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Secondary ticketing platforms

Part of Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 9th March 2015.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Education) (Women and Equalities) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 5:28 pm, 9th March 2015

It is a veritable alphabet soup of amendments, Mr Speaker.

On 24 February in the other place, the Government agreed with amendments tabled by Lord Moynihan to introduce light-touch regulation of the online secondary ticketing market, alongside a statutory review of the market. The Bill has therefore returned to us for further consideration. It sets out a simple, modern framework of consumer rights that will promote growth through confident consumers driving innovation and more competitive markets. Consumers, knowing their rights are protected if things go wrong, will have greater confidence to take up new products and switch suppliers, which will help to create a competitive and thriving economy.

The Bill contains important new protections for consumers alongside measures to lower regulatory burdens for business. All this together will make markets work better, which is good for consumers, good for business and therefore good for growth. It will have an impact across all sectors of the economy and address many of the concerns we hear daily in our own constituencies.

Chapter 1 gives consumers a new right to a refund on faulty goods within 30 days. Chapter 2 protects consumers in law for the first time when they buy digital content, while schedule 5 means business will get more notice of routine inspections by trading standards. These represent an important package of reforms that businesses and consumer groups have been waiting for and preparing for. Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, we will alert business to the forthcoming changes well ahead of the Act coming into force.

Since December, there has been one outstanding issue to resolve before the Bill can be sent for Royal Assent—how to address issues in the online secondary ticketing market. This is the market where fans sell tickets they can no longer use to fans who missed out on tickets the first time round. It is a much safer and more convenient environment for fans to buy and sell tickets than dealing with shady individuals in the backstreets around venues.

There are some concerns, however, about how this relatively young market is working, as I explained when we last considered this issue in January. I know that many hon. Members have been following this area very closely, and I appreciate the keen interest in this issue. I know that several members of the all-party parliamentary group and of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport are in their places today, and I pay tribute to their extensive work on this issue over a number of years.

The Competition and Markets Authority has also been active in this area. I warmly welcome its announcement last week that it has secured further protection for consumers. This work makes an important contribution to our parliamentary debates. To deal with them, there has been general agreement across the House on two central points: we agree on the importance of a safe and secure environment for fans to buy and sell tickets; and we agree on the need for event organisers, the marketplaces themselves and enforcers to play their part in combating fraudulent practices in the resale market.

We were not, however, able to support an amendment made by the House of Lords in November. While that amendment aimed to increase transparency in the market, we were concerned about privacy and unintended consequences for the secondary market. We did not think that that amendment would allow the secondary market to continue to thrive or to be a proportionate and appropriate response to concerns that had been raised. Since December, we have been working intensively with all the relevant stakeholders to see if a compromise could be reached—a compromise that allows fans to resell tickets they cannot use, but one that also tackles some of the known issues in the market.