§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
I should first like to congratulate my honourable friend the Member for Macclesfield, Mr. Nicholas Winterton, on having taken up this Bill and got it through the House of Commons in very quick time and brought it before your Lordships' House. I am honoured to have been asked by the British Olympic Association and my honourable friend to pilot this Bill through the House. I admit that my honourable friend and I do not agree on every item of policy; but on this matter we are as one.
The Bill simply seeks to protect the Olympic symbol, the Olympic motto and the Olympic words from unauthorised commercial exploitation. Clause 1(1) creates a new statutory right called the Olympics association right. The Bill will enable the Secretary of State to grant the British Olympic Association an exclusive licence to exploit the Olympics association right commercially, thus giving statutory force to the common law rights of the British Olympic Association. The BOA, as the national olympic committee, is responsible for all aspects of the British team at the Olympic Games, such as organising transport and providing the necessary kit and back-up support. This is an increasingly expensive exercise. However, the BOA's role is now much wider than this, since it also provides extensive services to potential British competitors of all Olympic sports over the whole four-year period between games. (I remind your Lordships that the next games will be held in Atlanta in the United States next year). These are all aimed at ensuring that the team is as well prepared as possible for international competition.
1639 The standards of such competition increase all the time, and this puts added pressure on the need for resources. The services that the BOA provides are acknowledged by the governing bodies to be vital for our top competitors. The BOA receives no government funds. All the money that it is able to raise is spent on supporting the team and providing services to British sport. It is a self-help, stand alone organisation whose ability to provide and maintain existing levels of service to competitors depends largely on its capability to raise sponsorship.
If we are to maintain and improve British international performances through expenditure of the commercial income available through Olympic sponsorship, statutory protection from unauthorised commercial exploitation is vital. Such protection will give sponsors the comfort of knowing that they have a legally protected right and make control of any unauthorised use easier. It is an unfortunate fact that such unauthorised use has become increasingly prevalent, reflecting the perceived value of a commercial association with the Olympic movement. This poses a serious threat to the BOA's fund-raising ability and to the flow of necessary funds for British sport. An example of such unauthorised use is where a company, in competition with a BOA sponsor, seeks to promote sales of its products or services using either the Olympic symbol or words without authority. This has a number of effects: it damages the effectiveness of the BOA sponsor's official promotion; it exposes the BOA to possible legal action by that sponsor; the BOA incurs the cost of taking action against the unauthorised user; it damages the ability of the BOA to attract new sponsors; and devalues the rights which the BOA can offer to future sponsors. A number of examples of that have occurred over the years.
The Bill contains a number of savings which provide that certain uses of the Olympic symbols and words are not infringements of the Olympics association right. The intention is to allow existing legitimate and honest uses to continue; in other words, those uses which do not exploit an association with the Olympic movement or mislead the public into thinking that the user is authorised to use the symbol or words. These savings are not intended to give unscrupulous companies or traders a way to avoid infringing the Olympics association right while benefiting from a dishonest or unauthorised association. The United Kingdom is one of the very few countries that does not already give statutory protection to the Olympic symbols. Since the BOA is also one of the few national Olympic committees not to receive any government funds, potential British competitors currently operate at a significant disadvantage compared with competitors from other countries with whom they have to compete.
The Bill has no negative revenue implications for the Treasury and is neither complicated nor controversial. It has cross-party support, as evidenced by the sponsors in the other place, who include: the honourable Member for Stalybridge and Hyde, Mr. Tom Pendry, the Official Opposition spokesman on sport; the right honourable Member for Manchester Gorton, Mr. Gerald Kaufman, 1640 chairman of the Select Committee on National Heritage; and the honourable Member for Fife North-East, Mr. Menzies Campbell, for the Liberal Democrats, who himself is a former distinguished Olympic athlete. I shall not go through the rest of the sponsors in the other place, who are many, because I do not wish to disappoint any of them. I just mention those three to give an indication of the cross-party support for this Bill.
I am glad to say that the Bill also has the support of the Department of National Heritage and the unanimous support of the sporting community. The Bill will improve the BOA's ability to support and improve our potential Olympic competitors and ensure that the money raised from Olympic sponsorship is spent in the way that it should be; namely, on sport and present and future British competitors. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time—(Lord Brabazon of Tara.)
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I should like to apologise for the absence of my noble friend Lord Donoughue. He simply asks me to say on his behalf that the Bill has his warmest support and he wishes it well.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, this is one of those happy occasions when the entire House can unite behind something. A Bill of this nature is probably long overdue. I believe that the only thing to be said which perhaps strikes a sour note here is that this Bill should have been on the statute book at the time of the last Olympics, or perhaps the Olympics before that. Having said that, at least it has arrived for the next games. As a result, something as important as the Olympic Games, as a symbol of unity and sporting excellence, should receive any financial reward to be gained from its unique symbols.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare
My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Brabazon on presenting this Bill to your Lordships. Like him, I agree that it is an important Bill. Of course, it will delight both sides that it entails no expense at all.
I believe it is worth telling the House the significance of this Bill to all athletes. Children are great spenders when it comes to shoes, tracksuits, ties or any form of equipment. They love to have the latest sophisticated signs. They love to tell you that they represent Arsenal, Chelsea or (in my case) Bristol Rovers. But the five circles are more important than any individual team. Children look upon them as the absolute peak of achievement. While no one has been breaking the law, in the past people have taken advantage of the symbol and brought out their own tracksuits, T-shirts and shoes. They have called them Olympic shoes, Olympic tracksuits or Olympiad, which is one of the many words that your Lordships see in the Bill.
The money that goes on those (shall we call them rogue products?) is a large sum. The BOA is merely asking—it is doing no more—as I understand it that it alone has the privilege of using those five circles. The 1641 Government, represented by my noble friend the Minister, should be leaping up and down with delight, because that man sitting smiling away on the Front Bench has never given us a penny. He has come here this evening, which is very kind of him. He will no doubt be late for dinner as a result. But he has never given the BOA one cent. What is more, we have brought in the Bill to ensure that he never will give us one cent—not a penny. Our purpose is to ensure that every penny gained by the Olympic symbol in any form will go to those athletes who require help.
§ Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare
My Lords, I try to avoid advertising, but I am grateful to the noble Lord.
I hope that noble Lords will realise that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure that from whatever is produced with this symbol on it, every penny gained will go to the BOA. As my noble friend said, that money will ensure that our athletes have as good a chance as the Americans or the Russians; that that money is spent on them and does not get into commercial hands. That is what the Bill is about.
It may interest noble Lords to know the figures. The BOA has worked out that it received only one-third of the revenue it could have received if the Bill had been enacted previously. The Bill is important to everyone.
My noble friend Lord Brabazon mentioned Mr. Tom Pendry. It is nice that the Bill is an all-party measure. I do not believe we shall find anyone who does not want it to shoot through the House. But I took the opportunity to speak to the Opposition spokesman in the Corridor. I asked him, "Is there anything in the Bill that worries you? Do you want anything discussed or changed?". "No", he said, "Get it through". So we know exactly where the Opposition stand on the Bill.
My noble friend was rather casual about one or two of the sponsors, not least Mr. Menzies Campbell who represents the Liberal Democrats. I feel it my duty, and nothing less, to remind my noble friend that Mr. Menzies Campbell was captain of the Great Britain athletics team when I had the privilege of running in it. I still call him sir. He also has instructed me to come here today to ensure that the Bill goes through. I wish to ensure that not one of your Lordships will present any opposition.
I come finally to the Bill's sponsor in the other place. I refer to Mr. Nicholas Winterton. I should like to place on record, with my noble friend the Minister present, how nice it is at last to find something upon which he and I can agree. There is not just all-party agreement on the Bill: we have all-rebels-of-every-form agreement. I can see nothing for my noble friend the Minister to do except to say, "We will get it through as fast as possible". In return, we will say to my noble friend, "We shall not be requiring any money". I thank noble Lords.
§ 7.14 p.m.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor)
1642 My Lords, I am delighted to speak tonight in support of this Bill which has been so effectively introduced by my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara.
As my noble friend made clear, the Bill has the support of the Department of National Heritage. The Government first made a commitment to legislation to protect the rights to commercial exploitation of the Olympic symbols, motto and associated words—"Olympic", "Olympian" and "Olympiad"—as part of their support for the bid made by Manchester to host the Year 2000 Olympic Games.
That was a short-term reason for our support. Despite Manchester's sad failure, which we all regret, a longer term reason for pursuing the legislation remains, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said. That is that British Olympic sport will stand to gain significantly from a measure which will improve the ability of the British Olympic Association to support Olympic competitors and ensure that money raised from Olympic sponsorship is available to be invested in sport and on the support and preparation of British Olympic competitors.
We may wish to put forward a further Olympic bid for the future. The Sports Council is working with representatives of the BOA, local authority associations and other interested parties to develop a strategy to encourage more major sporting events to this country and to ensure that our major cities are well placed to host them. In that regard, the advent of the National Lottery offers the scope for providing a sporting infrastructure of world-class quality. The legislation is a necessary prerequisite of any successful Olympic bid for the future.
Leaving aside a home-grown games, we need to ensure that our athletes are as well prepared as possible for the forthcoming Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta and in the year 2000 in Sydney. As I have said, the extra funding derived from the marketing rights to the Olympic symbols and the associated words in this country which the Bill would bring would enable the BOA, which depends entirely on the private sector for funding, as my noble friend Lord Archer explained so well, to develop further sporting excellence in Britain and help ensure the continuing success of our participants in the games.
I am aware that concerns were expressed in another place about the effect which the Bill may have on the ability of small businesses to continue to trade under names which contain the protected Olympic words. The Bill already provides some important safeguards. Business uses of the symbol, motto and protected Olympic words which are already in existence when the Bill comes into force as an Act would be fully protected. That is made clear in Clause 4(9), and Clause 49(10) puts beyond doubt the use of the protected words as part of an existing company or business name.
However, concerns have been expressed about the position of small businesses which may be created after the Act comes into force, particularly if the use of the associated words could be said to imply an association with the Olympic Games or with Olympic qualities such as speed or excellence. Possible examples could be companies which might choose to register themselves as, for example, Olympic Bus, Cars and Electronics.
1643 Without knowing more about the circumstances of such companies, I imagine that the association created by that use could well be with qualities of speed, power and efficiency associated with the Olympic Games and there could therefore be an infringement under the Act.
My right honourable friend in another place agreed to consider those concerns and we intend to bring forward an amendment to the Bill which would enable the Secretary of State, by order, to provide that a specified category of uses of the protected words should not constitute an infringement of the rights in the Bill.
§ Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare
My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend for intervening. I shall be interested to read the amendment when it comes before the House. Will he be kind enough to confirm that there will be no conditions under which the five circles can be used by anyone other than the BOA?
My Lords, my noble friend makes an important point. We do not yet have an amendment. We are looking at the concerns that were raised in another place. I shall take his point on board.
We want to ensure that a small company which is unaware of the Act, as many small businesses may be, and trades, for example, as Olympic Flowers, or some such name, which is obviously not something which will compete with the laudable intentions of raising money for Olympic athletes and protecting Olympic symbols, would not necessarily be caught. That is why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is looking very closely at the possibility of bringing forward an amendment.
Perhaps I may explain that such a power might allow the Secretary of State to permit uses for the purpose of a certain class of businesses such as small restaurants, or for specified trade uses for the purposes of an undertaking; for example, use in a campaign against an Olympic Games or drug taking in an Olympic sport. I am confident that such an arrangement would go very far in ensuring the further protection of small businesses and other reasonable uses of the Olympic words which I am sure we all wish to secure.
We are also concerned to ensure that the Bill goes as far as possible to protect the rights which we propose should be vested in the British Olympic Association. That is why we are considering a second amendment to Clause 4(1) (b) of the Bill to ensure that any use of a literary or artistic work in relation to other goods and services—for example, the production of T-shirts which, as my noble friend said, is a most important market, or tracksuits—infringes the Olympic Association right. It is already the intention on the face of the Bill that the Olympic Association right is infringed if such works are reproduced for the purpose of advertising or promoting goods or services. By extension, it is surely the intention of Parliament that the promotion of goods and services includes any sale by reference to the Olympic symbol, motto or protected words. In the interests of maximum exploitation of the commercial rights for the BOA, we are concerned to put that beyond doubt and are, therefore, considering the scope for such an amendment. The BOA supports the thrust of that amendment.
1644 The Government are fully behind the Bill. Our concern in considering amendments is to be sure that interests which need to be protected are protected and that the British Olympic Association is given the maximum benefit from the legislation, which ultimately must mean the maximum benefit for British sport. I am very glad to welcome the Bill this evening.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Graham of Edmonton and Lord Addington, for their support. I am especially grateful to my noble friend Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare who made a striking speech on the matter. However, I should add that there was no need for him to dress up for the occasion. Nevertheless, the fact that my noble friend chose to do so shows the importance of the Bill.
§ Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting my noble friend; but it is important that noble Lords should realise that it is not the "night job" that I am going on to. In fact, I shall be addressing the Vauxhall Conservative Association which only needs a swing of 38 per cent. to remove the Labour majority. That is what I shall be doing this evening.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that explanation. However, it is still nice for the passage of the Bill that my noble friend is so dressed. He described the situation extremely well. I should also pay tribute to him for all the campaigning that he has done in the past to get the Bill to its present stage.
I am also grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his remarks about the Bill. Obviously, I am slightly disappointed that there will have to be some amendments made to it. I can understand the reasons for them. However, my understanding, so far as concerns small companies, is that if, for example, you are a small company and you call yourself, "Olympic Pizzas", or something like that, that would be fine: but if you call yourself, "Olympic Pizzas, as used by British Olympic Athletes" you would be caught. I believe that that is quite right and proper.
I ask my noble friend for one assurance. The fact that amendments are to be made to the Bill means that we will have a Committee stage, a Report stage and a Third Reading in this House and then the legislation will have to go back to the other place. I only ask my noble friend to give us an assurance that the Government will find time for consideration of the Bill in another place so that it will get on to the statute book as quickly as possible.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until fifteen minutes before eight o'clock.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended from 7.24 until 7.45 p.m.]