Lord Prescott has accused the government of exploiting cheap labour after unpaid workers bussed into London for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were left stranded in the middle of the night.

The former deputy prime minister said there had been a "complete disregard" for the conditions of the stewards who were forced to sleep in the cold under London Bridge in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Labour peer, who has urged ministers to investigate, warned that the incident could set the tone for the treatment of workers during the Olympics.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "It raises many questions on the provision of unpaid labour in these kind of positions, not only on the Jubilee event, but also particularly for the coming Olympic ones."

He said Home Secretary Theresa May should look at the conditions of employment by companies like Close Protection UK, who provided stewards during the weekend celebrations and are bidding for contracts during the Olympics.

On Tuesday Labour backbencher Kerry McCarthy told The Huffington Post UK that she wanted to "get to the bottom" of the story.

Pointing to the fact that companies have had a "long, long time" to prepare for these big events, she posed the question:

"Why did they not use people from London rather than bus in slave labour from outside? Is it an ideal thing to have people thrown in a the deep end for these big events?"

The unpaid labour were brought in as part of the Government's Work Programme, under which unemployed jobseekers must take up placements in order to continue receiving benefits.

"We're using unpaid labour in the kinds of positions that are causing great concern and may well be establishing the practice for the coming Olympics, which this company is involved in as well," Lord Prescott said.

"Not only was it under the bridge, but they were then sent to a camp which they described as 'swampy and wet' after this event, almost becoming a development of labour camps. Is this going to be the circumstances for the Olympic site?

"This is showing a complete disregard for the social conditions of cheap labour."

He questioned what conditions workers would be expected to put up with during the Olympics, adding: "What conditions will they be paying for, how will they be sleeping? Who is responsible? This government that exploits cheap labour."

According to reports, the jobseekers had to change into security gear in public and could not access a toilet for 24 hours.

After a 14-hour shift in the rain on Sunday - marshalling crowds who had turned up to watch the river pageant - they were then taken to a swamp-like campsite outside London, it is claimed.

Molly Prince, managing director of Close Protection UK, said the situation had been "exaggerated".

"We're talking about two or three people complaining out of 220 staff that were supplied to the event," she told Today.

"It was badly handled and for that we've extensively apologised. We're not in the business of exploiting free labour."

She said the stewards had been left under London Bridge after the bus arrived there two hours earlier than scheduled.

"There was an employee on the bus. That's an issue for myself to deal with internally and I don't agree with his decision to allow the deployment of these people into the bridge area," she added.

"They should have been left on the coach until the director arrived on site with the other staff members."

Ms Prince also insisted there was "dry sheltered accommodation" provided at the campsite and that the "logistical mistakes" from the weekend would be "learnt from in readiness for the Olympics".

Take a look at Tuesday's diamond jubilee pictures below

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  • (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry wave to the crowds from Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on the Mall on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team fly in formation over Buckingham Palace as The Royal family stand on the balcony on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry wave to the crowds from Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on the Mall on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • British police lead flag waving crowds lining the monarch's route from the Houses of Parliament to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALLJOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Royal Air force Red Arrow display team fly pass Buckingham Palace in London where Britain Queen Elizabeth II watches from the palace balcony as part of a four-day Diamond Jubilee celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels through Trafalgar Square, London with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on route to Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall in London.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a lunch at Westminster Hall in London with 700 guests on the final day of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel in a carriage to Buckingham Palace along The Mall, London.

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel in a carriage to Buckingham Palace along The Mall, London.

  • The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a lunch at Westminster Hall in London with 700 guests on the final day of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Westminster Hall after a Diamond Jubilee Luncheon given for The Queen by The Livery Companies of The City of London.

  • Members of the public gather along Whitehall to try and get a glimpse of the Queen on her way back to Buckingham Palace, London as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu attend a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • Princess Beatrice attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves next to the Dean of St. Paul's David Ison as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II walks down the staris next to the Dean of St. Paul's David Ison as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (Top C) and members of the Royal Family leave St Paul's Cathedral in London, following a service of thanksgiving on June 5, 2012, during the Queen's diamond jubilee. Queen Elizabeth II attended the final day of celebrations for her diamond jubilee Tuesday, but the pomp and splendour were marred by the absence of her husband Prince Philip after he was hospitalised. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Overall inside view taken as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (bottom) arrives at St Paul's Cathedral for National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (front R) and his wife Samantha Cameron (front L) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) and his wife Miriam Gonzales leave St Paul's Cathedral after a National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II holds a bouquet of flowers as she returns to Buckingham Palace after attending a National Service of Thanksgiving and a Lunch in honour of her Diamond Jubilee.

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, leave Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, following the Diamond Jubilee Lunch.

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, leave Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, following the Diamond Jubilee Lunch.

  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • Princess Beatrice (left) and Princess Eugenie leave following a service of thanksgiving, at Saint Paul's Cathedral, in central London. (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

  • Zara Phillips leaves following a service of thanksgiving, at Saint Paul's Cathedral, in central London. (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA )

  • Prime Minister David Cameron reads during the service of thanksgiving for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

  • Crowds watch as the royal motorcade passes along Parliament Street, in London. (Photo credit should read: Matthew Lloyd/PA Wire)

  • A service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II takes place at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/PA Wire)

  • Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha Cameron attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/PA Wire)

  • (left - right) Prime Minister David Cameron, chats with his wife Samantha Cameron, alongside Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and Foreign Secretary, William Hague and his wife Ffion Hague, as they attend a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in central London, as part of four days of celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Joel Ryan/PA Wire)

  • Labour leader Ed Miliband attends a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit should read: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire)

  • Princess Eugenie attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • Sophie, Countess of Wessex attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince Harry, arrive at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge, arrives at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, for the Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, during her Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Prime Minister David Cameron, Samantha Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II takes place at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire)

  • British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) and his wife Frances (L) arrive for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and his wife Ffion (R) arrive for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Prince William (L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) leave Saint Paul's Cathedral after a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) follows the Sword of State carried into St Paul's Cathedral for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)