Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:28 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Labour, Birmingham, Hodge Hill 2:28 pm, 11th June 2020

What a marvellous opportunity to follow a marvellous speech, which I felt hit almost all the right notes.

The Commonwealth games that we will host in Birmingham in the West Midlands will be the greatest Commonwealth games that the world has ever seen. It will be not only the most spectacular festival of Commonwealth sport, but a magnificent festival of our civic spirit—the civic spirit that helped to build our city in the 19th century and propelled our city to become the second city of this nation. I very much hope that the games will not be the last word in the renaissance of culture and sport in our region; they will be just a first step.

If there is one ideal that I hope we can put centre stage, it is the words that Jo Cox gave us: that we have more in common than anything which can ever divide us. I hope that will be the animating spirit of these games. As the youngest city in Europe, I hope we can use that ethos and ethic to act as an inspiration for a revolution in the youth work we have across our city. On Second Reading, I called for the creation of a young Commonwealth leaders’ programme, because, as a city of 160 different nationalities, we need to look to the next generation to help lead the business of bringing a diverse city together to live and play well. I hope we will find it in ourselves to put youth workers back in every ward, with safe spaces for our young people, to connect the inspiration of “more in common” to the great, animating festival of the Commonwealth games so that a young generation will work not only to bring our communities together but to strengthen the relationships in Birmingham and the west midlands with Commonwealth countries around the world. I am grateful to the high commissioners from around the Commonwealth who have begun to talk through that programme with me.

I hope that these games are the catalyst for a transformation of disability sports. As many people know, our city is home to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine: a place that, frankly, works miracles. I hope that in due course we can bring that centre together with the Commonwealth games team to create, in our green heart of Britain, the great new centre for the Invictus games for the years to come. That is a practical thing that we could do quickly and well.

I hope that these games are the catalyst for an extraordinary cultural renaissance in our part of the world. We are looking forward to an extraordinary decade with not just the city of culture in Coventry, starting most likely in June next year, but the Commonwealth games and then the arrival—when it is finally built—of High Speed 2. There could be an extraordinary transformation of the cityscape in our city region. As Mr Mitchell said, this is an optimistic moment and the Bill will give the decade an extraordinary kick-start.