The Government are contributing up to £10 million to help deliver a professional, safe and enjoyable Tour de France grand départ in Yorkshire, Cambridge and London in 2014. A board chaired by Sir Rodney Walker has been set up to oversee the delivery of all stages of the event.
When we drew up the budget that Sir Rodney Walker now oversees, it was clear that the local security costs were to be met from the £11 million that will be raised by Yorkshire, not the £10 million raised by the Government. I just say to my hon. Friend, as a gentle point of reference, that if there is controversy about this matter now—I do not know whether there is in Yorkshire—it is pretty extraordinary to have bid for an event without working out how the security is to be paid for.
The Tour de France is yet another major sporting event taking place in England. It will showcase one of the most beautiful parts of our countryside, but one issue of controversy will not go away: the fact that there is no women’s race as part of the Tour de France. The success of British women cyclists makes that hard to understand, particularly at a time when we are trying to encourage more women to get involved in sport. Will the Minister join me in backing women cyclists and say to the sport’s governing bodies, the owners of the Tour de France, their sponsors and the media that this is an argument that has long been lost and that they should come together to ensure that there is a women’s part of the Tour de France in 2014?
I find myself in complete agreement with my opposite number. Of course, the slight complication with the Tour de France is that it is run by a private organisation, not by the international federation, and it therefore relies on sponsorship and other things. There are a number of factors to sort out, but the central point that the hon. Gentleman makes is absolutely correct—this should be competed for by men and women alike—and I will do everything I can to help.