Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North 3:12 pm, 11th June 2020

It gives me great pleasure to follow my Dudley borough and Black Country colleagues. I thank the Minister and his team for their efforts to bring the Bill to this stage, and all Members on both sides of the House who have contributed.

Birmingham 2022 represents a fantastic opportunity to showcase the wonderfully diverse offer of Birmingham and the wider west midlands region. The inward investment of some £778 million is also a significant economic opportunity for the region. Birmingham is so often described as the beating heart of the west midlands. I think many people will understand that characterisation, and some possibly even accept it. However, I would not be doing my job if I did not point out that a heart can only function if its arteries are working. Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton must be integral to the functionality of that heart.

Places such as Dudley and my neighbours in the Black Country have suffered disproportionately from an industrial legacy and the effects of globalisation, with so many jobs offshored to China and other places. There are swathes of people who have quite simply been forgotten about over the past few decades. It is key that the games are used as a meaningful tool in a measurable way to level up, especially as we enter a post-covid-19 economic environment. We cannot allow the people of the Black Country to be forgotten any longer. The games provide an incredible opportunity to add an additional 41,000 jobs. My aspiration is that as many of those jobs as possible come to Dudley and the Black Country. That is what drives me in politics. We can stand here in this Chamber and offer platitudes and words of hope, but we have a chance to change lives and the benefits can be very real if we deliver.

The Black Country needs help, and it needed help before the onslaught of covid-19. I note with interest that Birmingham 2022 has established a legacy and benefits committee, and I very much look forward to having sight of a detailed legacy plan, which I hope will identify exactly how and by how much the whole region will benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The games cannot solve the complex generational problems I have spoken about, but it can provide a stepping stone for change, hope and recovery if opportunities are intelligently targeted to the right people. The Bill has my wholehearted support because, through the financial assistance to the organising committee, it enables the delivery of a great games—a games that could leave a transformational legacy for the rest of the region.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.