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Secondary Ticketing Websites

Volume 648: debated on Thursday 1 November 2018

3. What recent discussions he has had with internet service providers on the occurrence of secondary ticketing websites in search rankings. (907396)

I take this issue very seriously, and I know that the hon. Lady has done fantastic work on it over the years. Ticketing website advertisements must comply with the Advertising Standards Authority code, and those using advertising facilities attached to search engines must also comply with their terms of service to prevent misleading ads and to protect consumers. I am in touch with internet service providers, and they assure me that they are prepared to take action where necessary.

I thank the Minister for her work on this issue and her support for my work on it. According to research by the FanFair Alliance in a study carried out earlier this year, Viagogo was in the top two results on Google in 80 out of 100 searches. Time and again, victims of Viagogo tell me that they have been directed to Viagogo by a Google search. Does the Minister think it is appropriate that Viagogo is still able to buy itself to the top of the Google search rankings while it is facing court action by the Competition and Markets Authority?

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Viagogo is the subject of legal action by the CMA. However, she might be interested to know that the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that consumers would not assume that Viagogo was the primary ticketing agent for an event, and that there was therefore nothing in the ad to claim that it was the primary—[Interruption.] If you will permit me, Mr Speaker, I will just say that Google’s conditions state that resellers must prominently disclose themselves as resellers. The hon. Lady can therefore draw her own conclusions from that—

Order. I am sorry, but there is great pressure on time today because the House has decreed a 10 o’clock finish for substantive questions, so shorter questions and shorter answers are needed.

Does the Minister accept, however, that Google is accepting ads through Viagogo agents that are in breach of consumer protection law and of Google’s own terms of service, and that it is effectively taking money through being party to a fraud by allowing those ads to run?

I absolutely sympathise with my hon. Friend’s point of view. I have had discussions with Google on this very point. I think it is safe to say that we have a difference of view, but I remain optimistic that the search engines will comply with their own terms and conditions in the end.

Does the Minister agree that it is also important to focus on the supply of tickets, and that we must ask artists and promoters to ensure that they work with venues to restrict the supply of tickets to sites such as Viagogo?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. We have taken a lot of action that is resulting in an improvement in the situation and a reduction in the availability of tickets on these very questionable sites.

I call Mary Robinson. Not here. I call Andrew Rosindell. Not here. What is going on? Where are our colleagues? I hope that they are well and that they will be back. I call Jack Brereton.