broad areas: the level of the grant, the mechanisms to review it, and the audit of public funds apportioned to financing the monarchy. The Minister has informed the House that the value of the sovereign grant in any given year will be equivalent to 15 per cent of the profits of the Crown Estate in the two years prior. This means that in the first year of the new system, 2013-14, the sovereign grant will be determined as 15 per cent of the profits from the Crown Estate in 2011-12. The Minister has told your Lordships that this is predicted to equate to £34 million. This figure is broadly in line with the expenditure of the Royal Family in recent years. In another place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that the effect of choosing this particular percentage of Crown Estate profits, in order to determine the level of the sovereign grant, would be to provide the Queen with a sum throughout this Parliament that was broadly the same as the sum she received throughout the last. The Chancellor is right to say:
From the opposition Benches, I wish to stress to your Lordships, and to the Government, that the key issues are the values and priorities that underpin that judgment. Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family continue, and must continue, to play a vital role in the affairs of our nation in the new century. They must be financed in a way that enables them to fulfil this role-at home and in the wider Commonwealth-and to maintain the support of the public. Accordingly, the funding arrangements need to strike a fair and workable balance between the legitimate needs of the household and the interests of taxpayers. Setting the sovereign grant at 15 per cent of Crown revenues will mean, from next year until the end of the current Parliament, a 3.2 per cent real-terms rise in the grant available to the Royal Household. I ask the Minister for reassurance that, in these times of austerity, when the impact of the Government's policies and priorities, as well as the state of the global economy, are causing tough times for hard-working people across the country, the interests of taxpayers are being carefully considered. I also ask whether he is able to make available to Parliament detailed projections of the value of the sovereign grant over the coming years.
I turn to the scope for adjusting the level of the sovereign grant as outlined in this Bill. In the other place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that the Government had chosen the mechanism of a percentage of the Crown Estate profit because it was,
The Chancellor described the Crown Estate as a large commercial property company run in a conservative way, which was not a bad proxy for how the country as a whole was doing. We on the opposition Benches are not sure whether the figure of 15 per cent of Crown revenues will prove to rise in line with the overall performance of the economy going forward. The Crown Estate's annual report describes current growth as
3 Oct 2011 : Column 964
I am pleased to inform your Lordships' House that Her Majesty's Opposition fully support the auditing arrangements of the new system, as laid out in the Bill. It is welcome that, for the first time, the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee will have the same powers to audit and scrutinise the Royal Household in the same way as any government department. We welcome this unprecedented increase in transparency and scrutiny of the Royal Household. It is not only the proper thing to do; it will likely serve to build further trust and support for the monarchy in our country. We hope that the PAC will decide to take frequent looks at the Royal Household's accounts to monitor the suitability of the new sovereign grant mechanism.
In times of real economic hardship, and also at a time when the pressures on the Royal Family seem to be increasing in various ways, it is vital that in arriving at a settlement for funding the monarchy, Parliament balances the interests of the taxpayer with the dignity and needs of the Royal Household. The Bill seems to strike that balance, but I look forward to hearing the Minister's response to my questions and those which will undoubtedly follow from other noble Lords.
Lord Newby: My Lords, the briefing circulated in respect of the Bill said that debates in your Lordships' House on the funding of the Royal Household tended to be brief. When I see the formidable array of experience on all matters royal on the Benches opposite me, I am tempted to be even briefer than I might otherwise have been.
The first question to be raised in any debate on royal finances going into the future is whether the level of funding proposed is broadly in the right ballpark. I suspect that if you told most people in the UK that they were paying, in effect, a penny a week to fund the Royal Household, they would think that they were getting exceptional value for money. It might be virtually the only area where people might almost voluntarily be prepared to pay marginally more. It is a remarkable achievement to run an institution such as the monarchy at a penny a week per head. The fact that the real cost of running the monarchy has fallen by more than 50 per cent over the past 20 years is another remarkable achievement that many other outposts of government
3 Oct 2011 : Column 965
My next question is whether this extremely elegant way of funding the Royal Household into the future is likely to be sustainable in the longer term. Given the current incumbent of the monarchy and her heirs and successors, and the extent to which they have been taken to the heart of the nation in various forms, we are looking at an institution which, to the extent that one can predict anything, looks set fair for the next 60 years. Therefore, any long-term funding mechanism has to be capable of being sustained over the long term. The great advantage of the Crown Estate as a method of calculating the income of the Royal Household is that it is a very sustainable long-term operation, and it is easy to see why the Crown Estate will be around in 60 years. That choice of mechanism is very sensible.
The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, raised the question of what happens if the income from the Crown Estate changes beyond what was expected and there seems to be some suggestion that in certain circumstances it could rise significantly. The Bill seeks to deal with that by having a five-year review and a clawback if the sovereign reserve increases. One is tempted to think that the keeper of the Privy Purse will have up his sleeve a whole series of refurbishment and other measures that could be reeled out in any particular year if it looks as though significant increases occur in Crown Estate profits that had not been anticipated. Perhaps it is not too ungenerous to think that the monarchy should benefit from an increase in the profitability of the Crown Estate, because it has given up income from the Crown Estate for 250 years. However, the more serious point is that there could be circumstances in which, over a period of two, three or four years, the monarchy could receive a significantly greater income than was envisaged. This will not necessarily go into the sovereign reserve: therefore, the clawback powers will not necessarily obtain. There is nothing in the Bill to stop that. Are the Government content that, at a time when Crown Estate profits might rise exponentially, or at least very significantly, the Royal Household should have the ability to spend significantly more over a two or three-year period before any review takes place?
In another place, my colleague John Thurso asked why the Crown Estate was getting income from offshore renewable energy. It seems slightly odd that the income of the royal family should depend on the number of wind farms that will be constructed off the coast of Scotland. Might there be an opportunity at some future point to discuss this rather odd aspect of the income of the Crown Estate and whether, given that the income is likely to increase significantly, it might be possible to use it-as my noble friend in another place suggested-to support those communities nearest to the wind, as it were, or more generally to support renewable energy? That is a debate for another day. In the mean time, like the noble Baroness, I support the measure.
Lord Turnbull: My Lords, I am a member of a select band of brothers, most of whom are clustered in this corner of the Chamber, who worked on the last major change to the Civil List. That was the announcement in July 1990 of a 10-year settlement-or, more accurately, the reintroduction of the 10-year settlement envisaged in the 1972 Act that collapsed after three years under the weight of runaway inflation. The briefing produced by the parliamentary Library, whose briefings are normally impeccable, has an important omission. There is no mention of the Civil List Act 1975, which shored up this failing system with an annual supplement to the Civil List. The effect of this was that the Palace's finances were run on a hand-to-mouth basis. It also introduced an annual opportunity for mischief-making in Parliament and the media, producing misleading and undignified headlines such as "£200,000 Pay Rise for Queen". Therefore, the first lesson in all this is that we need an arrangement that provides some distance between the monarchy and the hurly-burly of politics.
Our aim in 1990 was to get back to a 10-year framework, with a flat-rate annual sum that was the average requirement over the period. Any surpluses that accumulated in the first five years were to be run down in the second five years. Clearly, that required an assumption about inflation. I and my Permanent Secretary Peter Middleton went to see the then leader of the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock. Naturally, he quizzed us on the inflation assumption. I said that it was 7.5 per cent, which was the average of the preceding 10 years. He said: "You can't do fairer than that". Inflation at the time was 9.8 per cent. Neither of us knew that by the spring of the following year, inflation would fall below 7.5 per cent and go on to average about 3.5 per cent over the subsequent 20 years. The result was that the reserves built up had not even begun to be drawn upon by the 10-year mark, and the system lasted for 20 years.
The fall in inflation was not the only reason that the life of the scheme was twice as long as expected. Here we should pay tribute to the two keepers of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Peat and Sir Alan Reed, for getting the costs of the monarchy and the Palace under control. In its own terms that scheme was pretty successful but all schemes are capable of improvement and the new proposals before us introduce a number of welcome changes.
First, it is not just a 10-year arrangement; in principle it could last in perpetuity and can be renewed periodically, and it avoids the need to renegotiate new arrangements in the first six months of a new reign when I am sure a new monarch has better things to do. Secondly, the consolidation of four grants into one will enable this whole consolidated grant to be better managed, which the Palace has demonstrated its capability to do. Thirdly, it resolves a long-running argument about the role of the C&AG in Parliament in the oversight of spending.
There is only one false note in an otherwise excellent scheme, as has been hinted at by two previous speakers: the link with the Crown Estate. In my view, this link is pretty artificial as there is no relationship between the net income of the Crown Estate and the funding of
3 Oct 2011 : Column 967
However, the revenues of a property company, albeit an unlevered one that is run very conservatively, seems an odd benchmark to determine the appropriate level of funding for the monarchy. It is unlikely that this index will maintain the value in real terms at its current level. In the past two decades, the revenues of the Crown Estate have increased by 6.5 per cent a year, against 3.5 per cent of inflation, so it is a significant increase in real terms, which over a decade will produce an increase in the sovereign grant of a third, which I am sure the Palace neither needs nor is seeking. There is no necessary reason why this index would produce the best guide, particularly as we are now at a relatively low point in the property cycle.
In practice, this grant, as the Minister has told us, is so hedged about by caps, floors, reviews, in-year Treasury controls and parliamentary scrutiny that not much damage is going to be done in either direction, of making the grant too small or too large. However, if maintaining the grant in approximately real terms is the true objective, which seems reasonable to me, it would have been better to use some index of inflation, pretty much as we have done for decades with the BBC licence. We would thereby avoid perpetuating or even entrenching the confusion between the Crown Estate and the Crown itself. It all looks like someone being a bit too clever by half. So rather than 10 out of 10, I give these proposals in an otherwise excellent Bill nine out of 10.
The final, highly commendable feature of the Bill is the change in the rules on the Duchy of Cornwall which allow a grant to be made to an heir to the throne who is not a Duke of Cornwall, so that in future daughters of the monarch as well as younger sons could benefit. One can only hope that this is a precursor to a change to the male-only succession and when that has been done we can move on to the next step in the modernisation of the monarchy by redrafting the outdated and, to many, unacceptable language of the various oaths sworn by a new monarch.
Lord Fellowes: My Lords, first, I declare an interest as a holder of an honorary appointment in the Royal Household. In my view, these new arrangements for a sovereign grant have much to recommend them. First, they keep the correct constitutional relationship between sovereign and Parliament in that Parliament retains ultimate control, in general terms, of the funding of the sovereign, a relationship underscored by the auditing of the figures involved by the National Audit Office.
3 Oct 2011 : Column 968
Without wishing to repeat what has been said before, there are two particular points that I regard as being important improvements. First is the ability of the Royal Household to build a reserve, monitored by the royal trustees, which can be drawn down in years when, for one reason or another, the household is in deficit. The other point I particularly commend is the tidying up of the anomaly whereby the income from the Duchy of Cornwall can go only to the eldest son of the sovereign as heir to the throne.
All in all, this legislation is both timely and efficient. It provides for an institution founded on permanence and the assurance of a long-term, fair and flexible method of funding by successive Governments who are, in the nature of democracy, themselves ephemeral.
Lord Janvrin: I, too, declare an interest as an honorary member of the Royal Household, and take this opportunity to add my voice to those welcoming the Sovereign Grant Bill. As others have stated, the funding of the official expenses of the monarchy has in recent years become a complicated mix of the Civil List and the grants in aid, which were introduced at different times and in different ways over recent years. The system was indeed in need of a makeover.
I welcome the introduction of the sovereign grant, as set out in this Bill, for three reasons. First, it gives the Royal Household greater flexibility to manage as effectively as possible all public funds made available to it. Secondly, it introduces full accountability of the sovereign grant expenditure, which brings its auditing arrangements into line with the levels of scrutiny expected of public expenditure more widely. Thirdly, and most importantly, it introduces a long-term stability into the arrangements for funding the monarchy that is entirely appropriate to the role of the institution in our national life.
Perhaps I may expand briefly on these three points. I want to confine myself to the principles rather than to numbers. I welcome the introduction of one consolidated grant to replace the existing sources of funding because I have every confidence in the capacity of the Royal Household to make better use of the total public funds at its disposal by having this additional flexibility.
I pay tribute to work of the current finance director, or Keeper of Her Majesty's Privy Purse, and his predecessor in the way they have managed the royal finances, reduced overall costs and introduced efficiency savings over a number of years. However, they have been constrained by the complicated funding system: for example, not being able to transfer money between, say, the travel grant and building maintenance or vice versa. The introduction of this unitary grant will allow for much better use of resources, more effective financial planning and more value for money.
I am sure that the full system of accountability now introduced in the Bill will ensure that this search for efficiency and value for money will continue. For years, the opening up of the Civil List to auditing by the National Audit Office has been resisted as being inappropriate, although the Royal Household tried to ensure that the fullest possible set of Civil List accounts was in the public domain. However, public attitudes towards transparency and accountability have evolved and it is entirely right that that is recognised in this Bill. Far from it having anything to hide, I have every confidence in the Royal Household being able to continue to demonstrate that it is both efficient and innovative in the way it uses the public funds allocated to it.
Scrutiny will continue to focus attention on which expenditure is public and which is private, which is always a difficult area. I am absolutely clear that the amount of parliamentary scrutiny the Royal Household will enjoy of its grant in the region of £31 million will almost certainly be greater than the scrutiny given to government departments with budgets a hundred times the size. That is the way of the world-or rather a measure of public interest in the monarchy.
That brings me to my final point. The long-term nature of the funding arrangements in the Bill is entirely appropriate for the monarchy, which, among its several roles, has such an important part to play in contributing to the long-term stability and continuity in our national life. Unlike my noble friend Lord Turnbull, I think that linking the sovereign grant to the Crown Estate's revenue is both historically appropriate and practically sensible as a way of reflecting the growth or otherwise in our national wealth. I welcome the mechanisms to ensure that this link delivers effectively-not too little, but certainly not too much-both in the introduction of the sovereign grant reserve and the regular review of the percentage figure, now every five years. I welcome, too, the tidying up of the anomaly in the revenues to the Duchy of Cornwall, the repeal of a number of parliamentary annuities and the option of extending the sovereign grant arrangements into the new reign.
I congratulate those who have negotiated these arrangements. They are a rationalisation and a streamlining of the complicated system of royal finances that has grown up in recent years. They are measured and sensible and should stand the test of time. They are also timely; it is particularly good to see this issue resolved well before the Diamond Jubilee next year, when I have no doubt that many thousands of people up and down the country will have a chance to recognise the extraordinary personal contribution of the Queen to our national life over 60 years.
Lord Luce: My Lords, I, too, declare an interest as an honorary member of the Royal Household. In case noble Lords are beginning to think that there is some conspiracy on this Back Bench, they will already have noticed that there are variations in views about the Bill.
In broad terms, I, too, welcome the Bill and congratulate the Chancellor and the Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid, on the imaginative proposals
3 Oct 2011 : Column 970
I agree with my noble friends that much about the arrangements in recent years has been both confusing and unsatisfactory. The mechanism has been discussed-the Minister has described it to the House, as well as the supporting arrangements and restrictions that are introduced with regard to the reserve and the ultimate decision-making of the three trustees-and we can discuss what should be the most appropriate benchmark. However, I certainly agree with my noble friends that there are a number of advantages to the legislation. First, the consolidation of the grant into a unitary grant gives freedom to managers at the Palace to manage resources efficiently. Instead of negotiating grants from the Treasury for the Civil List, from the DCMS on property matters and from the Department for Transport on travel grants, they have one overall grant and it is up to the Household to decide how those resources can most efficiently be spent.
The noble Lord, Lord Newby, made the point that the upkeep of property in itself will always be a big expense. The poor condition of the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum in Windsor Great Park, for example, which is now on the English Heritage risk register, is an indication of how the Household will have to face the choice in its budget as to whether it spends money on that, rather than arguing with Governments as to how much money should go to it. That is healthy. I also agree that it gives the monarchy a measure of independence, greater flexibility in management and certainly greater transparency-annual reports in recent years have been much more transparent-and allows much more long-term planning and certainty. Above all, it provides strengthened accountability, which is a good thing.
My noble friend Lord Turnbull made a point about the right benchmark. He may be right or he may be wrong about using the net revenue of the Crown Estate as the benchmark, but a safeguard has been injected by Her Majesty's Opposition in amendments that have been accepted by the Government, in the form of reviews, the first to be in 2016 and then every five years rather than every seven years, thus enabling the Government of the day to check whether the system is working adequately.
I shall make one general point about the monarchy in the context of this Bill. The monarchy cannot withdraw behind a moat and ignore the reality of the outside world. The world has changed enormously in the past 60 years, and the monarchy is the pinnacle of our very important institutions. It needs to do its job effectively, whether running garden parties, investitures, state visits or royal engagements around the country, but it also needs to set an example to the country and to carry the confidence of the country. First, it must ensure that the staff are highly professional in management and, in general, in the services that they provide. In
3 Oct 2011 : Column 971
There is only one other point that I wish to make, and it is to welcome the decision in, I think, Clause 10, to do away with the payment, made under the Civil List, of annuities to the monarchy supposedly to support working members of the Royal Family which Her Majesty then repays to the Government. That seems to be the most ridiculous way of carrying on finances. It has led to the misunderstanding that working members of the Royal Family, with the exception of the Duke of Edinburgh, are supported in all that they do by the taxpayer, when in fact they are supported by the taxpayer in the travel budget only. Of course, it is right that the annuity should continue for the Duke of Edinburgh.
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to an interesting debate this afternoon. I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, for her confirmation of the Opposition's support for the Bill. Any time that she would like to oppose me on further Treasury Bills, she is very welcome. She does not need to apologise or explain.
I am also grateful for the support from the experts on what I will now come to think of as the Household Bench. I knew of the concept and of the existence of the Household box at Ascot; I had not realised that there was a Household Bench in the Lords. Every time here I learn something and that is what I have learned this afternoon.
More seriously, this is an important Bill. Her Majesty the Queen has provided exemplary service to this country throughout her reign. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family will continue to play a vital role in representing and promoting the UK and the Commonwealth. I am sure that we all particularly look forward to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations next year. It is only right that we provide the Queen
3 Oct 2011 : Column 972
Let me respond to some of the points that have been made in the debate. First, on the numbers themselves, there were questions from the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and the noble Lord, Lord Luce, about the projections. Let me be clear about the numbers: the sovereign grant itself in 2011-12 is £30 million. It will rise to £31 million next year because of the one-off special bonus of £1 million for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In 2013-14 and 2014-15 it depends on the profits of the Crown Estate but the numbers are forecast or projected to be £34 million and then £35 million. As the noble Lord, Lord Luce, pointed out, in real terms this represents, in 2010-11 prices, a decline in expenditure from £34.9 million in 2011-12 to £31.5 million in 2014-15. These projections do not run away in any sense at all.
The noble Baroness quoted from something that I think the Crown Estate said about profits rising exponentially. It is important to realise that that just applies to the renewable profits, which themselves make up only a very small percentage of the Crown Estate. It was not a reference to the profits as a whole. My noble friend Lord Newby also referred to offshore wind-and rightly said that that is a question for another day. There are of course lots of questions about the way that the offshore wind market will develop in future years because it is a very new market.
There were a number of questions and comments about the review of the level of income, both within the year and from one year to the next. Without repeating all that I said in opening, it is perhaps worth stressing that in-year, normal Treasury controls on public expenditure will apply in future. The accounting officer of the Royal Household, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, will be guided by the key publication, Managing Public Money, which among other things prohibits spending ahead of need and counsels against waste and extravagance. I think a proper balance will be struck between my noble friend Lord Newby's encouragement to put in place proper repairs and a normal regard for control of public expenditure.
In relation to the basic link to the Crown Estate, I am sorry that the overall package gets only a nine out of 10 rating. However, I take it that a nine out of 10 rating from a former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury is about as good as it gets. The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, is nodding, so I am relieved about that. The noble Lord, Lord Janvrin, really answered the point as well as I could in referring to the historical appropriateness of the link to the Crown Estate as well as the practical basis for a long-term settlement, which it gives.
I hope that that deals briefly with the main points that have been raised. The Bill will, in summary, put funding for the Royal Household on a sustainable footing and provide for it to be fully accountable to
3 Oct 2011 : Column 973
This Bill is relatively short and straightforward in its aims. In 2006, Parliament passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, which set the legal framework within which organisations such as the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, LOCOG, the Olympic Delivery Agency, the ODA, and the mayor's office are empowered to deliver the Games. It also provides the legislative means through which government will meet the commitments given to the IOC on the way in which the Games, and the Games environment, will be managed.
The Act provided a number of powers, some of which are refined by the Bill in front of us today, including powers to regulate advertising and trading in the vicinity of Olympic and Paralympic venues, to make the touting of Olympic or Paralympic tickets an offence, to manage traffic on the Olympic route network and around Games venues, and to facilitate a number of the transport provisions that are necessary to ensure well run, well delivered and well remembered Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We may well ask why, if due care was taken in drafting the legislation following the securing of the Games back in 2005, such refinements are necessary now. To set the scene, there have been many positive developments since winning the bid for the Games. By the end of June, almost 90 per cent of the Olympic Park had been constructed and all the venues are on, or ahead of, schedule. The testing of venues is now under way as part of a comprehensive London Prepares programme. Preparation for the Paralympics is shaping up not only to change the way in which people think about disability sport but to help to change attitudes to disability itself.
Changing attitudes and providing opportunities lies at the heart of the broader legacy that we are laying down. An economic, social and sporting legacy will mean that next year, when the Olympics and Paralympics are over, we will be left not just with memories but with clear evidence of how the Games will leave their mark on the country.
This progress has been made possible because of the excellent planning and work of LOCOG, the ODA, government departments and others. It is this state of preparedness for next year's Games that has identified the need for the changes to legislation brought forward
3 Oct 2011 : Column 974
Regulating advertising and trading near Games venues is a requirement of hosting the Games. The 2006 Act set out the tailored powers needed, both to act as a stronger deterrent to ambush marketing and illegal trading and because existing powers alone were not adequate for such a major event. It also set out the broad framework for detailed regulations to be made later. These regulations are expected to be laid in draft next week and will be subject to the affirmative procedure.
The 2006 Act provides the ODA and the police with powers to enforce the regulations, including the power to seize articles used in contravention of them. The Bill amends the 2006 Act to provide that any articles seized in England and Wales by either ODA enforcement officers or the police are dealt with by the ODA instead of the police. In Scotland, the ODA and the police will agree the process between them, reflecting the different legal system and processes there. The change will mean that during the 2012 Games, police time is not spent filing and dealing with seized property. Instead, officers designated by the ODA, who are likely to be enforcement officers from local authorities and familiar with dealing with street trading and advertising offences under existing law, will deal with breaches of advertising and trading regulations as well as handle any articles seized.
Infringing articles held by the ODA will be dealt with as specified in the Bill, which includes rules about how long articles can be held and conditions that must be met before they are disposed of. The Bill will also introduce a quicker procedure for making any subsequent amending advertising and trading regulations. As I said, the first, and I hope final, set is due to be laid in Parliament shortly. However, in the event of an exceptional circumstance-for example, a burst water main necessitating moving an event to an alternative venue-we are unable to apply the advertising and trading regulations to that new venue or to disapply them to the original venue. To resolve this, we are proposing to change the procedure used for any amending regulations under the 2006 Act to the faster negative procedure. Importantly, the statutory requirement of consultation before the regulations are made is preserved.
On ticket touting, there is little doubt that the Games will be the greatest sporting event this country has staged, and unfortunately ticket touts may seek to profit at the expense of genuine sports fans. The 2006 Act made the touting of Games tickets-meaning the selling or offering for sale of tickets in public or in the course of business, other than with LOCOG's consent-an offence attracting a maximum fine of £5,000. However, intelligence gathered by the police through Operation Podium indicates that those who look to tout Games tickets may also have links to organised crime, meaning that this fine level may not provide the necessary deterrent.
The Bill thus contains a provision that seeks to increase the maximum penalty for touting Olympic and Paralympic tickets from £5,000 to £20,000. This does not criminalise any new conduct. Visitors will come to the Olympics and Paralympics from all over
3 Oct 2011 : Column 975
On traffic management and the 2006 Act, another key issue for the Games is the effective movement of the Games family to and from venues. The 2006 Act allowed the creation and enforcement of traffic management measures specifically for the Games to enable their smooth running and deliver journey time commitments made to the International Olympic Committee. These included powers to create an Olympic route network to enable the ODA and local traffic authorities to make traffic regulation orders for defined Olympics purposes and for the ODA to set levels of penalty charges in accordance with guidelines or, in Greater London, subject to consultation and approval. The Act also relaxed, for London Olympic events, restrictions on making special event traffic orders.
As with the Bill's other provisions, significant progress has been made in Games time planning since 2006. The ODA has developed the second version of its Olympic transport plan, setting out in detail the transport strategy for the Games. This move from focusing on transport infrastructure to concentrating on the services that will operate during the Games has helped identify areas in the 2006 Act that require amendments. The Bill delivers those amendments, which in essence ensure that the intentions of the original Act can be properly implemented.
The 2006 Act allowed for the making of traffic regulation orders for Olympic purposes under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Unfortunately, the legislation as drafted required the Olympic purposes to be met in addition to the conditions that normally apply to Section 14 orders-for example, that the order is needed for litter clearing or road works. The Bill remedies this by providing that Section 14 traffic regulation orders may be made for an Olympic purpose only. This is required in order to ensure that effective traffic management can be carried out on the ORN and around Games venues at short notice. It is anticipated that this may often include measures to ensure that traffic is able to flow freely, so lessening the impact of Games traffic on those living and working around the venues.
The clause also allows traffic authorities, but not the ODA, to make temporary notices under Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for immediate changes to traffic regulation specifically for Olympics purposes, thereby avoiding the same issue that currently applies to Section 14 orders. Subsequent provisions allow for the civil enforcement of contraventions of traffic regulation orders and notices made for the Games. As in the current law, moving contraventions-involving, for example, Games lanes, banned U-turns
3 Oct 2011 : Column 976
The clause also clarifies provision for the ODA to set the levels of charges, including penalty charges, for the enforcement of orders and notices made for Olympics purposes, both within Greater London and outside, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. The Bill also addresses the current limitations on the special event powers in Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, which were relaxed to some extent by the 2006 Act, in relation to road closures for London Olympic events. The Bill further relaxes them in relation to other types of restrictions, such as parking controls or one-way streets.
The 2006 Act also provided general transport provisions whose purpose was to facilitate the effective management of traffic issues at Games times. The Bill augments those provisions in order to address concerns raised by Transport for London about the impact of Olympic transport restrictions on the ability of goods vehicle operators to operate effectively. As for goods vehicle operator licensing, TfL argued that, in order to ensure that businesses in London could continue to receive goods deliveries and that operators could arrange delivery times that were compliant with Games times restrictions, amendments to goods vehicles legislation were required.
There is currently a process by which goods vehicle operators can apply for a variation to the environmental conditions that are part of their operator's licence. However, there may be some operators who, due to exceptional circumstances such as the award of a short-term haulage contract or a short-notice change to an existing contract, may need to seek a relaxation of their environmental licence conditions very shortly before the start of the Olympic period. The Bill makes provision for an expedited process, in these exceptional circumstances, for a variation of licence.
This House has a strong history of interest in and support for next year's Olympics and Paralympics. It can also boast unrivalled experience and expertise in the areas the Bill amends. Without the input of your Lordships' House over the years, preparations for the Games would not be as effective, as considered or as encompassing as they are.
I end by recalling the unique role that this House has played not just across the Olympic and Paralympic landscape but across the wider sporting environment, bringing unparalleled knowledge, experience and advice to the Government as we seek to deliver our sports agenda. I trust that the House will recognise that the Bill simply addresses a small number of technical issues that need to be resolved to ensure that the legislation passed in 2006 works as intended. They are minor and technical in nature but they provide the essential building blocks that underpin a truly memorable Games experience. I beg to move.
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, introduced by the previous Labour Government, provides the overarching legislative framework that will successfully deliver next year's Games. As we have heard, the
3 Oct 2011 : Column 977
In ordinary circumstances, my place here today would have been as duty Whip and my noble friend Lady Billingham would have been taking the Bill through. Her illness prevented that, but I am sure that the whole House will join me in saying how delighted we are to see her in her place today.
In his Third Reading speech last month in another place, the Minister for the Olympics said that every time the United Kingdom has hosted the Olympics, we have left the Olympic movement stronger than we have found it. That is something that not every country that has hosted the Games can say, and it is an aspiration that we on this side of your Lordships' House strongly support and, we believe, that we can and should deliver on.
Right across the country, people are aware of the Games and are looking forward to them. Part of the East End of London has been transformed from a contaminated wasteland littered with corrugated iron huts into what has been described as the largest urban park to be created in Europe for 150 years. There are several iconic buildings. Many people were sorry that the wonderful velodrome building did not win the Stirling architectural prize last week-although, to be fair, it lost out narrowly to an interesting and successful school design, whose designer, Zaha Hadid, has another building on the site.
Many of the Olympic legacy issues are in the extremely capable hands of the eponymous company chaired by my noble friend-and, if I may be permitted to add, fellow honorary graduate of Edinburgh Napier University -Lady Ford, who is in her place. I look forward to what she will say later in the debate.
All in all, we have every confidence that our shared ambition-that the Games should be about much more than 60 days of brilliant Olympic and Paralympic sport-will be achieved, so that as well as bringing desperately needed jobs and inward investment to the local area, communities up and down the country will be more optimistic and ambitious about their futures and will have a greater belief in the possibilities of their own achievements.
It is a sad feature of British public life that the media concentrate on things that do not go as well they could and should. So it will be with some aspects of the Olympics. However, there is a huge amount for this country to be proud of as we begin the final run- up to our Games. We should not lose sight of that as we scrutinise-as is our duty in your Lordships' House-the Bill.
Turning to the Bill's provisions, I shall highlight five areas where we will want to examine the provisions of the Bill in Committee. First, the Bill amends the 2006 Act by giving the ODA the power to store articles
3 Oct 2011 : Column 978
Secondly, the Bill makes provision to allow the ODA to alter advertising and trading regulations more quickly in certain situations. We will want to probe this to ensure that the regulations, which we accept are there for good reason, are able to be relaxed only in very specific situations.
Thirdly, on the advice of the police, the Bill raises the maximum penalty for the touting of Games tickets from £5,000 to £20,000. That is a huge increase. Popular though the Games will be, it is hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would pay anything like that for a ticket-in which case, the question is whether this high fine strikes the right balance. There may well be some conspiracy to which we are not privy, so there may well be a good reason. However, will this be a one-off for these Games, or will it become the new norm and be used for other sporting and cultural events?
On this point, as the noble Baroness mentioned, there is some concern about the impact that this provision may have on ticket-holders who cannot, with good reason, be present at the event. Obviously, the intention is to catch those who sell on tickets without consent and, as the Act has it,
However, according to the correspondence that has recently been circulated, the person who paid for the tickets is expected not only to be present at the Games but to have some ID with them to prove their ownership of the tickets. If they cannot attend, they are supposed to return their tickets. This is becoming a little difficult to understand. Sadly, I was not successful in trying to buy tickets but my brother-in-law kindly bought tickets for my children as a gift so that they could attend events in which he has not the slightest interest-shame on him. What is he to do-use one of the tickets and disappoint one of his nieces or, as LOCOG has recommended, submit the tickets for sale through LOCOG's resale platform? Something does not quite stack up in this. I am sure that there must be a better way to resolve the problem of ticket-touting and the practical problems of what will happen at the turnstile on entrance if someone is challenged, even though they have bought a ticket in good faith, within the rules as set out, but which does not have their name on it.
Fourthly, the traffic management provisions in the original Act cover the Olympic route network and the area around the Games venues. The powers were introduced because it was said that there was complete traffic chaos at 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Competitors missed their events and officials failed to turn up at the right time because the city became gridlocked. However, these provisions in the Bill caused the most discussion in the other place, and I am sure we will need to
3 Oct 2011 : Column 979
There is concern about the extent of pedestrian crossing closures and the impact that this may have on road safety. Again, we need to probe that. We also need to examine whether it is feasible for taxis to use the Olympic road network in specified areas or at specific times-another matter that is causing concern. Again, this is a matter that has been raised in correspondence. I note from the Minister that further discussions are taking place; I hope she will update us at some point.
Fifthly, the final group of provisions deals with the relaxation of licence conditions, which will make it easier for haulage operators to adjust to the difficulties that they may experience as a result of the Games. The sustained duration of the Games, compared to big one-off events such as a royal wedding, creates a very different proposition for businesses in London. What happens if a business has not been far-sighted and efficient enough to plan with its suppliers for the deliveries that it needs to keep going? That, I am afraid, will inevitably happen but there are also concerns about companies that have daily delivery schedules. We need to be sure that their livelihoods and working conditions are not affected disproportionately.
I should like to make one further point. The security operation for the Games will be the largest peacetime security operation ever mounted in the UK. It will place tremendous demands not only on the Metropolitan Police but on all police forces as officers will be drawn from forces throughout the country. In the wake of the disturbances that swept across London and other parts of England we have learnt how vulnerable parts of the country and, indeed, of London, can be when there are simply not enough police on the streets. By the time the Games come round, London and the national police forces will be significantly diminished in numbers. The Police Federation has raised concerns that forces outside London may struggle to find the finance and the manpower and womanpower to send officers to the capital, and that that could heap further pressures on an already stretched metropolitan service. It would be helpful if, at the appropriate point, there is a discussion in Committee of just how the Met police force will be able to cope not just with the Olympic security operation but with any public order disturbances
3 Oct 2011 : Column 980
which is now less than a year away. It is very important that the Government continue to tackle the tricky problems and take the sometimes unpopular decisions that inevitably come with organising such a huge event. We look forward to playing a constructive part in that process.
Lord Addington: My Lords, when I looked at this Bill my initial thought was that it contained nothing that we had not looked at before or discussed a good few years ago when we were preparing for the submission of the bid. Therefore, I admit to asking myself why we have to do this again. As I understand it, the Bill is basically a tidying up exercise concerning the removal of infringing articles in Clause 1, the regulation of parliamentary procedure and public notice and the increase in the fine for touting. These matters have been talked about and are part of an ongoing discussion.
I understand that touting is the resale of a ticket for excessive profit. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to hand on a ticket or exchange money for its face value. It would reassure the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, if the Minister could confirm that that is the case. I suspect that the fears he mentioned are groundless but it is good that he raises them so that everybody knows they are groundless. All the tickets for the forthcoming Olympics have been sold due to the huge demand for them. We can safely say that no good deed goes unpunished. I am slightly narked that I did not get all the tickets for which I applied, but I am not alone in that. It is important to ensure that tickets can be transferred between friends, family and groups. I encourage my noble friend to make that situation as clear as possible on as many occasions as possible so that people are not frightened about this. If somebody breaks their leg and cannot get to the Games, they should feel free to hand on their tickets to somebody else and obtain a refund of their value. Such a measure would enhance the whole procedure of the Games and would keep the touts out. If tickets are not made available to them, they cannot sell them.
We discussed traffic problems in those heady early days when there was a more relaxed atmosphere, possibly because we thought that we might not win. I think there was an element of that involved, to be perfectly honest. Everybody asked whether the traffic problem would not be slightly awkward. I have heard that even one or two noble Lords on my own Benches are not totally satisfied with this process. If we seek to clarify what is required and why, that will help because at least people will know why they are being inconvenienced.
3 Oct 2011 : Column 981
I will probably not be the only person to raise one or two questions about the Olympic movement as a whole and what comes after it. We have learnt from our failures. I have described the process of getting the Olympics as brilliantly dull. There have been no great disasters. We have got things ready on time and we are waiting for something to go wrong. Indeed, there must be lots of journalists who have written lots of articles about disasters who are annoyed that congratulations are due to all those involved. That is a good thing. But that is the Olympic movement itself. The whole structure of government must have a long look at everything else that was supposed to come with it. At the moment, it appears that we have been overoptimistic about encouraging participation in sport as a result of the Olympics. If that turns out to be true, I would hope that the Government will look at why that occurred. This is an international piece of legislation and those who come after us should take some benefit from it and learn what can and what cannot be achieved. We should also learn about what can and what cannot be achieved. We will have the legacy of what happened, the idea of how to have a second go if we have the will.
I hope that the Government and all those who backed the bid politically will take on board that we must look at what has happened and what we have achieved. There is a huge danger that we will say, "Right, that was done", in just under one year's time, collapse in a heap and forget about it. That is a perfectly normal reaction when you have gone through something big and exciting-there is a hangover, almost, afterwards. If we allow ourselves to just forget about it, we will not be able to carry it on. There will, we hope, be more big sporting events as a result of a successful Olympics in this country. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games will be the first, and there should be more to follow it. Unless we can take on board the lessons not only of what we got right but of what we got wrong, we will have wasted one of the biggest legacies. What will succeed and what will not? I am hopeful about the Cultural Olympiad, having been very sceptical on its inception. We must look at what has and what has not happened. If we do not, we will throw out probably one of the greatest benefits we may gain: up-to-date knowledge to apply before it becomes historical fact.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the British Olympic Association, a member of the Olympic board and a director of the London Organising Committee. From the outset, the specific measures we are being asked to consider are sensible and will, I hope, command the support of all sides of the House. The main issues on which we will no doubt focus in Committee are: increasing the maximum fine on the illegal sale of 2012 tickets from £5,000 to £20,000; allowing wider and easier enforcement of traffic regulations which are required as part of Games delivery; and clarity on seizing and disposing of infringing articles and vehicles during the Games period.
All-party support since your Lordships held their first debate following the BOA's recommendation in 2004 to bid for the Games to come to London, before support from Cabinet was secured in 2005, was as strong then as it is today, and has been regularly marked by noteworthy contributions from my noble friend Lord Higgins, who is in his place today, and of course from my noble friend in sport, the noble Lord, Lord Pendry. One advantage of this debate is that it provides, as it did in another place, the opportunity to review progress on the many measures which were recommended and agreed in the original 2006 Act and to take stock of progress to date.
The original Act made provision for the Olympic Delivery Authority, whose work is nearing conclusion. The true stars of the Games to date are the directors, management, staff, contractors and subcontractors of the ODA. They have delivered on time, to spec and on budget an array of facilities which will allow the equivalent of 26 world championships to be held simultaneously for the Olympians and Paralympians alike. John Armitt and David Higgins have proved to be outstanding leaders of that assignment and they deserve recognition both within Parliament and beyond for their remarkable gold medal achievements.
To me, a great Games requires the delivery of four objectives, the four legs which provide support to the overall success of an Olympic Games. First, there is the work of the ODA, the Government, the Mayor's office and the private sector in taking forward the vision originally delivered by the National Olympic Committee, without whose support and approval no bid can be made anywhere in the world. That vision in London originally offered two possibilities: developing the facilities already standing in the West End of London, including Wembley as the hub, or the urban regeneration of the heart of the East End of London with some £9.3 billion-worth of new infrastructure, including roads, schools, housing and facilities. The lion's share has not been spent on sport, but has breathed new life and oxygen into what was one of the most depressed areas not only of the United Kingdom but of Europe. To deliver the ODA work programmes on time is essential, and is near completion. What would have taken at least another 10 years of incremental spend-and a lot more politics-to complete will be celebrated as the finished article at the opening ceremony next year. It will be one of the great urban regeneration projects in the world. As I said, we are indebted to John Armitt, David Higgins and their teams for their achievement.
Secondly, I come to the work of LOCOG. This started in earnest in the public eye with the test events. LOCOG is the event manager. Its management team takes the completed theatre from the ODA and puts on the show. Its success to date has provided the Games with another success story. The test events gave the world a taste of some iconic settings for what will surely be great sporting memories next year. LOCOG will need to continue to put the interests of athletes first at all times. It will also need to face the challenges of security and transport. The good news in the context of the transport challenges-from accreditation of incoming athletes to management of the Underground in stations such as London Bridge at peak points
3 Oct 2011 : Column 983
The third leg supporting a successful Olympic Games remains the National Olympic Committee and its selection, management and leadership of a successful British team. The BOA needed to make consistent funding for the athletes its priority. We launched a campaign that ran up to and beyond the success of the team in Beijing. I remember arriving back with the team from Beijing to headline news on the front page of the Times referring to our call to ensure that the athletes, coaches, governing bodies and support staff for Team GB were not just well funded, but consistently well funded, principally through the Lottery. That campaign has succeeded. Tessa Jowell and Gordon Brown are to be congratulated on their response, as is Hugh Robertson, the current Minister for Sport and the Olympics, who delivered ongoing funding for the athletes following the successful outcome of the very difficult 2010 public spending round. Moving forward, it is essential that funding remains in place not only through to Rio 2016 for the Olympians and Paralympians, but beyond. It is also essential that funding is put in place for the winter athletes, for non-Olympic sports and the Special Olympians. We must ensure that they are not financially sacrificed on the altar of the singular success of Team GB in the Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer.
The BOA anticipates that for the London Olympics it will be selecting a team of some 550 British athletes. They will be supported by the strongest group of British Olympic Association managers and staff ever assembled in our history. Our total BOA complement of over 80 individuals continues to punch above their weight and deliver outstanding professionalism. In their work they are backed by one of the strongest advisory boards in the country. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Patten for his contribution in that context. I can inform the House that retaining our position of fourth place in the medal table gained in Beijing will be a very tough challenge, but with ever-improving coaching, support staff and backing from the BOA's performance team and the governing bodies, Formula 1 sports like rowing, cycling and many more will, I am sure, continue to deliver outstanding medal performances. I believe we will lead out a British Olympic Team at the opening ceremony that will win more medals in more sports and will lead to the 2012 British Olympic Team returning back to the closing ceremony as one of the greatest British teams ever.
For the fourth and final leg, as my noble friend Lord Addington stated, we need to ensure that we deliver a sports legacy for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to match the three other key areas of activity. Where sports legacy is concerned, as the House has heard me say consistently, we still have a long way to go. However, our goal remains clear: the Games must be transformational for all sport and recreational activity,
3 Oct 2011 : Column 984
We all have a responsibility here-the Government above all, but also LOCOG, the International Olympic Committee, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and politicians from all sides of this House. Let us sit at the table and work together to raise the bar for British sport, able-bodied and disabled, Olympic and non-Olympic. If the Games are not transformational in the sense that I have outlined, we will have a legacy of lost sporting opportunities around the nations and regions which we will regret, from losing out on the delivery of a new school sports policy to the need to embed sport, recreation and fitness programmes into the heart of health policy. Then, of course, it is vital to ensure that local authority spend on sport and recreation becomes mandatory, not discretionary. That single change alone would be transformational for sport and it would be the building block on which the excellent work undertaken by Hugh Robertson in his Places People Play initiative could flourish.
In concluding, I want to comment on one issue which was raised in another place during consideration of the Bill-the specific issue of press allocations, to which I am sure we will find a way to return in Committee. The British Olympic Association received more than 3,000 applications for 410 accreditations for written and photographic press based in the UK-a ratio of almost eight requests for every one accreditation available to award. As the national Olympic committee, we are assigned by the International Olympic Committee the responsibility of allocating Olympic Games media accreditation for media organisations based in the UK in the same way that all 204 national Olympic committees are given that responsibility within their territory by the International Olympic Committee. This does not include the allocation of 90 accreditations which have been awarded by the International Olympic Committee to the Press Association, for the Press Association has been designated by the International Olympic Committee as the national news agency for the UK. It is the expectation of the IOC and the BOA that the Press Association will provide copy to local and regional papers-hence its national news agency status. The PA has committed to cover every single Team GB athlete. Its ambition is to have at least one reporter at every venue for every minute of the competition.
On top of that, we at the British Olympic Association have, with the help of the Newspaper Society, organised a regional pool which will complement and add to
3 Oct 2011 : Column 985
To assist with the allocation process, the BOA established a Media Accreditation Committee to act as an impartial and fully transparent body to review and provide input on the BOA's recommendations. The MAC is composed of representatives from a broad spectrum of the written and photographic press. They are widely respected for their knowledge and experience of numerous Olympic Games and their understanding of the UK media landscape. Recognising the unprecedented interest and demand among the UK press-as well as letters that I have received from noble Lords on both sides of the House-we will continue to lobby the IOC for more accreditations. We have requested a further meeting with it later this week specifically to discuss local press access.
I look forward to the Committee stage of the Bill and I thank the many noble Lords who have worked closely with the British Olympic Association over the years for their support and advice. We are on course for a memorable and successful Games.
Baroness Grey-Thompson: My Lords, I start by declaring my interests. I am a board member of Transport for London, vice-chair of the Athletes' Committee of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I am a Paralympian. I support the Bill, which I see as a necessary part of the progression of what is required to deliver a successful Games.
I have competed at five Paralympics, in four Olympic demonstration events and a number of world, European and Commonwealth games. I have seen what is perhaps best described as varying levels of competency in the events I have competed in. I am pleased to say that London 2012 is in a very good place.
The promise of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, to put athletes at the very heart of the Games is important, and some of the contents of the Bill will help to make that happen. The reputation of the Games, and therefore London and the UK, is based on many things that are not included in this Bill and will be sorted out elsewhere, such as the quality of the athletes' food, their accommodation and the competition itself. The Bill includes two areas of interest to me: tickets and transport. These are extremely important non-competition factors, but they can have a huge impact on athletes' performance.
First, in terms of tickets, it was a delight to see so much interest in the ticket sales of both the Olympics and Paralympics. In both cases there was unprecedented
3 Oct 2011 : Column 986
Transport is another area that will have significant impact on the wider perception of the Games. London is a busy city; we all recognise that. It is a strength of the London Games that the organisations involved in delivery are not pretending that, by some miracle, all road users not involved in the Games will somehow disappear. As much as possible needs to be done to ensure that the city keeps moving during the Games, when the eyes of billions will be upon us. In my life outside your Lordships' House I am frequently asked why it is necessary to have an Olympic route network. I have competed at Games where, even if there was provision for a Games-time route network, there certainly was not much enforcement around it. Athletes, officials and the media need their transport to move efficiently through the city, as do spectators and people who have no involvement in the Games. From my personal experience, when I was in Atlanta in 1996 I had a free day and was going to watch a fellow team member compete. Because there were no appropriate checks and balances in place and no back-up system, when the bus I was travelling in got lost, athletes on that bus did not make it to the venue on time. The result was that they were scratched from the events and did not compete at those Games. Trying to support athletes whose whole careers have ultimately ended because of a bus journey was not a particularly pleasant place to be. Continuing publicity around the route networks is therefore important. There has already been much work done to explain Games time, what the atmosphere in the city will be like and suggestions for different ways of working. However, I am concerned that there are many misnomers relating to the route network, such as the hours of operation, who and what vehicles will be permitted to travel on it and the supposed chaos that it will cause rather than alleviate.
Finally, I ask the Minister to keep encouraging publicity and awareness around transport implications so that people can make informed decisions about how and when they travel. As we move closer to the Games, I believe that London 2012 will be something that our nation will be proud of and will perhaps, as
3 Oct 2011 : Column 987
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness. She is an icon for disabled sportsmen and sportswomen everywhere and, more than anyone else, has introduced the Paralympics to the British people and made them popular. We are very lucky to have her in the House contributing to the debate.
I start by expressing my appreciation to the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Garden of Frognal; to the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson MP; to the noble Lord, Lord Coe; and to their officials for convening the meeting on 13 September to discuss the Bill. I thank the noble Baroness for her subsequent letter of 26 September. I am happy to support the Bill, but I have a couple of concerns and some questions that I hope she will address when she replies, or subsequently in writing if she does not have the answers ready.
A number of my questions concern ticketing, which has been referred to already in the debate by a number of noble Lords. I have no problem with the provision in Clause 3 to quadruple the penalties for touting Olympic and Paralympic tickets. However, the issue of reselling and passing on tickets exercised a number of us at the meeting convened by the Minister last month. As a result of receiving her letter, I now understand the rules, although I was hazy about them beforehand. My noble friend Lord Stevenson referred to this, as did the noble Lord, Lord Addington. I am afraid that the interpretation of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, is rather different from what I read into the letter that the Minister sent to me.
"LOCOG has confirmed that it is one of its requirements that the lead ticketholder (being the person who ordered the tickets) must attend and use one of their allocation of tickets. The others can be given to friends and family, as is the case with any major sporting event. However, if a lead ticketholder can no longer attend, they can submit their tickets for sale through LOCOG's resale platform".
I will ask, first, whether that "can" means "must". The two words are different, and different interpretations may be put on them. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, raised the question of ID, which is covered in the subsequent paragraph. It is possible that there will be random checks on people as they go into Olympic venues and that they will need to show that they are the person to whom the tickets were originally allocated.
He asks who decided that six was appropriate when the average family is nowhere near that size, and
3 Oct 2011 : Column 988
Perhaps the Minister will also say something about the random ballot. I am sure that she will have heard anecdotes about how some people who applied for a large number of tickets got everything they requested, while others who applied for far fewer received none at all. Was the random ballot based on the number who applied or on the number of tickets? If it was per person, and most of those selected went for the maximum of six tickets, it would have precluded many others who went for fewer tickets. Would it not have been fairer to allocate upwards from single tickets to two and then three, until all had been allocated? Would that not have ensured that many more people were successful in the ballot?
Perhaps I may ask also when reallocated tickets will become available. Will those who were unsuccessful in the first two rounds be given priority in this ballot? If that is the case, how will someone who has already been successful be stopped from attempting to re-register under a different name? What safeguards are in place to stop multiple applications? Can someone access tickets from two separate computers with the same registration details?
Finally, I am sorry if the Minister is getting tired of these questions on ticketing, but will she comment on the proliferation of commercial promotions where the prizes are Olympic tickets? For example, there is currently an offer at BP garages which makes 1,000 tickets available in return for petrol purchases. Would it not have been fairer if those companies had waited until after the final ticket allocations before running their own promotions?
That is all I want to ask about tickets. I have one other subject to raise with the Minister: the question of the integrity of betting on the Olympics. I am assured by Jenny Williams, the chief executive of the Gambling Commission, in a letter she wrote to me last week, that,
I very much hope that she is right. I note that the DCMS is planning to list the IOC as an accredited organisation with which the Gambling Commission can share information, under the terms of the Gambling Act. I warmly welcome that, and I hope that the Minister will be able to say when these arrangements will be in place. Those of your Lordships with long memories may recall that I chaired an inquiry on the integrity of betting on sport in 2005 and our final report proposed exactly this sort of conclusion.
However, the Gambling Commission is very short of powers when it comes to overseas betting operators targeting British consumers. This issue goes well beyond betting on the Olympics, and the Government seem to have been rather slow in coming forward with plans to extend licensing to them. I note what the Gambling Minister, John Penrose, said in another place in July- that overseas operators will be subject to the same "standards and requirements" as those based in Britain, as well as being required to inform the Gambling Commission about,
However, my understanding is that these arrangements will not be in place in time for the Olympics. Can we at least have an assurance that they will be in place in time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014?
I stress that I do not wish to appear negative. I think that the Olympics are going to be a fantastic success and I applaud the efforts of everybody who has worked so hard to create the venues and put together what I am sure is going to be a very successful set of Games. However, there are concerns about the issues that I have raised and I would be very grateful if the Minister could answer them.
Lord Higgins: It is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, on any matter regarding sport because of his great expertise in these matters. I shall pick up some of the points he has made that I think require further consideration.
The House should be grateful to my noble friend the Minister for her opening remarks, which clarify a number of points. As she rightly points out, it is a technical Bill, really a tidying-up exercise, which reflects how effectively the original legislation had been introduced and how little change is really needed-in contrast, I understand, with the situation in Australia with the Sydney Olympics, where they had to have no fewer than four amending Bills to the original legislation. I also think it is rather difficult for my noble friend, on a ministerial brief, to show the kind of passion which I believe she and all of us feel at the considerable progress that has been made in the construction of the Olympic site and the way in which matters there are progressing. It is very impressive indeed.
This Bill is very much in contrast with 1948, because in 1948 there was no legislation. Of course, that reflects both the commercialisation of the Games and indeed the professionalism of sport. But it is very necessary that we should have this legislation. It is even more important that we should get it right, otherwise an air of gloom would be cast over what I believe will be the overall success of the Games.
I am often critical of the way in which legislation in the other place is programmed and comes to us with lots of it not having been debated at all. I do not make that criticism now, although programming legislation is such a knee-jerk reaction now in the other place that even this legislation was programmed. I cannot imagine why that was felt necessary. However, I pay tribute to the debates in the other place, which were extremely good, as has been the relationship between the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, and his predecessor, Tessa Jowell. It is very welcome that we have adopted such an all-party approach to the whole question of the Olympics, which we are completely united in wishing to see an enormous success.
I was rather surprised-I had not kept completely up to date-that the Committee stage in the other place took evidence, which certainly never happened
3 Oct 2011 : Column 990
I shall talk about three of them-transport, tickets and legacy. On transport, we must hope that the arrangements for the Olympic route network work successfully. At the moment, I am not clear exactly what the position is on taxis. An enormous statistical sample of one this morning suggested that taxi drivers are not entirely clear what will happen. There is a tendency to react by saying, "We shall all go on holiday for the entire period", which would not be helpful for transport.
I welcome very much the proposed ban on roadworks-for however short a period it may be. But I hope that we will distinguish between a ban on roadworks where, in fact, no work would be going on-that would be scarcely any change at all from the present situation-and where barriers and so on would still be there. Perhaps we might pursue this point in Committee.
There was also some concern expressed in the other place about how long the traffic restrictions would continue. There were fears that they would go on for 100 days. As I understand it, the Minister was clear that it would be for a short period before the Olympic Games, followed by a gap before the Paralympic Games. The entire period will not be for all that long and will be kept to a minimum, which is important.
On tickets, I welcome the increase in the penalty proposed. The police seem to be quite clear that we may be dealing with an organised crime arrangement, which certainly I understand occurred in Beijing and is likely to be a danger here. The increase to £20,000 is entirely reasonable. I think that the noble Lord on the opposition Front Bench said that tickets were going to be £20,000, which I am sure was a slip of the tongue. That is the penalty to be imposed.
I am concerned, as was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, about the position as regards the resale of tickets. The Minister, after our meeting which she kindly arranged, wrote to us about the details. She wrote that,
"LOCOG has confirmed that it is one of its requirements that the lead ticketholder (being the person who ordered the tickets) must attend and use one of their allocation of tickets. The others can be given to friends and family, as in the case with any major sporting event. However, if the lead ticketholder can no longer attend, they can submit their tickets for sale through LOCOG's resale platform".
That does not seem to be a very realistic approach, because it may well be that the person who purchased the tickets is not able to attend at the last minute and will not have the time to resell them. The tickets will then go to waste and we will end up with empty seats, which we do not want.
There is another point about which I am not clear, since I have not seen a ticket. Does it say on the face of a ticket who the main purchaser is? If it does not, I do not see how one can possibly carry out this operation anyway. We need to look at that again in Committee. The arrangement as it is now put forward does not seem practical as far as the use of tickets is concerned. There are real problems with identification, particularly because the name of some family members may be quite different from that of the person who happened to have bought the ticket in question.
I agree with the point made passionately by my noble friend Lord Moynihan, who stressed the importance of getting a genuine, grass-roots sporting legacy from the Olympics. It is clear that this is to some extent in conflict with the proposals that the Government are making with regard to planning law. It is quite wrong that planning law should not take into account the importance of sport. If a particular planning application is likely to have an adverse effect on sporting facilities, which is not uncommonly the case, it should be granted only if equal or even better sporting facilities are put in place by the person asking for the planning permission.
I have a further, more specific point on legacy. I was not terribly keen about the equine facilities being in Greenwich; I have serious concerns about the transport arrangements and the effect on the park. I have recently received a letter from the British Equestrian Federation advocating a plan for an extension of equine facilities in Greenwich after the Games. I have not come across this before; I should perhaps declare an interest since my daughter has just finished her term as president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, but she has no connection with what I am discussing. On the face of it, this proposal seems to provide a degree of legacy to the equine situation which it is clear would otherwise be non-existent once Greenwich Park is returned to its normal state. I do not imagine that my noble friend the Minister is able to reply to the point at this stage, but I hope that she can let me know whether it is a sound proposition which we can enthusiastically support, since legacy is very important.
We can pursue some of these matters further in Committee. I wish the Bill well. It is important that we get these matters right and I am sure that we are doing all that we can to ensure that the Games succeed in their objectives.
Baroness Ford: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, for, possibly inadvertently, giving me a cue to talk about the legacy of the 2012 Games. I declare my interest as chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. I also need to convey a message to your Lordships' House from the noble Lord, Lord Coe, who is quite unusually not in his place today during an Olympics debate. He is hosting the IAAF's visit to London. We are in the final stages of the London bid for the 2017 World Games. This morning he and I hosted the technical committee out in the Olympic park. What a joy it was to take such distinguished visitors to the Olympic park. London looks at its best today, and I can say that the Olympic park also looked at its best. When we went into the main stadium, where the track has just been laid, the field of play
3 Oct 2011 : Column 992
Being out in the park this morning and looking back six or seven years, it still takes me aback to think of what has been accomplished. I knew the site very well in the old days. It is almost unbelievable to look at it now and see the wonderful landscaping and the fantastically cleaned-up waterways. As the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, will testify, many people did not realise that there were waterways in that part of London. To see those seven kilometres of water glittering this morning with the wildlife and ecosystems back in place was quite breathtaking. I echo the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, to the vision and diligence of the Olympic Delivery Authority in transforming one of the most unpromising sites in Europe in terms of pollution and big physical challenges. Let us not forget that there were six major pylons marching through the site. In a feat of financial heroism, the then Deputy Prime Minister, now the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, simply said, "If we're going to do the job, let's do it properly and underground the power lines". It is unimaginable to think of what the park would be like if the power lines were still there. Those kinds of really important decisions were taken very early in the project and quite literally laid the foundations for a stunning achievement.
It is not just the theatre, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, put it, where the show will take place which is important. Our job in the legacy company-and I pay tribute to the work of my noble friend Lord Mawson who serves on the board of the legacy company with me-is to accomplish three things. In the immediate aftermath of the Games, we have to do something that has never been done in any country which has staged an Olympic Games. We have to make sure that every single venue in the purpose-built park has operators, is financially stable, and commercially and socially successful. That has never been accomplished in the immediate aftermath of a Games. It took Sydney many years even to set up a legacy company. The Mayor of London and the Government showed great foresight in setting up the legacy company three years before the Games so that we could deal with all these issues before the park reopens in legacy. Let us not forget that the park will close down for a year after the Games because a lot of construction work will have to take place before the park can reopen in legacy. All the Olympic overlay has to come off and the correct size roads, footways, paths and bridges have to be re-engineered, so a huge construction job still has to be done. We want to make sure that when the park reopens in legacy for the benefit of the local communities, the wider London community, the rest of the UK and international visitors, every venue is working well, the park is programmed well, the first housing development is well under way and the Olympic village is thriving so that we can say that we lived up to
3 Oct 2011 : Column 993
I am very happy to report to your Lordships' House today that we are on track to accomplish many of those things. Last month, the planning application, an exceptionally complex application for the master plan for these 500 sites, was submitted to the ODA planning team, and we expect to have planning approval for the outline master plan before the Games start. That has never been accomplished before. We will go to the market next week for the developer of the first neighbourhood of 800 family homes to be built immediately after the Games to complement the apartment-style homes already in the Olympic village. We have had huge interest and appetite from developers and house builders for that site. We expect to name our preferred developer well ahead of the Games. Again, that has never been accomplished before. Anyone who has visited the park recently will have seen what a magnificent building Chobham Academy is. It is sponsored by Lend Lease and will now be run by the Harris Foundation. All the preparations, such as interviews for the head teacher and key staff, are well under way a long time ahead of the Games. That has never been done before.
All the other venues-the magnificent aquatic centre, the broadcast centre, the velodrome, the handball arena which will be a mixed-use arena in the Games-are on track to have operators identified and confirmed in the early part of next year, well ahead of the Games. These things have never been accomplished before. When the park reopens in legacy, I am delighted that Her Majesty has agreed to lend her name to the park in her Diamond Jubilee year. Alongside the magnificent brand that is the Olympics, the park will be known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when it reopens.
All of these things are very important and give us the momentum for the immediate post-Games legacy that was promised, but this is only part of the story. Ours is a long job. This is a 20-year project. Next year, if the Localism Bill becomes an Act, we will be transformed into an Olympic park development corporation or legacy corporation. The project will move from being a national and London project to one sponsored by the mayor under the scrutiny of the London Assembly. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, who follows me today, will continue to be a candid friend to us throughout all of that. She has been immensely constructive.
Then we will get to the point of a 20-year project. Eventually, this park will be home to over 10,000 people in the five neighbourhoods that surround the lovely parkland, wonderful venues and the waterways. That is not a job that can or ought to be done overnight. We should take our time and do it properly. We are absolutely determined that what happens in the park is intricately knitted-in to the communities that surround it. This cannot be some kind of island of glamour and prosperity without paying attention to all that knitting-in to those communities which surround the park-excellent and creative communities such as Fish Island, Hackney Wick and all the wonderful vibe that is the modern east London. You would never guess it from watching
3 Oct 2011 : Column 994
Ken Livingstone would be the first to say that he is not noted for his love of sport but this takes me back to him saying, "Of course I am the biggest evangelist for the London Olympic Games. When else will I get central government to give me £9 billion for east London?". Although he said that partly as a joke, he realised that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive the most enormous catalyst into the redevelopment of east London. We have a lot to live up to. The ODA has done a magnificent job and I have no doubt that LOCOG will stage a fantastic Games, or that the BOA will deliver us magnificent Olympic and Paralympic success. We then pick up the baton. Rest assured that we will not drop it.
Baroness Doocey: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the London Assembly, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Home Office Olympic Security Board. I understand and support the need for the provisions in the Bill regarding traffic management. Everybody knows that it is essential for athletes and officials to get to the various Olympic venues on time so having a series of roads with special traffic arrangements in place ranging from "no right turn" to dedicated lanes makes perfect sense. For this to be effective, traffic regulations on this network must be enforceable. The Bill seeks to anticipate various contingencies for which the present powers are inadequate.
I believe that Londoners will accept with very good grace the fact that all athletes and Games officials whose presence is essential to running the Games will be able to use these dedicated lanes. But I urge the Government to do whatever they can to encourage those Olympic family members whose presence is not essential to the Games to use public transport instead.
I also support the proposal in the Bill to increase the penalty for illegal touting from £5,000 to £20,000. The take-up of both the Olympic and-this is brilliant news-Paralympic tickets has outstripped demand, and it has been an absolute success story. But high demand creates a market which ticket touts will definitely try to exploit. The Olympics are special; they are about fairness and moral integrity, and we cannot allow ticket touting to undermine this, because it will taint the reputation of the London Olympics. It is therefore essential to do everything possible to prevent ticket touting.
The Metropolitan Police has already set up Operation Podium, to which the Minister referred in her opening remarks, to deal with serious organised crime surrounding the 2012 Games. Part of its remit is to tackle ticket touting, fake tickets and website abuse, which are all
3 Oct 2011 : Column 995
Finally, I support noble Lords who have spoken about the problems with LOCOG's terms and conditions for the sale of Olympic tickets. I have just now reread the terms and conditions and it is crystal clear that the person who bought the tickets must attend the event. I believe that the public are blissfully unaware of this. Which of us can honestly say that every time we buy we ticket or, indeed, anything else, we read the terms and conditions? I know that I tend to just tick the box so I can go on to the next screen. I fear that LOCOG simply has not thought through the implications of these terms and conditions. How can LOCOG dictate that a whole family or a group of friends, despite every member having a ticket, will not be admitted to an Olympic event because the lead ticket holder has suddenly fallen ill or has been called away on business, through no fault of their own? They will have to say to their family members not just, "I can't go", but, "I'm terribly sorry, you can't go either". It is frankly ridiculous. The provision is incredibly unfair, and I believe that the majority of the public had no idea that this was in place when they signed up and bought tickets in good faith.
It would be tragic if what I believe will be the greatest Olympics ever was tainted by controversy about the sale of tickets. I urge the Government to do everything in their power to try to persuade LOCOG to see sense and change this ill-thought-out policy.
Lord Patten: Powerful stuff indeed from my noble friend about ticketing. This has clearly got to change, and we will have many opportunities in Committee to make sure that it does change. It cannot be in the interests of people who have purchased tickets to be treated in this way, and I think that LOCOG will have to look again and address this matter. Certainly, the Committee will make its voice heard.
I have four things to say-first, on another aspect of ticketing, secondly, on traffic matters, thirdly on security and, fourthly, on the sporting legacy. In doing so, I declare an interest as a member of the advisory board of the British Olympic Association under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Moynihan, whose driving style certainly puts a capital V into the word vigour in all our discussions and activities.
First, on the sale of tickets, the proposals in the Bill to increase the maximum fine for selling tickets in a public place or via a business without consent from £5,000 to £20,000 is sensible and I believe it to be proportionate, for large profits-much larger than have been suggested this afternoon-could well be made on tickets on the black market. The greatest profits are probably going to be made via internet offerings, not just from domestic websites in this country but from sites that are domiciled abroad and very difficult to trace-a further manifestation of cybercrime, in other words, and probably organised cybercrime at that. We need to be sure that the skills and resources are there to deal with this within our jurisdiction but also outwith it. I have great faith in the Serious and
3 Oct 2011 : Column 996
In addition, a further point is that individuals living in the UK may seek to sell their tickets, again sometimes at a substantial profit. Are we really sure that Section 31 of the 2006 Act, as otherwise amended, will catch this nuisance of individuals as opposed to businesses and organisations?
Secondly, I turn to the provisions on traffic, which potentially make quite radical extensions of the powers of traffic authorities to implement temporary controls very fast, as various noble Lords have pointed out. While I can see that it may well be expedient in dealing with unforeseen circumstances-although problems caused, for example, by a terrorist disruption of transport infrastructure would undoubtedly be covered by pre-existing powers-I am concerned that these new powers should only be used if strictly necessary. This is because I believe that it is traffic and transport difficulties which are likely, in our crowded capital, to be the cause of perhaps the greatest controversy during the Olympic period by far.
I must tell your Lordships that I have already had the benefit of the advice of a number of distinguished London taxi drivers on this matter, as they have sometimes conducted quite lengthy seminars on Olympic diversions while I have travelled in the back of their cabs. They have variously opined on roadworks and particularly on those special lanes for the Olympic elite. This topic has been a particular target of their affections and attentions and they seem to attribute most of it to the Mayor of London. Only my respect for the delicacy of your Lordships prevents me reporting verbatim their views on the Mayor of London in this respect.
While I have read with admiration the characteristically clear and weighty advice given over these matters by my right honourable friend Mr Philip Hammond MP, the Transport Secretary, to which the House, LOCOG and others should listen very carefully, other voices which have been raised from other parts of London-and possibly from other parts of the Olympic movement-have struck an unhappy note, at least to my ear. It is as if they are saying. "You'd better lump it and stay away from London for six weeks, working at home and not making traffic problems worse by trying to come to work in the first place". This sort of thing is totally wrong and does harm to the Olympic movement. People have an absolute right to come to work in the capital, which is the powerhouse of the United Kingdom economy, and their employers have an absolute right to expect them to do so.
Such voices should also recognise that for every Olympic enthusiast like me there are, as other noble Lords have said, others who are not Olympic enthusiasts living, working and commuting into London. We should not, in the present low-growth economic environment, wish to be seen to be actively encouraging what might be portrayed as an Olympic dip in the gross domestic product of the country during the six weeks of the Olympic period, which may not be wholly offset by the
3 Oct 2011 : Column 997
Thirdly and very briefly on security, the Bill possibly offers-unless in emergency circumstances-a last chance to fine tune any security-related legislation. Here, I think less of anti-terrorist, public order or anti-rioting matters than of the constantly mutating and developing risks of direct cyberattacks on, for example, ticketing or our transport infrastructure. I wish only to be reassured that Ministers have considered that there is nothing more that they need to introduce into the Bill in this respect.
Fourthly, amid all the talk of wonderful opening and closing ceremonies that we have heard in earlier debates, of medals won, of the regenerative effects of all those billions spent on the buildings and open spaces of east London, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has just referred, I have missed hearing much talk of the sporting legacy of the Games-at least until this afternoon, when my noble friend Lord Addington raised this issue first, and then, if I may say so, my noble friend Lord Higgins put his finger on the apparent lack of care and concern for some aspects of the sporting legacy. We should listen carefully to what he had to say. Then, of course, my noble friend Lord Moynihan spoke in his powerful closing passage of the need to ensure that the greatest legacy of the London Olympics and Paralympics 2012 is a sporting legacy and nothing else.
There will, of course, be the legacy of the built environment of the Olympic park, but, otherwise, I hope that the ongoing effects of the London Olympics and Paralympics 2012 will not be like those all too often short-lived, week-long effects on people tuning in to Wimbledon fortnight, reaching for their tennis rackets and promptly putting them back in their presses about a week or 10 days later. We must have a much more long-lasting sporting legacy than that. I am really concerned that the real sporting legacy, bizarrely enough, has not had and does not get the attention that it deserves and, most of all, that the sporting legacy will not have a powerful effect in our regions outside London, which is the principal beneficiary.
Now, suddenly, there is an outbreak of politicians apologising. It has been going on quite a lot recently. They were at it again this weekend, apologising for this, that and the other; it used not to happen in the good old days. I very much hope that I have to apologise very profoundly to your Lordships' House in a few years for being totally wrong about the absence of a sporting legacy and I look forward to being proved wrong.
Lord Pendry: My Lords, I support the Second Reading of this important Bill. Those of us who have taken a great interest over the years in the Olympic movement were delighted that in Singapore we secured
3 Oct 2011 : Column 998
The problem surrounding ticket touting has concerned many Members of both Houses over the years. The problems in the past were related mainly to football, and legislation was introduced in an attempt to combat them. However, those of us who have attended matches, whether at Wembley, Cardiff or wherever, know that the problems of ticket touting have not gone away. I have seen touting at those grounds when the touts have been within yards of policemen, many of whom seemed to have turned a blind eye to these illegal activities. I sincerely hope that those who enforce this legislation, mainly the police, are to be equipped with the powers to ensure that ticket touts are apprehended. Of course the increased penalty that the Minister referred to will assist, but, as the Government currently envisage cutbacks in the police force, I worry whether there will be enough enforcement officers to deter these people from illegal profiteering.
My other concern, which many noble Lords have raised-it seems to worry a number of us in this House-is the problem of traffic. Will the Minister give an assurance that the road works en route to the Games will be suspended? Has there been a study on the effect of road works in the surrounding areas leading up to the Olympic village, as they, too, are important to the smooth running of the Games? The Jubilee line will be greatly stretched as it is probably the most popular route for those going to Stratford. As a regular user of that line I know that it does not have the best of track records, and an assurance should be given by the appropriate Minister that every effort will be made to ensure the most efficient running of this important line; it should be given a top priority.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|