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Amendment 1

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

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Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Chair, Rural Economy Committee 4:46 pm, 25th February 2020

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.