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Amendment 4

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Labour 5:00 pm, 9th July 2019

My Lords, I beg to move the revised Amendment 4, which, as the Chairman has said, is on a separate sheet. There is a modest change from the original draft, plus my name is now against this amendment because of my noble friend Lord Hunt’s absence.

The amendment raises the issue of a levy or bedroom tax. I am not sure that I would call it a probing amendment; I do not understand why we have never done this before. The fact is that, the broader the tax base right across the piece, the less high taxes have to be. It seems a common-sense arrangement. With this Bill and the Commonwealth Games, there is an opportunity for the Government to do something that Governments—including the one I was a member of—do not do enough, and that is to pilot schemes. From the briefing I have been given, I understand that most members of Core Cities in England and Wales are lobbying the Government for a hotel occupancy tax. This is a devolved matter in Scotland and there is an expectation that Edinburgh will soon introduce such a tax. In some ways, this puts pressure on what I might call the English Government to do the same.

In a way, it is a golden opportunity. We could use this Bill to ring-fence a tax for Birmingham and Solihull, as the local authorities that will be most affected, although there are hotels in Sandwell as well. If the Government used this Bill to pilot a hotel occupancy tax for ring-fenced money for the Commonwealth Games and put a time limit on it, after the Games we could look at how it worked and review the impact and effectiveness of the tax. I know people will argue that we do not want more new taxes, but the broader our tax base is, the less high taxes have to be—that does not mean we have to tax everything.

We are not reinventing the wheel here: this is done around the world. We all travel and we do not think twice about it. The tax might be lost in the hotel bill—it is always incredibly modest—but it usually goes locally and helps local authorities with all the extra costs and issues they have as a result of being a tourist attraction. I would have thought that this was a golden opportunity for someone in the Government to make a name for themselves by piloting this scheme, which will be a good idea, and see how it goes just for the Games.