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Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill

Volume 838: debated on Thursday 23 May 2024

Commons Amendments

Northern Ireland Legislative Consent sought.

Motion A

Moved by

That this House do not insist on its Amendment 104B and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 104C and 104D in lieu.

104C: After Clause 214, insert the following new Clause—

“Enforcement of requirements relating to secondary ticketing

(1) CRA 2015 is amended as set out in subsections (2) to (4).

(2) In section 93 (enforcement of secondary ticketing provisions in Chapter 5 of Part 3)—

(a) after subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) The Competition and Markets Authority may also enforce the provisions of this Chapter.”;

(b) in subsection (3) for “and (2)” substitute “, (2) and (2A)”.

(3) In paragraph 11 of Schedule 5 (investigatory powers etc: enforcer’s legislation), in the table, at the appropriate place insert—

“The Competition and Markets Authority

The Breaching of Limits on Ticket Sales Regulations 2018 (S.I. 2018/735)”.

(4) In paragraph 6 of Schedule 10 (procedure for and appeals against financial penalties imposed under section 93: recovery)—

(a) in sub-paragraph (2) for “local weights and measures” substitute “enforcement”;

(b) in sub-paragraph (4) for “the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment” substitute “the enforcement authority which imposed the financial penalty”;

(c) in sub-paragraph (5)(a) after “Investment” insert “or by the Competition and Markets Authority”;

(d) after sub-paragraph (7) insert—

“(7A) The Competition and Markets Authority may use the proceeds of a financial penalty for the purposes of any of its functions (whether or not the function is expressed to be a function of the Authority).”

(5) In the Breaching of Limits on Ticket Sales Regulations 2018 (S.I. 2018/735), in regulation 5 (offences: prosecution and penalties), after paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) The Competition and Markets Authority may enforce these Regulations.””

104D: Schedule 14, page 318, line 17, at end insert—

“Breaching of Limits on Ticket Sales Regulations 2018 (S.I. 2018/735)

(1) The CMA”

My Lords, it is an honour to speak for the final time on the Bill. Noble Lords will be aware that we have one issue remaining, relating to secondary ticketing.

Lords Amendment 104B tabled by my noble friend Lord Moynihan would introduce additional regulatory requirements on resale sites. The Government’s position remains that this amendment adds new regulation without a clear purpose; this is because the consumer protection it seeks is already covered by existing law. There are important consumer protection issues in the secondary ticketing market, but simply adding new rules and regulations which add little to what is already there is not the answer. This is not a problem with the rules; it is about strengthening their enforcement. Already, this House has radically strengthened the CMA’s enforcement powers through Part 3 of the Bill. The strengthening applies to all consumer law, including secondary ticketing.

However, the Government have listened to the strength of feeling in both Houses on the issue of secondary ticketing. As such, the Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business tabled government Amendments 104C and 104D in another place further to strengthen these enforcement powers, first, to enforce existing rules we have against unfair buying-up of tickets with electronic bots and, secondly, to enforce existing rules on information that platforms and resellers must present to consumers. This is in addition to the Government’s previous commitment to review the primary and secondary ticketing markets. Taken together, the new enforcement powers for the CMA and the upcoming government review represent a very clear strengthening of consumer protections. I hope noble Lords appreciate the steps the Government have taken on this issue and, as such, will not insist on their amendment.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his work on my amendments. As he rightly pointed out, they are the last amendments outstanding on this Bill. I thank the usual channels for their assiduous consideration of whether this should go further at this stage. We have seen some concessions from the Government, which are much appreciated. There is a huge amount of additional work still to be done, and obviously I am sorry that the amendments tabled originally were not accepted in full, but I am very grateful to the Minister for taking some action in the new clause which was agreed in another place the day before yesterday.

I conclude by saying that I will do everything in my power to return to this campaign on behalf of the true fans of sport, music festivals and music events in what I hope will be just a matter of months. In the meantime, I thank the Minister and his outstanding civil servants for all the hard work they have done, not least with the CMA in recent months, and express my gratitude to the whole House for its support.

My Lords, I do not propose to go over old competition ground, but like the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, our attitude to Motion A is not to oppose it but to be somewhat disappointed at the Government’s response; on the other hand, we welcome the fact that they have added new enforcement proposals and provisions and the promised review. I think it is quite unaccountable that they have resisted the almost irresistible force of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan; it has been a sight to behold his persistence throughout not only this Bill but previous Bills. I am quite confident that eventually his campaigning will bear fruit because, when we look at the terms of the amendments that were not agreed to by the Commons on providing evidence of proof of purchase and of title to tickets, among other things they are only common sense and very good consumer protection.

I add my thank you valedictory to the Minister, his colleague the noble Viscount, Lord Camrose, who I see is riding shotgun today, and the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, who made a cameo appearance on the Bill and was the Minister involved very heavily in the Online Safety Bill proceedings. Both Ministers have always been willing to engage. They have not always conceded, but they have always listened, so I thank them very much indeed for all their service. It has been a pretty long ride when one looks back to the beginning of the suite of digital Bills in the past two years, starting with the Online Safety Bill, then the digital markets Bill, and now the non-lamented data protection Bill, and I look forward to further digital legislation in the autumn or the beginning of next year.

My Lords, I add my thanks, first, to the Ministers. As the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said, they have worked assiduously, and we have felt as if we were constantly in their company over the past six months or so. They have always been courteous and had a listening ear, and I thank them for that. I, too, add my thanks to the members of the Bill team for all their hard work in preparing the Bill and the quite substantial amendments on occasions that have been agreed on concession. I particularly thank the stakeholders in the wider scope of the Bill, the challenger firms and the consumers who have been so active in helping us shape what is becoming a good Bill.

I am sorry that the Government did not see the sense of what I thought was an extremely reasonable amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. We remain hugely disappointed in Motion A for the reasons that we have ready rehearsed which I do not need to repeat. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and Sharon Hodgson who have campaigned on this issue for many years. I hope that in due course they will get their reward.

I have to say that, if elected, a Labour Government would strengthen consumer rights legislation to protect fans from fraudulent ticket practices, to restrict the sale of more tickets than permissible and to ensure that anyone buying a ticket on the secondary market can see clearly the original price and where it comes from. We will put the interests of the fans and the public first on this. Nevertheless, we believe overall that this is a good Bill that takes the first steps to regulating the behaviour of the big tech companies, which is long overdue, giving a bit more security to challenger firms and adding protection to consumer rights. We are grateful for the concessions made along the way that have indeed improved the Bill. At this stage in the proceedings, we think it is right that the Bill do now pass and that we do not need to debate it any further.

I am very grateful to noble Lords for their contributions today and throughout the passage of the Bill. I commend especially my noble friend Lord Moynihan for his dogged determination on this issue and the sentiments that he has expressed consistently throughout the passage of the Bill. I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Camrose, who has done more than ride shotgun; he has done the heavy lifting on the digital markets piece of this legislation, and I thank him for that contribution. I thank the Opposition Benches led by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, for a consistently collaborative approach on these matters. The engagement we have had has been comprehensive.

I also thank all those who have helped us get to this place, including the clerks, officials and, of course, the Bill team led by Georgie Clarke, for their hard work on this legislation. This Bill will be vital in driving growth, innovation and productivity and in protecting consumers. I am honoured to see it through its final stage today, and I look forward to it becoming an Act of Parliament. The Bill has benefited from widespread support from across both Houses as well as detailed scrutiny from many noble Lords and Members in the other place. I thank all noble Lords for supporting our position and wishing the Bill well.

Motion A agreed.