Local Commonwealth Games levy

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am indeed, and I am very aware of the campaign that my right hon. Friend has been running to keep the police station open in the royal town.

Security will be key and we need to make sure that people feel safe. I have every confidence that our west midlands police officers will do that. They are, in my view, the best police force in the world, and I am proud of the work that they have done across our community to support cohesion and diversity and to keep our communities safe. I put on record my thanks to them.

I turn to my main point, which is about long-term opportunity, and that comes in the form of long-term investment. Many Members have made points about the crisis we find ourselves in and the economic crisis that we will go into. Liam Byrne said that we need about £3.2 billion of investment to deal with the jobs crisis. These Commonwealth games go some way towards doing that, but they are not a fix-all. However, their timing could not be better. We need to ensure that we have those long-term opportunities to battle the threat of long-term and increased unemployment, which will happen. My area and the communities that I represent —Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton—were absolutely decimated by unemployment last time. I do not want to see that happen again and I will be fighting to make sure that it does not.

The point about community is absolutely crucial. I am very proud to represent Tipton. Many Government and Opposition Members have heard me go on and on about the town. I love Tipton, mainly because it is an underdog. Many people often call Tipton the forgotten city and that makes me angry, because nowhere in this country should be forgotten, and why should Tipton? Why should the people of Tipton feel that they do not matter? People might think that it is a joke or that it is funny, but it is not, because those communities are crying out. When I stood in a school in Tipton and spoke to those students, I took a straw poll and said, “How many of you will come back here once you have done whatever qualification it is you decide to do?”, and 80% of those kids said that they will not come back. That is the reason why we need these games and the long-term investment and opportunities that come out of them. It is for those kids in that school, because they should feel proud of the town and community they come from, and they should feel that they will come back there and live their lives in that community.

The fact is that if we are going to enhance these opportunities, we need to ensure that we respect the fact that the urban west midlands in particular is a patchwork of individual socioeconomic areas. Yes, the games will be in Birmingham, but as many right hon. and hon. Members have said, we need to ensure that the benefits transfer across the urban west midlands, and I am proud of the fact that that will happen. As hon. Members have pointed out, we will have the aquatics centre in Smethwick, in the constituency of John Spellar, but if we think back to the long-term legacy, we need to look as well at encouraging innovation.

I have been really impressed by the engagement from the Commonwealth games team and the fact that it wants to secure local procurement and local jobs, but we need to tie that into ensuring that we get whatever residual investment comes out of that into Black Country innovation, because that is what makes the Black Country —things such as the Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury making personal protective equipment, and Q3 Academy in Tipton currently completely diversifying the way it teaches its students. It is about latching on to the core principle of ingenuity in the Black Country and that residual investment as it comes through over the years—not just in 2022, but in 2032 and 2042—and absolutely maximising it, so that Tipton is never forgotten again.

I will draw my remarks to a close, because I appreciate that I have been talking for some time and, as one of my predecessors said, sometimes it is better to be a bit quicker and leave them wanting more. We need to join this up; we need to ensure that the opportunity and investment that comes out of these games benefits the whole of west midlands, from Tipton to Tettenhall, from Perry Barr to Princes End, from Wolverhampton to Wednesbury and from Clitheroe to Burnt Tree—