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

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:51 pm on 3rd February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative 3:51 pm, 3rd February 2020

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 21 February, if I am not mistaken. If that is the case, it will give us time in Committee to look at its outcome.

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.