Before Second Reading, I should tell the House that Mr Speaker has certified clauses 13 to 19 and 23 of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] as relating exclusively to England and Wales on matters within devolved legislative competence, and clauses 25 to 29 of the Bill as relating exclusively to England on matters within devolved legislative competence.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Today, on Commonwealth Day, I rise to open the Second Reading debate on the Commonwealth games Bill. The 2022 games, held in Birmingham, will be the biggest sporting and cultural event that the city and the region have ever seen. With an estimated TV audience of 1.5 billion people, it will showcase Birmingham, the west midlands and the entire country as an amazing place to live, work, study, visit and do business. It will coincide with the platinum jubilee and Festival of Britain, crowning a year of celebration. It will be the most inclusive Commonwealth games in history. For the first time, a major multi-sport event will feature more women’s than men’s medal events, along with the largest ever integrated para-sports programme.
The benefits of the games will be felt for many years to come. It will accelerate new housing, create new jobs and provide improved transport and new community sports facilities for the people of the west midlands. There will be a new Commonwealth games village, supported by £165 million of Government funding, which will support the long-term regeneration of Perry Barr. A £70 million refurbishment of the Alexander stadium will turn it into a world-class athletics venue, along with new community sports facilities, and we are building a brand new aquatics centre in Sandwell, the site of which I had the pleasure of visiting only a couple of weeks ago. I saw how that development is already having a positive impact on the local economy, with anticipation building to welcome some of the world’s best swimmers and divers. A world-class leisure centre will also leave a legacy for decades to come. It was fantastic to hear about these plans and to see the palpable excitement of local school children.
However, the Commonwealth games is not just about sport. This will be a global games, kicked off with Her Majesty the Queen’s baton relay. It will be accompanied by a vibrant cultural programme that will showcase the best cultural artists from across the city, the region and the Commonwealth. We will see a huge programme of visits, with Heads of Government arriving from all over the Commonwealth.
The Minister is correct in identifying the Commonwealth games as an opportunity to rejuvenate the Commonwealth family and large parts of Britain’s second city, but does he share my concerns about some of the overspending to do with the village by the local council and the extra complexities caused by the demolition of the Perry Barr flyover, which experts say will not impact traffic flows at all? We want Birmingham 2022 to have the same transformative effect as Manchester did, not the financial hangover—for those old enough to remember it—of Montreal in 1976.
I thank the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee for those comments. He is aware that we are having these games in record time—considerably shorter than the usual seven years—but we are conscious of that in terms of cost containment, because we are not building new facilities from scratch, or not all of them, and that has helped with the finances.
All the stakeholders and all the partners are well aware of their financial responsibilities, and we are working with them. I shall address some of the transport concerns and the flyover issues later, but again we are working with all the partners involved to make sure we can come to a suitable outcome.
I thank my hon. Friend very much for giving way on what I think is his first outing at the Dispatch Box, which is already going extremely well. As he would imagine, we are very much looking forward to the games coming to the royal town of Sutton Coldfield, and in particular to the appearance of part of them in the Royal Sutton park.
May I, however, emphasise the importance of the point made by our hon. Friend the Chairman of the Select Committee? The Government, the Mayor and the West Midlands authority have been generous and very supportive on the financial side. While I do have some sympathy with Birmingham City Council, it is essential that my hon. Friend, on behalf of the Government, makes it absolutely clear that it must show greater financial control.
A particular example has been mentioned by our hon. Friend, but there are other worries to do with contingency funding. Obviously, I expect the Government to be generous and supportive, but Birmingham City Council must show financial rigour, which has not been a feature of that council. If it does not do so, I hope the Minister will make it clear that the Government will not tolerate any question of failure in these games, and that Birmingham City Council will be removed from the management of them if it does not demonstrate such control.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments. I can assure him—I will come to this later in my speech—that the financial governance of the games is very strong. Again, we are working with all stakeholders to make sure that we can deliver on time and on budget—both on the time commitment and on the financial commitment.
In the spirit of this debate and the cross-party nature of the spirit required to ensure the success of the games, I hope the Minister will at some point in his remarks reflect on the extraordinary strength of character required for a council that has lost £700 million of funding over the last few years to deliver the games not in the usual seven years, but in four and a half years. Let us unite around a shared endeavour to make this a success.
I thank the right hon. Member for his comments. Indeed, I think we have seen a spirit of cross-party co-operation already and that we will continue to see it throughout the delivery of the games and beyond. We are absolutely seeing that on both sides of the Chamber in both Houses. Long may that continue—I will certainly play my part in ensuring that that is the case. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) mentioned, that does not mean that we should not hold all stakeholders to account on the promises they have made, and we should continue to do so.
We are expecting Birmingham 2022 to create 41,000 games-time roles, and a procurement spend of about £350 million, from which local and regional government suppliers will all benefit.
There is already a lot of excitement about the games in my constituency, particularly in the local schools, but one worry is that because we are not actually hosting an event—the Minister is touching on the opportunities of that—we might not get the same opportunities in our local area. Can he assure us that those opportunities will be opened up to people across the whole of the west midlands, particularly those in North Warwickshire and Bedworth?
I thank my hon. Friend for those comments; as a west midlands MP myself, I have some skin in the game as well. I can give him those assurances: it is absolutely the intention that the benefits of the games —in the run-up, during the construction and from the legacy—be felt throughout the entire west midlands and indeed the country.
On procurement, anybody can sign up to birmingham2022.com; businesses can sign up to the business portal to have the opportunity to bid for many of the procurement opportunities. A whole host of other opportunities to do with legacy will be felt right across the west midlands.
One of the reasons why the Manchester Commonwealth games in 2002 was so successful is that it took the best from the Sydney Olympics and transferred that to Manchester, particularly on volunteering and bringing the whole city together. We also saw that in London 2012. Is my hon. Friend making sure that we also learn from the central importance of bringing the city together through volunteering, and that right across the west midlands people will feel that they are connected to the Commonwealth games?
Absolutely—volunteering is at the heart of these games; it always has been and I am sure always will be. We saw that in the fantastic Glasgow Commonwealth games, and indeed in the Olympic games. We are expecting around 10,000 volunteers, perhaps substantially more, and excitement is already building, particularly among schoolchildren in the region, about the opportunities to participate. More news about those opportunities will be coming in due course.
First, I congratulate the Minister on getting his position; I look forward to his contributions on many occasions, all positive, in this House.
Does the Minister agree that the exclusion of shooting sports from Birmingham 2022 will have a negative impact? The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has always excelled at shooting, and Commonwealth countries have followed the United Kingdom’s lead in that. Does the Minister share my disappointment that those in that most law-abiding and responsible section of the community have been excluded? Can the Minister confirm that his job in the future, if he still has this position—I hope he does—will be to ensure that shooting sports are included in the next Commonwealth games?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for intervening. It would not be a debate without his intervention; I am just surprised that he was not first.
On the shooting championship, I think we have a reasonable compromise that everybody—or most people—are quite happy with. The Commonwealth games are happening in summer 2022, and the championships for shooting and archery will take place in the January. The events will be separate, but at the end of the games there will be a Commonwealth sport medal table. I think that is a reasonable conclusion to what has been quite a challenging situation; I do not know whether it will set a precedent for future games, but I think that in these particular circumstances we have come to a reasonable conclusion.
Part of the arrangement made with India on shooting is that we now have women’s T20 cricket in the Commonwealth games, and I am sure my hon. Friend will welcome that. There is a great deal of excitement in my constituency and around the west midlands about making such a fantastic mark in sport.
On the subject of specific sports, the Minister will share my pleasure that seven-a-side rugby is a fundamental part of the Commonwealth games, with games being played at the Coventry stadium. Does he agree that it will be great to see those players coming to the birthplace of the game during the tournament?
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman is giving me powers I do not have. He knows that these decisions are made elsewhere, but I am sure he will continue to make his case. He has already made it to me personally and he has now made it again in the Chamber. I will continue with my speech for a few moments now.
The Birmingham Commonwealth games will have been successfully delivered in a much shorter time than other games: in just four and a half years, rather than the typical seven. Just as for the London 2012 Olympic games, a pre-games Bill is essential if we are to support the successful delivery of such a landmark event. On that occasion, the House came together to approve a vital Bill. I am sure that the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill will be no different. The Bill contains four important measures, the first of which relates to transport.
Putting in place effective transport provision is a crucial part of any major sporting event. I know that Andy Street, the Mayor of the west midlands combined authority, is strongly focused on that so that athletes, officials and the 10,000 volunteers can get to their events and shifts on time, and, crucially, so that residents can also move around easily. The measures will make sure we can do just that. They will allow temporary changes to road use where needed, so that anyone travelling to and from the games, and around the region, can do so safely and with minimal disruption.
Many of the facilities, for example the aquatic centre in Smethwick, will be used after the games have ended. Is there not a need for consideration of longer-term changes to transport arrangements? Will they be included in the legacy plans to ensure such facilities are properly used and enjoyed in the future?
The right hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. The integration of transport and the co-operation of all stakeholders in the run-up to the games, as well as during and after, is being considered by the organising committee and other stakeholders, including the Department for Transport. That is a key factor that we hope will ensure the legacy of the games.
The Bill will also set a statutory basis for a games transport plan and provide the Secretary of State with a power of direction to safeguard the delivery of essential road regulation measures. I can assure the House that any road regulation measures will be kept to a minimum, so we can run a safe and efficient games. Local residents and businesses will be consulted and kept informed of the proposals.
Secondly, the Bill will work to protect the commercial rights of those who invest in the games as sponsors. Securing commercial sponsorship is critical to staging a world-class event and maintaining investment in the games. That can be achieved only when the rights of sponsors are protected. The Bill introduces measures, similar to those for the Olympic games in London and the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, to protect against unauthorised association. That is not designed to stop the many local residents and community groups who will want to show their support for the games; in fact, the organising committee wants to make it easier for them. Last week, it launched its new community programme, United by Birmingham 2022. Community projects that share the vision and mission of the games can apply to join.
The provisions are instead aimed at stopping commercial infringements, where a business is claiming an association with the games without making the commitments required of an authorised business. The Bill places a duty on the organising committee to produce guidance to ensure that everyone is clear about what activity may constitute an infringement. It introduces restrictions to advertising and trading in and around games locations. Again, they are in line with the approach of previous games. The restrictions will ensure that trading does not obstruct easy movement in the vicinity of games locations and will provide a consistent approach at each venue.
Regulations will set out the detail of when and where the temporary and proportionate restrictions will apply. They will be driven by the particular usage of each games location. The organising committee will be required to produce guidance on the effect of the advertising and trading restrictions, which local authorities will share with traders that may be affected. That will help to ensure that traders likely to be affected will be aware of what they need to do.
Thirdly, there are provisions on ticket touting. There is a role for a responsible secondary ticketing market for those who are genuinely no longer able to attend events, but professional touts are a scourge on any major event. They make tickets more expensive and make it harder for fans to see the events they love. We have already legislated to ensure there is a responsible market, from strengthening requirements on secondary platforms to banning touts from using bots to dodge security measures. Those measures received the support of both sides of the House. These are robust powers that stop online touts hoovering up large numbers of tickets for profit and help consumers to make informed choices when buying tickets on the secondary market. However, these games are a global, multi-sport event underpinned by significant public investment, so we want to go even further so that fans can buy tickets, confident that they will not be funding unscrupulous touts. That is vital if we are to act as a powerful deterrent to touts and protect the integrity of the games. Only those vendors authorised to sell tickets by the Birmingham 2022 organising committee will be permitted to do so, meaning that buying tickets will be clear, simple and affordable for genuine fans.
The Bill will create an offence that will apply to any unauthorised attempt to sell tickets for profit in the course of business or in a public place. Over 1 million tickets will be available for games events.
The measures that the Minister is announcing sound as though they will go some way towards achieving what we all want: to ensure that tickets end up in the hands of the fans at the price intended, not at vastly inflated prices. To ensure the enforcement of what he hopes to achieve, will he consider extra funding for National Trading Standards so that it has the resources to enforce what he has put in the Bill?
I thank the hon. Member for that point and praise her for the work that she has done on unscrupulous secondary ticket sales. She makes a fair point. The dynamics and details of sales and enforcement relating to tickets have still to be determined, and I am sure that everybody has heard her comments.
The organising committee’s ticketing strategy will be underpinned by the values of fairness, affordability and accessibility. That will help to ensure that everyone who wants to experience the games will have an opportunity to do so.
Finally, the Bill contains measures on the funding of, and reporting on, the games. The organising committee has been established as a non-departmental public body. It is subject to standard controls on public bodies and will provide regular budgetary and financial updates to Parliament over the life cycle of the games. Indeed, the organising committee’s first annual report and accounts were laid in Parliament in September last year, and the report for the year 2019-20 is due to be published this coming July.
The Bill contains a technical measure that makes sure that financial assistance given to the organising committee continues to comply with financial propriety rules. Alongside that, the Bill also requires the organising committee to produce an annual report on its delivery of the games. However, those interested in the delivery of the games will not need to wait for a statutory report. The organising committee already produces quarterly updates on its delivery; the next one will be available shortly and will be published on its website. Indeed, I met the CEO of the organising committee, Ian Reid, during my recent visit to Birmingham and came away with a really strong sense of confidence that the games will be a huge success.
My hon. Friend probably already knows that people who exercise for 150 minutes a week are likely to live seven years longer than more inactive people. In my area in mid-Wales, my local health board says that only 50% of our young people are reaching that goal. Does he agree that with so many people inspired to get active after the Commonwealth games, it will be vital to meeting our public health challenge?
I thank my hon. Friend for those comments. She hits on a very important part of the games’ purpose, its legacy, and indeed, the Government’s sport strategy. We will be working much more on the issues that she raises to encourage more young people to participate in sport at the right level. The Youth Sport Trust and many other bodies play a key role in delivering that, as do our schools. Those of us who are parents have a responsibility too, but the games are a key chance to make sure that we double down on those opportunities and inspire young children to get involved in sport at a very early age, with the huge mental health and physical health benefits that come with that.
Inspired by my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Fay Jones), I thought I would rise to my feet again. Before the Minister finishes, will he say a word or two more about the issue of legacy, which is so important? I had the privilege of sitting on Lord Seb Coe’s International Inspiration, which took forward the legacy from the Olympic games in London. Will he confirm that legacy is about international, national and local objectives and that it is a very high priority for the Government to build on Britain’s experience under Lord Coe’s leadership?
Legacy planning is already taking place. There is already a team within the organising committee focused on legacy, not just the physical legacy, important though that is—the physical assets, the new sports facilities, the new village and homes—but the long-lasting legacy in terms of inspiring people to travel and invest in the west midlands. The tourism, trade and investment opportunities will be a core part of this. We have learned the lessons, both the positive lessons and where we can improve, of the Olympic games and the games in Glasgow, and I am confident that we will continue to make those very important legacy decisions.
Does the Minister agree that one way we should evaluate the success and eventual legacy of the games is by how successful they are at getting jobs, skills and volunteering opportunities to those furthest from the world of work? He will know that my constituency has the highest rate of unemployment in the country and that many other Birmingham constituencies are afflicted with the awful problem of long-term, systemic worklessness. The games are an incredibly important opportunity to turn this around. Does he agree that this must be front and centre of all decisions when it comes to the jobs and skills the games will provide?
I agree with the hon. Lady. These issues were raised when the Lords considered the Bill. Front and centre of the social values charter in the Bill are things such as skills, opportunity, sustainability and a host of other important aspects. We must ensure these live not just when the games happen but for many years after, and I am sure we will debate this matter much further. I would encourage all colleagues to visit the organising committee. They would be very welcome. When I went up, I left inspired and confident that those issues—the longevity, the focus on skills, the opportunities for regeneration—were front of mind for everybody involved.
In conclusion, the Bill will help to deliver a Commonwealth games where transport keeps moving, commercial rights are protected and fans can be confident about the tickets they buy. It is critical that we get this right because the Commonwealth games are an important milestone for the region and the country. Just as we did in London, we will show the world that we are a hospitable, warm and tolerant country that is proud to host world-class sport, and we will leave a lasting legacy for Birmingham, the west midlands and the whole UK. That is what the Bill will do, and I commend it to the House.
It is a great pleasure to open this important debate for the Labour party. It feels particularly apt to be debating the Commonwealth games on Commonwealth Day. Today we mark the strength and diversity of the Commonwealth while recognising the substantial challenges still facing people in many parts of the Commonwealth. While it is a shame the Secretary of State is not in his place this afternoon, I congratulate his understudy on his fine performance so far.
In what I hope is a sign of things to come, the Opposition agree with much of the Bill. We agree across the House that the games offer an enormous opportunity to the west midlands, but the House must ensure that the games organisers make the most of those vast opportunities. That is what we are here to debate today. I hope to take up the Minister’s offer and to visit the sites ahead of the games, perhaps with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), if the people of the west midlands are sensible and put their faith in him to be their Mayor later this year. I hope to see for myself a bigger and bolstered Alexander stadium, the new aquatics centre in Sandwell and the countless other stadiums and venues that will be the envy of many nations.
I look forward to athletes competing in just over two years, hopefully winning an impressive haul of medals for all the home nations. As many will attest, the games have the potential to transform communities in the way the Olympics did for London. The new athletes village in Perry Barr, with the associated transport improvements and investment in public services, will provide good-quality homes for thousands of residents and create a new community in the heart of the city. I recognise that the Bill is a vital part of ensuring the fair and proper organisation of the Commonwealth games in 2022 in Birmingham and a step towards the games delivering for the people of the west midlands.
I particularly welcome the steps in the Bill to prevent ticket touting. All Members will agree that the games should be open and accessible to as many members of the public as possible. Strong steps to prevent exploitative and unfair ticket touting are needed to avoid the scenes that we have witnessed during other sporting events in recent years, and to guarantee that the people of the west midlands can have a fair chance to enjoy the sport on offer.
I am, however, disappointed that the Government have not used the opportunity presented by the Bill to ensure that Birmingham 2022 is truly game-changing for the region—the opportunity to showcase the truly transformational potential of the games. In that regard, they could go further. I know that the organising committee has done good work to be an inclusive and progressive employer, but more could still be done. The west midlands has one of the lowest levels of living wage accreditation among the UK regions, and the Bill could have given the Government the ideal opportunity to set down a marker by ensuring that the committee followed the lead of Labour-run Birmingham City Council and became living wage-accredited. Not only would that have helped so many who are directly involved in the delivery of the games, but it would have served as an example of good employment practice for businesses across the region, and become a catalyst for further improvement in the income and living conditions of people throughout the west midlands.
Sadly, the Bill also contains no provision to bar gambling companies from sponsoring the games. Although I know it is unlikely that the organising committee will enter into an agreement with a gambling company, I firmly believe that the Government should declare that as a matter of principle. We know that too many children and young people in the UK are already addicted to gambling, and we need to ensure that the Bill will protect them. A specific pledge preventing any form of official gambling support might just make those companies understand our concern about how best to protect casual gamblers who enjoy a flutter so that their enjoyment does not slide into destructive gambling addiction.
On a similar note, the Bill could have gone further to ease the financial pressures on Birmingham City Council, about which we have already heard. It could have opened up further funding streams so that the council would not have to face difficult choices when considering sponsors and partners.
It is fantastic that so many additional tourists are expected to visit Birmingham, but a hotel levy of £1 per room per night would go some way towards raising the additional revenue needed to fund the successful delivery of the games, and easing the pressure on council taxpayers. Such levies work in many cities across the world; why should they not work in Birmingham? The leader of the city council, Ian Ward, has been vocal in calling for this for some time. I urge the Minister to reconsider, and to add that provision for a hotel levy.
I should also like the Minister to give further assurances about the climate change impact of the games. I know that both the council and the organising committee are going to great lengths to showcase sustainable aspects of the games, and I welcome the council’s commitment to sustainable transport improvements in the athletes’ village.
Does the hon. Lady accept that, while the council is trying to ensure sustainability for the games, it has voted to build on 8 hectares of parkland every year within the city boundaries? Will she condemn that blatant hypocrisy?
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s intervention, and I am sure that his constituents have heard what he has said, but my understanding from my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill is that 51,000 homes need to be built, primarily on brownfield sites. Birmingham’s planning conditions and responsibilities are not my area of expertise, but if the hon. Gentleman wants to take the matter further, I am sure that my right hon. Friend will discuss it with him outside the Chamber.
We need to do more to tackle the climate emergency that we all face. All the expert advice suggests that we have about 10 years in which to prevent it from getting out of hand, and this is the Government’s opportunity to showcase a lead in that very respect. Before, during and after the games, we can show that we are serious about the need to take action, and to do all that we can to have a sustainable and environmentally friendly games. Birmingham cannot achieve that on its own.
The Mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority are trying to introduce a bendy bus under the current diesel structure that would cost £35 million just in the Perry Barr area. Would it not be more constructive to have electric buses running for that price, along with normal buses to make environmental changes for Birmingham?
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, and I hope that the Government will step into discussions about how we make more vehicles electric—surely that is the way forward. The Government were leading on some of this, with electric buses and cars, and we need to make sure that that filters through to all opportunities on this. The Minister has heard my colleague’s comments, and I am sure that in Committee we will take that forward in more detail.
I welcome the Minister’s assurances that his Department will work with Birmingham City Council and the organising committee to ensure that the games are a shining example to the world in how to deliver a green, sustainable and forward-looking major sporting event. Finally, I urge the Minister to ensure that these games work for local people, and that his Department make every effort possible to provide for a long-lasting and tangible boost for grassroots sport for local people in the west midlands. When the Minister responds, I would love him to mention doing all that he can to ensure that as many people as possible watch the games on free-to-air channels with their family, without committing to buying a subscription service. It is not fair that we say that people should have access, but then they have to pay to watch.
We all know the power of sport to change lives, and Birmingham 2022 has the potential to inspire and radically change the lives of people in the west midlands. For an area with high levels of social deprivation and poor health outcomes, this could be absolutely game-changing for confidence, mental health issues and obesity, and it could transform the life chances of many people, but only if we get the decisions right now. One of the biggest lessons of the 2012 Olympics in London is that, sadly, we failed to capitalise on the immense interest in sport that the games ushered in. We need to ensure a legacy of sporting participation for the people of Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
Inevitably, the drastic and disproportionate cuts to local councils played a key role, with councils forced to concentrate on their core services. We cannot risk a repeat when it comes to Birmingham 2022. Every child who goes to bed dreaming of one day winning a gold medal—I once did that in gymnastics; unfortunately I did not get it and I am here instead—or even adults who are simply inspired to get fitter or try something new must have somewhere to give it a go. The power to change lives via the games is enormous, and the Bill takes the necessary steps to ensure that we can make the most of that opportunity. Yes, there are things that I should like to see tightened up or improved in the legislation, but I hope that overall the House today finds much more to agree than to disagree on. I look forward to the debate.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and happy Commonwealth Day. It is a pleasure to speak in this debate, and I would like to start by mentioning Johanna Jackson who, like me, is a born and bred Teessider, but unlike me, won the gold for the 20 km walk in the 2010 Commonwealth games in India. Jo Jackson, from New Marske, completed the walk in just one hour, 34 minutes and 22 seconds, which is about the same amount of time that it takes me to walk here from my office in Norman Shaw North.
I am immensely proud to be in this place, representing my community. I have lived in Teesside my whole life, and Redcar is where I went to college, trained as an apprentice and cut my teeth in the chemical industry. For a lad from Teesside to stand in the House of Commons is all a bit overwhelming. Most people down here think PPE is a degree course; where I come from, it is what you wear to work. Indeed, to the envy of George Osborne, I believe I am the first MP to wear a hard hat in the photo on his parliamentary pass.
I stand here by the grace of God. My constituents have put their trust in me and, like my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, I know that their votes are only lent. During my time here I will work hard to make my community proud to have elected its first Conservative Member of Parliament.
Our constituency is Redcar, but it is not just Redcar. It is Eston, South Bank, Marske, New Marske, Ormesby and Nunthorpe, to name but a few. Over the years the Redcar constituency has had many different names. From 1290 to 1832, it was part of the Yorkshire constituency. After that it was the North Riding of Yorkshire, and before it became Redcar it was Cleveland, but many of my hon. Friends will now know it as “Bluecar”.
As well as being proud Yorkshiremen, we are proud Teessiders and sit as part of the Tees valley in England’s north-east. We are a people with an affinity for industry and an economy based on hard graft and global trade. Although the villages of Marske, Nunthorpe, Lazenby, Lackenby and Kirkleatham go back as far as the Domesday Book, life in the Redcar constituency as we know it today started in 1841 with the discovery of iron ore in the Eston hills. Suddenly, the sleepy fishing village of Redcar and its neighbour Coatham started to grow into the Redcar town that we know today. This discovery kick-started a housing crisis in the old hamlet of Eston, due to too much employment in our now booming industry. This prompted a new neighbouring settlement to be formed, named California. Perhaps it was a sunny day in Teesside.
A number of other new areas were formed at this time, including South Bank, Normanby, Grangetown and Dormanstown, which was named after the steelmaker and former Conservative candidate, Arthur Dorman. It was these thriving towns, alongside a growing Middlesbrough, that led the parliamentary titan and free trade pioneer William Gladstone to call us the “infant Hercules”. From the banks of the Tees came the industrial revolution, and Teesside became an exporting capital that built the world. From the Sydney harbour bridge to Lambeth bridge and from the Indian railways to the London underground, cities, towns and communities around the world exist today because of Teesside steel.
Our area has moved on from ironstone mining, and our steelworks closed in 2015, but industry remains our flesh and blood. Our chemical industry in Teesside still employs more than 7,500 people locally. The Wilton International site forms part of the largest chemical cluster in the UK and the second largest in Europe. At this point, Mr Deputy Speaker, I must declare an interest, having worked and trained in the Teesside chemical industry for the past nine years. I left a job as a single-use plastics producer to become a politician. I am not sure which is more popular right now, but I am sure I will find out.
We do not just make plastics. We are home to world-leading innovation centres, including the Materials Processing Institute and the Centre for Process Innovation. We are the largest producer of bioethanol in the UK, and we also notably produce more than half of the UK’s commercially viable hydrogen, which is why I am pleased to be chairing the all-party parliamentary group on hydrogen as we look to further the hydrogen economy in the UK. For the people of Redcar and Cleveland, industry is our past and our present, and it will be our future. It will not be coal-fired or carbon-heavy; it will be the clean, green industry of the 21st century.
In this decade, I want Redcar to become home to sustainable steelmaking again, and I am supporting Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s pledge to bring a clean electric arc furnace to Redcar so that the people who made steel for the World Trade Centre and the Shard can make steel for the world’s next great buildings. In this decade, I want Redcar to become home to the world’s first industrial-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage project—Net Zero Teesside; a power plant that will not only provide net zero carbon power to millions of homes but show the country and the world how to safely remove carbon emissions from industry. In this decade—indeed, in this parliamentary term—I want Redcar to become home to one of the UK’s first post-Brexit free ports. We have the deepest port on the east coast and the largest brownfield development site in Europe. We have the land, we have the plan, and we have an oven-ready free port deal ready to go. This is why I stand in this place today: to champion industry, to champion global trade, and to champion my community.
Above all, my community is important because people are important. Across my constituency I have met some fantastic people, such as Sandra Smith from South Bank, who started the South Bank Credit Union in 1989 and has dutifully served her community ever since; or Frankie Wales, who stood against me at the general election and who runs a boxing club in Redcar, giving young working-class lads purpose and self-esteem; or Norah Cooney, one of just two Conservative councillors in my constituency, who has given more than 40 years of public service to the people of Marske and New Marske.
I would also like to thank my predecessor, Anna Turley, for the work that she did for our community and for this House. Her work to bring about tougher sentences for animal cruelty is particularly commendable, and I am pleased to be supporting the private Member’s Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Chris Loder).
There is a lot more that I wanted to mention—parmos; lemon tops; Redcar racecourse; the Zetland, which is the UK’s oldest lifeboat; Winkie’s Castle, which is a cottage turned folk museum; and Ben Houchen saving Teesside airport—but I will have to save it for another time, as I want to use my final few moments to mention Redcar’s famous MP, Mo.
Dr Marjorie Mowlam was one of the political giants of our age. To this day she is well thought of in Redcar by people across the political spectrum—I cannot count the number of times I have been told, “Mo was the best MP we ever had.” She had an ability to see through the fog of partisan politics and recognise good intentions and great achievements on all sides. In fact, in the BBC’s “100 Greatest Britons” competition, it was her advocacy for a Conservative Prime Minister that gave Winston Churchill his rightful place as our greatest ever citizen. Her co-operative spirit is something that British politics is sorely lacking today, and something that I will do my hardest to emulate.
Therefore, to finish in the spirit of co-operation, I offer my new colleagues, of all parties, some slightly paraphrased advice from the great Mo herself. There is more hope than despair, and by working together we can overcome many obstacles, often within ourselves, and by doing so we can make the world a better place.
It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) making his maiden speech. He has shown that he potentially has a long career ahead of him representing Redcar—certainly a longer stint than I hope to have representing my constituency in this place. He mentioned the Domesday Book, and I cannot be alone in thinking that these times of Brexit must have their own chapter in that book. Whatever his political persuasions, I am sure that he is not a single-use politician and that he will have a great career in this Parliament, so I wish him well for the coming years.
I will not detain the House for long, particularly as sport is a devolved matter and Members from Birmingham, the midlands and across England will want to speak. Suffice it to say that the Glasgow games were a world-leading event, as the Minister touched on. They were not only a sporting event but a celebration of the many cultures and people who have chosen to make Scotland their home. I hope that the Birmingham games, in a city that is also renowned for its diversity, will similarly go beyond the purely sporting aspects, cast the net wider afield and use the occasion to showcase their city and their culture.
Glasgow had dozens of giant dancing Tunnock’s tea cakes at its opening ceremony, so I look forward to the sight of scores of pikelets and pease puddings pirouetting under the lights at the Alexander stadium in 2022. My wife and I were fortunate enough to be at the opening ceremony at Parkhead, after she won a pair of tickets in a local radio competition. The hardest part of that day was trying to get away from work in time, but I was lucky enough to do so.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, because I was not aware of that fact. Birmingham has picked well, because the Glasgow games were a huge success.
My wife and I were lucky enough to enjoy that spectacle, and the weather on that early summer evening was to set the tone for almost the entire tournament. We seem to be allowed roughly one good summer in 10 in the west of Scotland, and it happened to coincide with the eyes of the world, or at least of the Commonwealth, being on Glasgow.
There was a huge feelgood factor across Scotland in the run-up to and, of course, during the games, not just because of the weather or because Scotland was having its best Commonwealth games ever, but because it was like a 12-day party for the nation, and we do like a party from time to time north of the border.
The sunshine may have left visitors with a false impression of the prevailing Glasgow weather, but the good humour and positivity that emanated from the workers, and particularly the 15,000 volunteers—the so-called Clydesiders—left visitors with a genuine, warm enthusiasm for Scotland, the place and its people, which I am sure Birmingham will be keen to emulate.
Typically, the one event for which my wife and I were successful in securing tickets in the ballot—the athletics at Hampden—took place in the pouring rain. As a form of torture, I have subjected my daughter, Emma, to quite a few Scotland games at Hampden, and it is fair to say that she enjoyed the athletics significantly more than she enjoys the football.
Scotland, of course, has a proud history in the Commonwealth games, from the first games in Canada in 1930—then called the Empire games, of course, and there might be a few Conservative Members who wish they were still called that—through to our record-breaking medal haul at Glasgow 2014 and our best ever overseas medal tally at the Gold Coast in 2018. I am hopeful that Scotland can beat that overseas mark at the Birmingham games in 2022.
I cannot mention Glasgow’s games without reminding the House that the budget was entirely met from Scottish resources through the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council—not a penny of support was offered from this place. Previous Ministers have stated from the Dispatch Box that Treasury money used to fund Birmingham’s games will be subject to Barnett consequentials. However, there is no reason why those verbal commitments cannot be written into the Bill to ensure that devolved Administrations receive their fair share of funding to support their own sporting excellence, and the investment in infrastructure needed to improve participation still further, without going 10 rounds with the Treasury, and I will seek to amend the Bill in Committee accordingly.
The Glasgow games cost £543 million, whereas the Birmingham games are reported to cost around £780 million, some 44% more, and some reports suggest that that figure may be soft. There may be strong infrastructure and regeneration reasons for that large increase, and I certainly will not second-guess the games organisers, the local council or the Government on that, but strong controls and top-level planning resulted in a £37 million underspend of public money on the 2014 games in Scotland, which allowed the money to be returned to the public sector. The Scottish National party urges the organisers to look to Scotland’s best practices to deliver similar value for money.
I hope that both the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the organising committee will liaise closely with their counterparts involved in the Glasgow games on the lessons, both good and bad, that can be learned from our hosting in 2014. The Glasgow games were widely seen as an overwhelming success for the city and for Scotland. Any event with 5,000 athletes, 15,000 volunteers, 17 sports and half a million meals served will have its issues, and I hope Birmingham will learn those lessons ahead of 2022.
In closing, I would like to add our best wishes to Birmingham. I very much look forward to the games, which may well serve as a warm-up for Scotland’s first Olympic team in 2024.
First, let me take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Sir Hugo Swire, for his service to East Devon and this House. Sir Hugo served the constituency and his country with distinction. He held several influential roles in government, including Minister of State at the Foreign Office. I count Sir Hugo as a friend, as do many in East Devon, because his efforts helped many people I meet across the constituency every week.
This House is a broad church of opinion, skills and expertise, no matter which rosette was worn on a dark and cold night in December. Party differences should be cast aside as every Member of this House comes together to back Great Britain as we become a truly global Britain, and the Commonwealth games is a superb opportunity to demonstrate the values we hold dear: freedom, democracy, tolerance and decency. Seventy-one nations will come together in Birmingham to celebrate their vibrant cultures and community spirit, with a fair bit of friendly competition.
As we spread our wings and embark on a new journey as an independent nation, we must always remember the rallying cry in 2016 from communities who felt left behind—many still do. I am incredibly humbled to stand here as the Member of Parliament for East Devon. My constituency boasts vast swathes of the Jurassic coast, rolling countryside, Georgian seaside towns and beautiful villages—and you are never too far from an honesty box or a farm shop. I was born in Devon, and my family have lived in the county for generations, with some hailing from Cornwall—we will not talk about that. Devon has given me some incredible opportunities during my career. I was part of the launch team for Radio Plymouth, a truly independent radio station for my home city. It is still going strong 10 years later, and I was delighted to attend its birthday celebrations last month. However, my career in journalism and politics took me away from my county, family and friends. London and the south-east continue to lure our home-grown talent, many of whom never return. That must change, but it is possible only if Devon speaks up, with one voice. Devon has largely backed my party for many years, and that loyalty must be rewarded. I look forward to working with the Government on repaying the people’s trust in us. Throughout the election campaign, people on doorsteps across East Devon told me they wanted to get Brexit done. We are getting it done, but we must deliver more.
Although many people flock to Devon for our stunning coastline and countryside every year, it is clear that our transport network leaves a lot to be desired, and never more so than now. Until last week, Exeter airport, based in my constituency, provided regular flights across the UK, the Channel Islands and Europe. The collapse of Flybe is devastating for Devon, and my thoughts are with those looking for new jobs. I went to Exeter airport on Friday to speak to staff and offer my support. I saw many brave faces that day, and I want them to know that I will do everything I can to support the future of Exeter airport.
Now is the time to invest in the south-west. Never again can our main railway line, connecting Devon to the rest of the country, be literally washed away. So, we must, to coin a phrase that I hope will catch on, “Get Dawlish Done”, and that is not all. The A303 is a main artery route into the south-west. It is the road that passes Stonehenge, and many of us are treated to that historic view for considerably longer than we anticipated. It is time we saw action, not just proposals and plans. I would take great delight in getting access to the Government’s PayPal account. Alas, I fear the password may contain the words “Powerhouse” and “Northern”. Nevertheless, I know that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet fully understand the opportunities and challenges facing Devon. “I’ll do it dreckly” is a phrase heard regularly in my home city of Plymouth. It means that we will get around to doing something, at some point, maybe, in the future—a Janner’s mañana, if you will. But we do not have any time to waste—we must deliver for Devon, now.
It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for East Devon (Simon Jupp); he spoke with wit and flair and it was good to see him put Ministers on notice that he will be a doughty fighter for his constituency. It was good, too, to follow the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young). We Opposition Members miss his predecessor greatly, but I know that Mo Mowlam would have appreciated the humanity and humility that he showed in an excellent maiden speech.
It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate, because in a Second Reading debate we debate the principles of the Bill, and we cannot debate the principles of this Bill without debating the ethos of the games that we wish to host. The ethos of the games is generosity, which is why I shall start with first things first, and put on record the gratitude that the House feels not only to the chairman of the games, John Crabtree, and the chief executive, Ian Reid, but to Ian Ward and the team and officers at Birmingham City Council, along with Yvonne Davies and the team at Sandwell Council, for working miracles to step in when the bid from Durban failed. They have tried to do something spectacular, which is to put together a plan for the games in four and a half years, when normally it takes seven. The thanks of this House go out to everyone in the west midlands who has been involved in pulling together the plans for what will be the seventh Commonwealth games held on these islands. The games that we plan to showcase will be the greatest Commonwealth games in history—and not just because they will be held and showcased in the most diverse, innovative and creative heart of the Commonwealth: in the west midlands and in Birmingham.
The investment brought to our region is desperately needed. Some £800 million, about a quarter of it raised locally, is desperately needed. The facilities that have come are very welcome: I was delighted to look around the fantastic new Alexander stadium with my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West); there is the fabulous new aquatic centre, which will be built in Smethwick; and of course there is the extraordinary new village that will be built in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood), with 1,500 new homes—the down payment on an extraordinary new development of 5,000 homes—that will, in total, bring to the great, lucky constituency of Perry Barr some half a billion pounds of investment. Let no one go away from this debate without understanding clearly that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr is the greatest negotiator in this Chamber on behalf of the people he serves.
Our challenge is not simply to deliver the games and to deliver the investment, but to ensure that what is a great festival of sport is also a great festival of and a great renewal of our civic spirit. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and a generation should be lifted by opportunity—lifted out of poverty, out of unemployment and out of under-investment. We Opposition Members will fight like tigers to ensure that the games are a hand up for a community and not a handout for corporate sport. The Opposition know that our success will be judged not simply by the medals that we win, but by the lives that we change. We on this side of the House know that this festival of the Commonwealth games must be a festival of the civic gospel, too, which is why I turn to the father of the civic gospel: Mr George Dawson.
The story of George Dawson is not so well known today. He was a radical preacher—born in Portsmouth, I believe—who in the late 19th century made his home on Edward Street in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood). From the pulpit he preached with extraordinary power, but he was the father of civic inventiveness in our city of Birmingham. He founded the arts club and the free Birmingham Daily Press. He was the driving force behind the Shakespeare Memorial library. He was determined to ensure that our new city of Birmingham was not simply a city that was a democracy, but a city that had a democracy of culture. That inspired the great words that still sit above the free Shakespeare library:
“The time has come to give everything to everybody”.
That democratic ethos is what should inspire our approach to the games.
George Dawson had an extraordinary congregation: around 12 of them went on to be city councillors and around six of them went on to be lord mayors, including one Joseph Chamberlain. Together, they ensured that at the end of the 19th century our city was known as the best-governed city in the world. That is the ethos that should shape our approach to this Bill. With that in mind, what would George Dawson say about the Bill that the Minister has presented to us this afternoon? Well, the first thing he would say is that the games should be built in a genuinely inclusive way. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin) says that we will try to amend the Bill to include our determination to ensure that the Commonwealth games is an accredited living wage employer. Why is that important to us? It is because, across our region, 571,000 people are paid less than what they need to live on. That is one in four workers in our region. Only one in 1,000 businesses in our region is actually accredited as a living wage employer. That is why we are determined to make sure that ours is the first living wage region in the country, and why we want to see the Commonwealth games lead the way. I hope that the Minister will agree to the amendment and not seek to have it voted down by Members on his Benches.
I hope that the Minister gets a chance to discuss this matter with Mr Lee Barron, our fabulous general-secretary of the TUC in the midlands, who is bringing together a Commonwealth collective to argue the case for a much stronger social charter, but accreditation of the living wage is absolutely front and centre of our demands.
Secondly, I hope that the Government will bring forward a report that ensures that, in the village, we will deliver at least 471 homes for social rent. Why is that important? It is because the number of homes that we have built for social rent in our region has fallen by 80% since 2010. We are building council homes so slowly that it will take us until 2052 to clear the council waiting lists. That is why I hope that, when the Minister comes to Birmingham, he will meet Saidul Haque and the Citizens UK team, which has been defining some of our demands to make sure that the village that we build on the games site is genuinely a village of homes that everyone can actually afford.
The third thing that I think George Dawson would have done in this debate is to quiz the Minister on how we make sure that the Commonwealth games genuinely creates a new foundation for disability sports. We are so proud that the Commonwealth games is coming to Birmingham, and we are also proud of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, which sits just seven miles south of the Alexander stadium. I hope that, when the Minister next comes the Birmingham, he will ask for meetings with people at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and with the Commonwealth games team to inquire how we can create a genuine foundation for the Invictus games in our city for years to come. The Commonwealth games has a proud record of inclusivity, but we want to use it as a catalyst for transforming the strength, power, depth and stretch of the teams and the facilities that we have in our city for disability sports.
Fourthly, let us try to make sure that the legacy of our Commonwealth games is not simply nice new facilities, but lives and a generation that are changed once and for all. Crucially, how do we use the games to bring forward a new generation of leaders? We have had cuts to the youth service in our region two and a half times harder than anywhere else in the country, so let us look at the money that the Chancellor announced for youth services— some £500 million over the years to come—and have £100 million of it in the west midlands. Let us put it together with the legacy team from the Commonwealth games and create a young Commonwealth leaders programme where, in every single ward in our region, we equip, train and give a platform to a young leader to show how we can bring together communities for the future, animated by that spirit that we have more in common than that which divides us. Let us bring forward the investment in a generation of young leaders who not just bring our community closer together, but strengthen the links between our region and those of Commonwealth countries.
I appreciate what my right hon. Friend is saying about the young leaders programme. We have more than 160 nationalities living in Birmingham. The Commonwealth programme will be hugely welcome and hugely appreciated, but, more importantly, it will provide the leadership for the next generation, and I thank him for raising that.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who represents one of the youngest constituencies in our country. His constituency has suffered greatly as a result of cuts to youth services over the past few years. Let us use the possibilities of the Commonwealth games to begin turning that around. The final thing I think Dawson would say if he were here is that we should use available tickets to reward our local heroes. That has been suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green, and is one of the great ideas to come from the hosting of the Olympics. We in the west midlands would appreciate having the chance to honour the people who make the world of difference to the city and region that we share.
We are so proud to be a poster child of a diverse community that lives together well. We are so proud that we will have the eyes of 1.5 billion people on us. We want to dazzle them, not simply with the greatest Commonwealth spectacle of sport that the world has ever seen, but with the kind of society that we have helped to build—a society that is dedicated to the Commonwealth principles of democracy, tolerance, inclusivity and peace, a society that we will have built not just with words, but with deeds.
It is a pleasure to speak after the maiden speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for East Devon (Simon Jupp) and for Redcar (Jacob Young), who both delivered passionate, powerful and sometimes humorous speeches.
I am delighted to speak in this debate for several other reasons, and not just because it is about the west midlands. I have always been a keen sportsman, but would I call myself an athlete? I do not think I would fit into that category. However, in preparation for the London marathon—I am running for the Good Shepherd Ministry in Wolverhampton—I have experienced training on a low level, and I can only be inspired by the athletes who are coming to take part. Also, as a soldier I served alongside many outstanding service personnel from the Commonwealth and forged relationships in hard times that will last a lifetime. I support the Royal British Legion’s “Stop the Service Charge” campaign; the brave men and women from the Commonwealth who have served should have their service recognised and should not have to pay for visas.
Earlier in the year, I delivered my maiden speech in the debate on global Britain. I now find myself speaking in a similar debate. The Commonwealth games will host 71 nations and territories, bringing with them 6,500 athletes and officials to showcase to 1.5 billion people. This is clearly a demonstration of global Britain. In the Olympics, we saw how well the country can do; now we will see how well the west midlands can do. Economically, the games are huge for us in the west midlands. We will benefit from just under £800 million of sports investment and £300 million of contracts, of which an estimated 4,000 are expected to be awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises. This will clearly be welcomed in the region.
I certainly would not be doing justice to my constituency as the MP for Wolverhampton South West if I did not mention our great city. I firmly believe that Wolverhampton has been left behind for decades, and that it needs levelling up. I am glad to see that it has recently got off to a great start with £390,000 for investment into homelessness in the city, £20 million for disabled access at the train station and £45 million from different funds for our high street, but more will be asked for. With three quarters of a billion pounds coming to the west midlands for the games, Ministers can be assured that I will be banging the drum for Wolverhampton.
The west midlands will be delighted to host visitors from all around the world for this event, but we need to ensure that we have everything we need to deliver it. The impact of the games on local transport infrastructure should not be underestimated. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has produced an outstanding transport plan on connecting all areas of the west midlands over the next decade. I know that this will not be in place for the start of the games—it is not intended to be—but some work can be expedited. Funding should be brought forward for developments such as Tettenhall railway station, which would result in less traffic on the roads, and would assist supporters going to and from the games.
It would be easy to see the focus as being on Birmingham, but the west midlands will stand strong together and we will see that a world-class event is hosted. There are many great parts of the region. I do not think that anyone could visit the games without tasting Black Country battered chips or seeing the “Man on the Oss” in Wolverhampton. It all adds to the experience.
I want to ensure that I do not digress too far from the sporting legacy that we have in Wolverhampton. With Denise Lewis, Elvis Gordon, Tessa Sanderson and Vikram Solanki, we know how to deliver great athletes. So that I do not upset other hon. Members, I will not even start on the great run that the mighty Wolves are having at the moment. With pedigree like that in and from Wolverhampton, it would only be right that part of the games is hosted in the city. We have a great facility in Aldersley Leisure Village—one that I think of fondly because it is where I was announced as the MP for Wolverhampton South West. Or how about having some of the events run through the roads of Wolverhampton and experiencing some of the hills that I found in my marathon training?
There are many opportunities to showcase the whole of the west midlands at the games. It would surely be sad if Wolverhampton and all the other locations were not included in some way—and we want to make sure that we are not short-changing the visitors. It is evident that the Commonwealth games will showcase not just a truly global Britain but an outstanding west midlands, and that is why I will be supporting the Bill.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I would like to start by congratulating the hon. Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for East Devon (Simon Jupp) on their excellent maiden speeches.
It is the greatest honour imaginable to serve the people of Stockport. I am indebted to the residents of my constituency for believing in me and for giving me their support at the ballot box. I am also grateful to my family for their love and encouragement over the years, without which I would never have been able to stand as a candidate.
My predecessor, Ann Coffey, served Stockport from 1992 to 2019. Her work in the all-party parliamentary group on runaway and missing children and adults is admired on both sides of this House. As a former social worker, she campaigned tirelessly against child sexual exploitation, and her work on this very important subject has left a lasting legacy for the better. I wish her luck with her future endeavours. I would also like to thank Andrew Bennett, the former Member for Stockport North and then for the neighbouring Denton and Reddish seat. Andrew was a source of great advice and inspiration during the general election campaign.
If the House will indulge me, I would like to mention another fellow Stopfordian: Samuel Perry, who attempted unsuccessfully to become the MP for Stockport and was subsequently elected as the Labour/Co-op Member for Kettering. Samuel is famous for his work as national secretary of the Co-operative party and as the father of another famous Stopfordian—Fred Perry, the Wimbledon champion and founder of the iconic clothing brand.
I am incredibly grateful to my election agent, Mr Chris Gleeson, and all those in Stockport Labour party for the hundreds of—often unsocial—hours that they dedicated to my campaign. In the Labour movement, we believe in the collective, and I am very lucky to have such a hard-working and dedicated team around me.
My constituency of Stockport is a beautiful part of the world, and, in my unbiased opinion, the jewel in the crown of our beloved north-west region. It has many iconic buildings and structures—and, of course, some of the warmest people in the world. Many people know Stockport because of our train station and the famous Stockport viaduct. At the time of its construction, it was the world’s largest viaduct and a major feat of Victorian engineering, and it is, to this day, one of the world’s biggest brick structures, with around 11 million bricks. It is an iconic feature of the Stockport skyline, and has inspired authors and artists alike. L. S. Lowry seems to have been haunted by the viaduct; it features in several of his works from the ’50s and ’60s. The paintings and drawings evoke a thriving, if grimy, industrial town.
Author and theorist Friedrich Engels described the viaduct in his book “The Condition of the Working Class in England”. Although many across the globe admire Engels’s political analysis, I do not share in his bleak and unflattering description of Stockport. In 1844, Engels wrote:
“Stockport is renowned throughout the entire district as one of the duskiest, smokiest holes, and looks, indeed, especially when viewed from the viaduct, excessively repellent.”
I am glad to report that, while Engels’s analysis of the capitalist exploitation of working people remains true today, his words about Stockport do not. These days, the smoke-belching chimneys are a thing of the past. In recent years, Stockport has had the fastest-growing economy in the north-west, with relatively high-value jobs. It is a brilliant place to live and to represent. The historic town centre, featured on film and TV, is a great place to be, especially if it is Foodie Friday.
Stockport is a varied and diverse place to live, but like many similar working communities across the UK, it is a tale of two towns: the haves and the have-nots. If you live in Heatons South, you can expect to live a lot longer than if you live where I live, in Brinnington and Central—10 years longer if you are a man, and eight if you are a woman. And it is not just how long you live; your chances of living with serious illness also vary enormously across the constituency.
Our town has a proud 400-year-old hat-making heritage. I was delighted to learn from my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South (Rachel Hopkins) about the history of hat making in her constituency, but I am pleased to share that Stockport’s Hat Works is the only dedicated hat museum in the UK.
Although Stockport trumps Luton in terms of hat museums, both our local football teams are known as the Hatters. Recent performances in the national league give us hope that we will soon be returning to the football league. My local football team, Stockport County, was founded in 1883 as the Heaton Norris Rovers, and changed its name in 1890. The club has a long history that includes the wonderful seasons in the early ’90s when it was managed by the revered Uruguayan Danny Bergara. I have made a commitment to help promote our local club and look forward to working with the fans and the new owner in the coming years.
Stockport is a vibrant market town with a lively town centre. We have a thriving civic society, and our people take great pride in their community. It is those people working and volunteering in our third sector who are the backbone of our community. We have some excellent local organisations that support people from across the north-west, and I want to use my maiden speech as an opportunity to highlight just a few of them.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Wellspring centre several times and see the work they do. Over the years, they have helped over 1,500 rough sleepers into accommodation. Their annual rucksack appeal helps people in need with warm clothes, food and other essentials in the winter. Jonathan and his team of staff and volunteers inspire me every day, working hard to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
I have also had the wonderful opportunity to visit Smart Works in my constituency, a registered charity that supports women with interview preparation and professional clothing. I met some of the staff and volunteers based in Stockport, and I was pleased to learn about the number of women who have had support over the years. The appalling rise in inequality and poverty is illustrated by the alarming increase in the use of food banks in my constituency.
One of my main priorities for my constituency is housing. All those years ago, the poor quality of housing impressed itself on Engels. These days, the situation is different, but the legacy of the right-to-buy policy and demographic and financial changes have resulted in huge pressures on housing in Stockport. We need to make sure that Stopfordians do not get priced out of living and thriving in our town. I want to ensure that high numbers of good-quality social and affordable homes are built in Stockport.
Another important pledge in my campaign was bringing high-quality green jobs into Stockport, to make sure that people have access to good jobs locally, rather than having to travel long distances for work. Improving public transport is also an issue close to my heart. We need reliable, affordable and frequent bus services, as well as the Metrolink tram brought back into our town. The leader of Stockport Council, Elise Wilson, is a long-standing campaigner for better public transport, and I look forward to working with her to ensure that this issue gets the priority it deserves.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, so it would be remiss of me not to mention Suffragette Square in Stockport, which was named to commemorate four important women in Stockport’s history: Gertrude Powicke, Elsie Plant and Hannah Winbolt were Stopfordian women who were all active in the suffrage movement, and Elizabeth Raffald was a pioneering Stopfordian from the 1700s. Another woman who has inspired me is Mrs Jayaben Desai, of Indian heritage, who famously led the Grunwick dispute of mostly women workers, which was a landmark strike in the fight for fairness and equality in Britain.
Stockport and the north-west have a proud history of radicalism and protest—whether it was the Chartists, who fought for working-class rights and influence; the suffragettes, who campaigned for women’s right to vote; the Kinder Scout mass trespass, which helped to establish the right to ramble; or those who marched for democratic rights at St Peter’s field and were slaughtered at the Peterloo massacre. People often think of Byron or Shelley when they think of poetic accounts of Peterloo, but Samuel Bamford was at St Peter’s field on that bloody day and captured the struggle of ordinary Stopfordians in his 1816 poem “The Fray of Stockport”.
The brave workers at the Roberts Arundel engineering works in Stockport fought for the right to organise against poverty wages and an oppressive employer. The Roberts Arundel dispute started as a local strike involving 145 workers, but became a dispute of national significance as millions of workers threatened a concerted solidarity strike across the north-west. Hugh Scanlon, the late president of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, said that
“the Roberts Arundel dispute in Stockport had a small and seemingly ‘parochial’ beginning, yet exploded into an issue that had great repercussions for the Labour movement nationally and internationally”.
I would like to pay tribute to the late, great AEU Stockport district secretary John Tocher, who fought on behalf of workers in my constituency all those years ago, and his comrade David Heywood, who continues to be a source of advice and inspiration.
As socialists and representatives of the trade union and labour movement, we stand on the shoulders of giants. One such giant was my dear friend and Salford councillor John Ferguson, who would be delighted to see me in this place making my maiden speech. Sadly, he passed away just before the election. John was a giant of north-west Labour politics and a lifelong trade unionist, and he always had the wisest of words to offer when the going got tough.
Personally, I owe so much to the trade union movement, which has supported me throughout my working life. From courses on workplace representation to political education, my union Unite has always stood with me. In fact, my maternal grandfather, Mr Awadhesh Pandey, was involved in the All India Railwaymen’s Federation, and active in the 1974 national railway strike, standing up for better pay and conditions for his fellow workers. I hope to do justice to my grandfather’s memory by standing up against exploitation. The history of our movement shows us that we can achieve so much when we stand up collectively to fight for what is right and just. We owe so much to the social movements that won us fundamental rights. Yet, unfortunately, the injustices, inequalities and exploitation that inspired these movements remain.
Public services in Stockport have been decimated by a decade of Government cuts and brutal austerity. Over £100 million has been stripped from our council’s budget. Our local NHS trust has been underfunded by £170 million, and there is an £8 million funding shortfall in our schools. Austerity was not inevitable; it was a deliberate choice by the political elite to make ordinary working-class people pay the price for an economic crisis they did not create. As Stockport’s new MP, I stand with these ordinary working people. I vow to continue our town’s proud tradition of radicalism and protest, and to stand up for hope, equality and justice. Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you for allowing me to make my maiden speech.
I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for East Devon (Simon Jupp) on their excellent maiden speeches, and it is a pleasure to follow the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra). It may not surprise him to learn that I do not quite share his conclusions about the relevance of Engels today, but it was a very passionate and informative speech about the history of Stockport, and I look forward to hearing more contributions from him in his time in this House.
With the sometimes unsettling news around us, including talk of self-isolation, it is very pleasing that I can speak in a debate that will celebrate and look forward to a time when lots of people, from far and wide, will meet to cheer on international athletes who have travelled to this country to achieve their personal best. The return of the Commonwealth games to the United Kingdom so soon after the Glasgow games is exciting and full of promise—so exciting, indeed, that this committed east midlander finds himself thrilled for the people of the west midlands.
As the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne) identified, we are hosting these games without the usual lead-in time. Durban had been awarded the 2022 games by the Commonwealth Games Federation, but this offer was withdrawn after Durban failed to meet several obligations in its bid. That said, I believe that we are in a very strong position to host the games. The Commonwealth games in Manchester in 2002 demonstrated to the world generally, and to the International Olympic Committee in particular, that the United Kingdom was capable of hosting a large-scale, multi-nation sporting event. This was, I am sure, one of the key factors in London’s success three years later, when it won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. I see that this Bill will create an organising committee along the same lines as the organising committee created for London. This model worked very well then, as it later did in Glasgow, and I trust that it will also be a success in Birmingham.
I am, alas, not a natural sportsman, but my enthusiasm for these games is personal. In 2011 and 2012, I was employed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. For 18 months, I had the privilege of working alongside colleagues from across the globe, helping to stage what is widely regarded as the best-organised Olympics games ever. This enthusiasm was widespread: for the first and I think last time, I saw strangers on the London underground excitedly chatting to one other during those games. My own team, which included 50 volunteers, ranging from students to lawyers and diplomats, gave up hours of their time and worked hard but unwaveringly to make the games a success. I have no doubt that the army of volunteers soon to be recruited for Birmingham will have a similarly deeply rewarding experience.
I was lucky enough to be the person who handed the Union flag to Sir Chris Hoy before he carried it into the Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony. At the closing ceremonies, I handed the Olympic and Paralympic flags to the then Mayor of London, before he handed them over to the mayor of Rio. These experiences enabled me to see, at close quarters, the power of the games: the ability to draw people together in a unifying national moment; the way that the games inspired the public, especially children; and, of course, the regeneration of east London. I look forward to seeing the Birmingham games do for Perry Barr what the London games did for Stratford—transforming the area with desirable housing, as well as the planned creation of thousands of new jobs.
If I may, I will turn very briefly to the substance of the Bill. The restrictions on advertising and trading might appear draconian, but they are needed. These sporting events do rely on corporate sponsorship to succeed, and without the kind of brand protection envisaged in the Bill, the games would not be possible. Similarly, the creation of a games transport plan with dedicated games lanes, might appear onerous, but they are necessary. As a games lane user myself during London 2012, I saw how they are vital for the delivery of a large, multinational sporting event—something that I understand was learned from painful experiences in previous games.
Finally, I am pleased that this Bill has broad cross-party support. The guiding hand of Tessa Jowell is sadly no longer with us, but I think the fact that she was one of those who, along with Lord Coe and others, demonstrated to the world that we can do this sort of event and do it well means that Birmingham 2022 will be part of her legacy. The motto of London 2012 was “Inspire a Generation”, and it did. The motto of Birmingham 2022 is “Are you Game?”, and we are. I wish the Bill and these games every success.
With your permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will briefly pay my respects to Councillor Keith Linnecor, whose funeral I attended this morning. He served in my constituency for 24 years, and he was a great stalwart and a great local councillor. The only currency he believed in was his shoe leather, and he spent a huge amount of it in the constituency and in his ward. I express my condolences to all of his family.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to take part in this debate on the Commonwealth games. As a number of colleagues and friends have mentioned, I am the Member of Parliament in whose constituency most of the games will take place. I was the first Member of Parliament in Birmingham to call for the Commonwealth games to be brought to Birmingham, before we actually got them. During the initial competition for the games I raised the issue, but I got slightly non-committal responses from a lot of the leaders across Birmingham. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity, because I believed it would give us a huge opportunity for investment in my constituency. I wanted that to happen because it would give us a chance to celebrate the many cultures we have across Birmingham, and as I have said, I wanted that investment in Birmingham and my constituency.
The Minister has raised most of the issues, and I had the privilege to meet him beforehand to discuss some of my concerns. The first point he raised, among others, at the start of his speech concerned the road regulations for the games and effective co-ordination between the relevant transport and traffic authorities. I accept that the other points were also very valid, but I would like to look at that issue. It is very important because we have had a number of significant meetings in my constituency.
I am a trainee of another famous Brummie, who came from Norwich. Sir Richard Knowles was a great local government leader who managed under the Conservatives to be able to get the NEC, the International Conference Centre and the National Indoor Arena; he was a great Brummie—an adopted Brummie—who believed that the best possible way to negotiate was to move forward and to be able to do what is right for the people of Birmingham. He knew how to get the best possible deal for the people of Birmingham. He did that during the huge demise of the great industries that we had; in Birmingham we had over 1,001 trades, but unfortunately they are not there now as much as we would like. I am grateful in my constituency to what used to be the EEF—the Engineering Employers’ Federation—for our engineering and manufacturing training school. It is flourishing: there are three times more students than seven years ago, and it is doing a fantastic job.
We are concentrating today on skills—on the skills needed for the housing programme in relation to these changes. I wholly welcome the 1,000 houses and the promise of a further 4,000, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne) mentioned. I strongly support that, but I a ask that there be more social housing. We are hugely underserved in terms of housing; we want more housing to be built and we want to support that programme. One of the reasons why I originally pushed for the Commonwealth games to be held here is the huge investment in terms of housing that it would give.
The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell)—for the royal borough, or town as he calls it, of Sutton Coldfield—spoke about the legacy. I wanted there to be a huge legacy for my constituency; that is why I pushed for this originally. I wanted a legacy that was positive and that would lead my constituents to prosperity, and the whole of Birmingham to prosperity—and Sandwell and the rest of the adjoining areas.
However, there is a sad tinge to that. My constituents currently feel that they are being pushed not towards a legacy but towards strife: the strife that they will face locally on a daily basis—the work they will have to do to overcome some of the road infrastructure changes being proposed. I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz)—who is not here—have had a number of meetings and we have had over 400 people coming to them. That is unprecedented, and this has gone on for over a year and a half—two years, almost—ever since the initial plans came up. I want to support Birmingham City Council and I want to support the games. I have had a very good and positive relationship both with the chairman of the games and the chief executives. We have regular meetings to discuss some of the issues, including the integration of the local community in carrying out some of the work and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill said, how to look after the youth.
The games organising committee is very supportive of that and so is the executive structure within it. But the trouble I have at the moment is twofold. The first is with Birmingham City Council in terms of trying to knock off a flyover—I use that term advisedly. It is the thoroughfare from Birmingham city centre to the M6 and Walsall, crossing West Bromwich East just slightly on the left-hand side—I see the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Nicola Richards) in her place. There is huge concern, certainly from the hon. Lady, the Members for Wolverhampton and me, about the transport infrastructure that will be put before us, because it will isolate my community. It will create a number of issues that I want to address.
The community is so concerned that the A34 safety action group has put forward a pre-litigation letter to the council—to the leader and the cabinet member—on particular issues that it is not happy about. For instance, there have not been any road safety audits. The usual procedure is to look at the displacement effects and the effect on traffic safety and traffic flow. I have taken the time to go and look at the modelling that Birmingham council has produced. I still await the figures on how the modelling was developed, however, because the modelling it showed me bore no relation to the traffic in that area, and it was very difficult to see how that traffic would be managed. A direct access out through the flyover is being removed and solid traffic lights are being put in, and access is being restricted to the One Stop shopping centre. That is a huge issue, because that centre is essentially an island: we have a railway line on one side, and it is landlocked on the other. The main road is the only access, so if work is started to remove the flyover, there will be problems.
There will be issues getting business through my One Stop shopping centre, which is essentially the town’s shopping centre so far as we are concerned. Many good brands have come in, and they have done so because of the huge trade they do. Its Asda is one of the largest trading Asda stores in the west midlands, and we also have Clarks and Marks & Spencer, and a number of banks and other institutions, but we also have some very good local traders, and their livelihoods will be put at risk because of the roadworks that need to be done to deliver this. It is therefore very important that the Minister looks at the consequences. We are talking about legacy, but there will not be a positive one, certainly not for the shopkeepers or other people who will have to use it afterwards. The modelling shown to me is, I believe, not accurate in any sense at all.
No value-for-money analysis has been done, and the litigation process that my constituents have put through shows how desperately they feel. In any procedure there would be a value-for-money analysis. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill: Birmingham has been deprived of funding. During the past 10 years Birmingham was deprived of funding and has lost over £700 million. I accept that, but if Birmingham then goes ahead with this folly, spending much more money, my worry is where that money will come from. Is the Minister prepared to underwrite that money because of the Commonwealth games? I have been told that the Government will underwrite the money for that. I do not want more money coming out from the already-deprived citizens of Birmingham, so it is very important that I get some answers.
There has been hardly any constructive consultation on this issue. A number of people have been trying to get information. The initial consultation was very narrow, covering literally just 50 yards off the highway, and most of that was industrial areas that those conducting the consultation wanted to consult on. This is not a model consultation. Also, the initial consultation was done in July and August, which is of course a very good time to do a consultation for those who do not want to hear what people are thinking: the majority of parents and others are on holiday and will not be present.
Referring to the geographical areas of my constituency, there was no consultation at all in Handsworth, Newtown, Kingstanding, and Boldmere and Pheasey, and very little consultation in Birchfield, Lozells and Aston, the areas immediately surrounding the flyover and the centre as well.
The Labour party regularly does an equality impact assessment for the BAME community, and indeed we should do that, but there has been no equality impact for the BAME community in that area. We rightly asked the Government when the changes are coming in and what the assessment is of the effects on the BAME community. The ward of Aston, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood), is 85.5% BAME, Birchfield ward in my constituency is 79.2%, Lozells in my constituency is 88%, Newtown in the constituency of my right hon. Friend is 70%, Handsworth in my constituency is 80%, and Handsworth Wood in my constituency is 80%, Perry Barr in my constituency is 48%, Soho in my right hon. Friend’s constituency is 60%, Oscott in my constituency is 30% and Kingstanding is 30%.
I believe the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Gary Sambrook) is still a councillor for that area. I congratulate him on the sturdy work he has done on this matter to support his constituents. All those issues have not been dealt with properly and that will leave a huge bad taste in the mouth at the election.
The aggravation for my constituents is such that they are prepared to demonstrate—the elderly, single mothers, people who are ill, those in wheelchairs, parents and individuals. I have been to a number of their meetings. People who have served in the police force and as civil servants are all prepared to act because they believe that this is not the right way to treat the people of my constituency. I am sad that I have to stand here. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill says that I am a good negotiator. I hope that raising these issues on the Floor of the House will bring those points to the fore. There has been no work on compensation if this is to go ahead. The livelihoods of smaller tradespeople in the One Stop Shopping centre and across the area will be hugely affected. That is not the legacy I want for my constituency.
My constituents, including the A34 safety action group, are also concerned about the new Sprint bus service—the bendy bus, as we commonly call it. It has essentially failed everywhere in the country. It was stopped in London in 2004-05. It did not work. The buses were over 57 foot long. They used to be called the free bus: they were stopped in part because people would get on through the back doors and not pay for their journeys. The buses that Transport for West Midlands and the Mayor are considering will be diesel, and this is where we have a real issue with the environment. I am very concerned. We need to reflect on why the Mayor and Transport for West Midlands are adamant about pushing that. The effect, particularly on Walsall Road, which is a run-through and has parking bays, will be that the infirm, the ill, the elderly and young children will not be able to get a bus to their homes. There has been no consultation and only one meeting with the Mayor. He did not come back again. We took a number of key people to a meeting with the chief executive of Transport for West Midlands. She has not come back to us or to me. I managed to steal another meeting while she was meeting my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall South. The proposal now is not to move the bus into Walsall South, but to keep it in Perry Barr.
We have an excellent bus service called the X50. If Transport for West Midlands has the money, I would prefer it if it made the buses electric. They would run faster than the proposed Sprint bus system it wants to introduce and they would be much cleaner. Their frequency could be increased. With the money the Mayor will have—some £110 million across Birmingham—fares could be reduced. If we want better, cleaner air in the centre of Birmingham, we should have green buses and affordable fares for families, people not in work and the elderly. We want to support them by having clean air in Birmingham by changing our transport system from diesel to electric. That has been my argument throughout, but the Mayor and the chief executive of Transport for West Midlands have not bothered to listen to a single word from my constituents.
Those are the two key issues I wanted to raise, because they are important to my constituents. It is important that the Commonwealth games is not shown in the media with people protesting across the A34, which is next to the Alexander stadium. I do not want to see that. I want to see a happy and joyous coming together of the Commonwealth community. I want the people of Birmingham and the people of my constituency to be proud of their heritage and to be part of a legacy that increases the local economy, housing and so on. There is a transport obligation on the Government, so if these issues are not looked into, I will be looking to table an amendment in Committee.
It is a pleasure to rise to support this important and necessary Bill. I do so as a Black Country MP and as chair of the all-party group for the Commonwealth games. It is a particular pleasure to speak after so many excellent maiden speeches. I am sure the grandfather of the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) would have been prouder than he could imagine to watch him making his maiden speech. There were also excellent maiden speeches by my hon. Friends the Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for East Devon (Simon Jupp). My hon. Friend the Member for East Devon made the rather brave confession that some of his family hail from Cornwall. It is very much in that spirit that I make my own confession: I am a very proud Black Country man, but I was in fact born in Birmingham—in the old Sorrento hospital in Moseley.
As 10-year-old Dudley schoolboy, I remember watching in October 1986 with my classmates and the teacher the announcement that Birmingham had sadly missed out to Barcelona on the chance to host the 1992 Olympic games. Finally, 30 years later, we have an opportunity to bring one of the world’s biggest and greatest multi-sport events to the west midlands. We need to ensure that the games will be a success. We know that they will be a sporting success. We know that the organising committee will be led by Ian Reid. As the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood) mentioned, he has some experience in this area. I think he was actually chief finance officer of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games, rather than chief executive. However, having done so much to help to make Glasgow 2014 such a success, I am confident that the sporting organisation of Birmingham 2022 will be in the very safest of hands.
More than sporting success in summer 2022, what modern sporting events on this scale are judged on is the legacy they leave behind after the sportsmen have gone. It will be fantastic to welcome 6,500 athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories. They will be watched by 1 million spectators in the stadium, in the other venues and on the roadside, and by 1.5 billion people worldwide. However, what will make a real difference for my constituents and for people across the west midlands is creating a Commonwealth games legacy. Since the Manchester Commonwealth games in 2002, the economic legacy built up and left by Commonwealth games has increased at a rapid pace. The 2014 games in Glasgow are understood to have brought £740 million to the regional and national economy—in Glasgow and wider Scotland—while the 2018 Gold Coast games are projected to have delivered a £1.3 billion boost to the economy in Queensland. That is the economic legacy that we want for Birmingham, the west midlands and the country as a whole.
However, more than just the economic legacy, we are looking for a sporting legacy, with greater participation, greater interest and greater levels of activity. Speaking as the father of two school-age children, I know that someone being able to see sporting success when they are growing up—particularly when that sporting success is happening just down the road—is a major contributing factor to their interest in competitive sport and their inclination to get involved and compete at whatever level. It is great that we will see the refurbished Alexander stadium and the new aquatics venue in Smethwick, but we want the sporting legacy to be spread out across the west midlands.
It was good to see the Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris), on the Treasury Bench earlier in the debate, because I know how much work he has done with Halesowen athletic and cycling club in his constituency. We are proud of it across Dudley borough—it is genuinely one of the great cycling clubs in the country. It has produced former Olympians such as Jess Varnish and Helen Scott, the Paralympic, world and Commonwealth games multi-gold medallist. It is an exceptionally well run club, which engages the community right across the borough and beyond extremely well, and its level of success deserves the very best facilities. It is about time that we had a world-class cycling facility—a world-class velodrome—in the west midlands. The campaign has been run by David Viner of Halesowen cycling club, and my hon. Friend has been doing so much to support it. I very much hope that the Government, the games organisers and all those involved in planning how to secure this sporting legacy will give the most serious consideration to how they can help make a world-class velodrome happen.
Beyond the sporting legacy, we have the opportunity to transform so much of the regional economy. In terms of the direct investment in the games, £300 million-worth of contracts will be available, 4,000 of which will have values of less than £175,000 to allow a greater range of small and medium-sized enterprises to bid, get involved and get a share of the economic value of contributing to the west midlands’ first major multi-sport event. I very much hope that a large number of those contracts will go to west midlands SMEs, so that as well as the sporting legacy and the direct investment legacy, we can attract the high-quality jobs and develop the high-quality skills that the Black Country and the wider west midlands need and local people deserve.
This is an incredibly ambitious programme. It will help to move people into real jobs and will offer experiences that will be beneficial to their long-term career prospects. Beyond that, it will be beneficial to raising aspirations relating to what it is possible for young people leaving school and people training now in the west midlands to achieve, and what they can hope to build in their careers. We can do so much to shape that.
The games will be a huge showcase—not just a sporting, but a cultural showcase. They will be a trade and investment showcase not just for Birmingham but for the Black Country and the wider west midlands, and they will be a showcase for the 1.5 billion people watching. We have to get this right. The Bill is necessary for us to get it right, and it has my complete and absolute support.
It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill as a Birmingham MP, and as someone who has been excited about the games since they were first awarded. This morning, in front of the iconic Birmingham library, the official Commonwealth countdown clock was unveiled, revealing the 870 days remaining until the opening ceremony. I cannot wait for 2022, when the people of Birmingham will warmly welcome thousands of people from around the world to our wonderful city. We will have the eyes of over 1 billion people on us as we deliver what I am sure will undoubtedly be one of the greatest Commonwealth games ever.
As I am sure the Minister knows, I have been working closely with the leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, the chair of the games organising committee, John Crabtree, and Ian Reid, the chief executive. I have been really impressed with their desire to produce a games that delivers for everyone and I look forward to continuing to work with them to bring this vision to fruition. I am proud that my constituency will play host to some of the events, and I look forward to cheering on our athletes at the University of Birmingham, which is providing venues for squash and hockey, and the world-famous Edgbaston cricket ground, which is hosting all the women’s cricket matches.
The potential legacy impact cannot be overstated, and we have already seen plans for new homes. More sustainable transport links are being developed and built.
My hon. Friend is making some extremely important points. As a neighbouring MP in the west midlands, I welcome the games coming to our region. She talks about Edgbaston being a world-leading cricket venue. Leamington, of course, is the world-leading venue for lawn bowls—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I thank hon. Members for their encouragement. While we welcome the event coming to Warwick and Leamington, sustainable transport is one of the issues that we face. Does she agree that we need to see this as a fantastic chance to invest heavily in restructuring the sort of transport links that we need for the future?
My hon. Friend makes a really good, important point, and he reminds us of the game of bowls in the Commonwealth games, which is very important too.
The Commonwealth games provide the chance for local residents to gain skills and vital employment opportunities, and they are an opportunity for other positive social changes as well. The west midlands has one of the lowest levels of living wage accreditation in the country. Birmingham City Council has been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation since 2012. The games have the opportunity to deliver good-quality, well-paid jobs by following suit, and I am really pleased that this is being championed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), Labour’s metro Mayor candidate for the west midlands, who we heard earlier making a fantastic speech.
While I support and welcome the inclusion of promoting sustainability in the annual reporting requirements of the organising committee, I urge the Minister to amend that to include specific mention of the sustainable development goals. Tokyo’s sustainability concept for the Olympics this year specifically aims to
“contribute to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals…through the delivery of the Games.”
This is a real opportunity to do the same with the Commonwealth games, using them as a call to action to eradicate poverty and inequalities and improve health and education, alongside sustainable economic growth and tackling climate change.
The additional costs of delivering many of the services and infrastructure around the games will have to be met by local authorities, and unfortunately, the Bill does not contain any information about steps to raise additional revenue so that the cost of the games is not passed on to the people of the west midlands, either in increased taxation or in a reduction in service frequency or quality. What assessment have the Government made of other forms of revenue—for example, a hotel levy—during the games to counter the additional pressure that attendees and visitors will put on local services? Many cities around the world already do this.
I hope the Minister will take on board my suggestions. As a strong supporter of the games, I would welcome the opportunity to meet him to discuss these ideas further to ensure the games are the best they can be, both for the three weeks they are held and for the legacy that Birmingham and the wider west midlands deserve.
I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as I still serve as a Birmingham City councillor. I echo the words of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood) about the late Councillor Keith Linnecor, whom I have known since I was 15; he was a good guy, a stalwart of local politics in Birmingham, and will be sorely missed. I saw a picture on Twitter earlier of some flowers at his funeral with woolly hedgehogs on them. He would have loved that as he had a nigh on obsession with hedgehogs. I also congratulate those hon. Members who made their maiden speeches today, the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) and my hon. Friends the Members for East Devon (Simon Jupp) and for Redcar (Jacob Young); they were excellent first contributions, and I look forward to many more to come.
I am proud that the Commonwealth games are coming to my home city of Birmingham, the city where I have lived my entire life, and I recognise the enormous positive contribution they will make to the city for years to come, in terms of jobs and skills, housing and health—I personally hope to benefit from the latter in the coming years—but I have huge concerns about the athletes village, which is the element of the games that is solely the responsibility of Birmingham City Council. I know the area fairly well as I went to university there. It is the site of the old Birmingham City University. It has now been flattened. When the games were touted a couple of years ago, the leader of the city council, Councillor Ian Ward, in order to get the idea through his own group, said in a crunch meeting that it would have no impact on the revenue budget of the city council. Unfortunately, we now find that it will have an impact of £2 million a year for the next 40 years—and that is before the new business model is released tonight, in time for next week’s cabinet meeting. I urge the Minister to look closely at this when it is published, as it is important that the council leader and the council keep their word and that services on the frontline are not disrupted by their financial mismanagement of the athletes village in Perry Barr. Some 93% of the construction budget has already been allotted to only 72% of the bed spaces, and that is before a single brick has been laid. I have huge concerns about this. Also, just next door is the former National Express depot. In the original budget, the cost of moving it just a couple of hundred yards down the road was put at £2 million. Thanks to the council’s mismanagement, that has spiralled to £15 million.
An equally controversial element of the games in the city at the moment is the removal of the Perry Barr flyover, at a cost of £27 million.
Does my hon. Friend agree that Birmingham City Council should listen to residents from across the west midlands, including mine in West Bromwich East, who know that the demolition of the flyover will cause nothing but chaos in the area and that this is not the legacy we want in Great Barr from the Commonwealth games?
That is perfectly true. It will have a huge impact and ripple effect in the local area. The council needs to listen to local people, including the 15,000 people from Birmingham alone who have signed a petition, and those in neighbouring authorities who have also complained to the council that it will have an adverse impact on transport.
My hon. Friend, who is making a powerful speech, mentions neighbouring authorities and transport. Wycombe lies between London and Heathrow and Birmingham, and I am slightly concerned that the powers in clause 26 to put in place temporary prohibitions or restrictions on roads are drawn very widely. Would he join me in inviting the Minister to say that there are no plans to restrict the M40 between London and Birmingham? We would not want any unintended costs to fall upon the people of Wycombe, who like me, I am sure, are looking forward to watching the games.
I was worried for a moment that my hon. Friend was about to quiz me on my knowledge of clause 26—I was starting to panic—but I am sure the Minister will have heard his intervention.
As well as the neighbouring local authorities, Highways England has also complained about the impact the removal will have on local people. This is not just a party political point, or opposition for opposition’s sake; as proven by the comments of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr, this is a cross-party issue that is really impacting on Birmingham. It is literally the only source of negative publicity around the games and unfortunately the only bit that is wholly the responsibility of the city council.
I am also concerned that the village will not provide enough social and affordable housing locally. The last figure I heard was that only 4% of the housing on the site was to be social housing, which was six percentage points lower than the 10%—
I will do.
In conclusion, we need to ensure that the legacy of the games in Birmingham includes that ripple effect of regeneration around the city as far south as my own constituency and provides the jobs and skills we desperately need. Let us hope that the legacy does not include 40 years of debt for the city council because unfortunately it has been unable to manage a budget yet again.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Gary Sambrook) and to have listened to some excellent maiden speeches. I am pleased to take part in this debate, not least because I had an important statutory instrument Committee on coronavirus at 6 pm, so had to slip seamlessly out of and back into the Chamber. I am grateful for your indulgence, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I welcome the fact that the 2022 Commonwealth games will be held in Birmingham. It is a brilliant opportunity for the country, especially the west midlands—which, I am sure hon. Members have noticed, I am not from. I wish to focus my remarks on part 3 of the Bill, specifically with regard to ticket touting. As the House will know, I have campaigned against abuses in the secondary ticketing market for over a decade, and it can rest assured that I will not stop until fans stop being ripped off. We have had some notable achievements, in the last 18 months especially, but we are not there yet. The Bill provides the Government with an opportunity to address some of the issues relating to the secondary ticketing market. The Minister outlined some of those in his opening speech and I will be excited to see the detail when it works its way through the House.
The hon. Member is making an excellent point about ticket touts. Does she agree that it is very important that people across the UK can attend the games, no matter their socioeconomic class or how much money they have in their pocket, and that the organisers take ticket pricing extremely seriously?
I totally agree, and I shall say more about that shortly. I know that the Minister and, in particular, my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State share our passion for fairness in this regard, and I hope that the Bill will be a strong instrument in sorting out some of the worst aspects of touting in the ticket marketplace.
Part 3 says that touting tickets for the games will be prohibited. Hear, hear: that is excellent news. It will help the organising committee to ensure that tickets are both accessible and affordable for genuine fans, and I welcome that aim. The ethos of the sporting industry is to give people who will not necessarily ever have attended a sporting event—people who are typically young, or from a low socioeconomic background—access to affordable tickets, so that they can attend events and engage with, and potentially take up, the sport involved. They may then become the grassroots that can keep a sport alive. It is outrageous that ticket touts, operating outside the law, can take that opportunity away from people who might need it and sell tickets, many times above their face value, for personal profit.
Ticket touting does not benefit the sport, the players, the organisers or the venue; it only benefits the tout. Tickets for the games will be rightly sought after and I am sure that we will all try to get hold of some, so how will the Government enforce the regulations? What support will Birmingham Trading Standards be given to enforce them, in the form of finance and resources, and will West Midlands Police be given additional funds to support Trading Standards? Given that much of the touting activity targeting the games will be online, will the National Trading Standards e-Crime Team receive additional funds to tackle online breaches of the legislation?
Birmingham Trading Standards does not have the expertise or, currently, the trained staff that are needed in this highly specialised area. A Minister in the other place, Baroness Barran, said:
“Enforcement officers already have a suite of investigatory powers available to them through schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 25 February 2020; Vol. 802, c. 200.]
However, enforcement officers do not have the funding and resources that they need to implement these powers, and the “deterrent” in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 does not work. I hope that the convictions, just two weeks ago, and the sentencing of two ticket touts in Leeds will deter ticket touts; but they, too, will know that enforcement agencies do not have the necessary resources to do anything about their illegal behaviour. There are simply too many touts for an under-resourced agency to deal with.
Touts have been able to get away with it scot free for far too long, and the Bill must ensure that that is a thing of the past. According to the Department’s press release about the Bill last year,
“buying tickets will be clear, simple and affordable.”
However, the Minister will be aware that Google has allowed Viagogo to have “paid-for ads” for most events at the top of its search engine. Will the Government ensure that Google does not take sponsored ads for games tickets from secondary sites such as those of Viagogo and StubHub? As the Minister knows, ads for Viagogo that appear at the top of Google searches give consumers the impression that this a trusted and verified website, but that could not be further from the truth. Will he please tell us who, if the ads do appear and tickets are found on the secondary ticket websites, will be responsible for reporting the existence of those tickets? The games organisers will have enough to do without having to search and check that there are no fraudulent tickets for sale online. What guidance and support will the organising committee be given to establish a mechanism to reassure those who buy tickets that they are buying them from official ticketing platforms for the games?
London 2012 showed that we can protect tickets for events. That worked really well, and the Commonwealth games, or any other ticketed event, should not be any different. As we saw in 2012, ticketing regulations must be supranational, and ticket touting must be made an offence anywhere in the world. People operating abroad or using servers that are abroad, and selling tickets to the games, must be subjected to these regulations if we are to protect consumers and the reputation of the games. It should not matter where a person is, or where the server that that person is using is: ticket touting must be an offence anywhere in the world.
The Government can and should protect consumers from the abuses of the secondary ticket market. The Commonwealth games need not have a special status; the Government can use the points that I have briefly made as a blueprint for other high-demand music, sporting and theatre events that attract visitors to the UK. I urge the Minister to look into this issue as a matter of urgency. The Government need to fund enforcement agencies properly, so that we can stamp out ticket abuse once and for all.
It is a pleasure to wear the same badge as the Minister to promote the wonderful Commonwealth games.
This has been an excellent debate, in which we heard several maiden speeches. We heard from the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young), who has very big shoes to fill, as his predecessor was a force to be reckoned with in the House. We heard from the hon. Member for East Devon (Simon Jupp), who expressed passionate concern for the Flybe staff who had tragically lost their jobs in such a sudden and shocking way. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his passion, and I wish that there had been more support for those staff members. Finally, my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) described a tale of two towns, and the health inequalities in Stockport. I hope that the Bill will create a vision for dealing with the health inequalities in Birmingham, which, like Stockport, has corners of deprivation that we hope the games will help to address.
What has shone through all the contributions we have heard today is the passion that we all share for the Commonwealth games, and our determination to make a success of this event. Last week I was at the Alexander stadium with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Ian Byrne)—and my, what a fine Mayor he would make! He talked of his vision of an ethos of generosity—I know that the people of Birmingham are extremely generous—and a sense of civic spirit to lift the underinvested corners of the Birmingham and west midlands region and promote the arts more generally. Those who visit Birmingham absolutely must see the best collection of Anglo-Saxon gold in the country, the Edwardian tea rooms, and, of course, the jewellery quarter, which shows off the best of Birmingham.
We know from the London 2012 games—and we can see forward to the finals of the Euros this summer—that, once again, we can show not only that we are fantastic at elite sports and at hosting events, but that we have that “trickle down”. As we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin), there are substantial areas in which the Bill could be improved, but while we seek assurances and improvements, we are in general very supportive of the games.
Let me deal directly with those areas that need improvement, so that the Minister has some homework to do before Committee. First, many Members on both sides of the House have mentioned the living wage. It is important that the games happen not just “in” the west midlands but “with” the west midlands, and we want every contractor, and every sub-contractor, to benefit from an improved hourly rate. What an impact that would have! We know from people who move from the minimum wage to the real living wage what a difference it makes to them not to have to do two jobs, but to do one job and be paid properly for it. I also hope that the Minister will reflect on the concept of young Commonwealth leaders, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby. That fantastic idea would go some way towards replacing the terrible lack of youth work in the Birmingham and west midlands area.
Secondly, the games must be free to air. Contracting them out would be a real mistake, given the excitement that they can generate. If people have to sign on, start logging on and paying extra money, that will seriously detract from the allure of the games. Thirdly, there is the issue of sustainability. I note not only what was said about lawn bowls by my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), but what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood) said about the importance of high-quality green transport, including an electric fleet. I thought that diesel fleets were yesterday’s transport, not tomorrow’s, so I hope that the Minister will raise the issue with the local contractors.
I will indeed. I was hesitant to single out any one contractor, but as the hon. Member has done so, I remind him that it would be wonderful if National Express shared that vision with us as quickly as possible so that we can phase out diesel and bring in electric vehicles in time for 2022.
The hotel levy was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Preet Kaur Gill)—does not the word “Edgbaston” make you think, “Cricket, fantastic! It will be wonderful to see cricket in the Commonwealth games”? She was right that council tax payers in Birmingham and the west midlands should not have to stump up the extra cash for overruns on the contracts. An element should come from a levy of £1 per night per room, which could bring more money into Birmingham and the west midlands to pay for those tiny overruns that occur at these events.
Finally, I hope that the Minister takes the question of legacy seriously. Tragically, in London, a couple of years after a fantastic Olympic games that had so much magic, the number of youngsters playing basketball, swimming or doing other sport dropped due to cuts to local government. We still struggle with that level of inactivity among young people, which is inexcusable in this day and age. Let us use this as an opportunity for a genuine legacy—not just an elite legacy, but a legacy for all the people of Birmingham and the west midlands, so that they can jump on a bicycle, so that basketball can be played locally, so that swimming can be affordable at the wonderful Sandwell swimming baths when they are open, and so that we end up with a genuine grassroots approach to sport, exercise and fitness, which all means an improvement in mental health.
The facilities used for the games—the bigger and better Alexander stadium, with hugely increased capacity; the Olympic-sized swimming pool; the cycle lanes; the green and sustainable bus routes—all sound wonderful, but in end we want to know whether in 10 years’ time, in 2032, Birmingham youngsters will know the rules of Olympic games. Will they be inspired to swim 50 metres? Will they be able to run round the athletics track, as we hope they will right now? We need a vision for the future. Will they have £1-per-swim, which we had during the Olympic games for every single under-18-year-old, and which has kept going long after the games? We have an opportunity to show off as world leaders in seismic sporting events once again—not just for elite sports, but for each and every one of us.
With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank hon. Members for their remarks and contributions and for the constructive tone of the debate on both sides. I shall endeavour to respond to as many of the matters raised as possible, but some may have to wait for Committee, which I am sure will be exciting.
The UK has a strong track record in hosting successful major sporting events. London 2012 is the most obvious example, but let us not forget that in recent years we have staged the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games, the 2015 rugby world cup, the 2017 world athletics championships, and the 2019 netball and cricket world cups, as well as the UCI road world cycling championships, to name but a few. I know that Birmingham 2022 will be just as successful and will rightly earn its place on this illustrious and growing list.
I welcome the cross-party support that the Bill and the games have received, both in this House and in the Lords, and the consensus across the House on the need to maximise the benefits of the games for our constituents, for Birmingham, and for the west midlands. We must remember that the games will be staged in record time. The organisers and, indeed, the House, need to be utterly focused on delivery of their contributions, and I am confident that we shall be. We can now all count down to the games in live time over the next 870 days, with the unveiling today of a countdown clock sponsored by Longines in the heart of Birmingham’s iconic Centenary square, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Preet Kaur Gill) mentioned.
The games will be a catalyst for change in Birmingham and the west midlands, and the benefits will be lasting—felt long after the 11 days of sport are over. We are working with games partners to secure a lasting legacy from the games that begins to benefit the region right now. In addition to the lasting physical legacy and fantastic facilities that the games will leave, the Government are working with games delivery partners and local stakeholders in the region to harness the power of the games to leave a wider social legacy. As well as being a catalyst for physical change in the city, our mission is to harness the power of the games to bring people together, improve health and wellbeing, help the region to grow and succeed, and put Birmingham and the west midlands truly on the map.
A wealth of opportunities will be created for the people of Birmingham as a result of hosting this event. As well as creating more ways to get involved in sport and culture within the local community, the games will create new jobs, volunteering positions and opportunities, particularly for young people, to develop skills, as mentioned by many hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood), and my hon. Friends the Members for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey), for Wolverhampton South West (Stuart Anderson), for Dudley South (Mike Wood), and for Birmingham, Northfield (Gary Sambrook).
The organising committee intends to create a wide range of entry-level positions for apprentices and to establish an in-house training academy, which will host three cohorts from autumn 2020, January 2021, and April 2021. The Department for Education recently announced a £20,000 investment in Birmingham to encourage more young people to become volunteers and coaches in sports clubs and the local community in the run-up to the games. In partnership with the Spirit of 2012, the organising committee recently confirmed the launch of a new £600,000 west midlands challenge fund, which will award grants to local organisations that create projects that bring disabled and non-disabled people together to participate in arts and cultural activities.
The Government and all our games delivery partners are committed to delivering a fantastic, memorable and lasting legacy from the games. I am grateful to my hon. Friends for their insightful contributions on this matter. I will keep the House updated on progress. Before I respond to key matters raised in the debate—
When the Minister does so, will he clarify for the House whether anyone in his Department has told the organising committee that it should not become an accredited living wage employer? I tabled a parliamentary question on that, and it is fair to say that the answer was not crystal clear.
I shall indeed come on to those comments, and I am sure that we shall discuss them in Committee.
Before I respond to the questions asked by colleagues, I should like to praise the three maiden speeches that we heard, from my hon. Friends the Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for East Devon (Simon Jupp), and the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra). I hope you will forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker, but as a sports Minister, my key comment is “Back of the net, gentlemen!” They did a fantastic job, and their constituents will be proud of what they have done today. They have represented them well, and they were incredibly articulate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Redcar mentioned quite a few things that I was not expecting—California, Winkie’s Castle, and sustainability. We will all remember him forever for his hard hat, which I hope is on his official parliamentary picture for many years to come. My hon. Friend the Member for East Devon gave a clear warning that the Treasury can expect many requests for cheques from his constituents over the coming years, and the hon. Member for Stockport mentioned many things in his contribution, including Engels, football and hats. He also mentioned the inequality in his constituency, and I am sure that he will be a champion for his constituents for many years to come.
I turn to other contributions. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) commented on the Barnett formula. The UK Government contribution to the Commonwealth games budget is indeed subject to the Barnett formula, which the Treasury will apply in the normal way, as set out in the statement of funding policy—not in the way he wishes, but in the normal way.
The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson)—not surprisingly, as she is a great champion of these issues—commented on ticketing provision and enforcement. As she knows, the Government are committed to tackling fraudulent practices in the secondary ticket market and support the work of enforcement agencies in that area such as the Competition and Markets Authority, trading standards, and the advertising industry’s regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority.
We are working with the organising committee, local authorities, trading standards and West Midlands police to develop a co-ordinated approach to enforcing the provisions. More generally, the Government are working closely with national trading standards to ensure that they have adequate funding to tackle consumer detriment in the ticketing market. The hon. Lady and I, and others, will work on this phase over the coming weeks and months.
My hon. Friends the Members for Eddisbury (Edward Timpson) and for Gedling (Tom Randall) mentioned volunteering. Birmingham 2022 is committed to delivering volunteer programmes that are inclusive and diverse and that deliver a real and lasting legacy to the city, the region and the community. My hon. Friend the Member for Gedling spoke powerfully about his own experience in the 2012 games. He also mentioned games lanes. It is too early to say what temporary measures might be needed, but it is possible that temporary restrictions on sections of roads near games locations might be required. Any temporary measures will try to minimise disruption for transport users.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield both mentioned many other transport issues. I cannot answer all of them today and, of course, they know that some of those questions are largely matters for the local council, Birmingham City Council, and the combined authority to consider, but we will facilitate discussions, encourage co-operation where possible and engage with the Department for Transport and other bodies where appropriate.
With regard to the velodrome facilities mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood), I understand that British Cycling is working with Birmingham City Council on research into the overall cycling facility needs in the west midlands. That research will be published in the coming weeks.
The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) and several others mentioned broadcasting. We know that the Commonwealth Games Federation and Birmingham 2022 are committed to ensuring that as many people as possible can access the games via their TV, mobile phone, computer screen and tablet. As it is a listed event, broadcasting rights for the Commonwealth games must already be available to the qualifying free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters. The games have had excellent live coverage for many years on free-to-air television. The organising committee is in the middle of a competitive commercial process with potential rights holders that cannot pre-empt the outcome of those negotiations.
Many Members raised the question of a hotel tax. As they would expect, there is a constant dialogue between Government and the council on all aspects of the games, including the budget. Birmingham City Council is committed to meeting its financial contribution for the games budget and it has published a plan for doing so without the need for a hotel tax. This will obviously be an ongoing debate, but it is worth noting that any new tax is ultimately a decision for the Treasury. It would also set a precedent, which we would have to consider carefully. Any such tax would also need to be balanced against the additional burdens on businesses in the hospitality sector, which, as we know, is facing challenging times at the moment. With my tourism hat on, I have to say that I am not convinced of the argument for a hotel tax at the moment.
With regard to the games village, we have confidence that all the games partners will play their part in delivering a truly world-class Commonwealth games in 2022. Birmingham City Council is currently finalising its full business case for the village, and a review of anticipated expenditure and funding arrangements is due for discussion by its cabinet on 17 March. I would like to reassure the House that we continue to work closely with the council and the rest of the partners to ensure that we have a great games.
Several Members raised the question of the living wage. I am confident that the games are already setting an excellent example on fair pay. The organising committee’s pay scales are set in line with civil service pay rates and all direct employees of the organising committee will therefore be paid above the level of the Birmingham living wage, and of course, all organisations awarded games contracts will be required to pay at least the Government’s national living wage. I am pleased to say that the national living wage is set to receive its biggest cash increase, rising by 6.2% from 1 April. Alongside this, we also need to consider the wider picture, which I have mentioned earlier, and we are ensuring that there will be lasting benefits for those living and working in the region, with many skills-enhancing opportunities.
There is a real commitment to ensuring that sustainability is a key pillar of the planning and delivery of the games. The organising committee has signed up to the UN sports for climate action framework, which aims to combat climate change and raise global awareness and action through sport. This is a proud first for the Commonwealth games movement and a key commitment to working towards our global climate change goals. The organising committee is in the process of developing its sustainability strategy for the games, and it will be released in the spring.
Regarding sponsors, the House will agree that it is critical that we raise sponsorship for the games in order to manage the public sector investment. Securing sponsorship and granting authorisations to associate with the games are a matter for the organising committee. It is still early days in terms of securing sponsorship partners, with three announced to date, but I would like to provide reassurance that my Department is in active discussions with the organising committee on the importance of promoting the games and their value through its sponsorship programmes. All potential sponsors will have to demonstrate their alignment with Birmingham 2022’s vision and mission, and an ongoing commitment to social values set out in the organising committee’s social values charter.
This is clearly a great opportunity for the United Kingdom. There is already great excitement and interest in the games not only in Birmingham and the west midlands but right across the country. We have many matters still to discuss, and I am looking forward to working with Members across the House in Committee to ensure that this important legislation reaches the statute book very shortly.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a Second time.