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Amendment 1

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Shipley Lord Shipley Liberal Democrat 5:15 pm, 25th February 2020

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?