rose to call attention to the decision by the British Olympic Association to support London's aspirations to host the 2012 Olympic Games; and to move for Papers.
My Lords, I am privileged to have secured this debate today to put a case for London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, in view of the British Olympic Association's decision to support such a bid. I could not be more grateful to noble Lords for their offer to contribute. There is talent, knowledge and experience far beyond mine to follow this speech. I particularly thank the Minister for being in her place. I fervently believe that the time is right to launch a bid to bring the world's greatest sporting event back to this country for the first time since 1948. There is already a heartening consensus of support building up for a London Olympics, which would be principally sited in the Thames Gateway area of east London.
There have already been strong expressions of backing from a wide range of quarters—from within the press, from the business community, across the political spectrum; and, it goes without saying, from within the sporting community. Across the political spectrum there has been backing from the Conservatives, from the Liberal Democrats, from the Ulster Unionists, and from the Mayor of London. But the key player in all of this is the Government, without whose support a bid cannot seriously be contemplated. The Government have yet to make a decision, and time is becoming critical.
It was hoped that the Government would take the decision on whether to support a bid by the end of this year, but it is my understanding that a decision will now be reached by the end of January. I hope that the Minister can confirm this, and that she will give an assurance that this key decision will not slip further down the Government's agenda. I am keen for today's debate to add to the compelling case being built for the London Olympics bid, which I hope that the Government will take into account when making their decision.
I wish the decision pivoted on sport and sport alone. If that were the case, there would be no need for a debate. Our course of action would be clear. There are simply no arguments against the sporting benefits an Olympic bid would bring to Britain. It would mean new money injected into elite sport to deliver home country success. It would require new money into the grass roots of participation to begin the process of delivering our leading young athletes to medal status in 10 years' time. It would also provide us with an opportunity to address the messy, ineffective and overlapping bureaucracy, which, all too often, inefficiently governs sport in Britain, and a new start towards adequate funding to back excellence and participation.
Hosting the Olympic Games gives the Government and the country alike an opportunity to launch a new sports policy and, despite the benefits of the Lottery, to bin the current unworkable, inefficient, and under-funded structure. An Olympic bid would mean the opportunity for our athletes to compete, with all the advantages that the status of the host country confers. It would mean a state-of-the-art sporting infrastructure to benefit future generations.
The power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as an engine to drive sporting achievement is enormous. UK Sport has said that securing the games would be one of the most significant factors in helping it to achieve its overall goal of making the UK one of the world's top five sporting nations by 2012.
With the Olympics in our sights in the UK, elite sport would benefit from a new £167 million plus/10-year programme. This investment would act as a catalyst for development of other Olympic sports in which the UK has not traditionally fielded teams. Investment would be used to provide a legacy through the development of participation programmes, coaching structures and sports infrastructure. Moreover, an Olympic Games would require up to 100 training venues. These training centres would sow the seeds of excellence for generations to come. Refurbished school facilities, leisure centres, and community facilities across the country would directly benefit from this, both in the lead-up to 2012 and for years beyond.
But sport and the benefit to sport is only one of a number of key factors in the decision to host the Olympic Games. Today, sadly, sport alone is not high enough up the political agenda to guarantee a bid. A number of other issues will determine the decision. If the London bid does go forward, it will be because it is a vehicle not just for the benefit of sport, but for wider benefits to society. That is why a bid must attract cross-party support and have a top, not half-hearted, political priority.
The BOA and key stakeholders in the process commissioned Arup to undertake a study to asses the cost and benefit implications of bidding for and staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012. I wish the entire report were publicly available; but the summary is, and I recommend it to your Lordships. The brief required the analysis to include an assessment of the physical development requirements of the games, including sports facilities, infrastructure, the wider economic and other impacts, legacy issues, an assessment of the bidding process, and the implications of not bidding for 2012 but delaying until a later date. The report concluded:
"If all levels of government and other agencies are committed to a common proposal, the potential advantages of a 2012 Games centred on the Lower Lee Valley can be developed into a world-beating Olympic bid".
That is what I, and many others, believe London can deliver—an historic world-beating Olympic bid, and an Olympic Games to match.
There are those who say that London's transport infrastructure is not up to the job, that the capital is already overcrowded, and that its overburdened public transport system simply does not need this kind of extra strain. Travel in London is bad enough already, they say: its airports, road system, and public transport would not be able to cope with the influx of competitors, officials and spectators. I reply by saying that the Olympics must be seen as the catalyst to address and resolve the critical challenges faced by the inadequacy of London's transport infrastructure. Only losers, resigned to a gridlocked "can't do" mentality, hide behind London's crumbling transport system as an excuse for why we are not capable of hosting the Olympic Games.
On the positive side, the Arup report considers that with the addition of Heathrow's Terminal 5 and the present expansion of Stansted, London's airports will easily have sufficient capacity, and concludes that,
"the projected flows could be managed without delays and unacceptable disruption to normal travel in London".
There would need to be an Olympic transport agency, with powers to manage the transport network for the duration of the games—but that is the case for any host city.
An Olympic bid based in Stratford and in the Lower Lee Valley would have implications for the DLR extension, for the development of Stratford as a major terminal for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and for the completion of Crossrail. In the case of Crossrail, let us remember that we are talking about a decade away. Yet still, the timetable is tight, but it is possible. As it is, this vital east-west link is presently scheduled for completion by 2012.
It has been reported that the Transport Secretary does not want to be "bounced" into completing transport projects for London with an Olympic starting pistol to his head. But we are not talking about new transport projects, which would not be contemplated but for an Olympic bid; we are talking about a desperately-needed rail link to help the regeneration of the inner-Thames Gateway, one of the most deprived areas not just of Britain but of Europe. This is a link that has been planned, but not realised, for many years. If it takes the vision, the inspiration, and even the pressure of an Olympic deadline to concentrate minds across government to deliver much-needed improvements to London's transport infrastructure, that can only be a force for good. Therefore, I call on the Minister to ensure that the Government introduce primary legislation to overcome planning issues connected to the Olympic Games as part of their commitment to the bidding process.
It is possible to look back over recent years to a record that is neither confident nor inspiring. The Government's reputation is tarnished, as they have admitted, by the long-running and costly saga over the development of the new Wembley stadium, the political wrangling and funding issues, the withdrawal of the Picketts Lock bid for the 2005 World Athletic Championships and, of course, by the Millennium Dome fiasco. No one wants another expensive, high profile sporting disaster or a white elephant, least of all one connected to the Olympic Games. The responsibility of bidding for and staging the Olympic Games is unquestionably huge and not to be undertaken lightly.
In our favour, we have the success of this year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the prospect of the Channel Tunnel rail link through Stratford as an inspiration that projects can be finished on time and on budget. I believe that it is time to put the disasters and embarrassments of the past behind us, to wipe the slate clean, and to allow the UK's international sporting reputation to recover through a well-organised, intelligent and exceptional Olympic bid.
There are concerns that, as the Government will have to underwrite the bill, the taxpayer could be left footing a massive bill if British contractors are not capable of building on an olympic scale on time and within budget. We allow those concerns to cast a shadow on our credentials at our peril. It is time to learn the lessons surrounding the fiasco of the World Athletics championships and all the associated problems of the Wembley redevelopment. We should move on. It is time for the nation to have a "can-do" approach, instead of a "can't do" one. It would be a massive boost to national and civic pride. Let us not uniquely shun this opportunity and turn our backs on this prize because we fear failure, disappointment and ignominy.
The chance to host the Olympics is not just about balance sheet costs, however important those are. Clearly it is vital that staging the Olympic Games does not become a black hole for public money; on costing, the Arup report has demonstrated that there is no reason why it should do so. There would be other benefits and legacies that are not so easily quantifiable, but which have far more value to the nation and to our society than whether the Olympic Games can make a direct surplus.
The BOA has identified no less than 10 benefits, not only for London, but for Britain as a whole. Some are financially quantifiable, such as the expected increase in tourism and jobs, while others are financially unquantifiable, such as the boost to regeneration, cultural and sporting benefits and the benefits to technology and the environment. We can look to examples of other Olympic cities. The investment in infrastructure, urban renewal and tourism have left a lasting, positive economic and cultural legacy in Barcelona, which was a city reborn after the 1992 Olympics. A successful British bid could do the same for London.
The unquantifiable benefits and legacies are enormous and would have a significant impact. How does one put a price on national prestige, on the long-term future use of the Olympic facilities, on the regeneration of a whole area of London, and on an Olympic village transformed into affordable housing? How does one put a price on inspiring future generations through Olympic sporting success, on the major commitment that hosting the games would make to the development of sport and society in the UK? How does one put a price on leveraging new investment, on strengthening community ties and social inclusion, and on the accompanying cultural and educational benefits for the local east London community and the nation as a whole?
As a former MP, having had the privilege to represent the people of Lewisham, East in inner London for 10 years, I can attest to the fact that this is a stunning opportunity to transform east London and to regenerate the inner Thames gateway, which is one of the poorest areas in the UK. We could leave behind a legacy of both housing and sporting facilities.
Not only London would gain. Other British venues would gain through the preparation of training camps for overseas teams, and through the staging of the football and sailing competitions that would be held outside London. The Team GB camp was set up on the Gold Coast of Australia in the run-up to the games in Sydney. That contributed more than £1 million to the local community over a 12-month period. Given that there were 199 international NOCs, there is considerable scope for our towns and cities to attract this lucrative pre-games business.
If there is any reluctance on the Government's part, the bid will fail. Our chance to host the Olympics will have vanished before we have started if the Government do not grant their wholehearted and unreserved support to the process.
Let us say to the sceptics, give London a chance to stage this event that will provide so many benefits in so many ways. It is a golden opportunity and one that I and many others would be sorry to see pass us by. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, it is fitting that today's important and timely debate should be introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who was an Olympic winner at the Moscow games. I defied the Thatcher boycott and went to the games because I argued then, as I would now, that I went when the Olympic flag went up and left before it came down. In other words, I went to Olympia, not to Moscow.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, knows all about the courage, dedication, hard work and commitment that it takes to be an Olympic winner. Those are the same qualities that the Government must demonstrate if they are to launch a successful bid to stage the Olympic Games. I sincerely hope that they do. Indeed, they have a duty to do so.
In 1997, I was the Labour Party spokesman for sport and tourism. In our policy document, Labour's Sporting Nation, and in our manifesto, we made the following commitment:
"A Labour Government would provide wholehearted support to efforts to bring major international events, such as the Olympic Games, to this country".
It is now time for the Government to come forward with that wholehearted support. The opportunity to host an Olympic Games comes only once in a generation, and it would be a real shame if we were to pass up that chance.
There is a very common phrase in the sports world, especially among those who have the responsibility for teaching young people sport, which is, "if you don't take part, you can't win". A similar phrase can be applied when considering bidding for the Olympic Games. Of course, to reach the very top, one has to be blessed with natural strength and skills. But these are all amplified by the dedication of preparation, practice and commitment.
I believe that we in this country have the natural skills, resources and infrastructure for a successful bid. We love sport and sporting heroes. We have the infrastructure and reputation for hosting many major events. London is one of the world's greatest cities—the greatest, in my view. There is much to be done, especially in transport. But let us not forget that there is much to build upon.
In this country we often talk down our sporting ability. In our sports governing bodies, we have some of the finest event organisers and marketeers. Let us consider the success and profile of events such as the London Marathon, Wimbledon, the Grand National, the Six Nations and the Great North Run. Overall we have a good track record on major events, including successful European football championships in 1996, a rugby World Cup in 1999, a cricket World Cup in the same year, and those marvellous Commonwealth Games last summer in Manchester.
There are not many countries in the world that can match that record of expertise. Some will ask why should we host the Olympic Games? I believe that we should do so not only because sport matters in itself, but because of the contribution that it makes to the health of the nation and the regeneration that it can bring to communities.
I declare an interest. Many in this House will know that I am the chairman of the Football Foundation. Funded by the Government, the FA Premier League, Football Association and Sport England, we now distribute millions of pounds to projects that develop sport and football in communities across the country.
It gives me so much pleasure to see the difference that we can make by introducing young people to sport and, in many cases, by bringing a focus and opportunity to their lives. I know that the Government are committed to improving young people's opportunities to engage in sport. Recently, the Secretary of State said that a possible bid for the Olympics would not be made at the expense of the grassroots of sport. It is a vitally important commitment, which I welcome.
We have on stream some very good sports development projects which will invest in our coaching and school facilities. Like other noble Lords, I should like to see more such projects. However, I warmly welcome the progress that has been made. We are lucky to have a Government who place sport high on the political agenda. We at the foundation are in the vanguard of reinvigorating school sports, with a £30 million ring-fenced fund to breathe new life into school football facilities. With the New Opportunities Fund investing £750 million into school sports and the arts, the future of school sports looks increasingly bright.
By 2006, the Government intend to have in place 400 specialised sports colleges, 3,200 school sports co-ordinators and 18,000 primary link teachers. That will make a real difference to our sporting landscape and the opportunities available to young people. What could be more motivating for these young people than the knowledge that the Olympic Games are coming to this country, a showcase for their talents? There is no doubt that major sporting events inspire people to become more involved in sport. One has only to think back to the summer, when the Commonwealth Games motivated and encouraged millions of people to take part in sport.
The benefits of an Olympic bid would run much wider than sport and physical activity. The proposed site for the Olympic stadium and village is located in an area suffering extreme deprivation. The unemployment rate in the borough of Newham is three times that of the Greater London average. The recent Arup report—referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan—into the feasibility of hosting the Olympics shows that a successful bid would deliver real benefit in this area. Hosting the games could create about 9,000 full-time jobs, 3,000 jobs in the East End economy alone. It has also been conservatively estimated that the games could generate additional tourism income of about £610 million, delivering a major boost for the economy. With the cross-London rail link, a London Olympic bid has the potential to revitalise one of London's most disadvantaged areas, providing East London with a high-speed transport link to London and beyond. CrossRail will do wonders for the regeneration of the area.
My time is up. I simply ask the Minister to recognise that the Labour Party, and therefore the Labour Government, are committed to ensuring a successful bid. I urge the Government not to shy away from this challenge and to give this bid their full backing and the opportunity it deserves.
My Lords, I welcome this debate and thank my noble friend Lord Moynihan for achieving it. I hope that it will stimulate the Government into giving maximum support to the British Olympic Association—and to Craig Reedie, Simon Clegg, Sport England and Sport UK, and indeed to the nation's aspirations. I declare an interest, as many of us have, as a member of the BOA. I have attended many Olympics, winter and summer, and the Commonwealth Games. Indeed, I was giving lunch to the British team at Munich in 1972 when the terrorist attack occurred. I have been to the Paralympics as well. I feel quite inadequate speaking tonight in this House surrounded by so many medallists in a variety of disciplines.
The application was strongly recommended by the BOA and received great support from the press. We should not underestimate the effort that the press has made in recent weeks. It seems to be firmly on side. The country is willing the Government to support the bid. I hope that the government committee accepts the enthusiasm of the nation.
Events of the past week in respect of the Scotland/Ireland bid to UEFA are important. The proceedings highlighted that, however good one's case, one cannot count on success. Internal politics—who knows whom, which country supports another—seems more important than the quality of the bid. The bookies, who usually get things right, had Scotland as second favourite to win the bid. However, we ended up in fifth place, which shows what can be done in the voting committee rooms. Let us bear in mind, when it comes to the Olympics, that we have to compete against Paris, Madrid, New York, Toronto and perhaps Rio. It will be a massive political victory to win in very tough going.
The lesson is that votes seem more important than the details. It is similar in the USA, where I have some contact with the committee dealing with the American bid. They were down to four cities—San Francisco, Houston, Baltimore/Washington and New York—with San Francisco the hot favourite. Yet, New York came out on top. I do not think that it was an entirely emotional decision based on 9/11. We have had our failures with world athletics and World Cups, but let that not deter us, and let us use our experience to do better this time.
The BOA bid detailed the financial aspects of this complicated issue, supported with the skill of Arup's investigation. If it is true, I am sorry that the Government have been trying to push up the cost. It is a complicated subject and not really for me to question the details; I just have to accept that it is going to cost money. The money will, however, provide very many benefits. This is also perhaps our only foreseeable opportunity. It will be money well spent, both in the development of youth sport and the regeneration of a very rundown area.
If I were an Olympic voter, which I never will be, I would query a couple of issues on which I hope we can improve even more. The first, already mentioned, is transport. As the GLA and the transport authorities do not have a good track record, how can we reassure the IOC that we can provide the required facilities? Can we start soon so that we have something to show in 2004 and 2005 when the Olympic Committee will begin examining the bid in detail? Can we give a real promise that everything will be in place by, say, 2010, so that there is a little time for slippage should the authorities fall behind schedule? We need to have a benevolent dictator, like Peter Ueberroth in Los Angeles, to oversee matters such as fast-track planning and supervision of transport routes, rather than government by committee.
I would also question the stadium, although I am sure that my worries could be allayed. I was, as the Minister knows, somewhat critical of the Wembley proceedings and the £20 million from Sport England for athletics. I was concerned about the impossibility of putting an eight-lane running track and a long-jump track round a reasonably sized football field and about how all that was to be resolved. I was not the least impressed with the idea of moveable platforms and so on. How will we address the issue at the Olympic stadium, which needs to hold about 70,000 to 80,000? A football club such as West Ham or Spurs would probably say that such a stadium is far too large. Furthermore, if these clubs are interested and they need new grounds now, can they wait so long? How do we reduce an 80,000-seat stadium to something which a football club can later operate economically? However, Manchester and Munich have shown that it can be done. Let us therefore hope that we can achieve a satisfactory solution.
Finally, I put it to the IOC—it will not listen to me but I hope that it will listen to others—that we should keep the events that we want in the Olympics. I should like to cut out lawn tennis, rugby sevens, synchronised swimming and volleyball. I should not like to see golf included, as is proposed, as it already has perfectly adequate championships all over the world. Why should we lose equestrian sports such as the three-day event and an event such as the modern pentathlon, both of which we are good at? Shooting also appears to be under threat. Let us try to encourage the IOC to stick with the sports that have a tremendous following in this country. I refer to our recent great achievements in athletics.
However, we must be prepared to accept change when necessary. In 1980 when I was the Minister for Sport Chris Brasher said that he was desperately keen for the marathon to finish in the Mall. I asked the authorities whether that was possible. They threw up their hands in horror. They said that one could not possibly use the Mall on a Sunday as a running track as it gave access to the Royal Parks. However, now it is accepted as a wonderful finishing venue for the marathon. We must move with the times.
A bid for the games will cost the taxpayer money. However, as an example to the youth of this country and in the interests of revitalising a poor area, it is a challenge that we must accept. We can hold our heads high at this rare opportunity to put Britain first and to seize an opportunity that may not recur for years. I hope that the ministerial committee has the courage and enthusiasm to go ahead. We must show a united front in our desire to provide a wonderful games in 2012.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for initiating the debate. I also apologise in advance for the fact that I shall agree with virtually everything that has been said so far.
There is no real argument about the matter. We are talking about the possibility of one of the greatest cities in the world hosting the greatest sporting event in the world. We are one of the most prosperous nations in the world. If London hosts the 2012 Olympic Games, it will be at least a regional, and probably a national, event for Britain. That is absolutely clear. If the number of athletes involved in the Olympic Games come to Britain, it will benefit the whole of the country.
The economic benefits of hosting the games are potentially massive. Prior to the debate I was reminded that certain Olympic Games have not been successful in financial terms. However, most have of late. If we tackle successfully the investment aspect of this media feeding frenzy, we cannot but fail to gain economic benefits from that, let alone gain a kick start to the economy. My noble friend will undoubtedly cover that in considerably more detail.
One of the major advantages of the Olympic Games is the fact that they are games. There is something special about games as opposed to a championship. I have a slight disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Monro, as regards which sports should or should not be included. However, the Olympic Games comprise a diversity of sport. There is something there for everyone. The games constitute a community of sport which attracts people from minority groups. Sometimes it appears that sport in this country constitutes a monoculture. However, an event such as the Olympic Games demonstrates that there is probably a sport out there for everyone. If the projections regarding the amount of new equipment and new infrastructure that will be provided for the Olympics are only half right, the general public will have infinitely greater opportunities to participate in sport. When one sees a sport performed well, one has a greater incentive to participate in that sport.
I turn to the social aspect. The Manchester Commonwealth Games probably showed us more clearly than anything else the social benefits that can be derived from such games. I refer to the 10,000 people who volunteered to help run the games. I believe that about 7,000 volunteers were turned away. That kind of community involvement is almost unheard of. Such involvement constitutes an asset to sporting and civil communities for generations to come. As we increasingly find ourselves, by accident and by design, in a situation where sport is taken out of educational establishments and placed within the wider context of the community, that kind of support and involvement is almost priceless.
The Government talk of health problems and of the genuine difficulty of trying to fit sport into the national curriculum. However, if we combine the social benefits with the other benefits that I have mentioned, the Olympic Games constitute an attractive proposition. I refer to long-term savings to the health service gained from an increasing participation in sport on the part of people who gain greater enthusiasm for sport having watched the Olympics.
However, I put my rather romantic vision to one side and try to discuss what will actually happen. The Government's willingness to support aggressively any bid will probably be the deciding factor. Unless the Government are prepared to state that they will back such a bid, and will make available what is required, a bid will not be successful. If the Government are not prepared to do that, I hope that they will say so quickly as it would be appallingly disappointing if a bid fizzled out or received only half-hearted support. I hope that the Government will give us a firm indication of their intentions in this regard. If they could give a strong hint of what is to happen, everyone would be much happier. I know that such indications have been given, but we want to hear them in Parliament and see them in Hansard.
Hosting the world's biggest sporting festival confers benefits above and beyond those on any financial balance sheet. But even in purely financial terms, the Olympic Games must be worth trying for.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, on securing the debate and on the extremely thorough way in which he introduced the various issues and the reasons why a London Olympics bid makes sense.
I should make clear that I come to the debate not as a former Olympic athlete or, indeed, as a sportsman of any kind. I was expelled from my school's games department at the age of 12 due to lack of commitment. The consequences are visible for all to see. However, I am leader of the Labour Group at the London Assembly and am chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority which will, of course, have a major responsibility in terms of security issues, should the games come to London.
I believe passionately that now is the time for London to make its bid for the Olympics. I believe passionately that it is right not only for London but right for the nation as a whole for the bid to be made. There may well be some—although it has not been suggested so far in the debate—who ask why the games should come to London. Manchester and Birmingham have both had their chances. As has been pointed out, in the next contest to host the Olympics, if this country submits a bid, the bidding city will compete against probably New York, Paris, Madrid or Moscow. Only London, frankly, can submit a credible bid. Those are the signals that have come from the IOC; that is, that London should make a bid and that London is the city it wishes to see bidding from this nation.
Can it be done? The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred extensively to the Ove Arup report. That makes clear that the potential is there and that a bid is feasible. Ove Arup is clear that it can be achieved. It has looked at every element and looked in detail at the sort of structures that would need to be created to deliver in the various areas.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred to transport. Clearly, good transport for people to get to and from the games and to move the athletes around is an important element. However, I would caution against saying that CrossRail should be in place as an essential precondition for proceeding with a bid for the Olympic Games. CrossRail is essential for London's long-term future; it should and, I believe, will happen. However, I do not believe that it is essential for the Olympic Games—and Ove Arup confirmed this—although it would clearly be desirable. I would like to decouple the two issues. If a decision is made to bid for the Olympic Games and we are successful in such a bid, there will be every incentive to deliver CrossRail on time and to add to the transport resources available. I do not believe that it is a necessary requirement before we proceed, however.
Noble Lords have remarked on how accommodation would be delivered and how there might be a new Olympic village. We should remember that a legacy would be provided by such a village in terms of much-needed housing accommodation, which could be used for key public sector workers and which is very much at a premium in London. That, too, would be an advantage, even if it did not become available until after an Olympic Games in 2012. It is feasible and desirable in the long term.
I mentioned in passing the responsibilities of the Metropolitan Police Service for security. That is an area in which London can offer something unique. The experience of the Metropolitan Police Service in delivering security is recognised to be unparalleled in the world. There is enormous experience there, which was drawn on in preparation for the Olympic Games in Athens. Again, that is a positive point, on which London can provide some of the best opportunities.
We should focus on the benefits for London and the nation as a whole. It is not for me to talk about sporting benefits; clearly, all the sporting organisations that have written to me and to other noble Lords in the past few days believe in those benefits passionately. They clearly see that this is a major opportunity to improve the quality of sport and give people new opportunities. But there are obvious and immediate benefits for tourism, which is a major part of the London and national economy. It needs the revitalisation and the momentum that the Olympic Games would give. Ove Arup has studied the details—the hotel rooms and accommodation generally available—and some of the spin-off benefits to the rest of the country. It is clearly achievable, and it is there.
There is also the issue of jobs. I refer not only to short-term employment, in preparation for the games themselves and the building of new stadiums and other facilities, but to the long-term employment created as part of a continuing regeneration legacy. Let us be clear: proposals for games based essentially in east London would focus resources into some of the most deprived areas in the country. They would have a long-term major revitalising impact on the economy in that area, and provide hope and economic futures for thousands, if not millions, of people.
The games would not benefit only London or east London, however. The wider benefits should be emphasised. One has only to consider the lessons learned from the games in Sydney or Barcelona to see what is possible. In Barcelona, the whole city benefited; no part of the city felt that it had not got something positive from the games or from what was put in place for the games. That represents a marvellous opportunity, behind which London could unite. We can learn lessons from Sydney about community participation, involving the public and providing a new sense of civic involvement. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to the same thing happening in Manchester with the Commonwealth Games. That prize is worth aiming for in order to build civic involvement and community responsibility.
The games would have a wide impact and economic benefits, not only because of the flow of people coming into the country, since London is the gateway to the rest of the country, or because of the economic benefits that would flow perhaps initially to London then out to the rest of the country, but directly. Some elements of the games would take place in cities around London and around the country, but there would also be holding camps, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said. The camps would bring direct benefits to the areas in which they were located, and would have lasting benefits.
For many noble Lords, what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said at the last Labour Party conference is of limited interest, but he urged the Labour Party to dare to be bold. I suggest to my noble friend the Minister that this is precisely the moment for the British Government and the nation to be bold, in terms of making a bid. I do not want us to go through the sort of processes that we have gone through too often in the past. I would not want support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to be conditional on yet another report being written by someone else on particular aspects, and for various hurdles to be created over which we must go. Economic assessments have been done. If we believe those assessments, now is the time for the Government and for all of us to be bold. Let us make that bid and win the bid for London and for the nation.
My Lords, I must admit that for most of my life I have been an observer of sport and very rarely, unlike some noble Lords here this evening, a participant. I hope that that does not completely rule me out as a speaker this evening.
I speak in favour of a bid by London for two reasons. First, because it is good economics and, secondly, because I was born in the East End, as noble Lords can tell from my accent. For that reason, I believe in the bid with my heart and with real passion.
Bidding for and hosting the games, if well used, could be used to reinforce London's position as a world city. It would thereby provide tangible benefits to the whole of the UK, just as London provides currently as one of the UK's lead economic brands. In fact, the city is probably the lead economic brand in the UK. Well marketed, hosting the games would bring opportunities for tourism, as we have heard, and for building on inward investment.
As noble Lords have said, proposals for the games focus on east London. Sustainable long-term generation in the Thames Gateway area is an economic and political priority. As other noble Lords have said, it is an area of great deprivation. It is completely unacceptable, in an area of great prosperity, for there to be such low standards in inner-city areas. We hear a lot about brownfield sites; there are certainly plenty of those sites in that area, where traditional industries have failed. There is room for housing and other developments.
The games would provide a focus for regeneration and a catalyst for provision of desperately needed infrastructure. Most businessmen in London have stopped being frustrated by the lack of infrastructure and are now angry about it, so any reason for getting on with it, rather than simply talking and doing studies, is a good thing. I agree that there is no direct one-to-one link with CrossRail, for example, but any excuse will do for getting on and doing something about our horrific transport situation.
Bidding and getting on with the establishment of facilities for these games would help some private and public sector investments that have already taken place in the area, including Excel, the Channel Tunnel rail link, the Docklands Light Railway, the Jubilee line and, yes, even the Dome. The games would provide a deadline for delivery of those infrastructure requirements and give an infrastructure requirement date for the three river crossings, for example, which we have discussed and which have been politically agreed on by everyone, but which nobody has yet done anything about. I refer also to extensions to the East London line, which to my knowledge have been discussed for 20 years or more, and to CrossRail, which other noble Lords have mentioned.
I hope that the legacy of a development in the Thames Gateway area would not be a stadium alone. I am a West Ham supporter—although perhaps I should not admit that, given the club's position in the league. The club could certainly do with something, but it might be better off with new players. Help would include a new stadium, swimming facilities, the triggering of transport facilities and affordable housing—the use of villages has been mentioned. Skill enhancement for the local labour force would also be involved. We are still in a position in east London in which there are not people with adequate basic skills to fill some of the jobs there. We can give people practical experience through direct jobs or volunteerism.
I could continue discussing London for as long as noble Lords would like, but I should refer to these games as the UK games. As has been said, football, sailing, shooting and some other events will take place outside London. Training camps, which have been mentioned, will provide sports facilities and accommodation around Britain.
The timing of all this is right for London. London is winning and a leader in the world. As we all know—particularly those of us involved in business—when one thinks that one is winning and a world leader, that is the time when one starts failing. London must be pushed—we must press on and take every action in the coming years if we are to succeed. The Olympics is a great reason for determining that we will take action. That would concentrate minds across all government departments. It would provide deadlines for infrastructure that London so desperately needs, even if that is not "one-to-one" with the Olympics.
The Government's wholehearted commitment to the bid is essential. Just in case there is a change of government, we had better have all-party support. We have seen the lack of political will in Wembley. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey—I should much prefer not to have more studies but for someone to start doing something.
London desperately needs another aspect that is missing. We need national, London and borough governments to work together effectively as a team. The Olympic bid is a great excuse for getting that to happen. It will not succeed unless they work together. We have already seen the effect that the lack of joined-up government—forget whose fault it is—is having on the Tube and on London's roads. One sees that when one walks outside this place.
The business community is keen to play its part to help win the bid and make the games happen because, as I have said, it is good business. Recently the London Business Board, which is made up of London First—of which I am president—London CBI and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry wrote to the Prime Minister asking for strong political leadership on the bid and its implementation. To gain the full and active support of business, business must be wholly engaged from the beginning. It is no good coming along and saying, "By the way, can you give us a few tens of millions of pounds?". We need to be deeply involved from the beginning. The London Business Board stands ready to have discussions with the British Olympic Association, the Government and anyone else who wants to talk to us about what we mean by getting business deeply involved and putting our money where our mouth is.
London is a great city. Collectively we have the skills and resources to make this bid happen and to make 2012 an exciting year in the history of Britain. My view is that London could win this bid. We should proceed with enthusiasm and be determined to win.
My Lords, it is entirely appropriate that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, should lead this debate tonight. He has a very distinguished sporting record and I congratulate him particularly on his sense of timing. This is a good moment for us to be debating this issue.
As we have heard this evening, this issue crosses party divisions in this House and outside. There cannot be many matters on which the Mayor of London, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, the editors of The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, and the London Business Bureau are all agreed, but this is one of them.
I am happy to admit that I changed my mind on whether we should bid for the Olympics. When we debated the future of athletics precisely one year ago to the day, on a Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, I spoke immediately after the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, who I am delighted to see here this evening. He is, I believe, one of four Olympic athletes speaking from the Benches opposite. I congratulate them on fielding their full team for this debate. I said in that debate a year ago that we should look at ways in which we could improve assistance to individual athletes and increase sports provision generally, rather than spend all of our resources on big and unrealistic projects. In mitigation, I remind noble Lords that that debate occurred while the Wembley Stadium saga was continuing, and the Picketts Lock fiasco and the humiliation of the 2006 football World Cup bid were painful recent memories. Many people then doubted whether we would ever again be able to mount a serious challenge for a major world sporting event.
I was wrong. I have listened carefully to the case made by the BOA, particularly at the excellent presentation it made to interested Members of this House on 3rd December. I have read most of the reports that have appeared in the press over recent weeks and I have also studied the summary of the Arup report.
I am now convinced that we should bid for 2012, provided that three conditions are met. First—the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made this point—the Government must come out wholeheartedly and unequivocally in favour of it. Secondly, work must begin at once on preparing for the games, if we decide to bid, particularly in respect of assembling the ingredients of the site in east London; smoothing the way on planning issues for the Olympic village and the stadium construction; and approving the necessary transport infrastructure investments—especially the CrossRail east-west London line, to which many noble Lords have referred. I was pleased to receive briefing from the Mayor's office to the effect that the London Development Agency seems to be well up to speed on site assembly issues; it rightly takes the view that the sites are crucial for the regeneration of the area, whether we bid or not. Thirdly, a worthwhile legacy must be left after the games have been staged.
On the need for government support, I draw the attention of noble Lords to the revealing interview given by the president of the International Olympic Committee and published in the Evening Standard on 9th December. Mr Jacques Rogge is quoted as saying:
"I would be very happy to have a well prepared, well-organised London bid. Definitely London would be a front runner, given a good technical file. There is no doubt about that.
But Government backing is a vital determining factor. If there is any feeling of reluctance on behalf of the Government, then the bid would fail. It is as simple as that".
Mr Rogge also offered some interesting comments about transport. He said:
"Transport is always a challenge for big cities and I don't think the challenge would be bigger for London than it would be for other big cities bidding. We are facing the same problems in Athens in 2004. Sydney had to refurbish its airport. It had to build a freeway".
Interestingly, Mr Rogge attached most importance to what is left behind after the games have finished and the athletes have gone home. He said:
"The issue is the legacy you leave for the city. That has been clearly proven by Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney".
He defined the legacy as,
"an acceleration in a short period of spending that the city would have to do anyhow".
"This acceleration has a price tag. But ultimately citizens must realise that they are getting sooner what they would need in the long term. That is the good thing about the Games. It is not an extravagance. It is a bonus. It leaves a legacy to a city and a country".
It is indeed that aspect that has caused me to change my mind about a bid. In addition to delivering permanent public transport improvements, which would be good for London and for everyone who works here or visits as a tourist, staging the games in east London would also provide the opportunity to convert an Olympic village for 16,000 athletes, coaches and officials into affordable social housing for thousands of families.
In Athens, where they are constructing 2,300 units for the athletes, the decision has already been taken to release them for housing, the ownership of which will be settled by a public lottery. Unsurprisingly, they have already had 10,000 applications.
Then there is the issue of the stadium, which must be built from scratch and cater for audiences of up to 80,000. It is crucial that agreement is reached early on its long-term use. There are too many examples from previous games where the stadium has become a "white elephant".
The Minister for Sport, Mr Caborn, was quoted in the Evening Standard, on Monday as saying:
"It has become absolutely clear to me that where you can get an anchor tenant for facilities, it is far, far better. That could well be a football club or a rugby club or a combination of those because dual use of facilities is something sport has to look at, including football clubs because football is going through difficult financial times.
If the decision is made to bid, in my view, we have got to take certain steps pretty quickly and that would be to say: 'Are there any clubs who would want to come and join us?'".
I might be able to help the Minister a little in answer to that question. At the weekend I was speaking to Terence Brown, the chairman of West Ham United Football Club. He authorised me to say to your Lordships in this debate today that his club would certainly be interested. Mr Brown regards Stratford as a "fantastic site" for a stadium. He regards the regeneration of east London as very important and the club enthusiastically backs the bid.
On the question of cost, the Arup report demonstrates a cash deficit of £385 million, or £494 million after some fairly gloomy risk assessments. But it has also carried out a cost-benefit analysis which takes account of the net increase in tourists and the economic effects of the games. At worst that reduces the deficit to £145 million, and at best produces a surplus of £82 million.
The report describes these forecasts as "conservative", compared with other recent Olympic Games. The Spanish Government, by contrast, calculate that the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 were worth £7 billion to the country.
If the Government are looking for ways of raising money for the Olympic Games and of involving and generating the public's enthusiasm, and reviving at the same time a failing national institution, I suggest that they look seriously at the suggestion that a special Olympic lottery—possibly under different management from the present National Lottery—is launched specifically for that purpose.
Finally, we should remember that the staging of the games acts as a catalyst in improving a nation's sporting success. The BOA tells us how many more medals a nation wins if one of its cities is chosen as host—South Korea and Australia being two particularly good recent examples.
I conclude with a quote from the editorial in The Times last Thursday. It said:
"The greatest argument . . . is simply that hosting the Olympic Games would show some real determination and optimism, fill sportsmen and spectators with enthusiasm and boost participation in sports. It would also be great fun. It would be sad if this country lacked the self-confidence even to compete".
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Moynihan for bringing this debate. It is good to be back in your Lordships' House once again debating sport with Olympian colleagues and others. I am also delighted to be following the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, in the debate. Although we sit on opposite sides of the House, we have spent many hours discussing sport—on one occasion for about six hours while we were trying to drive back from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. We have found ourselves, surprisingly mostly in agreement.
I shall not keep your Lordships for long because at this stage in the debate I can really only repeat the highlights of what other noble Lords have said. But there are certain principles that I should like to bring forward from some bullet points that I have.
First, the Minister has, apparently, an easy job tonight. The whole House is united in support of a London bid for the 2012 Olympics. However, as we all know, there will be plenty of knockers and plenty of antis. There will be people who will say that we cannot do it, that it will bung up the traffic in London and that it will make people's lives more uncomfortable than they are already. I say—well, I had better not use unparliamentary language, so I will not say it. Most of your Lordships will understand my feelings about the knockers.
I will be serious for a moment. Modern Olympic Games need not be loss-makers. It has been demonstrated by several noble Lords tonight that previous Olympic Games have been run profitably, in cash and investment terms, and, most importantly, have been run profitably for the people of the host nation. Nations do not run a budget for a year; we look at our future for many years to come and at the legacies that we leave to our children, grandchildren and others. An Olympic Games bid is certainly about that. It goes down in the history books, and the investment made should help our children and grandchildren for many years to come and should be extremely beneficial to the country.
Another point that has been made is that the bid for the Olympic Games must be government-led. The Olympic Games are still the biggest spectator event in the world. The competition to host the event is the toughest such competition in the world. It happens only every four years, and the games probably come to a nation only once in a generation or perhaps only once in two generations, as the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, said. So, I am convinced that we should make an Olympic bid and that it must be government-led. I am not speaking from the Front Bench, but my noble friend will do so shortly, and I am sure that my party will join the Government in an all-party bid for a London Olympics.
Although I said that the bid must be nationally led by the Government and that the whole kingdom must be behind it, it is evident to me, from other events on a larger or smaller scale with which I have been involved, that that does not mean that it must be managed by the government of the day. That would be fatal. If we go for the event, we must make sure that we have on board the most professional people that we can empower—British or not. They must understand about managing events on such a scale and about the organisation and delivery of projects on such a scale.
As an aside, I must say that the Dome was referred to in a rather derogatory way. I do not think that I need to declare my interest in that at this stage. The actual facility was delivered on budget and on time; it was only the content and the visitor numbers that fell apart. The content and the visitor numbers are not in doubt with an Olympic Games. If we are lucky enough to win an Olympic bid for London, we will fill the event stadiums everywhere without any trouble. We have the technology, the expertise and the management skills to deliver whatever structures are required for hosting an Olympic Games.
Another point that has already been made is that, nowadays, although an Olympic bid will be headed by London—by a city—the games are not a city event. The bid will be a truly national bid, particularly in a nation the size of ours. If we succeed in the bid, no corner of this kingdom—except, perhaps, the farthest Hebridean corners—will miss out on the benefits, with all the pre-camps and pre-training centres and the events that will take place outside the stadiums—and some, such as football, inside the stadiums. By necessity, travelling is part and parcel of participating in a modern Olympiad. Even in the winter games in my days, when we competed in Grenoble, my event was over an hour's drive from Grenoble. We can go a long way in this country in an hour, sometimes. Sometimes, as we know, we cannot get to Trafalgar Square from Westminster.
I am certain that, in the event of a successful Olympic bid, the nation will come behind us. I use the word "us" advisedly; I hope that all parties and the whole nation will be together. It would be a tragedy if the Government admitted that they did not have sufficient faith in the management, industry, expertise or finances of the nation to allow them to put together a real, meaningful, we-are-jolly-well-going-to-win bid.
My Lords, I have absolutely no doubt whatever that securing the Olympic Games for London would guarantee a stunning and wonderful event. They would be wonderful as a demonstration of our national pride, and of our commitment to sport as a force for good and well-being in our society. They should dispel the notion that other countries less economically strong, without our proven record of organisational success, have somehow leapfrogged over us, leaving us forlorn spectators. The Olympic Games could give a wonderful old city a huge uplift and show a generation of young people a can do/will do example of leadership, optimism, determination and competence. They would undoubtedly put London centre stage, with a spotlight creating a unique opportunity for displaying our talents—architecturally, socially, financially and politically.
But I am a realist. Not everyone shares that view. Today's debate gives the opportunity to analyse the project and weigh up the pros and cons: in short, to make the case for the London bid. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is to be thanked for giving us this opportunity.
Perhaps we may start with the venue. Put bluntly, nowhere else in the United Kingdom has the attraction of the capital city. On that fact alone there appears to be a consensus, based not on some southerner's prejudice, but on the assessment of other likely candidates in the frame. If we are talking Paris, New York and Milan as competitors, we must give ourselves the best possible chance of success. London provides an inspirational backdrop and a nostalgic venue for the games, which we supported when others turned away.
I am particularly drawn to the legacy for London in staging the games. They would give a huge opportunity to regenerate an area of London significantly in need of redevelopment. As one in the business of regeneration myself, I see an unparalleled opportunity for the East End of London—a part of the city which has a noble and historic tradition of sport within its own community.
However, surely the benefits need not solely be London-based? Could some of the Olympic jewels be spread around the country? The value of that would be to multiply the positive impact right across the UK. The effect on the tourism industry alone would be dynamic. There would be financial gain, both short and long term, and there would be the creation of a network of new employment. The shop window and the catwalk would be rolled into one. Various communities would have the opportunity of doing what sport does best; namely, drawing in a whole army of volunteers, eager and capable, wanting to put back into sport just a morsel of what sport has given them.
All that said and done, there is still a hard-nosed debate to be had. My most significant anxiety is, of course, finance. How much will staging the Olympic Games cost? How will they be paid for? What legacy will remain when the games are over? There seems to be a plethora of financial appraisals flying about. Already, different sums have been quoted in the Chamber tonight. In brief, there seems to be a consensus that the minimum sporting costs for stadiums and swimming pools would be in the region of £2 billion. The associated investment for essential infrastructure improvements could cost a further £10 billion.
At the other end of the speculative costing scale, there is a view that that is woefully low: a more realistic estimate would be £4 billion rather than £2 billion, and £18 billion rather than £10 billion, and rising.
With the Dome and Wembley costs still fresh in our minds, I believe that I can safely guarantee that our Chancellor—wonderful though he is—is unlikely to sign up to a blank cheque of this magnitude. Christmas it may be, but prudence is still around.
How do we move forward? Clearly, partnerships must be formed. There could be a public/private partnership—so despised by the Mayor of London in other areas, but which looks now to be his only option. I look forward to hearing his views on this. It has also been suggested by the Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn, that in order to avoid draining government funds, with the agreement of the Cabinet it could be sought to make lottery funding available. A sum of £100 million of lottery funds every year up to the games has been suggested by him. I will return to that proposal later.
On the plus side of the balance sheet, we can assume huge commercial and media revenue directly attributable to the games. Add to this a host of related boosts to the national and local economy in the form of increased tourism, related merchandising and jobs generated by the project. In addition, we have the possibility of European funding, for that part of London enjoys—if that is the right word—objective 2 status. It would be reasonable to expect, therefore, significant grants from the EU with the example of Athens to be used. Adding up that side, we begin to see a more realistic financial profile emerging. In addition, we have a legacy of state-of-the-art sporting facilities in a country which is woefully under-provided.
I return to the basic funding issue. Would it be right to take funds from the lottery? At what cost would it be to the good causes and to grass-roots sport for which that money was originally promised? Why, I continue to ask, do we differ so radically from our European neighbours in our reluctance to pay for major sporting facilities from government funding? Why do France, Germany, Holland and Sweden all see this as a valid national responsibility? Why have successive governments of all complexions turned their backs on what I see as proper expenditure? Do we really believe that sport plays a key role in our society? Do we believe that health and social inclusion are priceless assets, and quantifiable perhaps in the short term but absolutely crucial in the long term? And should we deprive a whole generation of young people of access to a sporting landmark? Do sporting heroes make us better, giving inspiration to lead a more dedicated life? Well, I challenge the number crunchers to come up with an analysis that takes all that into account.
The questions I have posed today will have to be answered around a Cabinet table in January. I personally hope that the outcome will lift our hearts and that 2012 will see the Olympic torch arriving in Britain as the herald of a most wonderful games.
My Lords, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak during such an important debate today and to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for highlighting the exciting opportunity not only for London but for the whole of the UK. My sporting career never reached Olympic level, but I love sport and I love London. I admire great sportsmen such as the noble Lords, Lord Moynihan and Lord Coe.
I must declare an interest as a member of the board of the London Development Agency. The LDA is the regional development agency for London, responsible for economic development. We believe that bidding for the Olympics would be of huge benefit to London as well as to the UK as a whole, and that is why we were proud to co-fund with the Government the Arup cost-benefit analysis of bringing the games to London.
This was not just a feasibility study on whether hosting the games was possible; this was a study on whether east London could deliver the games effectively and whether a games could deliver benefits which would not otherwise occur. I believe that this is an instructive document that realistically spells out the issues involved in bidding, as well as helping to put an Olympic bid firmly on the agenda.
Just this morning, my fellow LDA board colleagues voted unanimously to support a London bid and I know that the whole agency relishes the challenge of playing a pivotal partnership role in bringing the games to London.
I would also like to pay tribute to the work of the Mayor of London. He is deeply committed to London's future and is doing a tremendous job. From day one, Ken Livingstone has thrown his weight behind the bid and continues to work with the Government and all other stakeholders to put forward a convincing case for hosting the Olympics. His mind will of course be on other matters at present while he settles into his important new role as a father. I know that noble Lords will join me in sending him and his new family their best wishes.
Noble Lords have highlighted the important role the games could play in raising the profile of sport in this country. We have heard about the important health benefits brought about by increased participation and enthusiasm for sport and the provision of world-class facilities. I would like to focus on and reiterate the massive regeneration and economic benefits that the Olympics could bring about.
The proposed site of the games is Stratford and the Lower Lee Valley in East London. This is one of the most deprived areas in the country, with high unemployment and deprivation. The Government have highlighted it as a priority for regeneration and development and the LDA is already investing in the area. Most of the sites are already accessible and much can be achieved with relatively modest investment.
Opportunities such as bidding for the Olympics come only once in a generation. We must seize this chance to deliver a huge boost to East London. The immediate benefits are clear. An estimated 9,000 jobs would be created, with 3,000 going straight into the East London economy. The bid would also facilitate comprehensive redevelopment, rather than the piecemeal development that has hampered the area in the past.
A house-building programme for around 80,000 new homes is planned in the Thames Gateway over the next 15 years. That is ambitious, but we believe it is achievable. Staging the Olympics could play a major part in the programme, with the Olympic village alone estimated to provide up to 4,000 affordable units.
The positive legacy of an Olympic bid will go far wider than sport. To transform derelict brownfield land into an area that will have endless benefits for years to come must be regarded as one of the exciting opportunities presented by this bid.
Environmental and landscaping improvements, a technology centre, flagship sports facilities, the Olympic stadium and a cultural and tourism boost would be just some of the long-term benefits resulting from staging this world-class, awe-inspiring event.
Arup concluded that the transport capacity is dealt with. Improvements to East London's transport infrastructure have already been highlighted and set in train for regeneration purposes. The report did not suggest that major new infrastructure projects will need to be undertaken for the sole purpose of servicing the games.
London is a world city—the most multicultural city in the world—that can compete on a world stage. There is a clear commitment and masses of enthusiasm from all the major stakeholders in this project. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity not only to develop a derelict area of London but also to spark a sense of excitement in everyone in the United Kingdom. We have a site which has been independently assessed as being viable and we know from the tremendous job done by Manchester in hosting the Commonwealth Games this year that the United Kingdom can stage world-class events.
I urge the Government strongly to support this bid so that we can move forward to work on the most compelling case that does London, and the United Kingdom, justice.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Moynihan for his timely contribution in getting the debate up and running. As many noble Lords have made clear, time is of the essence.
Noble Lords on all sides of the House have presented the arguments for a compelling and powerful series of causes, and they are right to do so. I do not intend to trudge through the same economic and sporting landscape today. Suffice it to say that the economic impact of a London Olympics on jobs, on urban renewal and on sporting legacy is hard to refute, as my noble friend Lord Sheppard rightly pointed out.
At the risk of not heeding my own words, I shall present one further piece of evidence to the arguments made today. During the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, I met the chief economist of the West Pac Bank. "You could trace the uplift in consumer confidence", he told me, "from the very day that Sydney was awarded the games back in 1993". Michael Knight, the Olympic Minister, told me that he and his Government saw sport and tourism as inextricably linked policy areas. In Sydney alone, more than £2 billion in inward tourism was attributed to the games.
As the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, said, sport does not come alive on the balance sheet or in the board room or even in the Red Book; it comes alive on the track, in the pool and on the pitch. Its effects on the country are profound, both in hard-pressed inner city areas and in facility-starved rural areas. The odysseys that the Olympic Games throw up are not only the stuff of re-runs at Christmas or glossy coffee-table books; they change lives.
On the last day of the spectacular Manchester Commonwealth Games—games which saved our country's sporting reputation—I got into a car driven by one of the many thousands of volunteers in that city who both distinguished and dignified those games. "She's something else, isn't she, that Paula Radcliffe?", the driver turned to me and said. I smiled and I said, "Yes, she is", expecting him to come out with a litany of statistical times and laps and splits. He said, "No, no, that is not what I am interested in. Over the past three years my daughter has hardly left the sofa in front of the television set, and two nights ago she went down to Sale Harriers Athletic Club"—a well-known athletic club in Manchester—"and she joined up".
London has been there before in 1948. It was arguably those games that saved the Olympic movement. It would have been very difficult for the Olympic movement to have survived from 1936 through to 1952 without an ability to stage and house an Olympic Games. If they were saved in 1948, they were rescued again in 1984 in Los Angeles by Peter Ueberroth, who, as my noble friend Lord Monro pointed out, was the brains and the inspiration behind the 1984 Olympic Games. And on what did he model his Olympic Games? He modelled them on London. He modelled them on the use of volunteers and the refurbishment of existing facilities.
It is time for the Prime Minister to be brave and for his Chancellor to see the big economic picture and to look at these figures properly. There are no insurmountable barriers—certainly no greater barriers than in Paris, Madrid, New York or even Rio. Only our ability to doubt our ability can hold us back.
The games are worth our collective efforts. We are the fourth largest economy in the world and we have a site earmarked which is only a stone's throw from the largest financial centre in the world. I simply do not believe that the nation is any less able or willing to support a London games in 2012 than it was in 1948.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for introducing this debate. It is fitting that he should do so. The debate has inevitably been somewhat repetitious and I regret that I will repeat some of the repetition. For once, that is appropriate because it emphasises the unanimity in the House on this subject—particularly given the rather daunting background of so many speakers in sport and economic regeneration. I hope that the Minister will join our supporters club.
Happily, Hansard will not record that I am so obviously not a sportswoman. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I was not thrown out. The comments were more along the lines of "Are you having difficulty seeing the ball, dear?" That will not deter me tonight.
I declare an interest as a member of the London Assembly and want to talk particularly about London as a host city. I am also a Mancunian by birth. As great as Manchester is, I see this as London or nothing. As my noble friend Lord Addington said, the smoke signals are quite clear. London and Manchester are both great cities and this is a great country, but we have a national tendency to suck our teeth and list reasons for not doing something. I am not suggesting that the project should be approached irresponsibly. There is debate, particularly about the associated costs to which the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, referred—but the British Olympic Association hotly disputes some of the high-end costs.
Being realistic does not preclude a can-do attitude. We on these Benches think can-do and that we can and should do it in London. The prospect of hosting the 2012 Olympics gives the opportunity to harness the enthusiasm of the British public. One has to admit that in this building there is far more interest in sport than in politics. I am sure that we shall see a lot of polls on the subject. I am not always prepared to take polls at their face value—it depends on the question—but I was struck by a poll by YouGov about the enthusiasm of young people for holding the Olympics in this country. Public enthusiasm is important. The Commonwealth Games made great use of local people. Volunteering—contributing to the success of a project and sharing in the buzz of the event—gives one a feeling of ownership and involvement.
I have no idea how flexible is the balance of events in an Olympics but, given the mass following for football in this country, anything that can boost and increase accessibility to that sport—which my noble friend reminds me is not in the happiest of states at the moment—would be welcome. Supporting London does not preclude supporting other cities hosting training camps and providing venues for football matches. I am not sure where I first saw the comment "Think legacy first", but the prospective legacy is much in my mind. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, dealt extensively with that point. The legacy of sports venues would include training venues, which will be used afterwards by those who enjoy sport at every level.
For training swimmers for the Olympics, we would need 32 50-metre lanes. Currently, London has one 50-metre pool and two others are being considered. Paris, Rome and Berlin each have 20 pools. We have a lot of catching up to do. This is the opportunity. It is quite easy to provide pools because essentially they are tanks. One can drop in a pool and a warm-up pool next to it, then remove one if the facilities are more than those needed. I knew that we would hear a great deal about sport and the legacy of the venues would be immense.
There is a great deal of sceptism about the ability of London's transport system to cope. I shall be quite clear. I want to see CrossRail, and this seems to me to be a good way to encourage the Government to get on with it. The Arup view is that it is not necessary to the games but it is clearly desirable. The timetable is tight. Currently, it is hoped that if it goes ahead it will be operational early in 2012. The Strategic Rail Authority says that its coffers would be bare. I hope that the Minister can give news of the progress in this area. I part company slightly with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who talked about legislation to overcome the planning obstacles. Some procedures are quite important and I would ask him to go easy in terms of planning.
The third factor is housing. London needs to build more than 26,000 homes a year, and the Olympic village must contribute to London's needs and offer suitable homes for Londoners.
Housing and transport are aspects of regeneration. We have heard about the benefits to East London, especially the lower Lee Valley, which would be substantial. Boosting London's capacity to do well is a boost for the whole country. The capital contributes some £20 billion to the national economy. The noble Lords, Lord Sheppard and Lord Paul, spoke with considerable authority on the point.
I suppose that one must ask whether the Olympics would make a difference to regeneration. Yes, I believe that they would. Conversely, would they be a disincentive to inward investment because of the disruption that would be caused for a short period? To my mind they would not be, provided that the transport was there. There would be some disruption during the 17 or so days while the games were taking place. But I heard that people in Sydney changed their working habits over the period, and that roads that were normally clogged were not clogged during the games. It could be the case that people stayed at home to watch or attended the games, but it worked.
There are security concerns too—about which the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, is well placed to speak—both within and around the Olympic zone. The Met is represented on the stakeholders' group. The cost must not fall on Londoners' pockets. It is a national responsibility; and a continuing thread in budgetary discussions about the cost of policing London is how much of that is undertaking national responsibilities.
Mention has been made of lottery funding. I share the view that the Olympics should not take away from existing sports funding. Is there scope to promote a special lottery? The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, made a valid point about the Government's role in applying funding critieria.
My final question is: what do athletes want? The athletes in this Chamber have not addressed that point directly. I was interested to see that, among others, the British Paralympic Association supports the bid because of the accessible facilities that would be provided. That, too, has a legacy element for those who are able to use the facilities afterwards. An opportunity would be offered for paralympic sports to gain "stability"—the term used by the association—and to demonstrate the diversity and to spread understanding of disability and of the sports. Integration with the rest of the games, as we saw recently in Manchester, is very significant.
We know of the fiascos of Wembley and Picketts Lock. But that does not mean that we must always fail. Politicians will recognise the disease "candidatitis"—confidence built on almost no evidence of likely success. In this case, I believe that we can be realistic, but at the same time say that we "can do".
My Lords, I join those who have congratulated my noble friend Lord Moynihan on being fortunate in the ballot, and on his speech in support of the Motion. This has been a fascinating debate and one worthy of this House. The speakers have not simply been sports enthusiasts. Our approach has been a team effort between the sports enthusiasts on the one hand, and those involved in local government or London on the other—namely, the noble Lords, Lord Harris, Lord Sheppard and Lord Paul, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.
I declare an interest as patron of Herne Hill Harriers and a member of the Achilles Club. That said, it might be felt that my qualifications to speak in this debate are either obsolescent or obsolete, because it is well over half a century since, as a member of the British athletics team, I marched around the stadium at Wembley in the 1948 Olympics. We have had many Olympiads since then. In the event, I did not compete because only four of the five people selected for the relay ran. I had to wait another four years before competing in Helsinki. That was the last of the small Olympics.
The Olympics have now grown to an enormous scale, which we must consider in debating the Motion. They have grown larger and larger. We have had a distinguished debate, with little discussion of the actual events. I find it difficult to believe that football is an appropriate event, but no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, would disagree. We need to retain certain events, particularly the modern pentathlon.
Several speakers realistically recognised some of the handicaps with regard to the Wembley Stadium saga, the Picketts Lock affair and even the Dome. I take my noble friend Lord Glentoran's point that the problem with the Dome was what was inside it. As he rightly said, nobody could doubt that, if the Olympics were staged in London, there would be enormous support from the public and more broadly. The success of Manchester shows how such an event can be handled. I hope that we will learn the lesson of retaining an athletics track in whatever stadium is built. Manchester did not manage to solve that problem. Generally, the Manchester experience is heartening. The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, said that we need to lift up our hearts.
Some noble Lords mentioned transport, which is a problem. Perhaps those involved in London affairs might stress to the Mayor that, in supporting the idea of the Olympics coming to London, we must do something about transport. I spoke last night to my daughter, who aspires to be on the dressage team in 2012. She said that dressage and other events might take place at the Royal Veterinary College, which has 500 acres at Potters Bar. It took her nearly three hours to travel from London to Potters Bar. We must be determined to beat the transport problem. I am sure that London can respond in that way. It is estimated that 150,000 people will travel to the stadium on the same morning, with 125,000 coming from, or through, London. We must solve that problem at an early stage.
Inevitably, there are risks, particularly in the heats and semi-finals. We must get through at an early stage. We must invest money in the bid before we know whether we have won. It is all very well to say that the important part of the Olympic Games is, "not the winning but the taking part". It is better to take that view after the event rather than before. I have the support of my noble friend Lord Glentoran. If we enter the contest, we must bid with a determination to reach the final. That requires government commitment, as was rightly pointed out.
In the analysis that has been put before us, it is interesting to note the suggestion that, even if one bids and fails, there are still very real advantages to be derived. Therefore, it should not deter us in any way from bidding if we believe that the odds are perhaps stacked against us. My noble friend Lord Monro, who, as a former Minister for Sport, has experience of this, pointed out that the bidding process in the past has not always been as transparent as it might be. Indeed, it will require a considerable degree of diplomacy, as well as determination. However, we need to make a fast start with our application, because, as has been said, time is running short.
I turn to the other important points that were made in the debate. In particular, although there are financial risks involved, we need to remember that there are also potential profits to be made. Over the years, the experience of different Olympic cities has been varied. But I believe that the analysis gives us reason to suppose that the kind of costs that are likely to be incurred are not disproportionate to the sort of benefits that should accrue, not least as regards infrastructure, social housing, the various sports facilities, and so on.
Moreover, when a city has the privilege of holding an Olympic Games, that special feeling seems to permeate through to the younger members of the community in a quite remarkable way. Indeed, mention has been made of the extraordinary way in which countries that are about to stage an Olympics suddenly seem to do better as far as concerns medals than they do on later occasions. So there is a huge uplift in morale, for want of a better word, as regards the ability and the enthusiasm of people both in school, and later. They are inspired by the performance of so-called "elite competitors", which was not an expression used in my day.
In addition, there is the whole regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley to consider. A number of speakers have stressed this particular point. Clearly, we shall face a number of competitors in the early stages of the bidding—from Paris, New York, Moscow, Rio, and so on. However, if the privilege goes to a European city in 2012, it will be a very long time indeed before London has another opportunity to bid because of the normal basis of rotation from one continent to another that the Olympic Committee seems to have developed as an approach to the problem. Therefore, it is particularly important that we put in a bid for the 2012 Olympics rather than leaving it to 2016, or whatever may be the case.
We have had an important debate this evening—one that gives cause for enthusiasm. We look forward with great interest to the Minister's response. The other place has already debated the subject. My honourable friend Mr Greenway, the shadow Minister for Sport, has very clearly said:
"A well-organised, viable London bid for the 2012 Olympics will naturally enjoy the support of the Conservative Party. We believe that, organised properly, it would lead to massive social, economic and other benefits for the whole of the UK".
My noble friend Lord Coe asked me before the debate how long noble Lords are allowed to speak during the gap. I referred the matter to the Clerk, and the answer was four minutes. Not surprisingly, my noble friend managed to complete the distance in slightly less time. However, he made an important point about the 1948 Olympic Games in London. It was a time of appalling austerity; the rationing system was still in operation. I remember receiving an extra pint of milk to help me in my training. Yet London wanted to continue the Olympic tradition when much of the rest of Europe, and countries elsewhere, were devastated. We really managed to respond to the challenge facing us at that time. I am quite sure that London is capable of responding to the challenge of a new Olympic bid. I hope that it will have the enthusiastic support of the Government and all parties that it rightly deserves.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, on securing today's debate. A possible London bid for the 2012 summer Olympic Games is rightly a subject of enormous topical interest. The noble Lord set out many of the key issues that need to be addressed, and I shall try to respond to all of them.
I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Higgins. We have had an interesting and high quality debate, if a unanimous one. I take away a clear message and I shall pass it on to the my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and my right honourable friend the Minister for Sport. Although I am not the Minister for Sport, I am interested in sport and have always participated in sport—at a very low level of course.
The Olympic Games, particularly over the past 20 years, have experienced unparalleled growth and universal popularity. It is the largest and the most successful sporting event in the world. More than 10,000 athletes now take part in the games from 200 countries in 28 sports.
To participate in the Olympic Games and Paralympics is the highest aspiration of most athletes, and winning a medal at the games would undoubtedly be the pinnacle of their careers. That was probably the experience, too, of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, who was part of the relay team in the Olympic Games last held in London in 1948 and in Helsinki in 1952. It was probably the experience of the noble Lords, Lord Moynihan, Lord Glentoran and Lord Coe. It is a great privilege for me to speak in a debate with four former members of our Olympic team, as well as two former Ministers for Sport.
We have also recently seen the wonderful success of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, as mentioned by a number of speakers, especially the noble Lord, Lord Coe. They were quite rightly recognised as a tremendous achievement for the city and an indication that the UK can organise major multi-sport events.
The Olympic Games attract millions of spectators to the host city and billions of television viewers world wide. They have a huge impact outside the sporting world. In fact, the global impact of the games is massive when it is considered that the cumulative TV audience doubled for the Sydney 2000 games to more than 20 billion viewers from 220 countries since the games were held in Seoul in 1988. I mention those statistics because I do not think that they have been referred to in this debate and they should be taken into account.
Britain regards itself as one of the major sporting nations in the world and it is only right that we should be seriously interested in staging major sporting events such as the Olympic Games. However, hosting that event in its current format is a substantial challenge for the host nation. The organisation of the many different events and hosting an Olympic family of up to 40,000, plus all the spectators, is a huge undertaking. It has serious financial implications, which were clearly pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Therefore, in assessing whether London should bid to host the games in 10 years—in 2012—we need to consider carefully the implications of holding the games and what will be their legacy long after the Olympic circus has left town.
This assessment started last year when a report by Arup on the cost and benefits of bidding for and staging the 2012 Olympic Games in London was jointly commissioned by my department, the GLA, the BOA and UK Sport.
The summary of the report was published in early November so that the issues involved could be in the public domain and therefore available for public discussion. The only reason that the whole report was not made available is that some of the information it contains is commercially sensitive and would, I think, give advantage to our potential competitors. The report covers in some detail issues and some of the projected costs of regeneration, transport, venues and facilities, accommodation and other matters. It also clearly recommends that the location of the games should be in east London, where there is enough available land for development of the games village and possibilities to enhance transport links.
The Government are currently involved in a careful analysis of the report and the possible impact of an Olympic Games in London. We have learnt from previous projects that such a full assessment and a full consultation with the major stakeholders is essential before any decision is made. Our decision will be guided by four principal considerations: affordability, deliverability, winnability and legacy. I should like to talk about them all.
From the lessons of other Olympic cities and also our experience with the Commonwealth Games, we know that it is extremely difficult to predict the final costs of staging such a major event. However, I assure the noble Lord, Lord Monro of Langholm, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that we are not trying to push up the predicted costs. What we are trying to do is ensure that we have truly realistic assessments. It is in no one's interest to have unrealistic assessments, as we could end up bidding and then not having enough money to do it properly.
Based on Arup's work, and allowing for inflation at 2.5 per cent, we estimate the overall cost of bidding for and staging the Olympic Games at nearly £3.6 billion, with associated revenues of £2.4 billion. In addition, the Government expect that there could be further costs for spectator and traffic management, security, improvements to the look of London, land acquisition and venues. Arup has now told my officials that it accepts that additional costs may well arise in these spheres. In particular, given the history of the games and the troubled times in which we live, noble Lords will not expect the Government to take any chances with security.
The Government must also consider possible areas of risk in the report. For example, we should allow for a realistic contingency on the staging costs; increased costs if the price comparison is with Australia, where prices are 80 per cent of those in the UK; and the risk that anticipated revenue streams might not materialise. Our preliminary, cautious view is that public subsidy of the games, even after the staging revenues received from the IOC from the sale of broadcasting rights and sponsorship might well exceed £2 billion. That is what we need to consider in our future public expenditure plans. No one would expect us to do that other than carefully.
Any subsidy, whether it is the Arup figure of just over £1 billion or our rather cautious view that it may be double that, needs to be justified to the taxpayer by the benefits that it brings. We are examining the possible gains to the public benefit and the wider economy. Some Olympic spending would be used to regenerate brownfield sites in the lower Lee Valley and the Stratford area of East London into sporting venues for athletics and swimming and the Olympic village.
The noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Didgemere, talked about east London. He is absolutely right in saying that there is considerable deprivation in east London and that the regeneration resulting from the games could bring a great boost to the area. My noble friend Lord Paul mentioned that the games could create 9,000 badly needed jobs for local residents in east London. Our assessment includes an evaluation of the employment benefits attributable to the games. For the Olympic Games to be of real value in the creation of employment for residents in that area, we must be sure that the jobs created are sustainable and long term and not just for a temporary period.
The Olympic Games have been and can be used for regeneration purposes, as at Barcelona, for example. But a regeneration strategy purely based on staging the Olympic Games will struggle to deliver what is required in the long term.
Our current regeneration strategy for east London is directed through the Thames Gateway. It is delivering benefits to an area which desperately requires development and an Olympic Games would need to be incorporated into this strategy rather than just driving it. We must not hinder or blight the regeneration that is already beginning.
I turn to transport. As well as a well-located site, the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, was absolutely right to recognise that an efficient transport infrastructure is essential for an Olympic Games to succeed. Our bid will be judged in part on that, so there is no point in glossing it over.
An opportunity to host the Olympic Games is seen by some as an opportunity to cut through bureaucracy and deliver a better transport system for London. However, they should also consider that the Government's initiatives for transport have allocated substantial sums already to improve transport in London. Under this plan national rail, the Underground, buses and other forms of transport will all be improved. I am confident about that.
My noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred to CrossRail. CrossRail could also deliver further benefits provided a satisfactory business case is demonstrated and the powers secured, but it is unlikely to be completed by 2012. We are considering how well transport would operate for the Games without CrossRail in place. It is important that if we host the Olympic Games it does not lead our transport strategy or our regeneration strategy. The Olympics may be an opportunity but we cannot rely on London winning the bid to achieve what is needed for London's infrastructure.
Although regeneration and transport are, of course, important aspects of hosting the Games, the Government consider the impact on sport as equally, if not more, significant and are therefore looking at the impact of the Games on their current and future sporting policy. One of the reasons for bidding for the Olympic Games in the past has been that they improve a nation's sporting success, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester mentioned. Evidence certainly shows that Olympic host countries increase their chances of winning medals. However, that is also a result of the increased investment in elite sport that is usually made by the host country in the lead up to the Games.
Since our performance at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, significant lottery investment has been made in our elite athletes through the World Class Performance Programme. That investment led to our best ever medal haul, in terms of gold medals won, at the Sydney Olympics, since the Antwerp Games in 1920. We are committed to supporting our very best athletes and to maintaining the level of funding which was provided in the build up to the Sydney Games to help our elite athletes' preparations for the Athens Olympics, whether or not we decide to bid for the 2012 Games.
This Government are also committed to ensuring that there is increased participation in sport generally. We know that sport can have an important impact on some of the problems associated with lack of exercise such as obesity and heart disease which, sadly, are beginning to affect even our children. Increasing participation requires a long-term strategy which we are developing through the Government's initiatives for school sports and club links. Major sporting events may help but are only one of the factors that encourage sporting participation. We need to ensure that our strategy in this area is developed and progressed irrespective of whether or not we win a possible bid. We should not let the Olympics divert us from that terribly important aim. There are also clear policies from some of the major national governing bodies for sport on the development of facilities. It is important that those should be taken into consideration in the assessment.
There are important legacy issues, as several noble Lords have mentioned, but we must take care that we do not over-invest in facilities that have no long-term use. Even successful games, such as Sydney in 2000 and Barcelona in 1992, have found the legacy to be costly. My right honourable friend the Minister for Sport recently visited Moscow and Munich, which were responsible for staging games in 1980 and 1972 respectively. In terms of legacy, Munich is regarded as providing the most successful facilities for the future use of its citizens. Those games were staged around a beautifully landscaped artificial lake, with the Olympic stadium in the park. Even those facilities, however, which are located with good access, cost the local authority between £4 million and £6 million a year to maintain. Stadium costs are also a problem to the local government in Moscow; it owns 50 per cent of the stadium, which still runs at a loss.
In the UK, we have learned from our experience of Wembley and Picketts Lock that our decisions should be based on long-term strategies and careful investment, not on short-term solutions. That is why we are carefully reviewing the facilities that Arup believes are required for a successful games. We are reviewing not only their use during the games but considering the plan for their use after the games. That is simply sensible long-term planning. We do not want what happened in Montreal, after the games in 1976, to happen here. That city constructed an unsustainable stadium, for which its citizens will still be paying until 2006.
Our assessment of all those aspects is important because, if we decide to bid, the IOC will evaluate our submissions based on some of the issues to which I and other noble Lords referred earlier. Our assessment also involves determining London's chances of winning the bid. It is not the bid that will go down in history, but winning it. London is one of the great cities in the world; it attracts millions of tourists every year, but that does not give us the right to assume that any bid would automatically be successful.
There are strong candidates in the field, as the noble Lord, Lord Monro of Langholm, rightly pointed out. New York has already announced its bid, with further bids likely from other major candidates such as Moscow, Budapest, Madrid or Seville, Paris, Toronto, a German city and Rio de Janeiro. It is therefore essential that we ensure that, if we decide to bid, our bid can be a winning one.
I agree with what my noble friend Lord Pendry and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said: any bid must be totally committed and absolutely whole hearted. I give my pledge this evening that if we do decide to bid, the bid will be whole hearted. A poor bid would mean not only the loss of any chance of hosting the games in 2012 but would harm our status as a sporting nation and make it difficult for Britain to win the rights to stage any future sporting event, such as football's World Cup or the World Athletics Championship. We should neither be complacent about the bid nor write a blank cheque. We will need to demonstrate that we can deliver what we offer.
The IOC will invite national Olympic committees to submit the name of their applicant city in May 2003. Therefore, we will have to decide whether to support the bid by the end of January 2003. I confirm to the noble Lords, Lord Moynihan and Lord Addington, that we will make a decision by then.
Our analysis of the feasibilty of delivering the games will be thorough, but it will not be determined only by assessing the Arup report. The views of the public are essential to the project. The games will have an impact not only on London but throughout the country, so it is only right that the public have an opportunity to comment. We will carry out an opinion poll in the early new year to gauge the views of the public. We shall meet regularly with all non-government stakeholders to ensure that their views are represented in coming to a decision. We welcome the views of Members of this House, including those given this evening.
As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, bidding for the Olympic Games is not to be taken lightly. It requires a clear and thorough assessment of all the issues involved in such a decision. That is why our decision on the bid will be based on a full assessment of what is best for sport, best for London and best for the country.
My Lords, I could not be more grateful to noble Lords who have participated in the debate. At the outset, I say that inadvertently I may have failed to declare my interests in sport inter alia as president of the British Biathlon Union and president of the Welsh Amateur Rowing Association. If I did, I apologise.
It would be invidious, with other noble Lords about to start another debate, for me to speak for more than 30 seconds, so I shall thank one or two noble Lords. First, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, whose conviction and commitment to the interests of sport—sportsmen and women—is second to none. I also thank my noble friend Lord Monro, who is a former Minister responsible for sport. I have never spoken with him in a debate on sport from the Front Bench or the Back Benches in nearly 20 years in both Houses, when he has not spoken wisely and with genuine emotion and insight. Collectively, I refer to my noble friends Lord Higgins, Lord Coe and Lord Glentoran for their sporting and political prowess, and to the Minister, who is always persuaded by logic and clear reason. The transport challenges will in part be alleviated by the fact that the games are likely to be held in the school summer holidays. It is important to consider the games in the context of the transport challenges. I leave that thought with noble Lords.
It is wise to conclude that the message going out from this House tonight is clear and unambiguous. Noble Lords on all sides of the House have spoken clearly and with one voice. Let us back the London bid. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.