The Olympics? What a waste of money, says Yorkshire Tory

Greg Knight MP
Greg Knight MP
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THE London Olympics were attacked for wasting public money in the Commons by a senior Yorkshire Tory.

Greg Knight, a former minister, was furious at reports that the cost could “balloon” to £12 billion and would do little to benefit his East Yorkshire seat.

Commons Leader Sir George Young insisted that the Games would be held within budget.

Sir George was also pressed on the resignation of an ethics watchdog over the link between the Bhopal disaster and Dow Chemical Company, which is backing the Olympic Stadium wrap.

The minister pointed out that Dow did not own Union Carbide, the firm which was responsible for the Bhopal factory in central India, at the time of the 1984 disaster.

Mr Knight asked Sir George: “Have you seen the report today that the cost of the London Olympics is likely to balloon from £2.3 billion to a sum in excess of £12 billion - a huge sum of money which is going to bring no benefit at all to many parts of the country, including East Yorkshire.

“When that flaming torch goes round the country, is it not the case that the fuel it will be burning is pounds sterling?”

Sir George said: “I think you will find that there are benefits spread broadly throughout the country, not least for much of the work that is now taking place.

“My understanding is that the Olympics will be held within budget and that the work is on time.

“So far as my constituents are concerned, there are no events being held immediately in North West Hampshire, but my constituents are broadly welcoming the London Olympics, they are something which they are proud this country is holding, they are glad the flame is going through North West Hampshire.

“I wonder whether you are accurately reflecting all the views of your constituents.”

Labour’s Barry Gardiner (Brent N) raised the resignation of Meredith Alexander from her post on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL), whose job is to assure sustainability across the Olympic and Paralympic programme. Ms Alexander stated that she no longer wanted “to be party to a defence of Dow Chemicals”.

Mr Gardiner said: “She resigned saying that it was in protest against the Commission being used to justify Locog’s (the London 2012 organisers) sponsorship deal with Dow Chemicals and she has made particular allegations about irregularities in the claim that there was a report by the Commission which she says 12 out of 13 of the commissioners knew nothing about.”

Sir George said Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had given the Government’s views on the issue when he appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

The Commons Leader added: “Dow did not own Union Carbide at the time of the tragedy and I don’t think there were good reasons... for taking the action that was taken.”