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Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:06 pm on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Crawley Baroness Crawley Labour 4:06 pm, 3rd February 2020

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.