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Gambling advertising

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 17th March 2020.

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“(1) The Organising Committee must not enter into any sponsorship, or contractual arrangement, with any business or company that derives part or all of its income from gambling.

(2) For the purposes of this section, ‘gambling’ is defined as it is in section 3 of the Gambling Act 2005.” —

This new clause would prevent the Organising Committee from receiving sponsorship from gambling companies.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am pleased to introduce this new clause, which deals with gambling advertising and the Commonwealth games. We all know that my hon. Friend Carolyn Harris is a fierce campaigner on this question, as are others in the House, including Rob Butler. There is considerable concern in the House around gambling advertising, and I want to see that reflected in the Bill. I want gambling companies barred from sponsoring the games. I know it is unlikely that the organising committee will enter into an agreement with a gambling company, but it is important to have that in the Bill so that we can be sure that gambling companies will be responsible in how they proceed.

Gambling is a significant and harmful aspect of sport in general, and the NHS has recently opened a gambling clinic for 14-year-olds. The Minister and I have discussed the concerns in the House. We are pleased that the FA has decided that young people who want to watch football on their phones should not have to register with a gambling company first—that has now been stopped. That is down to the campaigning from expert Members in this House, and I want to see that apply to any sport. Because the Bill falls under the heading of sport, I want a specific pledge from the Minister to prevent any form of official gambling support. That would send a strong and notable signal that gambling in sport should be discouraged.

The Commonwealth games, with the 54 members of the Commonwealth, is an international phenomenon. It would be negative for young people watching the games to be bombarded with gambling messages. Although we have the issue of our 14-year-olds and other young people succumbing to the addiction of gambling, we would not want that to spread across any other Commonwealth country. I hope the Minister will look carefully at the new clause and advise us on how those values can be brought to the Commonwealth games.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments. I know we will continue to debate issues of gambling with many Members from across the House, particularly as we review the Gambling Act 2005 as it relates specifically to new clause 3.

As hon. Members know, commercial revenue, including sponsorship, forms an important part of the games budget and will reduce the level of public sector investment that would otherwise be required for the games. Securing sponsorship and granting authorisations to associate with the games are matters for the Birmingham 2022 organising committee and Commonwealth Games Federation. Their negotiations with potential sponsors are continuing, with three sponsors announced to date: WLG Gowling, an international law firm; Gl Group, a recruitment services firm; and Longines, who will be the official timekeeper for the games. All potential sponsors will have to demonstrate their alignment with Birmingham 2022’s vision and mission, and an ongoing commitment to social values, as set out in the organising committee’s social values charter.

On Second Reading, the hon. Members for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin) and for Hornsey and Wood Green acknowledged that it is unlikely that the organising committee will enter into an agreement with a gambling company. I can confirm that the gambling companies have not been sponsors of recent editions of the Commonwealth games. However, as I said in my closing remarks, I would like to provide reassurance that my Department has made clear to the organising committee the importance of promoting the games and its values through its sponsorship programme. We have asked the organising committee to provide regular updates on overall progress as the sponsorship programme develops.

Therefore, I do not agree that limiting sponsorship arrangements or prohibiting certain types of sponsors on the face of the Bill is proportionate or necessary. More broadly, we are committed in the manifesto on which we stood at the recent general election to continue to tackle gambling addiction, and we have committed to review the Gambling Act to make sure it is fit for the digital age. We are currently in the process of scoping that review.

The Health Secretary has also announced the publication of a cross-Government addiction strategy, which will include gambling. The Government and the Gambling Commission will continue to act on the evidence to protect vulnerable people—as we have done in cutting stakes on fixed odds betting terminals to £2 and banning credit card gambling. As the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green mentioned, these efforts were the result of considerable lobbying by Members on both sides of the Chamber.

The Government have made it clear that sporting bodies and event organisers must consider their responsibilities to fans and the wider community when entering any commercial arrangements. Returning to Birmingham 2022, I want to be clear that any commercial arrangements should support the vision and mission of the games, and we will continue to work with the organising committee to support that. In that spirit, I respectfully request that the hon. Lady withdraw her new clause.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green 10:00 am, 17th March 2020

I am pleased to hear the reassurances from the Minister. If other concerns unfold during the passage of the Bill, we will raise them at a later stage if we need to. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.