I have not had any specific discussions with secondary ticketing platforms on the amendments made to the Consumer Rights Bill in the other place.
May I offer my condolences on the very sad loss this morning of the cricketer Phil Hughes? The thoughts of the whole House will be with him and his family this morning.
The Secretary of State was very keen on our ideas to improve transparency in the secondary ticketing market when I and colleagues met him in July to discuss the report of the all-party group on ticket abuse. He must therefore be delighted, as I am, that their lordships have added a new clause to the Consumer Rights Bill to deliver exactly that, although, sadly, against the Government Whip. Will he lobby his counterpart at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to leave that new clause in the Bill, so that we can finally put fans first?
I was pleased to meet the hon. Lady to discuss the issue, but she knows, because we discussed it then, that the previous Labour Government, this Government and the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport have looked at the issue and all have concluded that new legislation is not necessary. Event organisers can seek their own solutions. However, I am of course looking carefully at the new clause that was accepted in the other place and will respond to it fully in due course.
The new clause is similar to a new clause that was defeated in this House when the Bill was going through the Commons. Should not the elected Chamber get its way, rather than the unelected Chamber? Is not this all about allowing event organisers to void or cancel tickets and place people on blacklists, denying them any guaranteed refund, which has nothing to do with transparency or protecting the interests of consumers?
I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks. He and others will know that I have said that I believe that the calls for legislation have been misguided. Criminalising people and preventing them from selling tickets that they have purchased is a heavy-handed approach and is inconsistent with wider consumer rights to buy and sell items that they freely own.
The Secretary of State’s response is just not good enough. The Government have failed to act to protect rugby world cup fans and now the same is happening to cricket fans. Ashes tickets for the Lord’s test are on sale on the secondary ticketing market for £1,500, yet the ballot and the prices will not be available until next month. What is more worrying is that the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Rugby Football Union and the Lawn Tennis Association all wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to warn him that unless the Government act they will be forced to put their prices up to secondary ticketing levels, so at least the money that is being made can be invested back into sport. That may be music to the Government’s free market ears but it is a disaster for sports fans on moderate and low incomes. When will the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport get a grip and act? He must do it quickly.
The hon. Gentleman knows all too well that when his party was in office it failed to act on the issue. He will also know that the previous Government looked at the issue in detail, as did the Select Committee at that time, and all concluded that it is for event organisers to take action. With newer technology, and technology improving all the time, there are probably more ways to do so.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that existing secondary market companies already provide safe and secure means for ticket holders to resell unwanted tickets and that they provide a level of consumer protection that will not be available if people are forced to go on to the black market on the streets?
I agree. People have rightly raised concerns about the sale of fraudulent or non-existent tickets and about people who provide misleading information. That is already a criminal act.