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Amendment 1

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 25th February 2020

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.