Amendment 1

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4:15 pm, 9th July 2019

Obviously, I cannot commit to what future Governments will do. I can say only that, as far as we are concerned, we will be available. It is standard practice for Ministers to be available to Peers, both formally at Questions and debates in the House but also informally; it is normal for any Minister to address questions from noble Lords. Certainly, I do not foresee any change in my department’s attitude, and we have a good reputation for dealing with all noble Lords, particularly on Bills.

On the management agreement, the Secretary of State’s priorities in that agreement, which everyone signed up to, are to deliver a Games which inspire and support the delivery of positive, long-term, sustainable legacies, locally, regionally and nationally. That is the basis on which the organising committee is approaching its task.

Of course, noble Lords are absolutely right that in delivering this major sporting event, we are looking to maximise the benefits for the city, as well as the region, the country and the wider Commonwealth. I absolutely agree with the implication behind many noble Lords’ speeches that sport can and should be a power for lasting good. However, I also noted the caution from my noble friend Lord Coe that that presupposes a good actual Games. That is very important, and we bear it in mind.

The amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, would provide for the Secretary of State to direct the organising committee and precisely how that powerful good should be harnessed by requiring it to publish a legacy plan in relation to specific areas. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide more information to noble Lords about the legacy planning under way.

We all agree that the Games are about more than just 11 days of sport. They will leave a transformative physical legacy for the West Midlands. I will not go into that in great detail, but there will be not least the Games village, with 1,400 new homes in Perry Barr. I took on board what the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said about that. It is more than a series of living units; it must be a community as well. With that in mind, Birmingham City Council has already established a group for local residents in Perry Barr, which is meeting both the organising committee and the council regularly. As mentioned, throughout July, Birmingham 2022 is inviting residents from across the region to share their hopes and ambitions for the Games in a community project called Common Ground. This will culminate, as the right reverend Prelate said, in “three years to go” celebrations in Centenary Square on Saturday 27 July.

Turning to the amendment on the proportion of affordable housing, this is a matter for Birmingham City Council, which is responsible for the delivery. It has confirmed that about 24% of the total number of homes will be affordable housing. This proportion has been derived as part of financial planning for the project, which has been agreed and finalised by the council as part of a bigger long-term project of 5,000 homes. To an extent, this is outside the Games budget itself, although it receives government funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. As I set out in my letter to the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, a copy of which I put in the Library, representatives of Birmingham City Council would be happy to brief noble Lords on this matter.

The Games will also bring a new aquatics centre to Sandwell and the Alexander Stadium will be significantly refurbished, with increased capacity, providing an excellent administrative base for UK and England athletics. The Games are also accelerating transport infrastructure improvements, all linked with new housing and the Games village, including new Sprint rapid bus routes and upgrading two stations, all of which will leave a significant physical legacy.

Noble Lords have referred to other areas in their amendments. To these, I add as things to consider, potential benefits to trade, business, tourism, volunteering, culture and education and new jobs and skills. Let me provide updates on some of those areas. For example, by Games time, more than 45,000 jobs—staff, contractors and volunteers—will be created. The organising committee has already held eight events to discuss business opportunities with local companies. Birmingham Solihull is benefiting already from £10 million of Sport England investment, separate from the Games budget, aimed at tackling inactivity levels in underrepresented groups. Of course, I hope that the Games will be a catalyst for more physical activity.

The organising committee is also developing a Games-wide sustainability plan. However, maximising the long-term benefits of the Games is not a matter for the organising committee alone: it is a shared responsibility across the Games partnership. I reassure noble Lords that Games partners are already working collaboratively and therefore suggest that placing a requirement for a published legacy plan solely on the organising committee fails to recognise the shared nature of legacy realisation. In fact, to ensure a cohesive and integrated approach to legacy, a cross-partner legacy committee has been established within the Games governance structures.

I agree wholeheartedly with noble Lords’ recognition of the importance of local consultation, which is undoubtedly critical. The Games partners are talking to a vast range of local, regional and national stakeholders. The organising committee has just launched a series of community events across the West Midlands, giving a voice to their hopes and ambitions for the Games, so that this can inform its work. We will continue to consult this House as the plans develop. I know that John Crabtree, chair of the organising committee, is very willing to continue to meet noble Lords to discuss progress.

Amendment 11 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, would require the organising committee and the Secretary of State to have “due regard” to the UN sustainable development goals. The amendment highlights that many of them align with the powerful vision of the Commonwealth Games Federation: to build peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally. Therefore, through the role that the CGF plays in the collaborative legacy development, due regard is already being given to its vision and, in turn, to the sustainable development goals. It is not just the organising committee or the Secretary of State that must pay regard to the goals. The hosting requirements set by the federation require all Games partners to deliver the event in a manner that embraces sustainable development, and the federation holds them to account for this in regular co-ordination commissions. I do not disagree with the noble Lord on the contribution that sport can make to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Nor do I disagree that human rights and anti-corruption protections should be a key consideration in Games delivery, as indicated in my noble friend Lord Moynihan’s amendment directing the organising committee to prepare a social charter for the Games. However, as custodian of the Games, again, it is for the Commonwealth Games Federation to ensure that due regard is given to human rights and anti-corruption protections by feeding this into delivery plans from Games to Games. I should say that it has been at the forefront of a new push for a rights-based approach to sport. On Commonwealth Day 2016, the CGF began a process to strengthen the human rights due diligence capacity of the host cities of the next four Games. It launched a human rights policy in October 2017 and a guide to human rights and sports governance in March 2018, developed with UNICEF, the Mega-Sporting Events Platform for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

The Commonwealth Games Federation, the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport and the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions are working to develop an approach on human rights in sport, which is expected to be considered at the next meeting of sports Ministers in 2020. However, the CGF’s process for selecting a host city for the 2022 Games included a requirement that the host city uphold standards on sustainability, human rights and labour laws. The UK has committed to observing relevant national and international laws on these issues. I hope that provides some assurance. I assure noble Lords that the organising committee is working with the Commonwealth Games Federation to create a human rights policy for Birmingham 2022.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, and my noble friend Lord Coe made the point that the Bill’s purpose is to introduce a small number of operational measures necessary to deliver the Games. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the areas raised by noble Lords’ amendments, but I must be clear: I do not consider these matters for primary legislation. The Games will be delivered in a much shorter timescale of four and a half years—we now have three to go—rather than the typical seven. We must be balanced about requirements to publish plans and charters, given the need to ensure that the organising committee and Games partners can deliver at pace to meet the immovable hosting deadline.

I mentioned the management agreement and the number of reporting requirements already placed on the organising committee, providing an opportunity to scrutinise its activity; that includes the ALB’s annual report. However, that is not to say that I will not reflect on the debate and the House’s clear desire to be kept informed and consulted on legacy planning. I hope that noble Lords are reassured that such legacy planning will continue to benefit from the input of stakeholders, including the Commonwealth Games Federation and other international organisations; that it is being developed in a co-ordinated way across the Games partnership; and that we are willing to discuss progress at any stage. I therefore ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment at this time.

Finally, I shall address the technicalities of the provision in Clause 1. I do not agree that an explicit reference to legacy should be added to the financial assistance provision in Clause 1. In my opinion it is unnecessary, because Clause 1 already provides that the Government can fund the organising committee in relation to legacy activities under the spending power. The language of the provision—“arising from”—is intended to capture just this: the activity that continues after the last medal has been won. The Bill is not explicit about every activity or work stream the organising committee will undertake, but it does not follow that those activities will not be taken forward, so I beg to move that noble Lords withdraw their amendments to Clause 1.