Amendment 1

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 9th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour 3:30 pm, 9th July 2019

My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 5, proposed by my noble friend Lord Rooker. We can look back at what happened at previous Commonwealth Games, both during the Games and thereafter when all the athletes had gone home, and we can draw various conclusions, but, however you describe it, inevitably with a Games of this sort an element of faith and optimism, and indeed speculation, is at the heart of a commitment of a city and a surrounding region to host the Games. I certainly welcome that, and it is welcomed across the political spectrum and, indeed, across the region.

I should say, “Well done”, to the local authority. There are sundry events being prepared, one of which is the Commonwealth Social in the heart of the city on 27 July, details of which I have with me should anyone wish to take a look. It is obviously part of a plan to make sure that people are increasingly aware of the Games and the benefits they bring—even though timings have been foreshortened, as my noble friend has already pointed out—so that everyone can be part of them.

At the heart of it all is not only the statement of faith, as I said, but the balance between central and local government. That is what I like about this amendment: the responsibility is shared. The Bill itself makes it pretty plain—although not as plain as we might have wished—that it is a shared responsibility: the costs will fall roughly 75% to central government and 25% to local government. It sounds like a bargain, but the money still has to be found, even if it is 25%. The figures I have seen—these are probably a bit inaccurate now—show that the total is £778 million, of which £594 million falls to central government and £184 million to Birmingham City Council and its “key partners”.

That is the balance of responsibility. The money has to be found and the legacy assured; otherwise, the whole balance of advantage in holding the Games is much diminished. Amendment 5 spells this out pretty clearly: the key responsibility is that of the Secretary of State, but in collaboration with the organising committee, and, as it says in Clause14(3)(b), the relevant local authority—or authorities; there are a number involved—for,

“an area that includes any place where the regulations would have effect”.

It seems a common-sense amendment. I hope the Government will support it, although I doubt they will like every detail of the wording. It seems consistent with the spirit of everyone involved in the Games and their preparation: this is a partnership and requires a prescribed legacy.