Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
52. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the reason no legislation to tackle the issue of ticket touting has progressed through Dáil Éireann; if she will honour the commitment given to an organisation (details supplied) regarding having ticket touting legislation in place for the Euro 2020 games to be held here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20602/19]
As I indicated in a recent reply to the Deputy, my Department is currently working with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, OPC, on the preparation of amendments to the Prohibition of Above-cost Ticket Touting Bill 2017. While good progress is being made on these amendments and it is my aim to finalise them as soon as possible, it is not possible to provide a precise timeframe for their completion. I would very much like to see the Bill progress more quickly, but this has not been possible for a number of reasons. As the Deputy will be aware, the OPC had to prioritise Brexit-related legislation in the first quarter of this year.
A case submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association, EFTA, States, or EFTA Court, earlier this year raised issues regarding the compatibility with EU law of the prohibition on unauthorised ticket resale in the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006. Given the potential implications of the case for our proposed legislation, the Government decided that Ireland should submit written observations to the court and the preparation of these observations required a considerable commitment of time by the officials dealing with the Bill.
During the trilogue negotiations on a proposed directive on the better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection legislation, agreement was reached on an amendment from the European Parliament prohibiting the sale of tickets acquired through the use of bot software. As one of the amendments to the ticket touting Bill approved by Government related to the use of bots to purchase tickets, the examination of, and discussions on, this provision also took up a considerable amount of time. As its adoption could have constrained our ability to introduce domestic legislation on ticket resale, I am glad to be able to report that, along with a number of other member states, we were successful in having a provision included in the directive which recognises the right of member states to introduce additional national measures, including measures regulating the resale price of tickets.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
As I also indicated, it will be necessary to submit the amended Bill to the European Commission in accordance with Directive (EU) 2015/1535 on the procedure for the provision of information on technical regulations and rules on information society services. The directive requires member states to postpone the adoption of legislation within its scope for three months from the date of its submission to the Commission.
I intend to honour the commitment given to the organisation referred to in the details submitted by the Deputy. Officials of my Department have been in contact with that organisation regarding the timeframe for the enactment of provisions relating to the sale of tickets for the Euro 2020 championship. The organisation has indicated that it is satisfied with the proposed timeframe.
The Minister is not dealing with the issue. This has now turned into something bigger than it should have been. I presented a Bill to the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation this time last year. We went through that but the Government decided to block it. It would not issue a money message. The Minister has dragged her feet on the issue and, as a result, consumers are being ripped off. She is now responsible for that. Ticket touting has been raised in this House for decades. Deputy Naughten introduced the first Bill in the 1990s. It is utter madness that this has been going for more than 20 years and we are still here talking about the issue due to the inaction of the Government. It is really frustrating for people. When she was introducing the other Bill in this area, the Minister stated that significant amendments would be needed. Will that Bill be ready and in place for those Euro 2020 games Ireland will be hosting? The Minister told us previously that she would be making substantial amendments to that Bill. When can we get sight of those? Will she outline what those amendments are going to be? We have not seen anything yet.
I am committed to progressing this Bill. It is an important issue for consumers and fans. As I stated previously, I do not want to see them getting ripped off anymore. There have been delays in drafting the amendments because the drafting of Brexit-related legislation had to take priority. The Deputy will understand why that is the case. While this is an important issue for fans, I am sure Deputy Quinlivan will agree that Brexit legislation had to take precedence. Regardless of who takes the Bill forward, we are required to submit the Bill to the European Commission. There is absolutely no way around that. It is easy to throw something together for a Private Members' Bill but legislation has to be properly drafted and it needs to be able to stand up to legal scrutiny. The Government cannot enact flawed legislation. If it was easy and straightforward, this would have been done a long time ago. As I stated, I am absolutely committed to progressing this legislation and UEFA has indicated that it will be satisfied, provided it is enacted by the end of this year. I look forward to the co-operation of the House to get the legislation passed whenever it is drafted.