Ticket Touts (Sporting Events)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson PPS (Dr Kim Howells, Minister of State), Foreign & Commonwealth Office 2:30 pm, 5th March 2007

What steps her Department is taking to tackle ticket touts for sporting events; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Creative Industries & Tourism)

Ticket touting is a serious issue affecting sporting events and other major cultural events. We are working closely with the industries in a series of summits, and with the public, to achieve a clampdown on touting.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson PPS (Dr Kim Howells, Minister of State), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, but ticket touting in sporting events has been going on for practically as long as I can remember. Given our application to host the World cup, and given that we have secured the Olympics, it has become a very serious issue. Is he aware of what happened last Thursday, when concert tickets for Take That went on sale? Before they even went on sale, websites were advertising tickets at twice their face value, and within 20 minutes of the tickets going on sale, they were being sold on eBay for well over double their value. Is it not time that the Government did something about ticket touting, and made sure that the people who do it end up in jails—the new ones that we are going to build?

Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Creative Industries & Tourism)

My hon. Friend makes some very important points, but it is also important for hon. Members to consider the consumer evidence that we received recently, which asked the Government to be proportionate in their interventions. That is not to say that there should not be good practice. As a result of that evidence, we have been working with both the primary industry and the secondary industry, and at the end of the year there will be additional EU legislation clamping down on the practices about which my hon. Friend is concerned. Our dialogue is ongoing, and we are intent on clamping down on gross ticket touting.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development)

This year, the T in the Park festival has had to limit ticket sales to two per person to try to beat ticket touting, and I understand that Michael Eavis is considering photo ID registration to try to beat the ticket touts at Glastonbury. Why is it being left to the music industry to try to address the problem? Surely the Government should be doing more to protect music fans from touting.

Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Creative Industries & Tourism)

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but it is also important to remember that, in their evidence, the public told us that they want the reaction to be proportionate, and they do not want the Government to over-intervene. Where it is fair, members of the public want to be able to sell on tickets themselves. He mentioned Glastonbury and the photo experiment taking place there, and we will look into that. However, on the selling of T in the Park tickets, he should be aware that there were 80 items displayed on eBay, and that is out of the 40,000 tickets that were sold. We condemn the practice where it is wrong, but it is important to get a grip on the proportions of the problem, because it is only a minority who are involved in touting, albeit a minority whom we condemn.