Secondary Ticketing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:14 pm on 13th March 2012.

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Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics) 1:14 pm, 13th March 2012

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mike Weatherley and acknowledge, as other hon. Members have done, his expertise on this subject since he first came to Parliament and beforehand. Given that his speech was mainly about the music industry, I apologise for not being my hon. Friend Mr Vaizey, who is normally the Minister responsible for matters musical. For some reason—I suspect because of the Olympics—the responsibility for such matters lies in my portfolio.

I will deal with various points that my hon. Friend has made. First, I am aware that there has been a spike of interest about secondary market issues, following the recent edition of the “Dispatches” programme, which he mentioned. I take the points that he made. I gather that the Office of Fair Trading has been asked to investigate a number of allegations made in that programme. As a result, I am told that I am not in a position to comment further on those allegations at the moment.

Secondly, my hon. Friend mentioned the Olympics. Let us be clear that we did not introduce a ban on secondary ticketing because we in this country thought that the Olympics needed such protection. To be brutally honest with my hon. Friend, we did it because it was a requirement of the bid. The International Olympic Committee requires that. A country has to sign up to a number of things in that regard, not all of which are universally popular in this country—from Olympic-specific lanes, onwards. The commitment to introduce the ban was made quite correctly by the previous Government, precisely because it was a requirement of the bid.

To be clear about the quote from the Home Secretary, which my hon. Friend quoted correctly, the fine was raised to that level and not a great deal higher—Mrs Hodgson was a member of the Committee that dealt with this matter—although an amendment was tabled to do just that, in response to specific police advice about the appropriate fine and the seriousness of the threat. The Home Secretary did not dream it up for policy reasons; she was responding to a recommendation from the police.