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Amendment 1

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:46 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Lord Foster of Bath:

Moved by Lord Foster of Bath

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 11, after “interest” insert “and financial reporting”

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 1, standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Addington. Before I begin, I congratulate the Minister on her prescience in predicting that before this stage of our Committee deliberations, the Commonwealth Games Federation would have found a solution to the issues of shooting and archery. I note that our second group of amendments will give us ample opportunity to hear more details about that.

This group deals predominantly with financial matters, in particular financial reporting, and provides an opportunity for the Minister to update us on the finances of the Games and to address some of the lingering problems. Amendment 1 proposes simply that any government grant, loan, guarantee or indemnity must be subject to the condition that the recipients provide financial reports, which seems eminently sensible.

Amendment 5, in my name and the names of the noble Lords, Lord Bilimoria and Lord Moynihan, specifies that the first such report from the organising committee should be completed within six months of the coming into force of this provision, although I note that the reference to shooting and archery in that amendment may no longer be relevant in light of the CGF’s decision.

Amendment 11, from my noble friend Lord Addington, requires in the same six-month period a report from the Secretary of State to be laid before both Houses. It too covers financial provision alongside consideration of other funding mechanisms such as a local lottery or local tax. This issue is picked up in Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, and other noble Lords. Quite sensibly, this too looks for a wider report by the Secretary of State—this time within 12 months—covering not only the issues covered in other reports but how to help raise additional funds, and government support for minimising the impact of the Games on local services and maximising various legacy projects—an issue we will discuss in more detail later.

Reference continues to be made to a hotel tax. I am well aware of Core Cities UK’s enthusiasm for this. As I said in a previous discussion, before we introduce such a thing, we should reduce the VAT on accommodation and attractions, as the vast majority of other EU countries have done. However, I note that this amendment has changed from an earlier version and now refers to such a tax applying only during the Games. That is a period of just 12 days. Given that we were previously told that the estimated income for such a tax over a three-year period would be £15 million, a simple calculation suggests that a hotel tax levied solely during the period of the Games would raise just £160,000. I will leave it to the movers of that amendment to explain the benefits of such an approach.

Photo of Lord Snape Lord Snape Labour

Is it not a fact that in previous debates, the noble Lord endorsed a hotel tax—a view shared by many of us—quite enthusiastically, whereas his noble friend Lord Addington denounced the whole idea on principle? It is very unusual for Liberal Democrats to disagree on such matters, but for clarification, could he let us know where his party stands on this important issue?

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee

I am enormously grateful to the noble Lord. The entire House is looking forward to a later debate on future signage arrangements around Birmingham New Street station, which he is the world’s expert on. I hope that, before our Committee deliberations are finished, he will offer to lead a team of Games volunteers at the station to guide people, since he knows his way around there better than most.

However, the noble Lord’s suggestion is wrong: at no point have I been a clear enthusiast for a hotel tax. He will note that in many debates in the other place, I expressed on the record grave reservations about such an approach until the issue of VAT had been addressed. There is commonality of agreement with my noble friend on the Front Bench on this issue, but there are a range of views, which we will have an opportunity to hear when his noble friend introduces his amendment.

My final two amendments, 19 and 20, look at the wider reporting mechanism. Amendment 20 calls for an earlier report than the Bill currently provides for. I hope the Minister agrees that on financial and other vital issues, we need early reporting. Amendment 19, from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, calls for not only earlier reports but far more frequent reports than is currently proposed. That way, your Lordships and the other House can keep abreast of what is happening and hold people to account. The more reports that we have as the Games develop, the better, and it is important that we use them to keep a tight grip on expenditure.

Let me give an example of why there are continuing concerns, and why there is a need to keep a grip and to understand what is meant by the Government’s plans for underwriting the Games. We know from newspaper reports that removing the National Express bus depot in order to create the Games village and subsequently providing 1,400 much-needed homes in the area was initially estimated to cost £2 million. Reports now suggest that the cost will be a staggering eight times higher, at £15.5 million. Will the money that has to be found be additional to the £185 million that Birmingham City Council must find, or will it be covered by the Government’s underwriting agreement with the council? It is important that we find out such details now. We need early and regular financial reports on what is taking place, and that is why I have tabled my amendment. I support nearly all the other amendments, albeit that one needs a slight tweak. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

My Lords, I shall speak to my Amendment 3 and respond to the noble Lord, Lord Foster. He is right about the need for transparency in the underwriting agreement between the Government and Birmingham City Council. It is not at all clear to noble Lords. The key issue is: who is the provider of funds of last resort if the Games run into financial difficulty? We are entitled to be told at some point during the passage of the legislation. Whether we get that is another matter entirely.

It needs to be repeated that these Games are a fantastic opportunity for the country, Birmingham and the West Midlands. Many characteristics of the Games are very exciting. Now that we have resolved imaginatively the issue of the two sports originally to be excluded, all is set fair for a brilliant competition. However, the problem of finances for a city that is already under some financial challenge is formidable. As we have heard, there is a 75:25% budget split between central government and Birmingham City Council. Birmingham has to find £184 million and it will of course look for commercial opportunities to help with that; but it also has other plans such as the post-Games housing development in Perry Barr. All that means that sources of private funding will have to be found. We must recognise that the city council’s finances are under pressure, which is why this is such an important issue.

I have been interested in a tourism levy because the city council has been. The Core Cities group believes that a levy would be a sensible and fair way in which to raise funding revenue. Scotland is close to implementing such a levy for Edinburgh, and the consultation of the city council there showed high levels of support for it—85% of respondents to the consultation backed a levy of either 2% or £2 per room per night. The noble Lord, Lord Foster, rather unkindly took me to task for the wording of my amendment. We should not take the wording of amendments in Committee too literally. The point that I am trying to make and is clear in my amendment is that we want the Government to look at this matter sympathetically and produce a report. The issue that the noble Lord is right to raise is the length of time for which a levy would operate. I fully accept that important point and it surely would be discussed after review by the Government and the city council.

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee 5:00 pm, 25th February 2020

I entirely accept the noble Lord’s point and that a drafting change can be made, but does he not think it more sensible to adopt the approach proposed in the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Addington, which talks about the Government looking at ways they can help Birmingham City Council raise funds through, for example, a local tax more generally or even a local lottery? There are quite imaginative solutions and to tie it down to one specific mechanism is probably an error.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

We already know from what the Minister said at Second Reading that she will say that the decision on a new tax rests with Her Majesty’s Treasury and it thinks that local authorities already have ample means to raise funding. I am sure she will say that again. The noble Lord raises some fundamental points about local government finance, and I am very sympathetic to them. I have been trying to put forward a very simple suggestion: as a tourism levy has been floated by a number of local authorities and we are seeing one implemented soon in Edinburgh, why not use the Commonwealth Games as a way to pilot it—without commitment to any other city or area of the country or that it will be a long-term tax—to see whether it could work?

I understood that, post-election, Her Majesty’s Treasury was looking at changing all the rules of engagement as part of the Government’s new strategy towards local government and to help in some of the more deprived parts of the country. This is a very straightforward way to try something out to see whether it would work, whether it would impact on the hotel economy—a downturn is clearly one risk—and whether it would be a very straightforward way to enable local authorities to raise more resources for sports, leisure and culture in the future. I do not see the problem with having a pilot scheme to allow that to happen.

Photo of Lord Snape Lord Snape Labour

Is my noble friend aware that the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London intends to fight the mayoral campaign later this year with one of his policies being the right to levy a hotel tax in this city? If the Conservative candidate in London can say that that is what he is going to fight on, that should surely overcome the objections from the Treasury Bench and certainly from the Front Bench today.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

Indeed. I would not bet much on his chances, I have to say, but there is a growing movement for some kind of tourism levy. I am pretty sure that at some point it will be agreed to. I think this would be a great opportunity to do it now.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

This is an interesting group of amendments about the funding of the Games. My initial reaction was that it is an interesting idea, but how does it affect these Games? My initial response to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, was that it is an interesting idea but not here and now because the Government told me they have underwritten the Games. We will probably have a little more transparency and more of an idea about how that underwriting takes place in a few minutes’ time, but making these Games a success is the priority in these discussions. We will not solve local government finance in a Bill with this Long Title. It was suggested to me that the department wants us to pass this amendment so that it can fight with the Treasury. I know where my money would be on that one—it would not go beyond three rounds.

What are we going to do about this? We are going to make sure we know what is happening so we can get on and do the Games and do them well. If we get it wrong—remember it is a Bill about the Games—we will lose something that we have built up a huge amount of credit for. We can do these big events well. We have a track record. We are coming in late so we cannot have the schemes and imaginative discussions we had on the Olympic Games. We are the white knights, the rescuers, coming in to make sure the wonderful, second-biggest multi-games event on the planet functions again. We are doing a good thing. If we try and Christmas-tree too many things on it, we will get into trouble. If the Government are making very clear that they are underwriting the Games and Birmingham City Council knows what the relationship is—whether it is a loan or a gift—then we are in good shape. However, we have to know.

My amendment is designed to know what packages can be done. My noble friend described it as imaginative. It is not. It simply uses examples of what we have done before. We used the National Lottery for the Olympics. Do we use some form of lottery now? Do we use something based around it? If we place a series of handcuffs on or stumbling blocks in front of the organising committee, we risk throwing the baby out with the bath water. Let us get on with it. We have come in late. We are doing a good thing. It will not be perfect. We will not have the indulgence of discussing and preparing things like we had for the Olympics, where the Bill was there before we won the bid.

Using tried and tested ideas might be the better way forward. I suggest in future that local government should know what contributions it can make, how much it can raise and what responsibilities it has. Doing a study now will help it in the future because we do not want this to be the last thing to be put on. We do not want something getting in the way of us winning hosting, for example, the soccer World Cup. Let us make sure we have clarity. I hope at the end of this discussion we will have a little more of it.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative

My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 5, 19 and 20 in the first group. In so doing, I echo what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said: all of us are united in believing that the Games will be great. We already have an outstanding organising committee and there is both political and popular will to ensure that they will be memorable and enjoyable.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, for introducing my amendment so well. I need hardly say anything more, save to underline the fact that the original reporting provision required the first report to be submitted to the Secretary of State as soon as was reasonably practical after 31 March this year. Because of the delay in the legislation, that was put back a full year until after 31 March next year, which is very close to when the Games are going to be held the following year.

In the context of being transparent and accountable, not only to the people of Birmingham but to other taxpayers, it is important that there is a more regular reporting structure to and timetable for your Lordships’ House. That is why I have proposed the amendment that there should be a report, starting on 15 July 2020 and then every six months until the end of the year of the Games, 31 December 2022.

Transparency is critical. Transparency about any overruns on financing will carry the public with us. It will allow all of us to know the exact underwriting procedure, how it will be dealt with, the precise budget, the current expenditure on the Games at any given six months, and the provisions for drawing down on the contingency, which are unclear to me. I do not know if they are clear to the rest of the Committee. It would be helpful if the Minister could outline on what basis the contingency will be drawn down, particularly given that the Games are underwritten by the Government.

With those comments now on the record, clearly the amendment that I tabled about the budget and revenue sources for all Games events, including shooting and archery, has been overtaken by last night’s decision. However, I look forward to the debate that we will undoubtedly have on the second group, when we will look at some of the detail of what was announced yesterday and the consequences for the Games.

Photo of Baroness Grey-Thompson Baroness Grey-Thompson Crossbench

My Lords, like many others in your Lordships’ Chamber, I am very excited by the 2022 Commonwealth Games. I am excited for several reasons, not least because the Commonwealth Games book-ended my career, and my last Commonwealth Games signified that I should find something else to do with my life. Also, I lived in Ward End in Birmingham for four years, and I know that the opportunities to use the Games in an incredibly positive way for the city are boundless.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foster, about the grouping of the amendments being quite sensible. The expectation that people have of the Commonwealth Games is different from the one they have of Olympic or Paralympic Games because they are different types of events. However, the challenge that this country has set itself is for the rest of the world to see how good we are at organising Games, so it is essential that we get the budget absolutely right—that we have enough money to spend, but spend it wisely. I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Addington, about what happens in coming to this slightly late. As we get closer to the Games, things become more stressful. The amendments would ensure that all the different stakeholders worked together to do the reporting and make sure that the Games are carried on as well as possible.

The reporting of finances is important for a number of reasons—not just because of the Games in Birmingham. Looking to the future, we are much more likely to bid for another Commonwealth Games before we bid for another Olympic or Paralympic Games. I do not want the group of cities and countries that are able to host the Commonwealth Games to become smaller and smaller because of the cost and transparency involved in them; that is why I believe that the reporting is incredibly important.

I totally agree that there should be early and regular reporting. As we get closer to Games-time, those working on the Commonwealth Games organising committee will be looking for other opportunities. We know that there is a group of people who travel from organising committee to organising committee, and they will be looking to join the committee for the next Olympics or Paralympics. We cannot lose that corporate knowledge of reporting, and that is why it is essential that we have very regular reporting. It would also inform what we do in relation to future bids. Whether it is for the World Cup or any other Games, this information is incredibly important.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

My Lords, one advantage of putting my name alongside that of my noble friend Lord Hunt is that he has said pretty well everything that needs to be said on the subject. I want to make the much more general point that we need not only to think about the Birmingham-based Commonwealth Games but to reassure cities which host similar events in the future that they will not be put in huge financial difficulties. That is the reason for the amendments in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Hunt.

Clearly, the most important thing is the arrangement for underwriting and the relationship between central and local government. However, if any additional source of funding can be identified, through whichever amendment we consider, that would make the possibility of a city bidding for a major sporting event more attractive, then it must be part of the legacy. We need to say to the next group of bidders, “These are ways in which the costs can be met.” I think we all know what the Minister will say. If she wants to give us all serious heart problems, she should say, “Yes, the Government agree with all these amendments.” However, showing some degree of sympathy about the financial arrangements and their importance is a really important message that the Government ought to pass on to the city concerned, and to any cities that look to fund future events of this sort.

Photo of Baroness Janke Baroness Janke Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

My Lords, I want to speak in particular to Amendments 3 and 11. This is a major opportunity for Birmingham to promote itself in an international context, with all the subsequent benefits. I know that Birmingham is a fantastic city and that it has been regenerated with huge imagination, creativity and great ambition. Following on from the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, it is very important for us here to give other cities the confidence that they can take their ambitions forward, bring huge benefits for the people who live there and demonstrate what fantastic places they are in an international context.

As has been said, these amendments particularly address the demands that are likely to be made on local authorities, as well as the scope for the maximisation of benefits. I have been a city leader myself, and I can only imagine how the city council feels about the Games. There will be huge pride and ambition against a backdrop of unprecedented cuts to council budgets and the anxiety that must come with that. In an international context, they will have to face great pressures.

Amendment 11 would introduce a range of financial possibilities. The amendment is also very timely. I know that there are very many ways that the Core Cities, among others, could advise the Government if they wish to look at alternative funding sources.

The principle of the pilot tourist levy proposed in Amendment 3 is supported by many cities, not just for major events but as part of a programme for greater devolution of powers, including fiscal powers, to our cities and appropriate local authorities. There is an absolute weight of evidence showing the economic potential that could be unleashed in our cities through a more radical devolution of powers. I like to feel that the Government will look at giving powers—not just words of comfort about giving big sums of money—to the constituencies that they have said are being left behind in this country.

Other forms of fiscal devolution and local fundraising powers have been examined and evaluated by many organisations, such as the City Growth Commission, the London Finance Commission and many others. Amendment 11 offers the opportunity for these to be considered at an early stage in the context of these Games. However, having had direct contact over a tourist levy, I would say there will be a strong need to consult on these proposals. We should not underestimate the level of opposition that can be amassed against such things by interested parties, not necessarily citizens. Nor should we underestimate the need for a realistic timetable, because any new measures need that. We need measures to be taken so that they can be smoothly introduced and supported, rather than constantly opposed.

I know that this has all already been said. I was here at Second Reading when the Minister did not accept the principle behind Amendment 3. However, I hope that the Government will consider the opportunities offered by Amendments 1 and 11 to bring forward more detailed proposals so that there are feasible options available to Birmingham or any other city in the future. I also hope that there might be some new thinking on local taxation and devolution to provide cities and local authorities with the means of taking forward their ambitious plans for the future and putting their own cities on the international map.

Photo of Baroness Crawley Baroness Crawley Labour 5:15 pm, 25th February 2020

My Lords, as noble Lords have said, Birmingham 2022 will make us all proud. It will be a huge fillip for the city and for investing in it, alongside all the wonderful things that the Games themselves will bring. Briefly, I support my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on the idea of a tourism tax. I know that you should never ask a government Minister a question that you do not know the answer to yourself, but I will take a risk. Have the Government done any modelling at all on a tourism tax? Have they had any preliminary conversations with the local authority about it? If the Minister would like to tell us, we promise that we will keep it to ourselves.

Photo of Lord Shipley Lord Shipley Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I was not able to speak at Second Reading but I have listened carefully to the debate on this group of amendments. I hope that, when the Minister replies, a number of points that have been raised will be clarified. I support the amendments in this group. In particular Amendments 11 and 3, which broadly cover the same issue of how to raise more income at a local level, should be supported by the Government. The questions that have been asked about a tourist tax, a hotel bedroom tax or a lottery are all about the same thing: how to get more local income raised. My concern is whether the council taxpayers of Birmingham could be faced with a big bill—or else, big cuts in services—if there are difficulties for Birmingham in raising its 25% contribution. I hope the Minister will be able to clarify this; she needs to explain it to the Committee.

I also seek the Minister’s confirmation that the 25% contribution will include all costs that fall to the city council, or other public bodies, outside the formal structure of the governance of the Games—things such as extra street-cleaning, refuse disposal, information services, policing and emergency planning. There is a long list of them; I assume the Government have discussed it with Birmingham and that these matters have been agreed. It is important that the Minister clarifies what is included in the 25% contribution and what lies outside it.

I am sure we all accept that financial and other long-term benefits will accrue to Birmingham, so a local contribution to the cost of the Games is clearly appropriate. However, I have not really understood why 25% is the right figure or what discussion there has been about that. If it is not the right figure, what is the Government’s contingency plan to make up the deficit? As a number of noble Lords have pointed out, in her reply at Second Reading the Minister said that the Government had agreed to underwrite the organisation and delivery of the Games. The critical word is underwrite, but it requires clarification. Does that underwriting include any shortfall on Birmingham’s 25% contribution if the income streams do not deliver the expected sums?

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I start by sharing the positive sentiments that many noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, the noble Lords, Lord Grocott and Lord Addington, and others made about the excitement that we all feel about the potential for the Games and the message that we can send to cities which might wish to host games in future. The Government absolutely share that view.

I turn to the amendments. Amendment 3 calls for the preparation of a report, a key aspect of which includes an assessment of the case for implementing a temporary hotel occupancy levy throughout the Games, the proceeds of which, after costs of administration, would be made available to Birmingham City Council. I understand that Amendment 1, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Foster, is to seek clarity on Birmingham City Council’s financial position. As the Committee knows, Birmingham and the West Midlands region will benefit from a £778 million public investment to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The city council is responsible for funding 25% of the Games budget—£184 million—which the council has publicly committed to meet.

The Government have supported the council by agreeing that we will provide the majority of the contributions in capital and profiling its revenue for the final year 2022-23, as the council requested. A number of noble Lords raised concerns about the ability of the council to meet this. The Cabinet approved the council’s financial plan for 2020-24 at its most recent meeting on 11 February, with the funding requirement to be met from partner contributions, prudential borrowing and council-generated funding, such as capital receipts. The council recently submitted a proposal to my department requesting to pilot a statutory hotel occupancy tax, such as that outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. The tax is not necessary for the council to meet its share of the costs and the council’s own figures show that it would provide only a small contribution towards its revenue requirement. In any case, as I said at Second Reading, if the council wants to raise proposals for a new tax, the Bill is not the appropriate vehicle, as it is not a money Bill.

The Government will continue to work closely with Birmingham City Council to ensure that it can deliver on its financial contributions. It might be helpful if I set out some of the processes and assurances in place to ensure that the Games remain on budget. I also gather that that is the thrust of Amendment 5, tabled by my noble friend Lord Moynihan, and I hope it also addresses Amendment 11, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

The Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee has been established to deliver the Games, with the UK Government as the primary funder. There is robust financial governance and the budget has been subject to significant scrutiny. Contingency is held by the strategic board, including the Minister, the Mayor of the West Midlands and the leader of Birmingham City Council.

I will cover a couple of additional details, given the number of questions there were on this issue. To reiterate, the budget has a significant but realistic level of contingency within it. As joint funders, it is in both the Government’s and the city council’s interest to keep within the cost envelope. Importantly, it should be remembered that, when Birmingham bid to host the Games, 95% of the venues were already in place, reducing some of the risk around the Games. The Government have also committed to providing Parliament with updates on expenditure during the project.

I note that the intention behind Amendment 5 is to better understand any link between the Games budget and the proposed shooting and archery championships in India. To be clear, shooting and archery are not part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, but rather a Commonwealth event that will be held in India in 2022, at no cost to the UK Exchequer or Birmingham taxpayers.

On the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, on local authority funding for future sporting events, the Government and UK Sport regularly engage with local and regional authorities when it comes to bidding for and staging major sports events. This is clearly successful. Most recently, the UK hosted the 2017 World Athletics Championships, the 2019 Netball and Cricket World Cups, and the UCI Road World Cycling Championships, to name but a few, with a strong pipeline of events in coming years. Local authorities have a range of revenue-raising and fundraising powers to support them meeting the financial contributions associated with such events; for example, through local taxes, such as precepts and business rates. Local or regional authorities may have particular views on how best they can raise funds for such events; I know that the Chancellor keeps the tax system under review and would always welcome representations for improving it. The Government will of course continue to work closely with local authorities to support them in bidding for and successfully staging major sporting events, building on our fantastic track record in hosting such events.

Amendments 19 and 20 seek to bring forward the first period on which the organising committee is required to report, and for these reports to be produced every six months rather than annually. I absolutely understand the desire of the House to be given adequate and timely opportunities, as the noble Lord, Lord Foster, explained, to scrutinise the organising committee’s preparations and delivery of the Games. To allay such concerns, I want to be clear that the end of the first reporting period in the Bill, regardless of the date, will certainly not be the first opportunity this House will have to scrutinise the organising committee’s delivery of the Games.

Unlike the London 2012 or Glasgow 2014 organising committees, the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee is a non-departmental public body and already subject to a number of controls and transparency requirements through a management agreement that is available on GOV.UK. As such, the organising committee must publish an annual report of its activities together with its audited resource accounts after the end of each financial year. These accounts must be laid in Parliament and made available online. The first of these reports was published and laid before Parliament on 9 September last year, and we anticipate that the report for the 2019-20 financial year will be published in July and annually thereafter, in the summer. However, I am happy to undertake to write to the organising committee to request that the report includes reference to those areas set out in the Bill and of interest to the Committee, such as accessibility and legacy. I know that a number of your Lordships have already engaged with the organising committee on these topics.

As noble Lords will be aware, the organising committee has already published its social value charter and has committed to publishing both the accessibility and sustainability strategies once they are finalised. It has also committed to publishing a modern slavery policy alongside its modern slavery statement. The organising committee is happy to write to interested Peers once those documents are available, and I know it would welcome any feedback that noble Lords may have.

My noble friend Lord Moynihan’s amendment also seeks to require the organising committee to produce its statutory reports twice a year. It is only right that we give the organising committee adequate time to make and demonstrate progress in the areas set out in the reporting provision and of interest to the Committee. There is clearly a balance to be struck. Updates on Games delivery are already available through a number of channels. For example, information can be found on the Birmingham 2022 website, and the organising committee plans to produce quarterly reports on progress, including relevant updates on key areas such as accessibility, employability, legacy, skills and sustainability. These reports will be made available online; again, the organising committee has offered to issue them directly to those noble Lords who are interested. As we discussed at Second Reading, the organising committee has also recently appointed a dedicated government relations lead, and I understand that a number of your Lordships have already taken the opportunity to discuss the organising committee’s plans in further detail with him, as well as having met the senior figures in the organising committee, including the chief exec and the director of sporting accessibility lead, alongside officials within DCMS.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Commonwealth Games has recently been reconvened and will meet soon to set out its work programme to ensure that Parliament has a good opportunity to engage with the Games. The organising committee is developing an engagement programme, which includes regular updates to such groups.

I hope that these details are enough to reassure your Lordships that there will be adequate opportunities for Parliament to scrutinise the work of the organising committee and about the Government’s commitment to working with Birmingham City Council and the entire Games partnership; to monitoring the Games budget carefully and managing any cost pressures effectively; and, further, to supporting local authorities in bidding for and delivering future sporting events. I therefore ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee 5:30 pm, 25th February 2020

Before the Minister sits down, the one issue that she really has not addressed is the nature of the underwriting agreement between the Government and Birmingham City Council. Could she dwell on that and in particular answer the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt: who is the funder of last resort in the event that things go wrong?

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I fear that I may be repeating what has been said in previous debates, but as part of the hosting requirements for the Games the Government have committed to underwriting the cost of the organisation and delivery of the 11 days of sport. There is a very detailed set of scrutiny arrangements for that and arrangements for contingencies and other elements.

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate. I join many of them in expressing my own excitement about the forthcoming Games. I put on record my praise for the organising committee and the work it is doing, particularly, as the Minister has said, the way in which it has been reaching out to parliamentarians to ensure that we have been thoroughly briefed about a whole range of issues.

I thank the Minister for the careful way in which she has answered many of the questions that have been asked. I know that a number of them remain somewhat unanswered, including those asked by my noble friend Lord Shipley about some of the additional costs that will be incurred by Birmingham City Council that are perhaps not directly associated with the organising and running of the Games but which will impact upon the city and the surrounding area. Nevertheless, I am grateful for her explanation of the status of the organising committee as an NDPB and therefore the management agreement that it has, and the need to have annual reports, and, indeed, her pointing out that there will be more frequent reports on a range of individual issues; she referred to access and legacy, two issues to which we will no doubt be returning.

With those remarks, and conscious that we have all said we want to give the Bill a speedy passage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.