International Organisations Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:05 pm on 16th December 2004.

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Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Shadow Minister (Sport), Home Affairs 12:05 pm, 16th December 2004

My Lords, I am grateful for the intervention, but as the noble Lord will have heard in my opening remarks, I am absolutely within the order of this Bill because it deals, as the noble Lord rightly pointed out, with "certain international organisations". All my remarks are focused on international organisations of sport that are based in the United Kingdom. They come within the definition of certain international organisations. In Committee, I shall seek to amend this Bill in line with the 1968 Act, which I have reviewed in detail, to ensure that "certain international organisations" also caters for the important international governing bodies of sport; not the national governing bodies, but the international governing bodies of sport.

That is why I am focusing exclusively this afternoon on the International Cricket Council. I am grateful to the noble Lord to allowing me to clarify that point, because clearly I have looked in detail as to whether it would be in order for me to come forward with amendments to this Bill. I have taken counsel to that effect, and I believe that it is wholly proper to widen the bodies that the Minister has rightly drawn to our attention to include international governing bodies of sport and international federations.

Why should international governing bodies of sport be of importance to your Lordships? Why is our international reputation in sport so important? First, in the UK we have been slow to recognise the potential that our sporting traditions, facilities, prowess and experience offer for enhancing our influence overseas. The world of sport is intensely political. Bidding to host international sporting events is a process steeped in politics. In order to win the right to host the Olympic Games, international, or world championship events, strong influence on the international sporting stage, particularly through high-quality representation on international sporting bodies, is essential. Sport offers a multitude of opportunities to enhance our international reputation both at home and abroad. At present, these opportunities are being wasted. Our influence on international sports forums is unacceptably low. From the Prime Minister down, the Government need to recognise the value of our sporting traditions, facilities, prowess, and experience to our overseas influence. After all, that is what this Bill seeks to protect in other forums of the international organisations that are based here. Clause 6 refers to an international organisation based in The Hague.

What is required, in addition to the amendments that I propose to bring forward, includes a government-backed, systematic international events policy. UK Sport has failed in that objective. It has focused too much on how many representatives we have, not on how effective and influential they are. Our most successful and influential representative is my noble friend Lord Coe, whose work on the International Amateur Athletics Federation is outside the career-planning structure of the United Kingdom. We need a new policy aimed at securing international events that will replace the world class events programme to support the bidding and staging costs of major events on home soil and to ensure that international federations are supported to stay in this country. If we provide them with support through this Bill, we will not only ensure that they can stay in this country, but I hope that we will be able to ensure that we bring additional international federations to this land.

We have a duty to enhance our international reputation through sport. This Bill provides us with that opportunity. It is appropriately drawn to allow us to move away from the list of specific organisations in the Bill to include additional international organisations. Accordingly, it is wholly proper that the Government urgently do what is required to keep the International Cricket Council at Lord's. It is wholly proper that the ICC remains in the spiritual home of cricket. The fact that it is about to leave Lord's is a tragedy in itself, but it is also part of a far broader issue. How can the Government claim to support the bid for the 2012 Olympics, and particularly the outstanding work of my noble friend Lord Coe and the 2012 committee, when they turn their back on the International Cricket Council and allow our influence on the world stage, which is what this Bill is about, to dwindle still further? I call on the Government to keep the International Cricket Council at Lord's and to publish a plan demonstrating how they intend to increase our international influence in sport. They can start by amending this Bill in Committee.