Lords debates London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

22 May 2012

Yesterday marked 100 days until the start of the Paralympics and the House of Lords discussed the success of the Olympic Park and the legacy of the games.

Baroness Garden of Frognal (Liberal Democrat) opened the debate by highlighting the three key events taking place this year the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Festival and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 'The greatest show on Earth is coming to the UK. London is making history by becoming the first ever city to host the modern games for a third time', she said.

With the arrival the of the Olympic flame over the weekend it continues to tour the UK and will come within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population. As a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) government spokesperson she gave the House an update on preparations including construction and planning, safety and security, transport, and the legacy of the games.

Lord Haskel (Labour) questioned the minister on why London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) enforced such strong branding guidelines that prevented a cafe from selling 'flaming torch bacon and egg baguettes' and a tie manufacturer from their product an 'Olympic tie'. He questioned if the government would 'allow British businesses to use the Olympics as a shop window for all the wonderful materials and products they have supplied - and also allow cafes to serve celebratory breakfasts?' Baroness Garden of Frognal replied: 'The contracts for suppliers permit specific mention of their involvement with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in particular cases, but it is for the major sponsors to have exclusivity over rights because without those we would not be able to put on the games as we wished.'

Lord Higgins (Conservative), a former member of the Olympic team in 1948 and 1952, spoke of his experience of the 1948 games where there was not any legislation or sponsorships. He recalled: 'The 1948 games took place a time of extreme austerity. I think that the amount of meat provided for one day for a member of the American visiting athletic team was roughly the same as that rationed to a family for a month. In preparing for those games, I remember not having a proper vest because we had run out of clothing coupons.'

Baroness Ford (Labour), chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, spoke of the 'phenomenal success' of east London's transformation from an industrial wasteland to a 500-acre Olympic park that will hold 'a legacy of homes, jobs, aspirations and improved life chances'.

Other speakers included Lord Bates (Conservative), who walked from Olympia in Greece to London's Westminster to raise awareness for the Olympic Truce and Baroness Doocey (Liberal Democrat), former chair of London Assembly's Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee in 2009-2010 overseeing preparations for the games.

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Image: PA

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