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Ticket Reselling

Volume 750: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to tackle the issue of ticket re-selling in the sport, music and entertainment industries.

My Lords, the Government discuss issues of ticket resale with the sport, music and entertainment industries on a regular basis. While the Government have no plans to introduce new regulations on the ticketing and events market, we continue to encourage improvements so that all customers have an opportunity to purchase tickets and can do so in a secure environment. The Government believe that it is for event organisers, together with the professional ticketing organisations, to determine suitable arrangements for ticket sales to their events.

I thank the Minister for his reply. He will be aware that Operation Podium ensured that tickets to the Paralympic and Olympic Games were fairly distributed, and were prevented from falling into the hands of touts and criminals. He will also be aware that the Met’s operational report concluded that the lack of regulation in this area enables fraud and places the public at risk of economic crime. What action will the Government take to provide an open, transparent and above all fair market for consumers? Will the Minister host a round-table discussion to consider how to put an end to this crime?

My Lords, as the previous Government made clear, ticketing regulations for the London 2012 Games were exceptional and indeed a mandated requirement of winning the bid. It is a matter for the police to address cases of fraud and criminal activity while it is for event organisers, promoters and their ticket agents to find ticketing solutions; indeed, I think that Glastonbury is a very successful example of that. Of course I would be happy to arrange a meeting with the noble Lord to discuss these matters further.

My Lords, abuses by secondary ticketing sellers were made plain by the “Dispatches” programme earlier this year, which my noble friend may have seen. Campaigners for secondary ticketing reform go all the way from rock band Iron Maiden to the Rugby Football Union, which is worried about the World Cup, and the Society of London Theatre. If we could do it for London 2012, why can we not do it for other events? Are there no heavy metal fans or rugby fans at DCMS, let alone theatre-goers? Is DCMS completely immune to representations from all these bodies?

I am sure the DCMS has aficionados of all those disciplines. Only today, officials were talking to the Rugby World Cup organisers about arrangements for the event. Those will include using bar coding, named tickets, staggered ticket release and reward to fans with a history of support. The Government are engaged in this matter, but all successive Governments, and indeed Select Committees that have looked into this in the past, have concluded that regulation is not the best way of achieving what we all want to do.

My Lords, after our performance in the past three tests, does the Minister think it will be almost impossible to give away, let alone resell, tickets for the final two?

I very much hope that England will win the last two matches and make it 3-2. The important thing we need to remember is that very often people buy tickets and wish to have a secondary sale because someone cannot go or their team does not win into the quarter-finals or semi-finals, so there are practical difficulties. When a Select Committee looked at this in detail, it concluded that regulation was not the way to achieve what we want.

I return to the original Question. The report from Operation Podium makes it very clear that ticket crime has links to other serious and organised crimes, that criminal networks benefit from ticket fraud by about £40 million per year and that the proceeds are very rarely recovered. Given that the recommendation from Operation Podium was that consideration must be given to introducing legislation to govern the unauthorised sale of event tickets, why are the Government not prepared to move on this?

My Lords, it is not a case of the Government not wanting to move on the situation; it is that we have concluded, as did the previous Government and Select Committees, that there is a better way of resolving this. The noble Lord mentioned fraud, but the Fraud Act 2006 is readily available. Local authorities have by-laws already in existence, and those are precisely the by-laws that we need event organisers and the police to work within in conjunction with local authorities.