Campaigners for reform in the secondary ticket market suffered a blow last night as MPs in the House of Commons voted to reject a Lords amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, which seeks to make the secondary market more transparent for ordinary ticket buyers.
During the debate, Tory MP Mike Weatherley, who backs legislation to “put fans first”, said: “Live events, whether they be sport, music or theatre, are essential not only to the British economy but also to British society. Each year, our creative industries generate more than £36 billion and employ 1.5 million people. For them to continue to be so successful it is necessary to ensure that both performers and fans get a fair deal through a transparent ticket market. Otherwise, inflated prices mean that fans will continue to pay more for tickets, and performers will lose out on revenue.”
He claimed that the amendment would help prevent ‘botnets’ from mass-buying tickets for events on the primary market, which are then sold the secondary market at vastly inflated prices, ensuring artists and venues will be given the “opportunity to regain control of ticket pricing and the terms and conditions they put on tickets and make sure that genuine fans have access to the events they want to attend”.
Opponents of the amendment, including MP Philip Davies, claimed legislation would force touting underground and into the hands of “spivs” and “Arthur Daley” types. He added: “The secondary market is good and a price cap does not work. Anybody who believes in the free market could not possibly agree with the amendment.”
His thoughts were echoed by David Nuttall MP, who said: ‘You can’t interfere with the free market. Tickets will always find a way to be sold at market price.”
MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy – a supporter of reform – said: “Tickets for the reunion gig of The Stone Roses at Heaton Park, something that many of us had only dreamed of for many years, were advertised at more than £1,000 only minutes after they had sold out. Their original face value was £55. For the avoidance of doubt, nobody is saying that there should not be a secondary ticket market… That does not mean that we should give the commercial touts a free ride, especially when they distort the prices.”
MPs voted 280-203 against including Amendment 12 in the Consumer Rights Bill, forcing it back to the House of Lords for further debate in what’s called Parliamentary ‘ping-pong’. “Just to clarify – the ticket tout issue now goes back to lords for ‘ping pong’ but not tonight,” tweeted Creasy after the debate. “#putfansfirst will return later in month!”
Secondary ticketing company Viagogo welcomed the vote, saying in a statement: “We are pleased that common sense has prevailed and people’s right to resell their own property in a free market has been protected.”
Before the debate, 85 individuals and companies connected to the sports and entertainment industries – including managers and agents representing Radiohead, Iron Maiden, Arctic Monkeys – co-signed an open letter in The Independent on Sunday, which called for MPs to back the amendment.