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Amendment 2

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] - Committee – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Lord Foster of Bath:

Moved by Lord Foster of Bath

2: Clause 1, page 1, line 17, leave out “or” and insert “and”

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

My Lords, in the spirit of wishing to move the Bill on quickly, I point out to your Lordships’ House that my amendment would simply delete the word “or” and insert the word “and”. It is one of those typical amendments that are used to trigger debate on a particular issue. It was intended to give us an opportunity to look at the point made in Clause 1, which referred to the Games as meaning

“an event forming part of the Games (whether or not a sporting event), or”— or “and”—

“any other event arranged by, or on behalf of, the Organising Committee”.

That would have given us the opportunity to debate the issue of archery and shooting. As we have heard, the Commonwealth Games Federation has now made an announcement about what it intends shall happen with shooting and archery. It has made it clear that it will be a completely separate event not in any way related to the Birmingham 2020 Games, with its own medals, its own organisation and certainly no financial impact on Birmingham City Council or the Government. Nevertheless, subsequent amendments in this group give noble Lords and particularly the Minister an opportunity to comment on the Commonwealth Games Federation’s decision, about which Noble Lords may have a number of concerns. For example, if we are to have, as we have been told, a combined medal table, with the Indian Games covering archery and shooting and the Birmingham Games covering any other events, what exactly is the status of that table? The question of whether the India 2020 Games will be expected to abide by regulations—social charters and so on—similar to the ones we are adopting will also doubtless be raised. I sense the Minister will say that that is outwith the debate, since it will no longer be our responsibility; however, the medal table will be.

The longer-term issue is whether this is the beginning of what could be a very exciting future for the Commonwealth Games, in which individual countries that may find it difficult to fund the full cost of all aspects of the Games in their country could partner with other countries. There could be some very exciting developments, but questions will be raised. For instance, who will have the right to determine which events are to be part of the Games, or will that suddenly revert to the centre, with the Commonwealth Games Federation handling all the details?

We look forward to hearing from the Minister on these issues, and from others with far greater expertise than I have—not least the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, whom I am sure we are all looking forward to hearing from. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative

My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendments 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 in this group, standing in my name. I will speak to them all since they refer to the same item, in view of the decision that was made last night and was announced by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

It is important in the first instance to recognise that all the points that are relevant in this context have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Foster. I will focus pretty much exclusively, as one might expect, on the sporting aspect of the comments that he has made.

It is important to place on the record the work of the executive board of the Commonwealth Games Federation over the weekend to approve the hosting of the Commonwealth archery and shooting championships in Chandigarh, India, in January 2022—a proposal put to them by the Commonwealth Games of India. This is indeed ground-breaking. It is an innovative approach that the Commonwealth Games Federation is taking in partnership with the CGI, the National Rifle Association of India and the Archery Association of India, and it meets the requirements of all stakeholders, especially the Commonwealth shooting and archery athletes. The International Shooting Sport Federation should also be congratulated on its role. It has facilitated the settlement among the Commonwealth family of what has become the vexed question of the exclusion of shooting from the Commonwealth Games 2022—vexed to the point that there was real concern about India boycotting the Games.

Reference has also rightly been made to the important initial work undertaken by the ISSF on the sidelines of its general assembly—held in December last year in Munich with the Commonwealth Games Federation, the NRAI and the Commonwealth Games shooting federation—on a detailed protocol governing the future relationship with the international federation, working in close conjunction with the Commonwealth Games Federation. If the Minister does not have that protocol to hand, it would be helpful if it could be circulated to interested members of the Committee, or indeed placed in the Library. The decision confirmed, as has been made clear by the noble Lord, Lord Foster, that Chandigarh 2022 and Birmingham 2022 will be two separately organised and funded Commonwealth sports events.

However, then came the unexpected announcement last night, not least the Commonwealth Games Federation’s stating that

“as a further and final legitimate ranking of competing nations and territories from the respective competitions”, the two will be combined. The results from both will be combined a week later. I warmly welcome the decision in principle: it takes the Commonwealth Games into a new era of recognising the importance which should be attached to countries with a common purpose sharing venues when hosting expensive international sport. It comes close on a number of similar examples, not least in the Olympic and the Paralympic world, when it comes to bidding. Indeed, a bit more recently, five ASEAN countries have come together to talk about jointly bidding for the FIFA World Cup.

Although I fully appreciate that the two events are to be separately organised under separate legislation and separately financed, the final medal table will include results from both: that will be the final results from the Commonwealth Games, as I understand it. It is therefore very important to the sportsmen, sportswomen and, indeed, the competing nations to know what the final medal table will include, because some Commonwealth countries will incentivise their teams according to their position in the medal table when considering future financial support for the training of athletes. Indeed, there may be wider legacy projects: the higher you are in the medal table, the better the ranking and, often, the greater the funding from government. That is a common policy used by UK Sport. As chairman of the British Olympic Association, I was acutely conscious of the medal tally as it was being racked up in London, watching with delight as we moved towards 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals, and recognising that that ranking of third was very important to UK Sport and other funding agencies, and indeed to sponsors.

Now we hear that they will be formally combined a week later—but why a week later? The shooting takes place in January 2022 and those results can be made available immediately, at the beginning of the Games. So, when we get to the end of the Games, instead of waiting until an arbitrary seven days later, we can have the actual results and celebrate them. Given the support the Indians have shown by hosting, at their expense, the archery and shooting, we should seriously consider encouraging the organisers to bring the medallists over to participate in the closing ceremony as a great celebration of unity among the Commonwealth Games countries. I expect that as they enter the stadium for that celebration, they will get the loudest round of applause of virtually any athlete who is celebrated for their success. It is beyond me, but it is no doubt understood clearly by the Minister, why it would take a week for this to be made public, or why it is not embodied in the medal table during the Games, given that the Commonwealth Games Federation has stated clearly that the shooting and archery competitions will be among the

“final legitimate ranking of competing nations and territories from the respective competitions.”

That is my key point to the Minister. It is an issue that we really need to clear up, and about which the athletes need to know. Of course, they are separate events and I understand the point about the separate financing. I am sure, therefore, that this legislation cannot in any way, shape or form be relevant to the Indian shooting and archery competitions. However, there will be sadness among noble Lords on both sides of the House that Bisley could not host the shooting and, indeed, that Edgbaston could not host the archery, given Lord’s Cricket Ground’s successful hosting of it during London 2012.

Nevertheless, despite that sadness, there will be widespread support and thanks to our friends in India for the way they have stepped in to give young athletes—who have for decades been part of the Commonwealth Games—the opportunity to excel and to have this great event, which is vital to world shooting and world archery—on their agendas in the future. I also hope that, while much is being made of how the two Games are to be completely separate, there will be recognition of some of the sentiments I have expressed. Our Royal Family are deeply and closely attached to the Commonwealth and it is something we all celebrate, so I hope there will be very high-level representation in India for the shooting and archery. It would only be appropriate to express our gratitude to the Indians, given that we were unable to host those two sports, and I hope that the Commonwealth Games Federation will bear that in mind.

I would be enormously grateful if my noble friend the Minister could explain why we are having this week’s delay at the end of the Games before announcing the actual results table. Everybody will know the result the minute before the last medal is awarded, and it will be in every newspaper in the country. It is a bit like having a general election and saying to everyone in a constituency, “You can all vote, except the shooters and the archers. We will count their votes in a separate election and announce the result a week later, when we give the overall result”. It seems illogical to me, but perhaps there is an excellent and clear answer that my noble friend the Minister can give to the Committee.

Photo of Baroness Grey-Thompson Baroness Grey-Thompson Crossbench 5:45 pm, 25th February 2020

My Lords, I am delighted for the athletes involved that there has been a late-night solution to this issue. Bizarrely, when we talk about the Commonwealth, Olympic or Paralympic Games, we rarely talk about the experience of the athletes, although they are at the heart of the Games. It can be very difficult for athletes to be in a position where they do not know whether their event is on or off the programme. Most countries do not support athletes financially or with medical services unless there is an elite pathway. This particularly affects women’s events and also involves media support and sponsorship. Once you are off the programme, you have nowhere to go and it is almost impossible to get funding to get back on it.

Having two different events has lots of implications. On the positive side, it could give us an opportunity to increase the number of events for disabled athletes, although there has been an increase over the years, which is great. In 1990, there were just two demonstration events at the Commonwealth Games; it is lovely to see where we are now. However, my big concern—actually, this is outside our control—is about the challenge that smaller countries may have sending teams to different venues. The bigger teams have a chef de mission, a large core staff and large medical teams. The home countries are fortunate that they are able to support that; some of the smaller ones might struggle to fund it.

This is not without precedent, to some extent. Olympic Games sailing events are held in different parts of the country. In Atlanta in 1996, sailing was held in Savannah. India is considerably further away, but we are looking forward to the Paris Olympics and Paralympics where surfing might be held on the other side of the world. The Commonwealth Games should be congratulated on getting to this stage, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan: why do we not just start the Games with a medal table? Everyone is going to be doing that anyway, regardless of the announcement; it is important for every country to know where it stands. It would make more sense for the TV coverage, for the athletes in the village, and for the spectators, if it was there.

It is also important to make sure that there is an equivalent experience of being at the Games, with countries having the same kit and the same medal ceremonies. We could share the welcome ceremony when you come into the village—not every athlete is able to go to the opening ceremony, depending on when their competition starts, so the welcome ceremony when they move in is important. I had not considered the closing ceremony until the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, mentioned it. It is really important that the athletes, team managers, and everyone else, go to this, if there is any way that they could be brought over. It is not without logistical and cost problems. In 2012, we promised that there was a bed in the village for every athlete, so they could come to the closing ceremony if they were competing outside. It would be challenging, but it would be a lovely, positive way to celebrate the final medal table.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I shall say one or two words on the principle of what is going on here. This is a good thing. At every Games, there are little rows about which sports take part. When the Games were on the Gold Coast, we had basketball but not judo. Australia likes its basketball; we are good at judo, so we made sure we had it. These deals and negotiations are always going on. You are always going to exclude a group of athletes, for many of whom this is the biggest thing they will ever do. This major international sporting event may be at the end of their career, so there is a good principle behind this.

I have a question for the Minister, the answer to which might make my later amendment unnecessary: how are we going to set a precedent for how this is done in future? Every good idea comes with baggage: how do we make sure we know what this means for the organisation? In principle it is a good idea and has good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with those, I am afraid. What are we doing to get this right? There has always been sporting politics over which events are in. There are lovely books about bitchy back-room deals and people fighting to get their event in. This may be a way of reducing that and making sure that more athletes and fans get the experience. It is a good thing; can we have a bit more guidance on how it will be looked on in future? If the noble Baroness cannot give the Committee the answers, it would be helpful if she could point it at someone who could.

Photo of Lord Snape Lord Snape Labour

My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak to this group of amendments, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. He has a distinguished record both as an athlete and as a Minister. Support for his previous careers is shared by both sides of this Committee. I share his appreciation of the fact that this compromise has been arrived at. There was considerable tension between the athletes of our two countries before the participation of Chandigarh was confirmed. I am sure I speak for all from Birmingham and the surrounding area when I say how pleased I am that that tension can now be eased, and co-operation is going to take place.

Like the noble Lord, I am a bit confused by these arrangements, but my understanding is slightly different from his. I understand that there will be two separate medal tables. As the events are being held some time apart, I presume that the Chandigarh medals will be published first, although the noble Lord appears to think that might not be the case. Perhaps the Minister can clarify when the medal table for the events that take place overseas will be published. I understand that, contrary to the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, the medal tables for the events are to be kept separate, regardless of the fact that Chandigarh is being seen as part of the Commonwealth Games. I am not sure why that is, but I am sure that the Minister will tell the Committee when she comes to reply.

On a personal note, relating to the noble Baroness, I was looking through a list of Ministers and their remuneration in the Times over the weekend and found, to my astonishment, that the noble Baroness is one of the few Ministers who is working for nothing. She does not get a salary at all. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has put a series of challenging questions to her, and she should be adequately recompensed if she finds the answers. Speaking for both sides of the House—I hope I can get the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, on board—we should start a crowdfunding appeal on her behalf. I am not sure whether her exclusion from the salaried ranks constitutes some sort of sex discrimination. I am sure it would not be tolerated in most other industries. On this side of the Committee—I speak personally, but I am sure I take my noble friends with me—we would be delighted to assist and do anything to combat the apparent injustice.

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

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Snape, for his generosity and concern about my financial position. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and my noble friend Lord Moynihan for the amendments in this group relating to the shooting and archery championships being hosted by India in 2022. The Government clearly welcome the confirmation, in December, from the Indian Olympic Association that India will be taking part in Birmingham 2022. I share the Committee’s satisfaction that a championship event will give shooters and archers from around the Commonwealth the opportunity to compete at the highest level, but I note the concerns about the cost implications of two venues, raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson.

Before turning to the amendments, I will endeavour to answer the questions about the medals and the medal tables and how the system works, and I am happy to put this in writing to all noble Lords so that there is no confusion. The Commonwealth Games Federation has confirmed that each event will issue its own distinct medal table: one for Chandigarh 2022 and one for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The medals will be different. The medallists in Chandigarh will receive Commonwealth archery and shooting championship medals, not Commonwealth Games medals. Then, as my noble friend Lord Moynihan clarified, a week after the closing ceremony, there will be a medal table which will include the results from both competitions. My understanding is that the week’s separation is to reflect that the two competitions are different. Both are extremely important, but there will be an aggregated Commonwealth sport medal table, not an aggregated Commonwealth Games medal table.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 6:00 pm, 25th February 2020

My Lords, I understand how we have got to this position, and I sympathise with the organisers, but since the media will obviously combine them together immediately, is it possible for us to go back and gently say: “Do they not need to think about this again?”

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

I am happy to explore that, but my understanding is that that decision has been taken. Perhaps we need to see how it plays out in the event that the model is adopted in future.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Conservative

I am very grateful to my noble friend, because I know that this is not an easy wicket on which to be batting. Dame Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, stated last night in a letter to a number of your Lordships that the Commonwealth Games Federation executive board agreed a resolution that,

“One week following the Closing Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the CGF shall issue a medal table that includes results from the Chandigarh 2022Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships, as a further and final legitimate ranking of competing nations and territories from the respective competitions.”

It is very clear that both will be brought together, and therefore nobody in the world of sport will separate them. I appreciate that this will not be resolved this evening.

The suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is an excellent one, as is the suggestion made by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, that if we are going to have this, it is wise to reflect on the best way of presenting it, and indeed co-operating in areas where co-operation would be beneficial to the future of the Commonwealth Games.

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

My noble friend makes a very fair point, and I am sure that the Commonwealth Games Federation has given enormous consideration to these matters and will continue to reflect on them.

I turn to the amendments in this group. As noble Lords will be aware, the current proposal was announced by the Commonwealth Games Federation only yesterday and was obviously very timely, given the keen interest of a number of your Lordships in this Chamber to see the championship event funded and delivered in Chandigarh by the Indian Olympic Committee and the Government of India. I reiterate what I said in the earlier group that there is no financial operational responsibility sitting with the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee. As this will be organised and funded as a separate event, the organising committee will not be in a position to report on the progress of delivery of the shooting and archery championships, as called for by my noble friend’s amendments. As such, and to address the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Foster, the measures in this Bill apply only to events forming part of the Birmingham 2022 Games or any other event arranged by, or on behalf of, the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee. I do, however, note the intention behind the amendments and fully support the steps taken by the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee to ensure that social values are a key consideration from delivery through to legacy.

In particular, I welcome, together with all noble Lords, the development of the Social Values Charter, which embodies the values of the Commonwealth sports movement and the Transformation 2022 agenda. I agree that the central focus on social values is greatly welcomed and provides another fantastic example to the organisers of other and future events. This has already been touched on this evening. Accordingly, we hope that the Social Values Charter will be a legacy for future Games and ask that the Commonwealth Games Federation considers how the ground-breaking work undertaken by Birmingham 2022 can become a normal convention.

The Commonwealth Games Federation’s Transformation 2022 strategy is clear about how the Commonwealth sports movement places human rights, governance and sport for social change at the heart of its new vision and, indeed, it has already confirmed that, like its host city arrangements for other events, Chandigarh 2022 will be expected and contracted to uphold the highest standards in this regard. Given the clear separation between the two events, but not taking away from the important work that Birmingham 2022 is doing to promote social values, I ask that the noble Lords withdraw their amendments.

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

My Lords, I thank the disgracefully unpaid Minister for her very careful reflection on the comments made by other noble Lords, not least the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. If the noble Lord, Lord Snape, is to introduce his crowdfunding scheme, I will certainly commit to sharing the website address with Liberal Democrat colleagues.

The most welcome thing that the Minister spoke about was her willingness to continue discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation on this issue. I come at this from a slightly different position, which was raised by other noble Lords. I reflect very carefully on what the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, said about the importance of putting athletes very much in our thinking as we prepare any of these things. It seems somewhat strange that people who compete in the Birmingham 2022 Games will be awarded a Commonwealth Games medal, whereas those who compete in Chandigarh in archery and shooting are to be given a Commonwealth sports medal. One wonders whether there will be some view about the status of those not being exactly the same. Indeed, if they are not, the question has to be asked: why are they being put together in a single medal table? When the Minister continues deliberations with the Commonwealth Games Federation, I hope that sort of thinking will be uppermost in her mind. How will the athletes feel about the arrangement that is currently proposed?

However, I recognise entirely that what the Minister said is that all the amendments in this group are now otiose. They are not relevant to this Bill because what is going to happen in India is a totally separate event. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed.

Amendment 3 not moved.