John Whittingdale with Members of the House of Commons Select Committee on a recent visit to the Olympic Park.

It is now nearly seven years since the day on which it was declared that London would be the host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and I suspect that almost everyone will remember where they were and their reaction when the news was announced.

It was undoubtedly fantastic news for Britain, and it was rightly celebrated, but I think that quite a lot of us also thought, “Oh dear, what do we do next?” One of the things that the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which I chair, decided to do was to hold regular sessions to monitor and scrutinise the work being done to prepare for the greatest sporting event that this country has held. Over the past seven years we have held annual sessions with the chairmen and chief executives of the Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport—first Tessa Jowell and now my right hon. Friend Mr Hunt.

It is worth observing at this point that one of the striking things about the policy towards and preparation for the Olympics is that not only did London’s bid enjoy cross-party support from the start, but in all the time since it was announced as the host city, despite occasional, small differences across the Chamber, which were inevitable, in the main both parties have worked well together. Certainly, I believe that my party did what it could to support the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood when she was Secretary of State, and since then she has worked with us to ensure that the preparations go ahead smoothly and are not marred by partisanship or political point scoring.

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The Rio carnival came to the Houses of Parliament as part of WWF’s Earth Hour 2012  

John Whittingdale MP committed to switch off the lights for WWF’s Earth Hour 2012 and to supporting the environment summit in Rio. WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that has become a global phenomenon, with hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights on March 31 at 8.30pm to show they want to create a brighter future for the planet. Last year 135 countries, hundreds of millions of people and famous landmarks from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace in London to the India Gate in New Delhi took part in WWF’s Earth Hour.

The global event comes only a few weeks before another vital appointment for the 2012 environment calendar. In June, the Brazilian city famous in the world for its beautiful carnival will host the environment summit and MP is already showing support by signing up to WWF’s Earth Hour. The Rio summit is a crucial moment for world leaders to discuss vital themes for the future, such as sustainable food, water and energy, and also assess what progress has been made since the first summit twenty years ago.

Colin Butfield, WWF’s head of campaigns said: ‘Earth Hour is not about saving an hour’s electricity. It’s something much bigger. It’s about people coming together to put the focus on this brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day.’ “This year’s Rio conference is a fundamental moment for world leaders to commit to doing something tangible about the planet and taking part in Earth Hour is a small but important step that everyone can take on the 31st of March” 

John Whittingdale MP said, “I encourage people in to sign up and do something special during Earth Hour: from simply reading a book with your children, to a candlelit dinner party, everyone can show that they care for the environment”. For more information on WWF’s Earth Hour, please visit www.earthhour.wwf.org.uk 

 John Whittingdale meets the Cod Crusaders in Fraserburgh.

Pictured are: David Davidson MSP, Mrs Morag Ritchie (Cod Crusaders), Ted Brocklebank MSP, Mrs Carole MacDonald (Cod Crusaders) John Whittingdale, Peter Duncan (Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland), Owen Paterson MP (Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries).

John Whittingdale visits Brixham harbour to meet local fishermen and representatives of the industry.

Pictured are: Jim Portus (Chief Executive of South Western Fish Producers Organisation) Sir Simon Day (Fisheries spokesman, Committee of the Regions of the European Union), John Whittingdale, Neil Parish MEP, Conservative Agriculture and Fisheries Spokesman in the European Parliament and Mrs Sheryll Murray, former Chairman of the SWFPO.