Draft Birmingham Commonwealth Games (Compensation for Enforcement Action) Regulations 2021 Debate

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Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Wednesday 30th June 2021

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

General Committees
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Christian Matheson Portrait Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab)
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It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Rosindell, and not for the first time, I am pleased to say.

I thank the Minister for his clear exposition of the regulations. There is an honourable tradition of the role of the substitute in British life, and with due respect nodded to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan, there can be no greater example right now than that of Jack Grealish, who came on and gave a fantastic performance in that wonderful match last night at Wembley, when England progressed against one of our oldest rivals. Jack of course is a Brummie. I make that point about substitutes just to remind the Committee that I am a substitute today for my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern), and I hope that I will do her justice.

The Opposition welcome the regulations, particularly their focus on ticket-touting—an issue that the Government are beginning to take seriously. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) and my friend the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams) who have conducted a very active campaign from the Back Benches against some ticket resale sites and ticket-touting sites. I know that the Minister has looked at the issue in the past, with particular reference to the industrial scale of touting, and I also understand that the Competition and Markets Authority is also looking at the practice. We welcome the regulations before us that aim to tackle the problem. I particularly like the idea of local resident ballots for tickets first, to make the Birmingham games a real people’s games.

If I may sound one discordant note, a lot of the enforcement regulations are predicated on the role of the local trading standards authority. I remind the Committee that Birmingham has suffered the biggest cut to any local government authority in history at £700 million, which has been removed by the Government. Its local services are under extreme stress, and I hope that Birmingham has the resources to deal with the responsibilities placed on it by the regulations.

The Commonwealth games in Birmingham will be an exciting opportunity to showcase some of the best sport in the world. After a difficult 18 months, we have recently witnessed the true power of sport. With the Euros and Wimbledon under way, there is a real sense of togetherness. With so many exciting matches and games on at the same time, I often do not know which one to choose but that is a good problem to have.

I have every confidence that Birmingham will be an excellent host city for the 71 teams from around the world that will take part in 24 disciplines across 19 different sports. I am sure that the Commonwealth games will do what sport does best—bring people together, and we need that right now.

The games will have a lot to be proud of and will be the games of many firsts. They will be the first carbon-neutral games and the first ever major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than to men, with women’s cricket being included for the first time. As the Minister said, the games will also have the first comprehensive and most ambitious community engagement programme of any Commonwealth games. I welcome that.

Sport is for everyone and should be accessible to everyone, no matter their upbringing or background. The Commonwealth games is a brilliant opportunity to promote sport participation, especially among those on lower incomes and other groups whom we know are less likely to be active. Birmingham 2022 will be the biggest multi-sport event to be held in the UK for a decade and will present the opportunity to inspire people from all walks of life. Everyone should have the opportunity to play sports and to watch elite athletes such as those taking part in the games. Every effort must be made to ensure that the games are accessible to everyone, so the Opposition welcome the aim of the statutory instrument to ensure that tickets are not resold for excruciating amounts. As we know, that is not the case with all sporting events, and currently we are seeing some eye-watering prices from UEFA for the Euros. What steps are the Government taking to work with all governing bodies to prevent future expensive ticket sales? Perhaps the legacy of the SI could be tougher enforcement across the patch.

I am pleased that the Birmingham games are taking important steps to truly make them a games for everyone, with tickets starting from just under £8 for under-16s and from £15 for adults. The Minister referred to the fair ballot that will be held to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to apply for tickets, and we welcome that.

Inclusion and accessibility are key, so will the Government publish an inclusion analysis of who was able to buy tickets for the Birmingham games? That way we will learn whether they came from different parts of the country; whether disabled fans got good access; how many women spectators attended, what were their ethnicities and so on.

The games will bring a wealth of tourism, jobs and opportunity to the west midlands and to the wider UK. Most importantly, the games will bring 11 days of world-class sport and a celebration of culture and unity, and of the best in Britain. Let us celebrate the sporting talent in this country and ensure that the games inspire a new generation of athletes by making them as accessible as possible. We welcome the regulations and thank the Minister.