Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

9th March 2020

Andrew Mitchell calls for strong financial control of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games by Birmingham City Council. 

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP speaking in the House of Commons, Mar 2020, Commonwealth Games

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.

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Subsequent intervention

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.

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