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Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:10 pm on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 3:10 pm, 3rd February 2020

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 31 March 2020. As it is now unlikely that the Bill will have achieved Royal Assent by this date, the date has been amended to 31 March 2021. Additionally, Clause 33 has been amended to ensure that alongside the financial assistance provision, the annual reporting provision will be commenced upon Royal Assent.

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.