Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 2:00 pm, 11th June 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We are moving at speed today. I would like to thank Catherine West, who led the Bill through Committee for the Opposition, and to wish her all the best in her new role. I would also like to thank all Members who sat on the Public Bill Committee and who have otherwise contributed to the Bill’s passage, including Mr Mahmood, Liam Byrne, the hon. Members for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Preet Kaur Gill) and for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe), my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell, my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Northfield (Gary Sambrook), for Dudley South (Mike Wood), for Dudley North (Marco Longhi), for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey), for Stourbridge (Suzanne Webb), for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon), for West Bromwich East (Nicola Richards) and for West Bromwich West (Shaun Bailey), and many more.

I would also like to thank all the games partners, including Birmingham City Council; the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Mayor, Andy Street; Transport for West Midlands; West Midlands police; and, of course, the organising committee itself. As a games partnership, they have provided excellent support during the passage of the Bill. As I am sure hon. Members would agree, they have been open and have engaged with Members right across the House.

My thanks also go to the officials, who have worked so hard on this Bill since its first introduction last year, and to my noble Friends Baroness Barran and Lord Ashton, for steering the Bill through the House of Lords in such a collaborative and accomplished fashion. I would also like to thank Members of this House and the House of Lords for their scrutiny and for the thoughtful and constructive contributions we have seen throughout the Bill’s passage. Indeed, we have seen many positive changes on the back of that scrutiny—for example, the organising committee is now required through this legislation to report on certain areas of games delivery, ensuring full transparency and accountability.

Now seems the right moment to reflect on the preparations for the Birmingham 2022 games, which have already had to overcome an unprecedented level of challenge and uncertainty. We started out with a truncated delivery timeline of four and a half years, rather than the usual seven for a full games cycle. We should not forget that the games were originally awarded to Durban, and it was not until the end of 2017 that Birmingham picked up the baton. Of course, the current pandemic has also brought its own set of challenges. However, despite that environment, great progress has been made to ensure that we are still set to deliver a fantastic games on time and on budget, delivering real benefits to those in the region and beyond.

As Members know, significant upheaval has been caused in the international sporting calendar because of the impact of covid-19, with many major competitions being postponed or cancelled altogether. Following collaborative discussions with the organisers of other major events, including the world athletics championships, I am pleased to confirm that the start of the games will move back by one day, with the opening ceremony now taking place on 28 July 2022. That change will ensure that there is a summer showcase of major events in 2022, and Birmingham 2022 will continue to get the exposure it deserves, as broadcasters showcase the games to over 1 billion people across the world. Further, the change will ensure that the opening ceremony of the games does not clash with any matches of the UEFA women’s European football championships, which were due to be held in England in 2021, but which have now been moved back to 2022—they are still in England, of course.

All of this will ensure that 2022 continues to be a fantastic year of celebration for our country and an opportunity to champion all that is great about this United Kingdom—a year where, alongside welcoming the world to Birmingham for the 22nd Commonwealth games, we will be celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee, marking the 100th anniversary of the BBC and staging a major nationwide festival showcasing our creativity and innovation.

I would also like to reflect on and celebrate those things that will make the Birmingham 2022 games unique. This will be the first time in history that a major multi-sport event features more women’s medal events than men’s, as well as featuring the largest integrated parasport event. We have seen the Birmingham 2022 organising committee publish the Commonwealth games’ first ever social values charter, helping to ensure that the important values discussed both here and in the House of Lords remain at the forefront of games delivery. Such values are those of accessibility and a lasting games legacy.

Earlier this week, the Birmingham 2022 organising committee formally announced the new Birmingham 2022 inclusive games standard, alongside its commitment to accessibility and inclusivity. It is hoped that the BIG standard, supporting the Birmingham games to be the “Games for Everyone” will become a blueprint for future editions of the Commonwealth games.

Turning to legacy, the importance of the games as a catalyst for the economic, cultural and social renewal of the west midlands is underscored now more than ever as we look to restore livelihoods and rebuild from the current situation. In 2020 alone, £145 million of organising committee contracts will be available for tender across a broad range of services, and the organising committee will see its workforce double. In recent weeks, it has held webinars with local chambers of commerce to promote these tenders, and it will continue to do so. All these opportunities are listed on the Birmingham 2022 website.