That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to render it unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale tickets for major sporting, musical or theatrical events for a price in excess of the officially designated price.
I propose to share my time with Deputy Stephen Donnelly. I welcome the opportunity to co-propose this Bill to the House alongside Deputy Donnelly who has worked with me on it. I understand from some of the longer serving journalists and other people around the House that it is a little unusual for people to co-propose a Private Members' Bill, particularly so when there is a member of a party and an Independent member involved. Perhaps this epitomises new politics in a positive way.
I would like to outline the potential solution proposed in this Bill and how it will impact on people. The nature of the problem is straightforward and easy to understand. For too long now, music and sports fans have been gouged, effectively paying multiples of face value for tickets to both music and sports events. A small cottage industry has developed around this issue and this industry has become more automated, industrialised and more formalised than ever before, with the result that normally the primary seller would perhaps regulate but in this instance it appears that the primary seller, the well known entity, Ticketmaster, is also a controlling stakeholder in one of the largest secondary selling entities, Seatwave. It is clear there is a potential conflict of interest arising, including the potential for the primary ticket seller not to regulate in the best interests of the consumer, as it would usually do in a normally functioning market. Deputy Donnelly will outline how the market is not functioning in an effective way. It is, therefore, felt that Government regulation is necessitated because the market is not functioning in a normal way for sports or music fans.
The Bill is based on the Belgian model which sought to outlaw the above-cost selling of tickets. In other words, it seeks to outlaw ticket selling at above-cost face value plus a small service fee. This provision was implemented in Belgium, which is a fellow EU member state, and as such it is compatible with all relevant EU laws on competition and consumer protection. It is clear that it has had a very positive halo effect within Belgium and the ticket selling industry in Belgium. This is a positive move for consumer protection and competition. I pay tribute to Deputies Naughten, Shatter and Ring who have all previously proposed similar legislation over the last two decades. I believe now is the time to take action on this issue. I also believe this is one of the most symbolic examples of what is called "nominative determinism", which means that a person's surname reflects the work he or she is doing, which in my case, my surname being "Rock", speaking on behalf of music fans in the country, is most fitting.