Olympic Games 2012: Opening Ceremony

– in the House of Lords at 3:03 pm on 17th October 2005.

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Photo of Lord Redesdale Lord Redesdale Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Trade & Industry 3:03 pm, 17th October 2005

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy on the performance of traditional singing and dancing, such as morris dancing, at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, plans for the content of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 have yet to be developed. However, I can assure the noble Lord that, in keeping with our approach to the games as a whole, we will wish to ensure that this reflects both the rich cultural heritage and contemporary diversity of our nation.

Photo of Lord Redesdale Lord Redesdale Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Trade & Industry

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. It is also fitting that morris men, who were the only group that the Government ensured were exempt from the Licensing Bill in 2003, and their like should be represented at the Olympics opening ceremony. Does the Minister know that there are 14,000 morris men and women around the country who are an integral part of this country's heritage? Indeed, it would be a slap in the face if the Government did not recognise their place, because 600 morris men got together in November 2003 to dance in praise of the Government for their efforts in making morris men exempt from the Licensing Bill.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, that tribute to the Government did not go unnoticed. Of course we expect that dance will form an important part of the opening and closing ceremonies. We have, after all, the example of the extraordinary way in which dance was employed by the Greeks at the Athens Olympics to create a wonderful opening ceremony, so we have at least one precedent. The noble Lord will recognise that as regards traditional dance, in addition to the morris men other parts of the United Kingdom, including the Scots, for example, have traditional dancing that everyone recognises is of high cultural value.

Photo of The Bishop of Chester The Bishop of Chester Bishop

My Lords, the Question also referred to traditional singing. Would it be a tribute to the cultural diversity of this country if the crowd were to sing "Abide with Me" before one of the occasions; or, if we wanted something more attuned to the Olympic Games, "Fight the Good Fight", which would at least refer to the boxing, which contains the verse,

"Run the straight race through God's good grace"?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, I am grateful for that additional suggestion for the plans for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. I do not think that the tunes have been chosen yet and this proposal could be taken on board. The right reverend Prelate will recognise that at least one of his suggestions—namely, "Abide with Me"—was associated with one unique event in the British calendar. I associate it with and would hope that it would always be sung at the Football Association cup final and not on other occasions.

Photo of Baroness Billingham Baroness Billingham Labour

My Lords, could I express a little concern about the Question? Like every other Member in the House I have received an invitation, first, to join the Parliamentary Choir; and secondly, to join tap-dancing classes. I have to ask—this is of great concern—is there some plan afoot to ensure that Members of this House are in some way to be coerced into the opening spectacular of the Olympic Games in 2012?

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

My Lords, I can reassure my noble friend that all that has happened is a long-overdue recognition of her outstanding talents.

Photo of Lord Redesdale Lord Redesdale Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Energy), Trade & Industry

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his helpful and positive reply. I hope that he will accept a delegation of the Squires of the Ring, Open Morris and the Morris Federation to discuss future plans that they can then take forward to present to the noble Lord, Lord Coe, who unfortunately is not in his place today.