Motion E1 (as an amendment to Motion E)

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill - Commons Reasons and Amendments – in the House of Lords am 4:25 pm ar 14 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Pleidleisiau yn y ddadl hon

Lord Moynihan:

Moved by Lord Moynihan

At end insert “, and do propose Amendment 104B in lieu—

104B: After Clause 308, insert the following new Clause— “Secondary ticketing facilities (1) After section 92 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 insert— “92A Requirements on secondary ticketing facilities (1) A secondary ticketing facility must not— (a) permit a trader or business to list tickets for resale unless the trader or business has provided evidence of proof of purchase to the ticketing facility, or evidence of title to the tickets offered for resale, or (b) permit a reseller to sell more tickets to an event than they can legally purchase from the primary market. (2) A secondary ticketing facility must ensure that the face value of any ticket listed for resale, and the trader or business’s name and trading address are clearly visible, in full, on the first page on which a purchaser can view the ticket. (3) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument— (a) add or amend conditions on secondary ticketing facilities, (b) specify appropriate forms of proof of purchase for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), and (c) specify the form or forms in which the name and trading address required under subsection (2) must be displayed. (4) Regulations under subsection (3) may not revoke conditions on secondary ticketing facilities. (5) Regulations under subsection (3) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.” (2) Within the period of nine months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament the outcomes of a review of the impact of subsection (1) on the operation of the secondary ticketing market. (3) In preparing the review under subsection (2), the Secretary of State must consult— (a) ticket sellers and resellers, (b) artists and performers, or their representatives, (c) consumers and representative organisations, and (d) any other persons the Secretary of State deems appropriate. (4) The review under subsection (2) may, if the Secretary of State deems it appropriate, consult on or specify new conditions to be placed on secondary ticketing facilities under the powers in section 92A of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. (5) The obligation under subsection (2) may be met by a review begun before the passing of this Act.””

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, I declare an interest in having been co-chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, my fellow co-chair being Sharon Hodgson MP. We worked together to protect sport fans and concert- goers from abuse in the secondary market for decades. I start by thanking my noble friend the Minister for the interest he has taken in the subject and for arranging the opportunity to talk through the issues concerned. I also stress the cross-party support and co-operation on this issue. I believe we have reached a degree of consensus about what we are trying to achieve with this amendment in lieu, and I hope we will continue, during the exchanges this afternoon, to reach agreement.

Put simply, this amendment covers two aspects: a review, as requested by the Government, which was the main outcome of the proceedings in another place; and two small but critical amendments. The first is that anybody should have to provide evidence of proof of purchase to the secondary market if they intend to sell tickets, just as you would in any other secondary market, which would avoid the extensive fraud in the UK under the current legislation. The second is to make sure that the trader’s name and the face value of the ticket listed for resale are clearly visible on the ticket. That would bring us up to date with modern technology and the changes in law and technology over the last 10 years.

As my noble friend the Minister mentioned, the Minister in the other place offered a review of the primary and secondary ticket markets, saying that

“we recognise the strength of feeling on this matter, which has been expressed by Members of the other place and in certain quarters of this House, so we commit today to undertaking a review of ticketing practices and how they impact on consumers

I think a further review is not needed at this time. When we debated this issue on the Consumer Rights Bill, the Government commissioned an independent inquiry undertaken by Professor Waterson. That led to yet another inquiry by the CMA, which reported under 1,000 days ago in a substantial document of some 60 pages. Its findings and recommendations, which are reflected in the two proposals in my amendment, came after nearly six years of detailed review, as opposed to the six months of further review that the Government are offering today. Another review would push us further down the road, while the world of sport and entertainment faces an exponential rise in the abuses caused by manipulation of the secondary market.

Astute Members of your Lordships’ House will have noted that, in a spirit of co-operation and progress, as I believe it is important for the House to accommodate as far as possible the wishes of another place, a further time-limited review has been placed in this amendment. However, the clerks have informed me that it has to be within the scope of Amendment 104, since the original amendment referred only to the secondary ticket facilities. It would be inconceivable if we did not consider the primary and secondary ticket markets in the terms of reference for the review, because they rely on each other. While a further review is unnecessary, the work of the primary market would in any event be a key aspect of any independent review since the two markets are inextricably linked. I am happy, in that context, to recommend a further review.

I am not against the secondary market and nothing in my amendment would impact the effective working of its transparent and legal operation. If you cannot go to an event, you should be able to sell back your ticket. Virtually every leading primary market supplier makes that possible. My amendment focuses on the much narrower abusive use of the secondary market—exactly the type of market that this House criminalised at the time of the Olympic Games in the legislation that we passed for London 2012. This market has become so corrosive that it has been completely criminalised in a number of countries, not least recently in Ireland, and this Chamber has criminalised it in football—although, as I will demonstrate, existing legislation is being circumvented by the likes of viagogo. My amendment is exclusively about the illegal, corrupt black market in evidence in parts of the secondary market. My minor but important changes are directly supported by the report and recommendations of the CMA, which we recognise as an expert in this area and which has been pushing hard for the sort of changes before your Lordships’ House today. This would make the life of modern-day ticket touts more difficult and protect the tens of thousands of consumers who are exposed to the criminality of the market on a daily basis.

Two examples were mentioned by my noble friend the Minister when the House last considered this amendment and sent it to another place. First, my noble friend said about Six Nations rugby that

“I go to Murrayfield and my ticket is a personal ticket with my name and seat number on it. If I am found to have sold it on to someone else at a higher price, I will lose any right to further tickets

During our meeting last Thursday, I suggested that the officials who attended should go online, where they would see—in direct contravention of the terms and conditions of Scottish Rugby—viagogo already listing significant numbers of tickets for 2025’s Six Nations matches, including a game at Murrayfield, in flagrant breach of the terms and conditions of the Consumer Protection Act. Without my amendments, it is made more difficult for the Scottish Rugby Union to stop what could be fraudulent tickets.

All the listings on viagogo are from traders, and most appear to be advertised in breach of the Consumer Rights Act, since they fail to specify seat details. The locations they quote are general, such as “west section, upper tier”, “bronze” or “event restrictions”. The screen- grabs are all hidden behind CAPTCHA, which was originally meant to protect consumers but is widely used by viagogo and others to make it incredibly difficult for the casual buyer to locate.

The Minister is right when he says that the Scottish Rugby Union has strong terms and conditions in place to protect fans from exploitation. Scottish Rugby knows that the laws and regulations in place are not sufficiently comprehensive in stopping irresponsible secondary sites ignoring their terms and conditions to make a profit exclusively from their suppliers—the modern-day ticket touts using bots. Sadly, it happens more every month of every year.

The secondary market relies on suppliers. They become a preferred supplier by using bots: computer software that can store thousands of credit card details. When you or I go online to buy a ticket for a popular concert and add in our details, by the time we complete the request we are in a long queue. In the meantime, the modern-day tout—the preferred supplier—has swept the market and sold the tickets on to viagogo and others, which then have them up for sale on their websites before we even finish our application. If the preferred supplier cannot sweep the number of tickets he has promised to the secondary market, which ignores the promoter’s terms and conditions, he will forge them and deliver them all to the secondary market to retain his preferred supplier status. This amendment would require proof of purchase. Why would anyone not welcome rules and regulations being tightened up to protect consumers?

My noble friend the Minister used a second example relating to the opening of Euro 2024, the Scotland v Germany game, in Munich, saying that

“in that particular case I do not have a named ticket. Indeed, I was not able to get a ticket, and I have in fact accessed the secondary market—and I will not be able to tell your Lordships’ House until the day before whether those tickets are legal or not”.—[Official Report, 13/3/24; col. 2079.]

If I Google “Euro 2024 Germany v Scotland tickets”, the top sponsored results are the following websites: Live Football Tickets, Ticombo, viagogo and Seatsnet. All claim in their adverts that tickets are 100% guaranteed or 100% secure, and all too have very dubious operators. For example, Ticombo is owned and operated by Barlaup, the same person who failed to deliver over 20,000 tickets for the London 2012 Olympics, leaving the majority of victims without a refund. I told my noble friend the Minister that he had literally no idea who he was buying from or where he would be seated, and that he could well be handling stolen goods.

As well as breaching Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, these listings all breach UK consumer protection legislation by failing to provide seat or trader details and information about restrictions on use. The official event terms and conditions for Euro 2024 clearly state that resale for profit is not allowed, although you can resell for face value or transfer to another fan for personal use. This amendment in lieu recognises that the existing rules and legislation are not working effectively. It would add two provisions to make it more difficult to circumvent the law, which would help Scottish Rugby and Euro 2024 go after the scalpers and protect the consumers.

In my view, it is absolutely vital that we consider carefully the outcome of what the CMA has reviewed over nearly six years of detailed investigation, including its call to this House to implement new legislation to bring us up to speed with what is happening in the market. The CMA went further than requiring the secondary market to put face value, the business name and the trading addresses on the face of the tickets; it wants a licensing system. That may be required, but my amendment achieves the same result without the cost of that new system.

The CMA was simply asking for clear and coherent information on the ticket—and that is all I am asking the House for today. Yet my amendment has moved with the times. We are now 10 years on from the Consumer Rights Act. That time, when we first asked for this, was before the secondary market had the technology to hide behind icons and hyperlinks, requiring customers to dig interminably deeper into wormholes on their websites before they find the information that was then—and still often is—translated into a foreign language. This amendment seeks a clear requirement, requested from the CMA, that the reseller cannot sell more than they can legally purchase.

It is with a heavy heart that I say that, throughout the proceedings of this legislation, Ministers in both Houses, either on the record or in discussion with me, have not put forward one argument as to why the amendment would not work. I am in favour of a free market, but one that obeys the law. From time to time, we need to make a small amendment to update the law to avoid unscrupulous traders abusing it, as with hiding information behind near impenetrable icons. There is no difference between my noble friend the Minister saying that he is in favour of auction houses but will turn one blind eye to the provenance of what they are auctioning and another blind eye to the contract entered into between the seller and the auction house and him recommending exactly that in the secondary market by rejecting the amendment. All that we have had in response is that it is time for another review—and a nine-month review, not a nearly six-year review, to which we have not responded in law.

It is time to listen to the CMA and to protect the consumers. It is time to stop the many examples of people, genuinely thinking that they have acquired tickets from the secondary market, travelling with their families for a special occasion to a major pop concert or sporting event only to be turned away. The market is not operating as efficiently as it should be and there is deep corruption in many aspects of it, which would be addressed by the amendment. That is why the CMA has called for action on this and why we should protect the consumers. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology) 4:30, 14 Mai 2024

My Lords, I support Motion E1 and pay fulsome tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, for his expertise and tenacity. Thanks to his efforts and those of Sharon Hodgson MP, and after a long campaign with the All-Party Group on Ticket Abuse, we were able to include certain consumer protections in the ticketing market in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The noble Lord’s amendment on Report sought to introduce additional regulatory requirements on secondary ticketing sites for proof of purchase, ticket limits and the provision of information on the face of tickets. That would have secured greater protection for consumers and avoided market exploitation, which is currently exponentially growing on platforms such as viagogo.

As we have heard, the Ministers—the noble Lord, Lord Offord, and the noble Viscount, Lord Camrose—in their letter of 1 May to noble Lords, offered a review that would take place over nine months, which would make recommendations for Ministers to consider. But that is simply not enough, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has demonstrated. The Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Offord, seems to believe from his own experience—unlike the rest of us—that everything is fine with the secondary market and that the answer to any problem lies in the hands of the primary ticket sellers. However, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in his brilliantly expert way, demonstrated extremely cogently how that is absolutely not the case for the Minister’s favourite sports of rugby and football, where the secondary resellers are flagrantly breaking the law.

Furthermore, the Minister has used the examples both in debate and in correspondence—I thank him for taking the time to meet other noble Lords—of Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, Iron Maiden and Glastonbury as putting in place restrictions on primary market sales to suggest that we should focus our attention on putting pressure on the organisers of these events to use existing legislation to prevent the unfair secondary market. However, apart from anything else, why is it solely the responsibility of artists and promoters to prevent secondary ticketing websites and their suppliers breaking the law? Surely they also deserve greater support. Most other artists do not have the resources to put in place these controls.

As the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, all the UK’s main primary ticketing operators offer capped, consumer-friendly resale at the price originally paid or less. All can guarantee the tickets being resold. This model has become standard in the UK market, and such services are now widely publicised at venues. But the growth of this genuine consumer-to-consumer market is being held back by the black market of uncapped ticket resale.

By implementing this amendment in lieu, the Government have an opportunity to fix many of these issues in one fell swoop. It would ensure that touts could not resell vast quantities of criminally acquired tickets through websites such as viagogo, and fans could purchase tickets at face value as intended. After all, something along these lines, as the noble Lord explained, was proposed also by the CMA. We should support it.

Photo of Lord Leong Lord Leong Shadow Spokesperson (Business and Trade), Opposition Whip (Lords) 4:45, 14 Mai 2024

My Lords, I will speak to Motion E1 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Like the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, I thank him and my honourable friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West for their relentless campaigning and enduring diligence on this issue.

The current system is not working. It is not strong enough to stop a shadowy oligopoly of parasites on talent: unscrupulous people who are profiteering from genuine fans who want to see their heroes perform live. Tickets for many high-profile events, which by their very nature are extremely limited in supply, are being resold for many times their face value. Genuine sports supporters and music fans are being ripped off.

I will give just one example. The original price of the most expensive seated tickets for Taylor Swift in Edinburgh next month was £194 each. I went online to book mine last night, dedicated Swiftie fan that I am, and the cheapest seated tickets with unrestricted views were more than £500 each for two together. The most expensive pairs were £3,646 each—more than 19 times the original price. If I were to buy them, I would wonder to whom that additional money, almost £7,000, was going. It is obviously not going to Taylor Swift—or Tay Tay, as we fans call her.

Sports clubs and artists pitch their prices at a level which they think is fair and which enables them to make a profit: a price that allows their fans to enjoy their work—often a special occasion that will be remembered for a lifetime. When they see their fans charged excessive prices, they are right to believe that their hard work, talent and reputations are being exploited. These excess profits are not going to those who have worked hard to develop sporting prowess or exceptional skills as a performer; they are going to unscrupulous organisations which are often difficult to track and prosecute and which are prepared to exploit existing loopholes and take risks by breaking the law, knowing that they are unlikely to be caught. Such organisations employ sophisticated technology to distort a necessarily restricted market. In his response on day 2 of our debate, on 13 March, the Minister argued his case for not accepting amendments on this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has, with characteristic persistence and diligence, convincingly rebutted those arguments and perhaps alerted the Minister, as he set out earlier, to just how easy it is to be misled, overcharged and ripped off by the various online sites which operate in the secondary market, perhaps even saving him from an expensive mistake the next time he chooses to see an international rugby or football match or even a pop concert.

The CMA made recommendations in relation to secondary ticketing that are covered by this amendment, as the noble Lord set out earlier. The first was to ensure that secondary tickets can be sold only with proof of purchase of the original ticket, to avoid speculative sales of tickets which may not have been bought and might not be provided—a recipe for rip-offs. The second was to limit the number of resales by a single reseller to the amount that can legally be purchased on the primary market. If a reseller is offering tickets in groups larger than this, that must indicate that the additional tickets have been misdescribed or misappropriated and potentially that the purchaser could unknowingly be receiving stolen goods. The amendment also requires that secondary sellers make the original face value of the ticket clearly visible to the purchaser. Subsection (3) of the new clause inserted by the amendment gives the Secretary of State powers to impose or amend conditions for resellers in response to further loopholes being found by resellers to get around these reasonable and legal restrictions, if any emerge in the future.

The second part of the amendment is equally important. It formalises the Government’s non-legislative commitment to undertake a review over the next nine months, as mentioned earlier by noble Lords. By the time that review finishes, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will be 10 years old. It is already showing its age in the face of the rapid technological advances allowing unscrupulous companies to exploit fans and performers. The review will enable the Secretary of State to identify emerging risks—the unknown unknowns—and respond to rapidly changing technology as touts inevitably seek to exploit the loopholes of the future.

Every year, fans spend millions of pounds of their hard-earned money on these special occasions. It should not go to touts or resellers who exploit the system and play fast and loose with consumer law. The devil is in the detail here and it is also in delay. The time to act is now. The combined weight of the concerns and arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, the CMA, the entertainment and sports industries, consumer groups and ordinary fans is difficult to resist. I am impressed by the Minister’s resolve in the face of this tsunami, but I hope that he will now support this amendment. If the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, wishes to test the will of the House, we on this side will support him.

Photo of Lord Offord of Garvel Lord Offord of Garvel Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have debated the topic of secondary ticketing today. It has been an interesting and constructive discussion on a very important topic.

Turning to Motion E1, tabled by my noble friend Lord Moynihan and regarding secondary ticketing, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Leong, for their contributions. I also thank my noble friend for his thoughtful engagement on issues in the secondary ticketing market and his commitment to work with the Government on solutions. As he will know, following our meeting last week and engagement since then, we share many of these concerns—although we differ slightly in our judgment of the best means of addressing them.

This Government have already brought in extensive and successful legislative protections for consumers buying on the secondary ticketing market. These go above and beyond standard consumer rights and require both ticket resellers and platforms to provide ticket information to buyers.

It is appropriate to consider the amendment in Motion E1 in detail. Proposed new subsection (1)(a) requires that a platform seeks confirmation of proof of purchase or evidence of title before allowing a ticket to be listed. It does not set out what might satisfy such requirements, so this is likely to come down to a question of due diligence as a platform to be challenged.

Moreover, it is already a criminal offence, as unfair trading or fraud for traders, to offer for sale a product that cannot be legally sold. Recent prosecutions included breaches of the Fraud Act as part of their basis. Similarly, speculative selling is something that the CMA has sought to address through enforcement, because actions such as that mentioned in relation to the SRU—selling tickets not even issued yet—are not allowed under current law.

Proposed new subsection (1)(b) seeks to apply primary sale ticket limits to the secondary market but, having consulted primary agents, we feel that this is impractical. The number of tickets that a person can purchase depends on the event. It would be difficult for a platform to know what, if any, limits there were for each event, especially when tickets are sold through multiple primary agents.

Proposed new subsection (2) imposes requirements to make clearly visible information about the face value of the ticket, and the trader’s name and business address. Both these elements are already required by UK law; existing legislation requires this information to be “clear and comprehensible”. This is a clear general provision, its application in the circumstances being one for regulators and the courts. There is a greater risk of loopholes if certain practices are specifically provided for but others are not.

In his review, Professor Waterson recommended that enforcement action be taken to drive compliance. That has happened with CMA action, and we have seen successful prosecution of ticket touts, as evidenced by the case of R v Hunter and Smith, which resulted in prison sentences and financial confiscations. However, at that time, the CMA review did not look at the primary market.

During the passage of the Bill, we listened to arguments by noble Lords opposite about the merits of a review of the market as a whole, looking not just at what happens on the secondary market, but at how tickets flow from the primary market. We can better establish the practice and interventions that will deliver benefits and protections for consumers and support events going on in the UK.

I admire my noble friend Lord Moynihan’s dogged commitment to this issue. He wants to beef up the existing rules, but we already have extensive rules in this area. This issue will not be solved simply by adding more and more legislation; it will be solved by better implementation. We have started by radically boosting enforcement powers in Part 3; the next step is to understand how tickets move from primary sale to the secondary market, for different events, in different venues.

On that basis, I urge noble Lords to support the review that we have set out today, and to consider carefully the Motion put forward by the Government. I hope that all Members feel able to support our position.

Photo of Lord Moynihan Lord Moynihan Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, I thank noble Lords from across the House. We have covered the ground extensively again. I particularly thank the Minister; I think it is the first time, in the whole process, that he has engaged in the detail of the amendment while accepting with me the need to take action. If he had done that somewhat earlier in the process, we might have made progress, but it gives me significant confidence that he has done it today. We now have the opportunity to consider improving the wording, and we can do so by passing the Motion that is in front of your Lordships’ House. We will see whether we can take practical steps, rather than make an outright rejection, and a request, as happened in the other place, for a further six-month review.

I very much welcome what the Minister said, but I was not convinced, primarily because what he said was that we needed clear and comprehensible information on the front of the tickets, yet we do not have that. They are impenetrable because they are hidden behind icons, and that is the very purpose of the key amendment. Had he therefore accepted the principle, he would have accepted the amendment.

We have made significant progress today. We can and should continue this debate, so I ask noble Lords to support consumers, sports fans, and those attending major music events, against the corruption that currently exists. I do so with a strong belief that we can get this right and put into legislation in this country the necessary steps and protections to make life a lot easier for those—not just the two cases that have come to court—who night after night, throughout the United Kingdom, are turned away from major events because of the fraudulent abuse of the secondary market. With that in mind, I would like to test the will of the House.

Ayes 228, Noes 213.

Rhif adran 2 Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill - Commons Reasons and Amendments — Motion E1 (as an amendment to Motion E)

Ie: 226 Members of the House of Lords

Na: 211 Members of the House of Lords

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw


Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw


Motion E1 agreed.