At last – progress! Yesterday the House debated the Ticket Touting Amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill, and it looks like there is an acceptable compromise on the cards.
As I have maintained many times on these pages and in the Chamber, live music and other live events are vital contributors to the economy and the cultural well-being of society.
We ignore the problems and challenges that come with ticketing in the digital age at our peril. And apart from the potential erosion of our top cultural standing in the world that we all should be proud of, there is the principle that those putting on an event should have their wishes respected on pricing.
This includes the Government when it subsidises entry fees – and yes there is an incredible example where the Government (facilitated by taxpayers) subsidised a performance only to see the ticket touts make over 2000 per cent profit from the same tickets!
Your taxes helped a company based in Switzerland make a profit, thwarting the intended outcome of subsidised philanthropy completely.
What is undeniable is that the free market system has broken down due to the introduction of ‘bots’ which, alongside other factors, has enabled obscene profiteering for intermediaries against the interests of fans and the wishes of those putting on the event.
Genuine fans do not buy hundreds or thousands of tickets and resell them only a few minutes later. Nor do the artists want anyone to do this. After intense pressure from the APPG on Ticketing Abuse (of which I am co-chair with Sharon Hodgson MP), and Lord Colin Moynihan (and others) in the Lords, the Government has recognised the need for some regulation.
I thank the Government for this common sense progress (this is not standing ovation praise, but at least polite clapping).
Once enacted, the amendment will provide greater transparency for fans, including seat number or standing information, the face value of the ticket, and if any restrictions apply. And crucially, it also compels the Secretary of State to review all measures relating to Secondary Ticketing within 12 months and report to Parliament.
At first glance, the ‘review’ may seem like kicking the whole issue into the long grass, but in reality it is an essential part of the reforms. The critics of the reforms are screaming about potential problems, and those wanting more action are screaming that more should be done.
That’s a lot of shouting. The reality is that time will tell, and the review – which will report in a relatively short period of time in parliamentary terms – will look closely at both claims and, at last, come up with a proper analysis with recommendations.
And one more thing. The legislation specifically states that terms and conditions need to be fair, and making sure this is the case must also be a part of the review process. The terms and conditions that event organisers attach to tickets are there to protect fans, not take advantage of them.
For those fans who have bought tickets for genuine use and have a genuine reason for resale (i.e. that they didn’t just buy tickets to make a profit) then I am fully behind their ability to resell on. I will be making sure that this is a fundamental principle in the review.
I am pleased that groups such as the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the ECB and the RFU are fully behind these amendments. Like all compromises, neither side is fully happy with the solution, but on balance, this is a good step in the right direction and the review will be key.
I am really pleased we will have enacted this law before the end of this parliament. To misquote E M Forster on democracy, two cheers for this amendment, but not quite three.