Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative, West Bromwich West 2:52 pm, 11th June 2020

This is a debate of many firsts. It is the first I have sat in with my friend and neighbour Nicola Richards and to which here we have both contributed, and it is probably the first in which three of the four Members from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough area have been on the Government Benches at the same time. It is also the first debate in which I have found myself agreeing with Liam Byrne. His speech hit most of the points. I do not agree with him on most things, but in fairness it was a very good speech, so I thank him for that.

It is not often that I come to a Third Reading debate so excitable—and no, it is not just because you are in the Chair, Mr Deputy Speaker, or because I get to head back to Tipton soon. It is fantastic to talk about what is at the core of this debate: opportunity. That has been highlighted by all the speakers so far. Areas and communities such as mine are crying out for this opportunity to grow and invest.

My hon. Friend Nicola Richards was right when she said that nearly 1.5 million people would be visiting the west midlands during the games. This is our time to shine. That point was echoed by Steve McCabe, who put it very eloquently. The influx of visitors to the west midlands will put it back on the map. Our Mayor, Andy Street, has been advocating at every level to ensure that the west midlands has its voice heard during the games.

The urban west midlands is made up of some of the most diverse and unique communities in the whole country. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East and other Members who represent the West Midlands Combined Authority area would agree that what works in one part of the west midlands, particularly in our borough of Sandwell, might not work in another—go half an hour down the road and suggest it and you will get some raised eyebrows. Indeed, what works in West Brom might not get looked at the same way in Tipton, but that is the joy of our area—that diversity, that coming forward with views, that straight talking is what makes me so proud to be a west midlands and black country MP.

Before I turn to my main comments, I want to make a more sober point about security. As we saw last week, our police are heroes; we cannot deny that. What they put up with last week was abhorrent. It was disgusting, and I want to put it on record that all police officers in this country are unsung heroes, and they deserve our praise and support.

We need to make sure that visitors to the games feel supported and safe and that they can come here without fear of crime. I have talked a lot in this Chamber about the effect that crime has had on my communities in west Sandwell, and nowhere more so than in Tipton, which is set to lose its police station this summer. I must reiterate my utter opposition to that move. It undermines the safety of our communities and, I am sorry, but when the police and crime commissioner can spend £38 million on his ivory tower at Lloyd House but cannot save the police station in one of my most vulnerable communities, that is absolutely out of order. It shows a complete lack of priorities from the administration there.