|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, having listened to the Minister, the International Organisations Bill is clearly worthy of broad support. It is important that the United Kingdom is able to meet its international commitments in relation to international organisations and bodies.
The world is becoming a smaller place, and our national laws and responsibilities now often have an impact on the international community. If, therefore,
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1465
we are not to alienate international activities, we must take account of the measures within our domestic law. That is precisely what we are attempting to do today. I commend the Minister on that objective.
The issue of how to treat certain international sports federations has been particularly prominent in recent times. It is on that point that I wish to concentrate today. I must admit that on my first reading of the Bill I was rather heartened because I thought that in Clause 6 the ICC accurately reflected exactly what it should have stood forthe International Cricket Council. However, I hope that there will be opportunity in Committee to amend the Bill accordingly because today I shall refer to the ongoing saga of the International Cricket Council, the members of which, I deeply regret to say, are apparently beginning to pack their suitcases as they prepare to leave Lords and head abroad. They do not want to leave Lordsit is their home and the spiritual home of cricket itself. Nor do they want to leave England for, after India, England is the world's biggest market for cricket.
However, the ICC feels that it is being forced out by the Government and in particular by the Chancellor's swingeing system of corporation tax, which currently requires the ICC to pay full tax in England for every penny it has earned around the world. Bearing in mind that the ICC exists primarily to promote the sport of cricket around the world, it appears to the world of sport to be unreasonable to penalise it in this way.
We are led to believe that UK Sport has intervened in the situation and has proposed a new tax regime for the ICCa regime which might offer certain specific exemptions for international sporting federations. This proposal had been approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but was effectively ruled out of consideration by the Treasury team in another place an hour ago in Treasury Questions.
Today, I call on the Chancellor and the Government to think again, and to take urgent and decisive action. The Government must do whatever they can to keep the International Cricket Council where it belongs and where it wants to be. This is very important indeed. In recent times, the International Rugby Board has decamped to Dublin; the International Amateur Athletics Federation has gone to Monaco; the Table Tennis Federation has gone to Switzerland; and the International Badminton Federation is in the process of relocating to Kuala Lumpur. This is a terrible state of affairs, not only for the loss of business and the loss of prestige associated with international sporting federations, but because of what it says about the United Kingdom as a sporting nation.
This country's level of influence on the world stage of sport is pitifully low. As a nation we are under-represented on the committees and the boards of too
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1466
many major sports. Our use of sport as a tool of international development is minimal, and our record of bidding for and staging international events is frankly unacceptable. As things stand, the ICC is one of the jewels in the UK's sporting crown. The Government should be drawing the ICC closer to them; championing it and by association championing this country as an international hub of sporting activity and excellence. Instead, they appear bent on driving it away with their blind refusal to compromise. This Bill provides your Lordships with the opportunity to reverse this trend.
The consequences will go still wider. Consider, if you will, how the ICC's departure from Lord's would play out among the 123 members of the International Olympic Committee who are charged with deciding whether London should host the Olympic Games in 2012. Consider also that in its initial report on candidate cities the IOC criticised London for its lack of experience of staging international events and for a perceived lack of government support for the bid.
I should not think that the sight of a blue riband international federation being unceremoniously shoved off to the Far East would do much to enhance London's chances. In fact, I fear that this display of obstinacy from government could go some way towards undermining all the outstanding work being done by the 2012 bid committee led by my noble friend Lord Coe, work which has our absolute, unstinting and full support. The Government have been using the Olympic bid like the sword of Damocles, telling politicians and journalists alike that if they speak or act out of turn they will threaten the bid's success. Yet, it is the ministerial team responsible for sport that has constantly failed to deliver.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, will the noble Lord reflect on whether he is in order and within the norms of this House? He is discussing sporting organisations, whereas the Bill deals with international organisations.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I am grateful for the intervention, but as the noble Lord will have heard in my opening remarks, I am absolutely within the order of this Bill because it deals, as the noble Lord rightly pointed out, with "certain international organisations". All my remarks are focused on international organisations of sport that are based in the United Kingdom. They come within the definition of certain international organisations. In Committee, I shall seek to amend this Bill in line with the 1968 Act, which I have reviewed in detail, to ensure that "certain international organisations" also caters for the important international governing bodies of sport; not the national governing bodies, but the international governing bodies of sport.
That is why I am focusing exclusively this afternoon on the International Cricket Council. I am grateful to the noble Lord to allowing me to clarify that point, because clearly I have looked in detail as to whether it would be in order for me to come forward with amendments to this Bill. I have taken counsel to that effect, and I believe that it is wholly proper to widen
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1467
the bodies that the Minister has rightly drawn to our attention to include international governing bodies of sport and international federations.
Why should international governing bodies of sport be of importance to your Lordships? Why is our international reputation in sport so important? First, in the UK we have been slow to recognise the potential that our sporting traditions, facilities, prowess and experience offer for enhancing our influence overseas. The world of sport is intensely political. Bidding to host international sporting events is a process steeped in politics. In order to win the right to host the Olympic Games, international, or world championship events, strong influence on the international sporting stage, particularly through high-quality representation on international sporting bodies, is essential. Sport offers a multitude of opportunities to enhance our international reputation both at home and abroad. At present, these opportunities are being wasted. Our influence on international sports forums is unacceptably low. From the Prime Minister down, the Government need to recognise the value of our sporting traditions, facilities, prowess, and experience to our overseas influence. After all, that is what this Bill seeks to protect in other forums of the international organisations that are based here. Clause 6 refers to an international organisation based in The Hague.
What is required, in addition to the amendments that I propose to bring forward, includes a government-backed, systematic international events policy. UK Sport has failed in that objective. It has focused too much on how many representatives we have, not on how effective and influential they are. Our most successful and influential representative is my noble friend Lord Coe, whose work on the International Amateur Athletics Federation is outside the career-planning structure of the United Kingdom. We need a new policy aimed at securing international events that will replace the world class events programme to support the bidding and staging costs of major events on home soil and to ensure that international federations are supported to stay in this country. If we provide them with support through this Bill, we will not only ensure that they can stay in this country, but I hope that we will be able to ensure that we bring additional international federations to this land.
We have a duty to enhance our international reputation through sport. This Bill provides us with that opportunity. It is appropriately drawn to allow us to move away from the list of specific organisations in the Bill to include additional international organisations. Accordingly, it is wholly proper that the Government urgently do what is required to keep the International Cricket Council at Lord's. It is wholly proper that the ICC remains in the spiritual home of cricket. The fact that it is about to leave Lord's is a tragedy in itself, but it is also part of a far broader issue. How can the Government claim to support the bid for the 2012 Olympics, and particularly the outstanding work of my noble friend Lord Coe and the 2012 committee, when they turn
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1468
their back on the International Cricket Council and allow our influence on the world stage, which is what this Bill is about, to dwindle still further? I call on the Government to keep the International Cricket Council at Lord's and to publish a plan demonstrating how they intend to increase our international influence in sport. They can start by amending this Bill in Committee.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|