I genuinely accept where the Deputy is coming from with this amendment and I was of a similar view myself but I will give the Deputy the rationale behind why we cannot accept the amendment and we will see what the Deputy thinks of it. The first of the conditions for the application for the designation of a venue in section 7(1) states that the venue has the capacity to hold 1,000 persons or more.
The effect of Deputy O’Reilly’s amendment would be to change this condition to "the venue has the capacity to hold an event or events." When she references Covid-19 restrictions, the capacity of the venue that will count is not the temporary capacity, but the real capacity, so to speak. When she talks about the 5,000 people who will be allowed into Croke Park, that is not the capacity that will be designated for the purpose of this; it will be the 80,000. I am sure she is aware of that but I say it for the purposes of clarity.
The amendment would make a major change to the provisions on the designation of venues in section 7. While I appreciate that the amendment stems from a constructive desire to strengthen the Bill, I cannot accept it.
The provisions on the designation of events and venues are a central pillar of the Bill, and the capacity threshold of 1,000 which applies to the designation of venues under section 7(1) is a core element of the venue designation provisions. The committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny report did not propose a change in this capacity threshold. A major change of the kind proposed to the provisions on the designation of venues would possibly affect the objective necessity and proportionality of the obligations placed on ticketing businesses by the Bill. Legal advice would be needed on this point before such an amendment could be considered.
However, perhaps most importantly the removal of the capacity threshold of 1,000 would require the resubmission of the Bill to the European Commission in accordance with the provisions of Directive 2015/1535 on the procedure for the provision of information on technical standards and rules on information society services. The scheme of the Bill was submitted to the European Commission in accordance with this requirement in February 2020 and no issues of compatibility with EU law were raised by the Commission or other member states.
The directive provides, however, that where a proposed national measure is subsequently amended in a way that significantly alters its scope, the measure must be resubmitted for further examination. Removing the capacity threshold for venue designations would constitute a significant alteration of the scope of the Bill. If the Bill had to be resubmitted, the result would be that it could not be enacted for a period of at least three months from the date of its notification to the European Commission. I believe that we all understand and accept the need for the early enactment of this Bill, particularly given that sporting and entertainment events are shortly due to recommence with restricted attendances with all the potential for ticket touting that might present, as the Deputy mentioned.
My Department considers that the capacity threshold of 1,000 which applies to applications for the designation of a venue will cover the great majority of venues that are likely to host the type of high-demand events that can be expected to give rise to appreciable levels of ticket resale. If a venue with a smaller capacity is due to hold a high-demand event, it will have the option to apply for the designation of the event. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will also have a reserve power under section 7(6) to designate a venue with a capacity of less than 1,000 after consultation with the venue operator. If it emerges after the Act has been in operation for a time that the capacity threshold of 1,000 is impairing the effectiveness of the Act, it can be reviewed and, if necessary, amended.