Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, when this Bill was introduced in this House in the last Session by my noble friend Lord Ashton of Hyde, he began by setting out his hope that it would be welcomed across the House. I need not set out the same wish; the constructive and helpful engagement and support the Bill enjoyed previously shows that to be the case. The scrutiny that this House brought to bear has had a material impact on the work of the Games partnership. Transparency, openness and a commitment to realising lasting Games beneﬁts were all examined in this House.
I am pleased that Games partners listened to concerns about subjecting Games planning and delivery to constructive scrutiny. I know that the organising committee has since spoken with a number of your Lordships and recently wrote to a number of Peers to provide an update on the Games. These preparations are progressing at pace. The organising committee now has more than 100 staff and will continue to recruit right up to the Games in 2022. Work is well under way on each of the major capital projects being delivered for the Games.
Noble Lords, understandably, also focused on the beneﬁts that the Games will bring to the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands. A thriving Midlands is essential to our national economic success and levelling up economic regional growth. These Games will put the city and the region on a global stage, create new jobs and provide improved transport and new community sports facilities. Recently, I saw at ﬁrst hand early construction of the brand new Aquatics Centre in Sandwell and heard how, following the Games, it will bring important beneﬁts to the local community as a state-of-the-art leisure centre.
Accessibility is another area that rightly saw a great deal of interest and where the organising committee has listened and responded. I know that it is very grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Grey-Thompson, for their valuable insights. The organising committee has appointed a full-time accessibility manager and established its accessibility forum to inform its strategic approach to accessibility. The forum is growing in size and represents disability specialists, charities and organisations from across the region, meeting on a quarterly basis. This work will inform the creation of the Birmingham inclusive Games standard: an ever-evolving set of principles to deﬁne and measure Birmingham 2022’s accessibility standards. The organising committee’s ambition is that this will be used as a benchmark for future Games.
Another area of interest was sustainability, which Games partners are committed to embedding as a key pillar in the planning and delivery of the Games. The organising committee’s commitment to sustainability will be based on the four Cs of certiﬁcation, carbon, circular economy and conservation, which will be aligned with the UN sustainable development goals. The organising committee has signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action framework, which is another ﬁrst for a Commonwealth Games, and it will look to procure sustainably and locally as far as is possible, thus reducing and limiting waste.
Underpinning these commitments to legacy, accessibility and sustainability is the Birmingham 2022 social values charter. This was published in October and focuses on the ﬁve key areas of sustainability, health and well-being, inclusivity, human rights and local beneﬁt. It is now at the heart of the delivery of the Games and is an integral part of the procurement process. More information on these areas can be found on the Birmingham 2022 website and I can conﬁrm that there is a dedicated liaison ofﬁcer in the organising committee for parliamentary engagement.
While I enjoy setting out all the excellent progress made to date, I would not have fully discharged my duties here if I did not brieﬂy remind noble Lords of the Bill before us. Passing this legislation in short order will help to establish protections around sponsors’ rights and provide planning certainty to the Games partners. The Bill brings forward a small number of temporary measures which are essential to the successful operation of the Games.
Part 1 deals with ﬁnancial assistance and reporting. The former ensures that ﬁnancial assistance given to the organising committee continues to comply with ﬁnancial propriety rules set out by Her Majesty’s Treasury. The latter, introduced in light of the feedback from noble Lords, requires the organising committee to produce an annual report to be laid before Parliament setting out the details of what it has done in a number of important areas raised by the House.
Part 2 concerns association with the Games and introduces measures to protect against unauthorised association. As noble Lords will know, securing commercial sponsorship is critical to staging a world-class event and to managing public investment in the Games. This can be achieved only when the rights of sponsors are protected and that is what this measure is intended to do.
Part 3 sets out the criminal offences brought forward in this legislation which, as with most other measures, have precedence in previous Games legislation. Under Part 3, the touting of Games tickets will be prohibited; this is aimed at helping the organising committee to ensure that tickets are accessible and affordable. Part 3 also creates offences for unauthorised advertising and trading in and around Games locations. These restrictions will be in place only when and where they are necessary and for no longer than 38 days, ensuring that trading does not obstruct easy movement in the vicinity of Games locations and to provide a consistent look at each venue.
Part 4 concerns the transport powers needed to deliver a Games of this size and complexity. For the Games to be a success, transport in the host city and region must work effectively, both for those living and working around Games locations and the region, and for those involved in the Games. The measures in the Bill are aimed at securing this.
While the substance of the Bill’s measures are largely unchanged, there are a small number of changes which have been made since the last Session, some of which I should draw to the attention of noble Lords. The reporting requirement set out in Clause 2 requires the organising committee to report on the exercise of its functions during each reporting period. The Bill as amended on Report provided for the ﬁrst such period to end on
Part 2 of the Bill prohibits unauthorised association with the Games, and Clause 5 already sets out exceptions to this prohibition. As introduced last Session, the Bill covered exceptions such as where there are pre-existing registered trademarks, fair use or use in literary, dramatic or artistic works, among others. We are of the view that an additional exception for certain providers of information society services is required. This change simply ensures that the Bill fully takes account of the protections, in line with the e-commerce directive, intended to apply to online intermediaries.
In Clause 24 there has also been a small change to the interpretations provision for trading. This is to ensure that a person is considered as carrying out Games location trading if, for example, a seller is inside a Games location but selling to a buyer outside a Games location. Therefore, if an ice cream was sold from a kiosk inside a Games location to a customer outside a Games location, it could still be a trading offence—unless the activity was otherwise authorised by the organising committee or excepted. This aligns with our approach to trading in a relevant public place, where the same principle applies.
In conclusion, I remind your Lordships of the exciting prospect ahead. The chair of the Commonwealth Games Federation Coordination Commission, through which the federation monitors progress against delivery of the Games, late last year reflected that
“Birmingham 2022 will stage a fantastic Games and … people across the West Midlands, the UK, the entire Commonwealth and beyond should start getting excited about this event.”
This is a fantastic and deserved endorsement of the work of everybody involved. He also touched on the “unprecedented” level of collaboration across the Games partnership and the
“commitment to legacy and benefits.”
I look forward very much to noble Lords’ contributions to this debate and thank your Lordships once again for their continued support. It is now 906 days until the Games start, which is why I look forward to seeing this important Bill pass quickly through this House and on to the other place. I beg to move.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the Minister. I welcome her comments, as I am sure they will be much welcomed in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. We spent considerable time in a previous Session of Parliament on this Bill. I do not wish to detain the House by repeating any of the questions I put to Ministers or any of the exchanges that took place on these and other Benches at that time, but there are a couple of points that I wish to raise with the Minister, and I would be grateful if she considers them when she comes to wind up the debate.
She mentioned the aquatic aspects of the Games and rightly paid tribute to Sandwell Council, in whose area the new aquatic centre will be built. I join her in paying tribute. It is an area I know reasonably well. I had the privilege of representing the constituency of West Bromwich East in the borough of Sandwell in the other place for more years than I care to recollect—possibly more years than they care to recollect as well. It was almost 30 years, so I am familiar with the area.
The Minister also talked about the transport aspects of the Games. I wonder whether later she could amplify exactly what provision will be made, particularly for road transport. I do not really have an interest to declare, although I was heavily involved in the transportation aspects of Birmingham and its surrounding areas in the past. I had the honour of chairing the major bus company in the area, Travel West Midlands, before and after it became part of the National Express Group. I know about the difficulty with congestion in the area. It is not only cities such as London or Manchester that struggle, not just in the rush hour but for much of the day. Problems with timekeeping were fairly great during my time as chairman 15 years ago; I am fairly certain that the transport congestion in the city has not improved any in those 15 years. Indeed, I live in Birmingham; I know full well how much worse it has become.
I wonder exactly what the Minister has in mind and what lies behind the clause that says that assistance will be given as far as transport of spectators, as well as competitors, is concerned. The House will be aware of the success of the Olympic Games in London in 2012, when certain roads in London were reserved entirely for traffic going to the Games. I do not know whether that is advocated at present. Travelling by bus from the centre of Birmingham, for example, to the aquatics centre at Londonderry in the borough of Sandwell is by no means straightforward for much of the day. As I understand it, there is also provision in the Bill for the organising committee to issue tickets not just for entry into the Games; perhaps include public transport as well. Would the Minister like to comment on that? It seems sensible and progressive.
The other aspect of transport to which I wish to draw the attention of the Minister and the House attention is Birmingham New Street station. I have in the past possibly overegged the fact that I used to work in the railway industry.
Fine, I promise not to overegg it too much in the future, although I am sorely tempted if my noble friend will be as complimentary as he appears to be.
Birmingham New Street station is a pretty baffling place to someone with railway experience. The signage there is appalling. For those not familiar with it, the station’s platforms are divided into “A” and “B” areas. For someone not particularly experienced with it, particularly someone from abroad, getting from one platform to another is a fairly difficult task. It is not a railway station with some commercial properties; I am afraid it is a shopping centre with a station attached, perhaps as an afterthought. It is the busiest railway station outside London, yet the bus and Metro stops outside are labelled not “Birmingham New Street” but “Grand Central”, which is the shopping centre.
Someone coming from abroad will not be too impressed by the signage within New Street station, which says “red lounge”, “green lounge” and “blue lounge”— all meaningless phrases. Whoever decided to sign Birmingham New Street in that way obviously got their experience from airports. When the station was being redeveloped, it was expected that passengers would wait in a lounge until their train was called. That is not a habit most railway users are familiar with here or, I suspect, abroad. They are not lounges anyway, but merely different coloured seats—pretty uncomfortable ones, I might add—in various parts of the station. Most people, particularly those going to the Games, will want to know how to get to the various districts in which the different sports are being held. “Red lounge” and “blue lounge” will not be particularly helpful. They will not particularly want to get on a Metro tram or bus labelled “Grand Central” if they are coming back to New Street station. These areas are all up for discussion. I hope something can be done to ease the passage of people arriving and departing by train before the Games themselves.
The Minister rightly praised the city council and the organising committee for the work they have done. Although, as I said, I live in Birmingham, I am not entitled to speak the whole city, but I feel that many of us in the city are very much looking forward to the Games in 2022 and I am pretty sure they will be successful. There are still one or two naysayers in our party on the city council who complain about the cost of the Games, ignoring the fact that they bring enormous benefits to the city in which they are held. In Glasgow, for example, in 2014, more than £740 million was generated for Scotland’s economy, while the 2018 Games, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, were expected to deliver a $1.3 billion boost to the economy in that part of Australia.
We look forward to the 2022 Games in Birmingham. Thanks to the work being done locally, and the support from the Government, they will be as successful as their predecessors in other parts of the world.
My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Snape, who has intimate knowledge of Birmingham. He has raised issues which I am sure the organising committee and the Minister will be taking up.
I am standing in for my noble friend Lord Addington, who is, as we speak, rushing back from Paris. I suspect that he did not enjoy the 24-17 defeat of England by the French, but I know that he would share the desire of the Minister and everyone on these Benches for the Bill to have a speedy passage. Already the organising committee has been playing catch-up. It took over after Durban pulled out, and things have not been helped by the number of false starts the Bill has already had. Such delays cause significant problems for property deals and in creating the overall development timetable referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Snape. We want to get on with it as quickly as possible.
Reference was made to the Gold Coast. I was there in 2018, and saw the excitement, and the large involvement of local people in the Games, which brought significant benefits to the area, including, as the noble Lord, Lord Snape, said, a £1.3 billion boost to the local economy. I am certain that Birmingham, Solihull and the West Midlands in general will benefit hugely from the Games. As has already been said, those activities will be showcased to 1.5 billion people around the world. There will be jobs created, skills uplifted, improved sporting facilities, and so on. Local people will have the chance to see some fantastic sporting and—I am pleased to say—cultural activities but, critically, we must not forget that a large number of local people will be involved as volunteers, helping ensure that all the people who come to these friendly Games will have the best time possible. I am sure that we all remember the fantastic contribution to the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London made by those games makers. They made such an incredible addition to the enjoyment that we all got.
I was in Singapore when Great Britain learned that it would be hosting the 2012 Games. I then served in the other place on the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill Committee; I went on to serve on the organising committee. My greatest joy was being appointed deputy mayor of the Paralympic Village. I saw first-hand the enormous contribution that this country has given to Paralympic sports. Many noble Lords may be unaware that during our Paralympic Games, we provided the most amazing facility whereby Paralympic athletes could have any broken equipment repaired. I have checked in the last couple of days with the organising committee for Birmingham 2022, and am delighted that it will be replicating that brilliant facility. Perhaps noble Lords do not understand the full import of something like that, but an athlete from a third-world country came in with a broken running blade and asked to have it repaired. It was a very old, cheap, running blade. When he went to pick up his repaired blade, he said, “This can’t possibly be mine,” because it was a brand new, state-of-the-art blade, but he was persuaded to take it away at no cost. We should never forget that those sorts of things are going on behind the scenes and will be the sorts of things that the organising committee in Birmingham will be working on.
I have seen the highs and lows of planning a major sporting event. I am well aware that the Bill before us has the benefit of similar legislation for other multisport events, including of course the 2012 Games and the 2014 Glasgow Games. That said, as the Minister knows, a number of concerns have been raised and I want to pick up one or two to give the Minister a chance to respond to them. We are well aware that Birmingham City Council and its partners are going to raise 25% of the estimated cost of the Games—£184 million. Given some of the problems that have already occurred, such as the need to relocate the bus station, which I understand is now going to cost eight times the original estimate—so that is already an additional £15 million to be found—I know that the council has proposed that it should be allowed to introduce a hotel tax of £1 per bed per night, which, over three years, would bring in £15 million. I know there are concerns about that on all sides of the House and within the Government, but it would be helpful if the Minister could bring us up to date with that situation.
However, I suggest an alternative way that the Minister could help Birmingham and others find money in terms of tourism. She may be aware that the UK is one of only three EU member countries that have not reduced the rate for VAT on accommodation and attractions. We have nearly double the 10.8% average rate of VAT across the European Union. No doubt that contributes to the fact that we are now 135th out of 136 in the World Economic Forum’s price competitiveness ranking. The Minister might like to go and discuss with her right honourable friend at the Treasury a reduction in VAT for tourism, because the figures show that after five years over £1 billion a year would be raised by that reduction—after 10 years that would be over £5 billion a year—which would go a long way to paying for very many multisport events in this country in the future.
Another concern has been raised by some elements within the media about the parts of the Bill dealing with the power of the organising committee to authorise and charge businesses to be associated with the Games and gain commercial benefit from so doing. I absolutely support all the measures in the Bill, but the News Media Association has recently written:
“The Bill’s provisions could have a particular detrimental impact upon local newspapers, print and online, serving the communities hosting the Games and most concerned in promoting and celebrating their success.”
I am well aware of the exemptions already in the Bill for reporting and editorial content and the trading exemption for selling newspapers, but is the Minister at least willing to have further consultations with the news media industry to ensure that its concerns have either already been addressed, as I believe they have, or could be with appropriate changes to the legislation?
Like the Minister, I welcome the excellent social value charter, referring to the importance of inclusivity, and she will be well aware that the sporting world has made huge strides in recent years; for instance, in terms of gender equality, the Gold Coast Games was the first major multisport event to have an equal number of medal events for men and women, and there have been huge strides, as I have already mentioned, in terms of competition for athletes with disabilities. We have much to be proud of in the UK, having started the Paralympic Games, and a lot of exciting things have gone on since that time.
Perhaps the biggest innovation was at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where para-athletes were fully integrated into their national teams, making those Games the first fully inclusive, international multisport event. I am delighted to say that Birmingham is doing exactly the same. However, while we have made huge strides in terms of para-athletes, I am not entirely convinced that we have made enough strides in terms of spectators with disabilities. While I very much welcome the setting up of the accessibility forum, I hope the Minister will ensure that, for instance, inclusivity is fully covered in the transport plan; for example, the 2012 Olympics were in many ways excellent, but it was very difficult for people with a disability to get a suitably adapted taxi. The other important issue is seating arrangements. It is accepted that there will be sufficient seats or seating spaces for people with disabilities, but the question is whether there will be sufficient flexibility in the seating arrangements to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to sit with their family and friends. I hope the Minister will keep an eye on that issue and have discussions with the organising committee about it.
There is continuing uncertainty about archery and shooting and we need to wait for the outcome of the consideration by the Commonwealth Games Federation. So that there is absolutely certainty, can the Minister confirm that if the federation agrees to allow archery and shooting events to take place in India, the Indian Olympic Association will have full responsibility for all the costs and no additional costs will have to be borne by the Birmingham 2022 committee?
Finally, will the Minister take a particular interest in the important issue of legacy? Every single Games around the world has said that legacy is central to its planning. Legacy has very often been successful in terms of venues that have been left and other developments; for instance, not only will we have a wonderful athletes’ village for Birmingham, but it will subsequently create 1,400 homes and, eventually, more than 5,000 homes. I am well aware that there will be structural legacy benefits as a result of the Games. There will be some welcome upskilling and some jobs may continue, but there are a number of areas where there has been real disappointment, not least in sporting legacy. At a time when we are desperately concerned to deal with obesity, type 2 diabetes and so on, it is important that we have robust plans that are followed through with government support after these Games.
I shall end as I started: we hope that the Bill will have a swift passage through both Houses.
Lords, first let me restate that, as a fan of most sports, I am delighted and excited that we are hosting this festival celebrating dedication to sporting prowess. Once again, I congratulate Birmingham on having landed this major sporting event and on delivering a credible submission in such a short space of time. I hope the Games will in turn deliver for the West Midlands, especially in terms of incentivising sporting activity at a grass-roots level and economic success.
Although I did not participate in Second Reading of the first iteration of this Bill, I supported the amendments in Committee of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, concerning human rights and what might be properly considered as belonging in the Bill. I realise that the Government’s position on this is unlikely to change. However, I want to place on record some of the key issues that deserve fuller recognition as notable challenges for any authority staging large-scale events. I am grateful to Mission 89 for a briefing on some of these issues, particularly those relating to modern slavery and trafficking in and through sport.
I think I am right in saying that the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is the first major international sporting event to take place in the UK since the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The multiple ways in which sport might be implicated in the various forms of modern slavery are beginning to be recognised in the sporting world, but there is still a huge amount of awareness-raising and policy-making to be done, as well as implementation and training to be followed through, as indeed there is across all industrial and business sectors.
In a major advance in thinking and action on modern forms of slavery and sport, the Commonwealth Games Federation has committed to addressing the risk of modern slavery in its workforce and supply chain, and among its athletes, through its human rights policy and modern slavery statement. However, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill currently considers only the financial, logistical and operational aspects of the Games, along with a general commitment to implement the CGF values.
Following on from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the subsequent discussions that we have had, I argue that this Bill represents an opportunity to bring the commitments to address human rights and modern slavery to the forefront of authorities’ planning of major sporting events in the future by putting those commitments into law, thereby setting a precedent for organisers of future major sports events, such as the men’s and women’s European Football Championships that will be held in the next year or so. Indeed, this Bill could be seen as the start of a process that would ensure that countries and cities bidding to host major sporting events had a statutory obligation to consider and develop strategies to address human rights and modern slavery risks before such events were even awarded. I think that that view is shared by many within the sector, especially by the CGF.
It is important that the Birmingham Games are not seen as an isolated event. They are the culmination of the Transformation 2022 agenda, which the Commonwealth Games Federation has been working on for several years. Transformation 2022 is supported unanimously by all 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, so this is very much about the movement and not just about this event in 2022 in the UK. Furthermore, the CGF will be applying these standards to all future Commonwealth events, not just Birmingham. Likewise, the UK might want to consider whether those standards should be applied to any event hosted on UK soil, whether it be rugby, cricket, football, the Olympics, athletics or whatever.
The Commonwealth Games Federation should be recognised for its work in raising the bar in that respect. The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games had a human rights policy, as well as a sustainable sourcing code and grievance mechanism. Furthermore, Birmingham 2022 is the result of its own Commonwealth movement, which, again, is supported by every nation of the Commonwealth.
Although we might like to feel confident that activities around modern slavery and trafficking will not blight the Birmingham Games, none the less we still need to be vigilant, as Birmingham 2022 acknowledges. Although these Games might have a low risk of modern slavery according to its modern slavery statement, it is important that such risks are considered. The Birmingham 2022 modern slavery statement points out that
“no part of our business is immune to the risks of modern slavery”.
That lesson has been learned in a very hard way by many businesses and industries.
I am pleased to note that the Games statement is more thorough than many of the statements we have seen and analysed from the wider business community. Anyone who has done that task will be in despair about some of the transparency and supply chain statements that have been made in other businesses. However, this one goes through the issues in some detail. That is necessary because instances abound of mega sporting events being used in a variety of ways to lure unsuspecting adults and/or their children into being trafficked, especially young people from poorer backgrounds. I have an example from the men’s World Cup, which, as noble Lords may recall, was held in June 2018. Fifteen children were prevented from boarding planes in Lagos, Nigeria, after authorities noticed that they had only one-way tickets. It is suspected that these children had been supplied with World Cup supporter ID cards by their traffickers and that a corrupt police and immigration officer had been part of the scheme. These unaccompanied children were mostly girls. It is suspected that the traffickers had persuaded the parents that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take them out of poverty and to take advantage of the alleged riches on offer in Russia and elsewhere. This is not just an isolated incident.
Although we may feel that such incidents will not be a feature of the Birmingham Games, it is worth thinking about the opportunities offered by the Games to raise awareness among participating athletes and their colleagues. For example, there could be materials that reference how to protect athletes from trafficking, and promotional activities concerning the potential signs of human trafficking and fake agents at the grass-roots level, as well as in supply chains relating directly to athletes. All this could be hugely beneficial to participating athletes. There needs to be much better access to information about the ways in which various interested and criminal parties lure athletes and their entourages into these awful situations. Indeed, the risk of human trafficking in sport should be considered in all measures on child safeguarding.
Moving on from modern slavery, I want to consider the mental well-being of athletes. It is an important human right that athletes should have access to resources and therapeutic measures to address mental health disorders. These disorders are quite common among elite athletes, manifesting themselves in a variety of distressing symptoms.
Although the Bill is designed to fulfil a specific and quite limited function, I feel it would be a missed opportunity not to include more specific reference to the issues that I have outlined. This could build on the excellent work already being promoted by the Commonwealth Games Federation and raise the standards we expect from such events to an even higher level, thus making Birmingham 2022 the new benchmark.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey. She highlights issues that I have had the opportunity to discuss with her—key issues of concern shared by all members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sport, Modern Slavery and Human Rights, on which I have the privilege to be her vice-chair.
The Commonwealth Games Federation—under the inspired leadership of Dame Louise Martin, who in my view numbers among the finest of the world’s leading sports administrators and from whom this House will hopefully one day benefit—has developed its Transformation 2022 agenda, as my noble friend mentioned. It is an ambitious programme with the values of humanity, equality and destiny at its heart. Having been ongoing for a number of years, this agenda will culminate in the hosting of the 2022 Games in Birmingham. We all hope this will be a “best in class” example of stringent human rights protections and responsibilities.
The Commonwealth Games Federation has already shown leadership with the Gold Coast 2018 Games being the first to offer equal medal opportunities for men and women, and is catalysing an entire movement around sport and human rights, redefining the Commonwealth brand. I hope that the Commonwealth will also use its influence to bring all participating countries into fully respecting the LGBTQ+ agenda.
So, what can we do? I hope that in Committee we can review the excellent social values charter mentioned by my noble friend the Minister, as well as the delivering social value legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and see whether we have in place the right legislative framework to promote the objectives of the Games, as raised by the noble Baroness. Sport is an enabler of rights, including the rights of women and of sportsmen and women with disabilities, which should be promoted in any legislation that refers to sport—indeed, in all legislation.
I hope that we will explore what further opportunities we can take to support Transformation 2022, to consider how human rights fit in, what is significant about Birmingham 2022 and whether there are ways in which we as parliamentarians can provide the legislative framework to advance this vitally important, ground-breaking work. I have nothing but respect for the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and the remarkable contribution he has made, not least in the world of the Paralympics; he has spoken very ably about the Birmingham Games and raised many important points. I think he would agree that the Commonwealth Games deserves recognition in the area we have just been talking about, because a lot of the rhetoric in this debate over the years has cited London 2012 as the best example for the Olympic movement. However, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, for example, went a step further and had a human rights policy, not just a sustainable sourcing code and grievance mechanism. Birmingham 2022 should be the new benchmark, not least for the Olympic Games in Paris.
I also wish the Commonwealth Games Federation and the organising committee every success with their aim to deliver one of the greatest events ever to be hosted in the West Midlands and a real catalyst for creating a lasting legacy, not just in bricks and mortar but in sport, for the whole of the United Kingdom. It is an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of local communities and deliver the greatest festival of sport this country has seen since the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012. Above all, we need a sports legacy plan for the region, building on the excitement of sporting activity and offering a legacy which can provide so many benefits for the young people of this country—and not just them, however critical, important and centric that is to the whole event.
At this point, I will focus on what I consider to be some of the most critical and important issues that we debated at Second Reading last time around: access for disabled people and the sustainability plan. It is a great privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foster, who I have mentioned already. He contributed so much on the Paralympic side of the Games, but not just that; his speech showed that his knowledge of all sports politics is extensive. Good progress was made for disabled people during the parliamentary stages of the Bill when we discussed it the first time around. However, we did not start from an ideal position, as the Minister opposed my intervention for a specific focus on disability and access. The responses from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, in writing and from the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, to the comments made from the Front Bench at the time were what one might best describe as political apoplexy.
I welcome the fact that the Government made significant changes and rescinded their original position, coming forward with specific amendments—another area of good progress made. However, on
On a related subject, could the Minister confirm when the organising committee’s Games-wide sustainability plan can be considered in detail by your Lordships? This is vital and welcome work, with the Games’ sustainability commitment and the four Cs to which the Minister referred.
Can the noble Lord check with the Minister in reference to the report being produced by the accessibility forum team? My understanding is that it will now not come until
I hear what the noble Lord—my noble friend in sport, as I always call him—says on that subject, because of that interpretation of what was said. However, I believe that the Minister may have better news for us on that front. I ask her to address that question when she comes to wind up.
Then there are the issues relating to match fixing and the secondary ticket market, which I know have concerned many noble Lords from across the House. The situation has got worse. The corrupting influence of some secondary ticketing websites, which are now under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority for suspected breaches of consumer protection law, not least StubHub and the pariah viagogo, have no role in profiteering at the expense of true sports fans at the Commonwealth Games. I hope that we can review progress on that front in Committee and look at ways of eliminating match fixing and applying suitable controls to betting—and, at the same time, make sure that we take action against any illicit profiteering approaches to the use of the secondary market.
Considerable time was spent during Committee, when we last looked at the Bill, on secondary legislation. My noble friend made significant concessions regarding the delegated powers in that Bill. I hope that we can look at the residual concerns regarding locations and advertising when we address the subject again in Committee. They are still there and, I think, have yet to be fully considered by government in a way that would carry the support of the House.
On the subject of ticket touting, advertising and trading, I am grateful to the Advertising Association for continuing its characteristically deep-dive assessments of important legislation affecting the promotion of the role, rights and responsibilities of advertisers. It has been in discussion with government and remains concerned about the length of time that the vicinity and trading restrictions are in place, the need for affirmative procedure, to which I have just referred, to apply to the Secretary of State’s regulations as proposed by the Delegated Powers Committee, so that there may be public scrutiny of the regulations, and about suitable, comprehensive exemptions for the sale and distribution of newspapers and magazines.
The Minister has commented, not least in a Written Answer to me recently, on the important question of including shooting disciplines in the Commonwealth Games programme; or, as I understand it, in a separate event which will be duly recognised as an associated event. I understand that it will be fully paid for by the Indians but again, the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and I would appreciate clarity on that point. The important issue is that the medals in archery and shooting will contribute towards the Commonwealth Games medal tally. The formal proposal is with the Commonwealth Games Federation and I understand that it will be considered on 20 or
For all those among your Lordships who have lobbied hard, however, it is vital to solve the possibility of what was then on the table: an Indian boycott. Coming as it does from a nation which is a close member of the Commonwealth Games family, a likely host country of future Games and, in the wider post-Brexit world, a key trading partner of the United Kingdom in the future, this absolutely should not happen. I hope that my noble friend the Minister can place on record in the strongest terms her support for a solution to this problem—above all, a solution for the athletes. If I recollect rightly, shooting has been at every Games since 1974. I may be wrong. but it has certainly been there throughout most of my recollection of the Commonwealth Games. It is great to see T20 cricket, para table tennis and beach volleyball as the three optional sports, but we need to sort out the challenge we face on the absence of shooting and archery. I hope that we can persuade those who make the final decision to accept and fully endorse the Indian recommendation to the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The questions of gene editing and doping in sport are perennial; I speak regularly on both subjects. I think that gene editing will become one of the greatest challenges to sport in 20 years’ time. It is highly risky, early-stage science, but the reality is that, if we can apply gene editing to relieve the burden of heritable diseases, we can also expect it to be put to the benefit of the multibillion-dollar commercialisation of sport worldwide, coupled with a toxic mix of pariah nation states seeing global leadership through sporting success—the only field where they can so succeed—leading them to invest in gene editing research to engineer offspring for specific traits, including athleticism. The House had the opportunity to debate this in detail at the end of last week. It is a critically important area, and it will be even more important in future than performance-enhancing drugs are today. I hope that the organising committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation not only take this seriously but can influence where possible the World Anti-Doping Agency and others who will have final responsibility to ensure that the Commonwealth Games Federation, where sport is concerned, takes a lead.
I come finally to physical well-being. It was announced to the House last June that the Government have the lead on the legacy and benefits steering group. I am grateful to the Minister for her reply to my Written Question on the subject. The legacy work will draw on other major Olympic and Commonwealth experiences but will draw also
“on the evidence from Sport England’s £10m Local Delivery Pilot investment to promote physical activity in hard to reach groups in Birmingham and Solihull.”
I commend Sport England for its work in this area. While this project is ambitious, an aim of maximising community involvement was set out at Second Reading. At the time, there were just 850 members of “the crowd”—which is the title for this excellent programme—but it was linked to an objective of reaching 10,000 members over the next 16 months. That has now been reached.
I hope that the excellent progress made in the past six months provides the opportunity to turn what is silver medal legislation into gold medal legislation.
My Lords, it is always a delight to follow the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, with all the experience he brings to these matters.
I am relieved that my noble friend Lord Snape has been brave enough to open a discourse on that Rubik’s Cube that is the layout and signage of New Street station. I am relieved that I am not the only one who always gives myself 10 minutes extra in case I am sitting the red lounge thinking that I am going to Banbury when in fact I am sitting in the blue lounge on my way to Stoke. As my noble friend said, it is important that, for our foreign visitors to these Games, someone has a look at it. I am looking at the Minister—I am sure that she personally will not be having a look at it, but she may know somebody who can.
We are once again under starter’s orders with this important Bill to enable Birmingham and the West Midlands to be the best possible host for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Showcasing the whole West Midlands region is a crucial part of the Games experience, for our visitors and for West Midlanders.
As a former MEP representing Birmingham in the European Parliament for most of the 1980s and 1990s, I have a lifelong affection for the city. I am also aware, as are all noble Lords, of the unique opportunity that the £778 million of sports investment will mean for the city and for the region. Birmingham will not turn its back on such investment given that, 12 years after the financial crash, the city is still recovering in terms of employment, wages and productivity. Leaving the EU has also brought uncertainty to a region and a city that enjoyed the economic benefits of our connectivity with Europe over several decades.
Speaking of connectivity, I will add my voice to the rising call to keep HS2, with all its benefits for the West Midlands and the north?
The noble Lord only came in to hear that.
Going back to the Bill, the Games will see a brand new aquatic centre, a redeveloped athletics stadium and 1,400 new homes. Some 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will take part, with 6,500 athletes and officials expected to attend. The global audience for these Games will be 1.5 billion, which is astounding. Birmingham and the West Midlands will be showcased to the rest of the world.
As we understand it, more than 1 million tickets will be made available. As a former chair of the West Midlands regional cultural consortium, I am particularly glad to see that an important cultural, trade, tourism and investment programme will be part of the Games experience. I hope that as many local children and young people as possible will be involved in both the sporting and cultural sides of the Games, so that they feel that they own the Games, rather than having the Games imposed on them. What more can the Minister tell us about the engagement of local schools, colleges and youth organisations in the Games?
I was particularly interested to read about the role of community champions; I know how important they were in the Olympics. They are essential if there are to be long-term benefits for local people. I also understand that Birmingham 2022 will have the first integrated—and biggest ever—parasports offering, which is fantastic. Alongside that, there is a potential for more female medals than male, for the first time ever—not that we feminists are at all competitive.
As the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and other noble Lords said, 19 sports across 11 days at venues across the West Midlands presents a tremendous opportunity to seal a sustainable legacy for local sport in the region well into the 2020s and 2030s. Local SMEs will see 4,000 contracts on offer, worth up to £300 million. Let us hope that this will enable a broad and diverse range of businesses to bid for, and secure, work around the Games.
We now need to get on with it, as time is running short. As the noble Lord, Lord Foster, said, the Government must deal constructively with concerns about the Bill, such as those of the News Media Association, representing local, regional and international media, on issues such as unimpeded, lawful newspaper reporting, advertising, sales and distribution during the Games. The Bill has cross-party support and we are told that progress is already being made in areas such as accessibility, sustainability, ticketing and business engagement. That all sounds very positive, but previous calls by this House for continual scrutiny need to be taken seriously, especially on issues such as human rights and modern slavery, which were brought up so effectively by the noble Baroness, Lady Young.
As a vice-president of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, I am drawn to Part 3 of the Bill, which aims to prohibit: the unauthorised sale of Games tickets; the promotion of non-sponsor products, services and businesses; and trading at or near Games locations at certain times. I ask the Minister to ensure that government support is continuously available to Birmingham and to West Midlands local authorities, especially their trading standards departments, which will be at the forefront of ensuring fair trading and minimising ticket touting. The Minister will be aware of the very difficult cuts that have been made over the last 12 years to trading standards departments, and of how important these local authority departments are to the smooth running of the Games.
With these caveats, I wish the Bill well. Birmingham and West Midlands are really up for it. I have even joined a gym. I have not actually been yet, but I have joined—one step in the right direction. We can all share in the excitement that the Games will bring to our region and to our country.
My Lords, I declare a recently expired interest as a trustee of UNICEF for six years until July 2019. I want to incorporate in my comments some comments from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, who is unable to be in her place today.
I think it is worthy of note that yesterday was Groundhog Day, because the Bill has become extremely familiar to this House. I thank the Minister for the progress that has been made since we last considered the Bill. I will of course challenge that on behalf of those of us in the disabled community—the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, very much representing para-sportspeople and myself representing spectators—but I hope that the groundwork we will cover, following Groundhog Day, will take us a long way. Along with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, I echo concerns about the briefing we had from the News Media Association. I will not repeat those points, but I hope that its very specific concerns are addressed speedily.
I think it is worth rehearsing two or three of the issues on disability that are not reflected in the Bill, but first I thank the Government for including a report back to the Secretary of State on access for disabled people, helpfully stated as loosely as that to cover the experience both of athletes and of those participating in other ways, whether as champions or as spectators. In my role at UNICEF I went to the launch of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and had one of the more unfortunate experiences I have had in a wheelchair in a sports stadium. Despite the fact that we were main sponsors of the Commonwealth Games, I could not sit with my director and trustee colleagues and VIP sportspeople from around the world because there was no wheelchair access to the VIP area. My daughter and I had to go and sit in the designated wheelchair space, completely away from any other spectators, in the gap between the front row and the boundary, and my daughter, “as your carer”, had to sit behind me, as if she were not entitled to sit beside me as family.
One of the problems that that raises may be something that Birmingham needs to be aware of: when stadia are reused, particularly football stadia that have existing rules, they use those rules rather than rethinking them. The point about families wanting to go and see sports together is a real one. I remember the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, raising the issue of a certain Premier League football club—I will not name it since it has now remedied its behaviour—that wrote to a young father who had one disabled child and one non-disabled child, and could not get tickets to take both to see the same football match together because he was not permitted to have two people sitting beside his son in a wheelchair. At the time I found that disappointing. Such issues are important to the legacy of encouraging participation by families in activities including sport.
I want to pick up on the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Snape, about Birmingham New Street. I echo his concerns—as a disabled person I found the signage totally and utterly appalling. The access to taxis for disabled people is dreadful. It is bad enough for wheelchairs, but if you are ambulant disabled and using sticks, it is even worse: you have to go a very long way to get access. I am reminded that, for the Olympics, you could book a minibus from Stratford station to take you to whichever location you needed to get to, thereby guaranteeing you could have access and not causing problems with taxis. This was the other problem in Glasgow: they met the quota for having taxis that could take disabled people, but those were the same ones that could take able-bodied people so, when there was a rush, disabled people were completely stuck. I really hope that Birmingham will take those lessons on board.
I will make one more comment about Birmingham New Street, because it is easy to find things that are wrong. I use it quite a lot and the attitude of the staff on the station to helping assist disabled passengers is excellent. In my entire experience there I have found staff helpful, particularly when things have gone wrong. Unfortunately, you have to leave them at the barrier and, frankly, once you are out into the new shopping centre problems may begin.
Briefly on accommodation, the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, asks whether there will be a sufficient number of accessible rooms in Birmingham. There were certainly not enough accessible rooms for spectators in Glasgow—we booked three months ahead but still could not get a fully accessible hotel room. It has certainly been an unaddressed problem in the planning for Tokyo. Also, is the lifetime homes standard being used in the athletes’ village? It may not mean that every unit is fully wheelchair accessible, but there are other forms of accessibility which it can address. That will make that whole unit of 1,400 homes outstanding and unparalleled in this country. Lifetime standards are incredibly important, not just for people who are disabled and participating in sport but to make places that people can live in until the end of their days and do not need to make expensive changes to—the doors are slightly wider and kitchens and bathrooms are designed to make things very easy for someone with a disability. It is a standard that has been approved at lots of levels. It would be good to know whether it is being used in the athletes’ village.
On legacy, we always focus on sport—it is interesting to hear that the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, has joined a gym. My favourite story from the Olympics was from a young friend in a wheelchair who decided that he wanted to start wheelchair dancing. He got in touch with Cecil Sharp House—the English Folk Dance and Song Society—and asked whether it was doing anything. You can do wheelchair country dancing, and he did that for some years. That is the sort of legacy that we do not think about because we are very blinkered in our view; you can have legacy in lots of different forms. The absolute strength of 2012 was that many organisations thought outside the box to provide access for not just the local community but disabled people in the surrounding area, who are inevitably part of that community. I do not know whether the Minister can answer this, but I hope that there will be champions for the Birmingham Games who are themselves disabled. It is extremely important that they have that chance.
The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, wanted to raise Games lanes. I know that the Bill makes provision for transport in that way. She reminded us that athletes missed events in Atlanta 1996 because the drivers did not know where the venues were and there was no separate provision. It is extremely important in the very narrow timeframe and heavy programme of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games that there is speedy access.
I end by going back to Groundhog Day, but not in the way one might think, even though the Canadians would certainly understand it. We are now in the United Kingdom getting enough experience with major sporting events to become exemplars, but there are small things that we need to make sure do not just relate to these big sporting events. I still go to football matches and I had problems last week when my son was trying to book tickets for him and me. What is the legacy in our current stadia and sporting grounds to make sure that disabled access for spectators improves and is consistent?
My Lords, I too welcome the Bill; it is a great day for Birmingham to have been selected to organise the Commonwealth Games, which will be the biggest sporting event we have ever had. It goes wider than simply sport, because it is a great opportunity for Birmingham and the West Midlands to show themselves at their best, and there will be a wealth of opportunity in terms of business, culture, volunteering, physical activity, and jobs that go with having the Commonwealth Games. I will come back to culture in a moment; in that regard I declare my patronage of both the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
A number of noble Lords have already mentioned some of the sports we will see. I particularly welcome wheelchair basketball, as well as the inclusion of women’s cricket for the first time. That is fantastic for the sport itself but also as an opportunity to bring many more communities to watch from the city itself, so it is an important decision.
Clearly, the Games will leave a lasting legacy—we hope so—certainly in terms of physical infrastructure, and, we hope, transport. Both my noble friends Lady Crawley and Lord Snape mentioned New Street station. That is not a small issue. A magnificent retail outlet was built on top of New Street station, and it is very successful; it has John Lewis, lots of restaurants, and it is used by many people. However, to make it work financially, the station itself has simply been squeezed into four little bits of the huge atrium. I am glad that my noble friends and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, owned up to the fact that it is impossible to find your way round. I worry that when visitors come, they too will find it impossible to find a way out. It is just bizarre that both taxi ranks are out in the open, so that if you are waiting for a taxi and it is raining, there is no protection at all. To be honest, it seems quite extraordinary that we now have had the station for a couple of years, if not more, and no solution has been found. I will come back with an amendment on this in Committee, because we need some answers about how New Street station will operate.
My noble friend Lord Snape, who knows railways like no one else, did not mention—I do not know whether he forgot or did not think it was important enough—that one of the advantages of having the Commonwealth Games is to enable investment in our transport infrastructure. We are seeing the extension of the tram system up Broad Street into the Hagley Road, and the reopening of the New Street to Kings Norton railway line, including of course the opening of Kings Heath station. I ask the Government to reassure me—as I did the last time we debated this—that by the time the Commonwealth Games start, Kings Heath station will be truly up and running.
The noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made some important points about modern slavery, and there is good progress to report. We have already seen good work on the social value charter, and on accessibility and sustainability. I truly believe that the organisers have got the message that has been given in our previous debates and again today. If we can pull off a Games which really grips these issues, we will learn important lessons that we can feed in to the future.
Challenges remain, and I will mention three. First, on finance, the funding of the Games is complex. It certainly includes a substantial contribution for commercial revenues, and the budget is split 75%/25% between central government and Birmingham City Council and its partners. However, the funding for the city remains a challenge.
Birmingham City Council’s funding is very challenging. Noble Lords will have seen the analysis published last week by the Local Government Association showing the impact of the Government’s proposed review of the local government funding formula, which showed that Birmingham would lose, if that formula was adopted, £48 million a year—the largest loss of any local authority in the country. Can the Minister update us on that, because it is extremely relevant to the city council’s ability to find its contribution to the fund?
That financial challenge is one reason why Birmingham City Council has been very interested in a tourist levy to help pay some of the cost. It has already reviewed but discounted the possibility of a volunteer system because of its unworkability. The Core Cities UK group, which brings together lots of cities in the UK, is in favour of such a levy, and Scotland is close to implementing it. Edinburgh City Council has conducted a consultation, which showed high levels of support for such a levy, with 85% of respondents backing it.
We debated this on the previous Bill. All I ask the Minister at this stage is whether a pilot could be adopted to, first, provide funds to help with the cost of the Games and, secondly, to test out how it will work in practice, to look at the impact on hotel costs, user charges and the like. I know that this decision rests with the Treasury, rather than with her department, but I hope that she will at least open the door to a discussion about the feasibility of such a prospect.
Tourism levies go beyond the Commonwealth Games, of course. Birmingham has an amazing cultural scene. Just think of the CBSO, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Birmingham Opera Company, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Ikon Gallery, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, to mention just a few.
The city council has been a wonderful supporter of the arts in the past. A strategic decision was taken in the 1980s and 1990s that regeneration would come partly through regenerating our arts, and it has been wonderfully successful in that. I have no doubt that, when we have the Commonwealth Games, those arts organisations will be providing fantastic entertainment to our visitors, but the precariousness of the city council’s funding position has meant that resources have been cut back from the arts grants and many of those organisations are finding it very tough indeed.
The Minister may be aware that Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, had spoken out about the disparity in funding between, say, the Royal Academy of Music in Birmingham—the conservatoire—and other royal schools of music. That is a DCMS responsibility, and I hope that the Minister is willing to meet me to discuss it.
Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and others mentioned the briefing by the News Media Association on behalf of the UK’s media publishers. When one hears about Downing Street’s attempts to exclude certain media outlets from Downing Street briefings, following the Trump Administration’s practice, the issue of public bodies trying to control media access is very serious. We will be looking for a comprehensive answer from the Minister about that during later stages of the Bill.
The third and final challenge relates to legacy, which several noble Lords spoke about. Birmingham has one of the highest levels of obesity among year 6 children in the country. NHS Digital figures show that one in four children who finished primary school in Birmingham in 2017-18 was obese, and 6.5% were severely obese; additionally, 15% of year 6 children were overweight. That means that 41% of Birmingham’s youngsters are unhealthily overweight when they finish primary school. I really hope that we can use the legacy as a way to kick-start a new and bold approach to encourage physical activity, health and well-being, particularly among our young people.
Hopes were raised in the London Olympics; the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred to that. He went on to talk about the Glasgow experience, which was rather more encouraging, but we must use the Games as a way of leaving a long-term legacy in the health and well-being of young people in the city. I hope that the Minister will be able to respond with enthusiasm and confidence that this is being planned for.
This is a wonderful occasion. It is great that so many noble Lords have spoken. It is a huge opportunity for a wonderful city. Let us all take that opportunity with both hands.
My Lords, the Commonwealth is a wonderful voluntary organisation. It is an institution now made up of 54 countries following the great news that the Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth on
Of course, CHOGM—the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which takes place regularly—is a big event in the Commonwealth calendar, as are the Commonwealth Games, which take place every four years and bring together the community, or family, of the 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. They are hugely important to the host city, which is Birmingham in this case, the host country, which is the UK in this case, and the whole Commonwealth, which is made up of 2.4 billion people—more than a third of the world’s population. Let us put this in perspective: trade with the Commonwealth makes up less than 10% of the UK’s trade; 50% of it is with the EU and 18% is with the United States.
“refreshed vision, mission, values and strategic priorities” for the Commonwealth Games leading up to 2022. It talks about a “refresh process” and states:
“This has to be more about a Movement than a Federation … It’s our commitment to inclusion and equality that sets us apart.”
It talks about progress to date, as has been mentioned, and states:
“Gold Coast 2018 provided a $2.5 billion economic boost to the state”.
It talks about the federation’s strengths and states:
“Commonwealth Sport builds upon its history: 21 Games and 6 Youth Games since 1930”.
That is tremendous. It states that this is the federation’s mission:
“Delivering inspirational sporting moments … Nurturing a powerful sporting movement … Activating transformational partnerships … Realising our collective impact”.
The work done in these Games goes far beyond the values of “humanity, equality and destiny” referred to in the report. It is about delivering on that mission. That is what these Games are all about.
The most important thing is that the Commonwealth athletes who will participate—as has been mentioned, there are more than 6,000 of them—are, as the report states,
“Inspiring Leaders … Agents of Change … Advocates for Integrity … Ambassadors for Respect, Impartiality and Non-Discrimination”.
The report states:
“To Commonwealth Athletes, sport is more than just competition. Sport is just the beginning. Sport connects them – and all of us – with dreams, goals and aspirations for ourselves, our families and our communities.”
A Birmingham 2022 report states the key facts, some of which we have heard:
“Birmingham and the West Midlands region will benefit from” almost £800 million—more than $1 billion—
“of sport investment - the biggest investment since London 2012 … A brand new aquatics centre, a redeveloped athletics stadium and 1,400 new homes … a global audience of 1.5 billion to showcase Birmingham and the West Midlands to the rest of the world … Over 1 million tickets … 19 sports”,
which we will come on to later. It also states that
“8 fully integrated para events will feature across 11 days … the first integrated and biggest ever para sports offering.”
It also states, as the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, said, that the Games have potential
“for more female medals than male, this would be a first for any major multi sports event” in history. It also refers to approximately
“41,000 Games-time roles, including 10,000 trained volunteers”.
It goes on. A Birmingham City Council members’ update reports that the council is putting in huge work with the
Again, as the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, mentioned, the community champions will also be engaged.
I am the proud chancellor of the University of Birmingham, and we are delighted to be playing a major role in these Games. In 2017, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, opened our state-of-the-art £55 million sports centre with Birmingham’s first 50-metre swimming pool. The University of Birmingham will host the squash and hockey events, as well as providing volunteers, while the facilities will be used by athletes from around the world. Birmingham is the country’s first civic university, and we have a civic university agreement which will make us the West Midlands’ go-to centre.
The West Midlands Growth Company has been tasked by the West Midlands Combined Authority to develop a programme of tourism, trade and investment activity to maximise the benefits of the Commonwealth Games for the region and the UK.
As well as the squash and hockey events, the Commonwealth Games will also use Birmingham University’s facilities, including the pool and the track, for pre-Games training in the camp. As I say, our students will volunteer and there will be education and academic programmes as well as career engagements for student work experience, industry placements, summer internships and volunteering activities. All of this is phenomenal. Of course, there is the whole cultural aspect, including a 22-day festival of sport and culture made up of 11 days of sport followed by 11 days of culture.
Let us not forget the academic powerhouse of the UK as a country, with 1% of the world’s population producing 16% of the world’s leading research papers. This will mark a huge opportunity for the university research effort, headed by Professor Tim Softley, who will be engaged to identify further research opportunities to link up our academic strengths with interests in the Games.
I welcome the Bill. The original version was welcomed by the chair of the Birmingham 2022 organising committee, John Crabtree, by the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, my friend Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, and by the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, David Grevemberg.
We must remember that the Commonwealth Games Federation is responsible for this multi-sport event. In 2015, it awarded the 2022 Games to Durban in South Africa, which would have been the first time that the Games had taken place in Africa, but that was withdrawn in March 2017. In December 2017, the Games were awarded to Birmingham. Birmingham has won the Games, but it has a shorter time to prepare for them than would normally be given to a country, so it is a huge challenge. Given the public investment which we have heard about in the debate, with 75% of the funding coming from central government and 25% from Birmingham, I am grateful to them both for that support.
However, there is one issue which has been touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Most people do not realise this, but shooting is an optional sport which can be included in the Commonwealth Games. Birmingham has decided to leave shooting and archery out, making this only the second time ever that shooting has been left out. Shooting is very important to countries like India, which makes up more than half of the population of the Commonwealth—at 1.3 billion out of 2.4 billion. India has now overtaken the United Kingdom as the fifth largest economy in the world. It is an emerging and growing global economic superpower and is now by far the biggest economy in the Commonwealth as well as being one of the biggest economies in the world.
India’s participation in the Commonwealth at every level is fundamental, and yet for a long time there was the potential that, if shooting was excluded, India would boycott the Games. I have been in regular touch with the chief executive officer for the organising committee, Ian Reid, as well as with the chairman, John Crabtree. Last November, a delegation from the Commonwealth Games Federation headed by Dame Louise Martin, already mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the chief executive, David Grevemberg, made a hugely constructive visit to India. As a result, the federation members could see at first hand the legacy of the Commonwealth Games which were held in Delhi in 2010 and they were able to prevent India from boycotting these Games, so India will be participating in 2022.
However, a solution for the shooting events still needs to be found. This is supported by the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports in India, Kiren Rijiju, the president of the National Rifle Association of India and the vice-president of the International Shooting Sport Federation, His Highness Crown Prince Raninder Singh of Patiala, the secretary of the India Olympic Association, Rajeev Mehta, and the IOA president, Narinder Batra, who are all very keen to see shooting be included in the Games. The host country, the UK—comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—wins lots of medals in shooting events. The sport enables smaller countries and territories such as the Falkland Islands to participate in the Games at all. Moreover, shooting is a sport that encompasses all ages, from teenagers to senior middle-aged people, and it is gender inclusive.
In December 2019, a meeting took place between the Commonwealth Games Federation and the ISSF in Berlin at which a very innovative solution was put forward by India. This was based on the vision statement of the Commonwealth Games, among other things, desiring the future of the Games to be inclusive, cost effective and empowering local communities through the power of sport—a truly friendly Games. The Indian bid meets the demand of all these points by suggesting an innovative and what it considers path-breaking proposal that, I hope the Minister will agree, will ensure that shooting—a major Olympic sport—can be effectively, technically and cost-effectively held in another country in future if a host country cannot hold it. I am delighted with this innovative and creative solution, which was officially put forward in Munich, whereby India will host shooting and archery and the actual Games will be in Birmingham. These events would take place in association with the Commonwealth Games as part of the overall Commonwealth Games, with—as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said—the medals included in the total tally. I have seen the detailed proposal put forward by India, whereby India will organise a shooting competition conforming strictly to the rules, with all the results officially recognised globally, and will fund the competition, including bringing the athletes from all over the Commonwealth and hosting them.
Shooting is important to India—more than 25% of medals won by India in previous Commonwealth Games have been in shooting—but, as I have mentioned, it is similarly important, for a number of reasons, for the medal tallies of many other countries, including us here in the United Kingdom. From an accessibility point of view, shooting is one of the handful of highest-participation sports in the Commonwealth Games. As I said earlier, it enables tiny countries such as the Falkland Islands to participate in the Games and is also inclusive in that men and women compete in mixed competitions and in the age spectrum, from teenagers to middle-aged participants.
Beyond these advantages of including shooting, holding the competition in India has huge additional advantages. As I said, India is by far the largest country in the Commonwealth; its 1.3 billion people make up more than half the population of the Commonwealth. The Indian economy continues to grow and is predicted to be the third largest in the world very soon. India’s importance for the Commonwealth is therefore hugely disproportionate to other countries’ and to have India onside in future as a committed member of the Commonwealth family is paramount. In my opinion, if India had boycotted the Games, it could have threatened the very existence of the Commonwealth. Given that the Games are being hosted in the UK, the fact that it is India coming to the rescue when it comes to shooting will only help build the bridges that already exist between the UK and India.
From my various roles, including as founding chairman of the UK India Business Council, I would say that Britain has a special relationship with the United States and India more than with any other countries in the world. The excellent Transformation 2022 Refresh report says the impact of the Commonwealth Games goes well beyond sport itself:
“Sport is just the beginning.”
So many positive messages would be sent out by holding the shooting and archery competitions in India. It shows the Commonwealth family coming together in a positive way to resolve a predicament. It shows how Commonwealth countries work in partnership. It sets the precedent of a flexible approach in which host countries that may not have the ability to fund the full range of sports can hold the vast majority of the Games but partner with other Commonwealth countries to host sports they cannot afford or practically host.
It gives a huge opportunity for the Games to be an anchor and catalyst for many other bilateral engagements between the UK and India, including in education. With Birmingham one of the five largest universities in the UK and in the top 100 in the world, we will not only be proud to host part of the Games but will be at the centre of the Games. The Midlands is the home of one of the largest Indian-origin populations in the UK, with large numbers coming from north India and Punjab. If the shooting competitions were held in Delhi or Chandigarh, this would build on the living bridge that exists between our two countries—including between the two specific regions in the two countries. The University of the Punjab collaborates with the University of Birmingham on research. The statistics show that the field-weighted impact for collaborative research between the universities of Birmingham and the Punjab is more than double the universities’ individual scores and almost equal to the field-weighted impact of research conducted between the University of Birmingham and Harvard University. Holding shooting will also be a huge help to businesses.
These events would be held in association with the Games, but the medals must be included within the Games. Given technology and social media, shooting competitions can be broadcast live on the internet, and there could be a venue in Birmingham with people watching the competitions live. I know India will put on very impressive opening and closing ceremonies for the shooting part of the Games as well.
This is a truly win-win solution to what was a potentially disastrous situation. Will the Minister please confirm that the Government will support this Indian solution to this predicament? The meeting of the CGF taking place on 21 and
“Sport is just the beginning.”
My Lords, this is pretty much the same Bill that we gave a Second Reading to last June, which makes things a little easier for me because it means I can make pretty much the same speech I made then. At least it enables me to say once again with enthusiasm that I support the Bill, which will bring the Commonwealth Games to the West Midlands. Noble Lords would expect me to say that because I live there, but perhaps I can make a wider national and, indeed, international point, which was very much echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria.
These are Commonwealth Games, with 71 competing countries from all parts of the globe. During the past three years we have been talking a great deal about Britain’s place in the world and the extent to which we engage beyond our shores. Perhaps it is a good time to mention just what a remarkable, successful and, indeed, unique institution the Commonwealth has become. And it is growing: among the countries competing this time are two recent entrants to the Commonwealth, Rwanda and Mozambique. There are more at various stages waiting to join. By the way, the new ones, unlike the rest of the Commonwealth, do not have a history of being parts of the former British Empire. Its appeal now goes much wider than that.
I have no doubt that these Games will further strengthen the friendships and relationships between these 71 nations and the people who live in them. That is something to celebrate, and what better place for a Commonwealth celebration than Birmingham and the West Midlands? There cannot be many countries of the Commonwealth, if any, that do not have direct contact—family and friends—with people in our region. That is, again, something to celebrate.
The Commonwealth Games will be a showcase for the West Midlands. I saw a figure that 1.5 billion people will watch these Games on television. I do not have the faintest idea how anyone calculates such a figure, but it sounds like an awful lot of people. I very much hope that the various TV production companies will give some nice shots of the region in their opening titles, not just of the sports stadiums where the Games will be held, but of Birmingham’s vibrant city centre and the Canalside, which has been mentioned, as well as of views and landmarks from the wider region. I will put in an early bid, which I am sure the whole House will agree with, that they should include a picture of the world-famous Iron Bridge.
I of course welcome the investment in jobs that the Games will bring. I have seen estimates of up to 4,000 jobs. Another really heartening figure is the expected community involvement. We are told that the Games will need the assistance of some 10,000 volunteers. No wonder there is support for the Games not just in Birmingham, but across the region and across the political divide, with Ian Ward, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, and the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, both emphasising the benefits to business and tourism from the Games being located in our region. I add by proxy the supporting voice of my noble friend Lord Rooker—Jeff. As the House will know, he contributed at pretty well every stage of the previous Bill’s consideration. He is convalescing after a period in hospital. He would undoubtably agree with pretty well everything that has been said. We all look forward to his authentic West Midlands voice being here with us again very soon.
Things have not been standing still since we last considered the Bill in November. One of the key developments was announced only last week, with the approval of planning permission for the development of the Alexander Stadium, which, when completed, will house more than 30,000 people. It will be not only a world-class stadium for the Games, but part of the legacy that we will have long after the athletes have gone home.
This is not exactly a sour note, but I am allowed to be grumpy occasionally at my age. The previous Bill first came before the House in June last year. It probably deserves a footnote in Erskine May. It is a House of Lords Bill, introduced in one Session of Parliament last June, then—quite unusually for a House of Lords Bill—carried over to another Session in October and reintroduced in yet another Session this January. That is three Sessions of Parliament to deal with one relatively small, simple, uncontroversial Bill. Why on earth it was not dealt with in the wash-up last October, as it would have been in the old days, I do not know, but the House knows well enough that we did things much better in the old days. Far beyond a procedural point, it would have had the benefit of everything being completed last October. Two or three months is not a lifetime, but we already have a truncated period in which to prepare for these Games. At least the Bill is here, with very few minor changes. The most important, albeit short, part of it remains the section on finance, which, as ever, is a complicated matter, involving, as it does, a 75:25 split between national and local government. We are told that the final Games budget will soon be published; I hope the Minister can tell us when that is likely to be.
On the subject of finance, I add my support to all my noble friend Lord Hunt said about a tourist levy and the possibility of a pilot scheme being authorised. This was debated in Committee last year. At that time, a different Minister replied that such a proposal would not be appropriate for this Bill, which is what Ministers often say. I hope that this Minister’s reply will be a little more forthcoming—although I am not too optimistic—or at the very least that she will tell us whether anything can be learned from similar proposals elsewhere, and whether it is something that the Government will be looking at.
Another, perhaps minor—though not for people trying to get around the city—query that I have is about transport. I echo everything said about Birmingham New Street station. Part 4 of the Bill says that road and pavement closures can be made up to 21 days before the opening ceremony. Anyone who travels regularly to the centre of Birmingham—as most noble Lords who have spoken in this debate do—knows that in recent years, with the redevelopment of the city centre, there have been numerous road closures and diverted traffic signs; they are all too frequent. Why are powers needed for road closures up to three weeks before the Games begin? Three weeks is a long time in road-closure terms.
In conclusion, I emphasise that these are minor points, which in no way detract from my enthusiasm for the Bill. In 18 months, people from a third of all the countries in the world will come to Birmingham for the friendly Games, which thousands will watch in the venues and millions will view on television. The Bill further facilitates these Games; that is good enough for me.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate. I declare my interests, as set out in the register.
I cannot see any of the signage at Birmingham New Street Station. I am at absolutely no disadvantage whatever. It is a delight that Birmingham has been awarded the Commonwealth Games. I am delighted, but I also share the sadness for South Africa, and the hope that soon the Commonwealth Games will take place on the continent of Africa.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in the shadow of Birmingham. I swam for nine years in the city of Birmingham swimming squad, where, from a 25-yard pool with a roof held up with scaffolding, we got four swimmers on to the Paralympic team and five on to the Olympic team for the Seoul Olympic Games and Paralympic Games of 1988. That was under the excellent coach Rick Bailey, who went on to do so much in leisure across the city. However, it is not only about sport, but also about culture. We have already heard about so many of the cultural high points from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. There are also fabulous culinary opportunities for people to experience such as the table naan bread and the Balti Triangle, possibly washing much of it down with a glass or two of the Cobra beer of the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria.
I was delighted to be part of the West Midlands. It shaped me as I grew up before going away to higher education. Having mentioned Cobra beer, I should also echo the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, and those of my noble friend Lord Moynihan and others on shooting and archery. What further efforts are the Government making to ensure an optimum solution to the problem and include shooting and archery? It is quite right that the Commonwealth Games Federation should look at new sports that attract the young people of the West Midlands, this country and the Commonwealth, but these are Games for the Commonwealth, and as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria said, shooting is such an integral sport across the Commonwealth. It has one of the highest levels of participation, not least in the home country itself.
Building on that, Birmingham is also, as we have heard, an incredibly diverse city—187 nationalities are represented. Whichever corner of the Commonwealth athletes come from, they will have spectators not just from their home country but home-grown from the city of Birmingham. Some 40% of the population of Birmingham is under the age of 25. It is a diverse, vibrant city, so I ask my noble friend, what percentage of the organising committee and what percentage of senior roles within that organising committee are currently held by disabled people, BAME people and people from all the different protected characteristics in the broadest sense of diversity? Crucially, what percentage is aimed at for Games time, and across the volunteer workforce as well?
I was lucky enough to be a member of the organising committee for London 2012 and as well as many of its key targets one of my informal targets for measuring the success of the Games was that in autumn 2012 and beyond we should be able to say that attitudes towards and opportunities for disabled people had fundamentally changed as a result of those Games. I think that we saw that, as we also did in Glasgow 2014.
The opportunities are potentially even greater for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 where we see the increased inclusion of para athletes in full medal events in the sporting programme. What an incredible journey the Commonwealth Games has been on since there were demonstrations in Canada in 1994 when certain coaches asked why we had these people in the Commonwealth Games because it was an embarrassment. It was no embarrassment in Glasgow 2014 or on the Gold Coast and para athletes are now fully embedded and an excellent example of inclusion and integration in the Commonwealth Games programme.
As something to be built on, will my noble friend or her department consider writing to all of the international sports federations, not least FINA and the IAAF, to ask them where their current thinking is in terms of looking at integrated, inclusive sports programmes for the European and World Championships to have disabled and non-disabled competitors at the same competition?
We mentioned swimming and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Snape, about the sensational venue being constructed in Smethwick, not just for Games time but, significantly, for that community moving forward. What an incredible distance we have travelled since the 25-yard pool that I trained in in 1988.
This legislation is necessary and proportionate. It does not necessarily go to the great heights of sporting cultural achievement, but it forms the brilliant, critical basics that enable the magic to come through. It is quite right to protect all the commercial sponsors who are putting their brands and their money on the line to ensure a successful Games.
It is crucial to ensure that you know when you present your ticket that it is a bona fide ticket. Will my noble friend say whether all the learning from the 2012 ticket care programme has been taken on board? If you were partially sighted, you got a ticket right at the front of the seating bowl. If you were hearing impaired, you got a ticket with direct line of sight to the video boards. If you had mobility impairment, you got a seat at the end of the row and, building on what the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, said, if you were a wheelchair user, you could sit with your family and friends and enjoy the sporting occasion together and were not forced to sit with other people whose only connection to you was that they were also wheelchair users.
At Birmingham New Street you may find yourself in the blue lounge or the red lounge. In your Lordships’ House some of us find ourselves in the red lounge or the blue lounge and some noble Lords may perhaps, inexplicably, find themselves in the yellow lounge. When it comes to this Bill and the 2022 project, speakers in this debate have been loud and clear that it is critical that we are all in the Commonwealth Games lounge. We should never underestimate how important it is to have cross-party support for these mega sporting events.
Transport is the lubricant of the Games. Is the Minister satisfied with the plans not just for transport connectivity to all the venues but, crucially, for the last mile—the bit from the transport hub to the gates of the venue? Is she happy with the Games mobility service which will enable that access in the venues? As we have already heard, access and mobility go much further than just athletes. For disabled and non-disabled spectators, one of the best nights of the Paralympic Games was when we had people from all parts of society in the stadium. We stored 1,500 pushchairs that evening because so many families came, disabled people and non-disabled people. Everybody was represented in that stadium in the seating bowl as much as on the track.
On construction, will the Minister say whether we are taking advantage of the potential training opportunities and driving apprenticeship money into every opportunity from the Games? So much can be done through procurement pathways to drive everything we want in terms of the kind of society we want to be, not just inclusion and diversity, but fighting modern slavery. Procurement amplifies the power the Games can have.
The difference between a good Games and a great Games is putting athletes at the heart of every decision. Alongside that, one of the most important groups is the local community. We must enable them right from the outset to feel part of this celebration of sport, culture and their city. We cannot possibility overcommunicate that narrative of possibility and empowerment that can come through the Games. Does my noble friend believe that that narrative is in the place it needs to be and that local people feel connected to the Games and to the possibilities for them, their families, their children and their grandchildren? One of the key ways that local communities can get involved is through the volunteer programme. At London 2012, we had Games makers: people who for no remuneration made the Games. Through being Games makers they became change makers. It is such a fabulous legacy from 2012, and a fabulous legacy from 2022 will be what the volunteers go on to do for the rest of their lives as a result of being part of that volunteer programme at the Games.
There is an extraordinary opportunity but nothing is inevitable. We can have such a moment in time in 2022 but, as we have already heard, it is not just about one sensational summer of sport—it is about the legacy that is driven. If we get this Bill right, it will be a key part of that legacy and the standards set by 2022 will roll forward into future sporting occasions, not least Paris and LA, and Paralympic Games, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games to come.
This might seem a small Bill but it is incredibly important. Counterfeiting and corruption will be out, rogue trading and ticket touting will be out, and world-class athletes and local communities will be absolutely in. The Commonwealth, the country and the world will be invited to experience these Games in the flesh, across the country and via broadcast right around the world. What a beacon they will be for Birmingham, for Britain and for the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty’s remarkable, unrivalled reign—2022, happy and glorious.