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I will bring my remarks to a close. I look forward to hearing what other Members have to say. For your benefit, Mr Speaker—you were not here at the start—I repeat that if the chance arises I would very much like to press new clause 13, on labelling halal and kosher meat, to a vote, because I think that it is a matter of great importance to many people in the country.

Mrs Hodgson: I am delighted to be able to speak on new clauses 18 to 21, which stand in my name and those of the hon. Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) and other hon. Friends. I add my support to new clauses 8, 16 and 17, which were tabled by my hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench and ably argued for by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) this afternoon and in Committee.

New clause 18 follows directly from the conclusions and recommendations of the recent excellent report by the all-party group on ticket abuse. I want to put on the record my thanks to colleagues across the House and all the outside experts who contributed to that excellent report. We found that the existence of a secondary market for event tickets is justified by the need of genuine consumers to pass on tickets that they can no longer use. To some extent, that is because event holders are not very good at facilitating refunds or exchange mechanisms, even though they sell tickets many months in advance of the event.

On that point, I will speak briefly to new clause 12. It is a shame that the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies)—he is not listening now—would not allow any interventions, because I wanted to correct for the record some of the errors in what he said. He is right that we have regularly locked horns on the issue, but that does not mean I will sit back and not seek to correct him when I think he is wrong. First, the Opposition are seeking not to ban the resale of tickets, but to regulate and reform the market in the interests of consumers through these very sensible cross-party proposals. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow did not “allude”—I think that was the word he used—to trying to ban the resale of tickets.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Shipley was incorrect to claim that no one gives refunds at the moment. The Rugby Football Union guarantees full refunds for high-demand matches—I am sure that the world cup would qualify—up to an hour before kick-off. It also provides legitimate resale platforms. This ensures that any investment goes back into the sport of rugby. The England and Wales Cricket Board has established ticket exchanges at each venue and centrally so that a supporter who can no longer attend a match or has a spare can legitimately re-sell their ticket. Those are just two examples among many more that are out there.

Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that new clauses 16 and 18 are particularly powerful, because they would enable us to identify the power sellers—the people who buy tickets on an almost industrial scale, and by doing so corner the market, rip off consumers and push up prices? Unless we do so, it is more likely that £250 tickets for the rugby world cup can be sold for over £1,000, as is happening at the moment. That has to be a bad thing, and we must stop it.

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Mrs Hodgson: I agree with my hon. Friend. I thank him for his work in the all-party group in producing the report that has led and informed us in tabling the new clauses.

Our report recommended that the live event industry should do more to provide refunds. The new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Shipley could be ruinous for the live event industry while removing all the risk for the industrial touts of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith) spoke. Most touts will aim to sell their tickets on the internet about four days in advance, so under the hon. Gentleman’s plans, any they do not manage to sell for a profit they could simply give back to the promoter for a full refund the day before, by which time the promoter will be unlikely to be able to sell them all on again. I fear that rather than helping ordinary consumers, as the hon. Gentleman has no doubt argued, that would mean more tickets being acquired by ticket touts who no longer face the uncertainty of whether they will be able to shift them, thereby manipulating the supply even more than they already do. A better balance would be to give refunds up to a reasonable point before the event, with facilitated resale after that if the event has sold out—as we set out in our report, which I hope the industry will take on board.

While accepting that there is a role for a legitimate secondary ticket market, the all-party group found considerable problems with how this market, which is estimated to be worth about £1 billion a year, works at present. In particular, we found that it does not adhere to the same principles of transparency and consumer protection that other markets are held to. To address these shortcomings, we have put together some modest proposals which, far from driving ticket resale underground, as some of those involved in it have claimed, would increase consumer confidence in the secondary market and therefore be very good for business.

Our first two new clauses address the lack of transparency. New clause 18 is about who is selling the ticket. It would place a duty on secondary ticketing platforms to provide basic identifying information about the individual or business offering a particular ticket or set of tickets for sale. It would allow consumers to say how prolific and reliable a particular seller is—in other words, whether they are a tout or a fellow fan and, if they are a tout, whether the tickets they have sold in the past have been as advertised. That would make the secondary ticketing platforms a lot more like the other internet marketplaces that many of use regularly and with confidence, such as eBay, Amazon and Play.com.

Importantly, the new clause would also require secondary ticketing platforms to be transparent in cases where the seller is also the event holder. The practice of event organisers secretly allocating whole blocks of tickets directly to the secondary market has been on the rise, due to the failure of successive Governments to intervene in the market on behalf of consumers or the creative sector. It was exposed in the Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme, “The Great Ticket Scandal”, broadcast in 2012. I cannot blame those who do this. They cannot stop the touts, who have not contributed in any way to the event—unlike the artist, the venue, the agent, the promoter, and so on—from making huge profits off the back of their hard work, so why not try to make some of that money for themselves, or, as I like to see it, have a piece of the poacher’s pie? That is their decision, but

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they should have to be transparent about it. Hiding behind the secondary market and allowing fans to believe that the ticket they are buying has been sold at face value before and they are buying from a third party is simply dishonest.

There is also a dishonest practice whereby a secondary ticketing platform or its employees or shareholders buy and sell tickets themselves, as the “Dispatches” programme also exposed. Employees of the platforms featured were shown with catalogues of credit cards, trying to buy as many tickets as possible to gigs. A leaked operations manual sent to me shortly after “Dispatches” aired showed that that was also a key part of the viagogo business model. The manual showed, among other things, that a company called Andro Capital, which was linked to viagogo’s then chief executive, Eric Baker, was also its most favoured power seller. Interestingly, a box at the start of the chapter explaining such dealing to employees stressed:

“Not only do we have private and power sellers, we also sell tickets on the website. PLEASE NOTE THAT NEITHER SELLERS NOR BUYERS SHOULD KNOW THAT WE ARE THE SELLER OF CERTAIN TICKETS. NOR SHOULD ANY OF THE INFORMATION BELOW BE DIVULGED TO OUR POWER SELLERS!”

Viagogo has since said that it has abandoned that practice, and Christoph Homann of GetMeIn! also assured the all-party group in his evidence that it does not itself buy tickets, either. In that case, they will not be affected by the new duty and have no reason to oppose it. Even if they or other secondary ticketing platforms still engage in such dealing, I can see no good reason why the law should permit them to keep that information secret from their consumers when it may make a material difference to a buying decision. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will consider adopting the measure.

I have mentioned the Channel 4 “Dispatches” investigation into the problems and I am also pleased to inform the House that the BBC’s “Watchdog” is also very keen on highlighting them. Indeed, they will feature in its shows on 21 and 28 May, and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will be glued to their TVs, watching them. “You and Yours” on Radio 4 also runs regular features on the issue, as do numerous national newspapers, including The Mirror, the Daily Mail and The Times, as well as trade magazines, such as the excellent Audience.

New clause 19 relates to the transparency of the product itself—that is, the ticket. Knowing the characteristics of a ticket would in many cases make a material difference to a buying decision, particularly in the case of seated events, in which a person’s position in the venue can make a significant difference to their enjoyment of the performance or the experience. Providing that information —or, indeed, the ticket number when there is general admission to the event—would also give consumers the confidence that the individual or company selling the ticket actually has tickets in hand and is not just speculating that they will be able to provide them at a later date. When a consumer wants to buy a number of tickets, the information will help them to ensure that they get seats together or at least close by.

The secondary platforms themselves were asked about that as part of the all-party group’s inquiry. StubHub said in its evidence that it requires seat information to be provided, but an investigation of its website shows

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that such information appears to be hit and miss. On the whole, it tended to be single tickets, which were probably being sold by ordinary fans, that had full information, while listings of two, four, six or more tickets, which were probably being sold by a professional, did not.

One of the other key pieces of information of which a consumer should be aware is a ticket’s original face value, which in many cases is another indicator of the quality of the product. In their evidence to the inquiry, representatives from the Rugby Football Union said that the cheapest tickets at Twickenham—those they keep cheap to try to get families to come along and to encourage grass-roots participation—often end up being resold at higher prices than some of their premium tickets, some of which may still be available.

Many consumers who are less conscious of how these secondary markets work think that because they are paying more for a ticket, they will get a premium service or seat. Many others do not even know that the website they are using is a secondary market rather than the primary or official source, given that such sites pay significant sums to show up first in Google rankings. Making sure that consumers are made aware of the original price of the ticket they are buying at the earliest opportunity, not just on the last screen—if at all—therefore gives them another piece of the information that they need to make an informed choice about whether to enter into such a purchase.

6 pm

I do not think that any genuine fans who needed to sell on their tickets would have a problem with providing the basic information about the product they are selling, and I cannot see why any professional reseller would either. Even a street tout shows people a ticket—and therefore the seat number and face value—before they buy it. The secondary ticketing platforms, which claim to have higher standards, should therefore have no problem adapting to the new provisions.

Moving on from transparency, more of which should reduce the chances of things going wrong in the secondary market in the first place, new clause 20 concerns the recourse available to consumers when they do. There have been numerous recent reports of thousands of event goers being turned away with counterfeit or invalid tickets that they had bought via the big four secondary ticketing websites, all of which heavily promote their reliability, with prominent guarantees that tickets are genuine. The latest example to make the news involved the hundreds of Drake fans turned away from the O2 arena in north Greenwich.

It is welcome that all the big four companies say that they offer refunds, although over the years I have received a handful of complaints about their being less than prompt in doing so. As Reg Walker from the Iridium Consultancy pointed out during our second evidence session, people who turn up at venues with unusable tickets have all incurred at least some travel costs getting there, and in some cases they have come from abroad for the express purpose of using the ticket. That echoes the findings of the recent UK Music report on music tourism, including that ancillary spending just from music events is worth more than £2 billion a year to the country’s economy.

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For such people, a full refund on the ticket, while welcome, will still leave them out of pocket. New clause 20 would, therefore, allow those consumers to claim back the extra costs associated with attending an event up to a reasonable level, which we suggest should be 200% of the total purchase price paid to the platform. The new clause would place responsibility for that initial payback on the secondary ticketing platforms, because they offer guarantees that they say consumers pay for in their significant service charges. However, having paid out that money, the new clause makes it clear that the secondary ticketing platform may recover it from the seller of the ticket. The payback should be made promptly, unless the police or other relevant authorities are investigating the buyer or seller for committing or trying to commit fraud. The only individuals or businesses that the new clause would hurt, therefore, are those who have sold dodgy tickets and consequently caused financial loss to the consumer.

The new clause would have the positive benefit of giving consumers the confidence that they will not be left out of pocket when they purchase tickets through the secondary market if those tickets turn out to be counterfeit or invalid. Again, far from driving the trade in tickets underground, it would have the effect of driving consumers to use websites that offer such protections, instead of those that do not and, in particular, instead of blokes outside the venue on the night.

Our last new clause, new clause 21, simply defines terms used in the previous three new clauses, so I will not detain the House by explaining it.

The proposals are not radical. If the Minister or hon. Members whom have spoken against them asked their constituents whether they want to know what they are buying and whom they are buying it from when they spend what are often significant sums, they would find that most of them said yes. The proposals would not abolish the secondary market or drive it underground; in fact, they would bring it out of the shadows into the mainstream. No longer would so many people still see it as a murky market; it would be a legitimate secondary market that works—as all markets should—in the interests of consumers, with full transparency and adequate protection. The only people who have opposed the proposals are those making large amounts of money from the status quo. It is time that this House and this Government stopped standing up for the interests of such people, and finally put fans first.

Mike Weatherley: I congratulate the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) on a thorough interpretation of the new clauses.

Music, theatre, comedy and sport are a vital part of British society and the British economy, and our creative industries are worth more than £36 billion a year. They generate £70,000 every minute for the UK economy, and employ 1.5 million people in the UK. That is why it is vital to have a healthy and transparent ticket market, yet with increasing frequency, secondary ticketing resellers are causing dramatically inflated prices for the fans, and taking away revenue from performers. That has to stop.

I have consistently been a champion of the free market and I do not have a problem with artists or sports teams charging whatever they wish for their services. That is their prerogative, and they should be allowed to set the prices of their tickets or, if they choose, to sell them

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through secondary ticketing or auction websites. However, as the online marketplace has become quicker and easier to use, a large number of unsavoury and illegal practices have sprung up surrounding ticket reselling websites. That is why I, along with colleagues from both sides of the House, founded the all-party group on ticket abuse. We conducted a review and the results were published recently, as we have heard, with new clauses recommended as a result.

One key aspect of an honest and transparent ticket purchasing process is the intention of the buyer at the point of purchase. No one would begrudge a Rolling Stones fan who has become ill the day before the show the opportunity to sell their ticket to someone else. However, an increasing number of people are buying tickets with absolutely no intention of going to the event. Instead, those career touts buy tickets solely with the intention of denying them to real fans, whom they can squeeze for profit by reselling their tickets to a “sold out” event.

That situation is not limited to fans who simply waited too long to buy tickets. With internet ticket selling becoming more streamlined, touts are able to use sophisticated computer systems to buy large volumes of tickets automatically mere seconds or minutes after they go online. That can often mean that it is practically impossible for genuine fans to get access to the event, forcing them to rely on an artificially created secondary market, and depriving content creators of revenue for their event. That is unacceptable.

On this issue I fundamentally disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), who raised some points earlier, because we would all suffer, including the artists. Just because an artist has received the full value for a concert that is sold out does not mean that they—or another artist—would not suffer elsewhere. For example, suppose someone has a budget of £500 a year for going to venues. They might think, “I’ll go to 10 concerts in that year and buy some merchandising and other products while I am there”, but if they then spend £200, £300 or even £500 on one concert, they will not go to the other nine. No wonder there is underselling in other concerts because people do not necessarily have the money, and we all lose out as a result.

Philip Davies indicated dissent.

Mike Weatherley: My hon. Friend is shaking his head, but he must understand that my point is right. I would, of course, prefer no legislation on the subject and to rely on industry-led solutions, as we heard earlier. A potential solution to touting, which has been adopted by some venues already, is to use credit card verification. However, touts often generate such large profits from many events that that method is ineffective. There are also additional problems of crowd control and so on. If hon. Members who disagree with that point had bothered to come to the all-party group when we took evidence, they would have heard from promoters who have tried those other methods that such things do not work, and they would not try them again for all sorts of reasons.

The Metropolitan police published a comprehensive report on fraudulent ticketing and the dangers it posed to the Olympics; it specifically cites ticket fraud, touting

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and ticket reselling websites as areas of concern. Among several issues, the Met noted that websites with servers based overseas were causing serious problems by advertising fraudulent tickets, and making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track the offenders or shut down illegal sites. The report stressed—as do I—the need for an open and transparent system for ticket reselling, with clear and appropriate regulations.

Transparency is key to protecting not just content creators but ticket buyers from dubious and misleading transactions. Again, I will refer to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley because I never thought there would be a connection between halal meat and secondary ticketing. I was keen to intervene on him but he would not allow me to. All through his speech, however, he made the point that clear labelling and the consumer being aware of what they were buying was fundamental. He said—I wrote it down—that it is a fundamental right that consumers know what they are buying. That is exactly what the new clauses are saying, no more and no less. For instance, it is common in the entertainment industries for all or part of the fee for professionals involved in an event to be paid in tickets. The venue might be paid in tickets to a corporate box and a promoter or manager may be given some as part of their fee. That is done with the tacit understanding that recipients of such tickets will subsequently be able to sell them for significantly more than their face value. It is, of course, the prerogative of the content creators if they wish to do this, but it should be done transparently.

Some hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley, have suggested that trying to regulate ticket touting is an interference in the natural free market. However to say this is to misunderstand—and be wrong about—one of the key principles of the free market, which is the ability for the market to respond to demand by increasing supply. In the case of sports matches or live music, there is no way to increase the supply. There are only so many games in the season and bands can only play so many dates. That is why it is so important for the content creators to be in control of how their tickets are sold. It does not in any way infringe their right to charge however much they want for the tickets, as long as it is part of a transparent and well regulated system that works in the best interests of fans and performers.

New clauses 18 to 21 are intended to assist that transparency. None of the clauses would restrict the secondary markets, but they would become more accountable. In particular, people who had been sold an invalid ticket would be compensated more than just the ticket price to reflect the true cost of attending. New clause 20 would restrict the cost to twice the price paid for the ticket, which might not be the full cost to those attending, but would at least give some incentive to those selling to get the ticket price right, without being an open cheque book.

We have come a long way since I first supported the private Member’s Bill of the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) a few years ago. Then, there was little support for measures to protect consumers from the worst aspects of ticket touting. Now, I am pleased to say that, with increased knowledge and understanding, there is increased agreement on both sides of the House that something needs to be done. The small measures suggested in new clauses 18

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to 21 are a step in the right direction, and I trust that the Minister will address at least some of the issues when she responds later.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. By my reckoning, eight hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye. Colleagues will be aware that the moment of interruption is 7 o’clock. They will be able to do the arithmetic for themselves, but if everyone speaks for approximately five minutes and no longer, it should be possible to accommodate everybody.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) who spoke so well in support of the new clauses tabled by the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson). I also wish to associate myself with the clear arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) in respect of other amendments in this group.

I wish to speak to new clause 15, in my name and that of the hon. Members for East Lothian (Fiona O’Donnell) and for Batley and Spen (Mike Wood). I raised this issue in Committee, although new clause 15 is not simply a retread of the new clause I tabled there about product recalls, especially of electrical items, and safety. It is a new and improved new clause, with added provisions based on the very fine contribution by the hon. Member for Batley and Spen in an Adjournment debate on 24 March.

When my original new clause was debated in Committee, the hon. Member for East Lothian had to speak to it, as I was in the United States as part of a delegation on the Colombian peace process. I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for speaking so well on the new clause in Committee.

The purpose of the new clause is to try to make good the deficiencies in the product recall system. I am one of those people, probably like many other Members, who laboured under the assumption that there are very clear schemes, strict regimes and tightly managed fine systems for product recalls, particularly for products that can threaten the life and health of families and the fabric of properties. We read about products catching fire and being recalled—washing machines, cookers and so on—but the Electrical Safety Council report “Safer Products, Better Business” shows that most product recalls succeed in recalling only 20% of products, with some recalling only 10%. That means there are a lot of unsafe products in people’s homes, threatening lives and property.

6.15 pm

We are told that the Bill is all about giving consumers rights; that it will give more power to consumers in relation to faults; that they will be more aware that products are unsuitable and more able to return them and get redress. Surely we also need to make good the serious gap between faults that manufacturers and suppliers know about, but consumers do not. New clause 15 would improve recall standards and create direct powers for the Secretary of State to take more responsibility in that regard.

The additional points we have included in the new version of the new clause come from the hon. Member for Batley and Spen, who highlighted existing US federal

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legislation. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal body, operates mainly under the Consumer Product Safety Act 1972, which was enhanced by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act 2008. It takes federal responsibility for recall measures and is able to ensure that the considerable gaps in suppliers’ and manufacturers’ customer records are made good. It has become a federal responsibility to ensure that records are kept of who has bought products and where they have gone.

The Government seem to be relying on the industry for that. That is what I took from an answer the Minister gave me in January. She said that there is no problem because the industry has not told her that there is one, but it currently relies on its records of ownership, and they depend on whether people return their warranty and registration cards when they buy products. A lot of people do not because they think they will receive a great deal of marketing bumph and other material they do not want, but doing so is vital if a product recall is required. What we are left with are general media information recalls and signage, which people may not see or take in, being put up in various stores. That is why our recalls do not have a very high success rate, and that is leaving people at risk.

Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is addressing the House with inimitable eloquence as always, but I think I can confidently predict that he is reaching his peroration.

Mark Durkan: The other point the Government make is that this will be the subject of a European directive in a couple of years’ time. I would only make the point that we should not have to wait for a European directive, and that it would be better if a meaningful European directive were transposed through existing legislation. New clause 15 would provide exactly those powers and that legislation.

Mrs Main: I would like to speak to new clauses 13 and 22, and make a small reference to new clauses 18 to 21.

New clause 13 was explained so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) as being a matter of consumer choice. I have a huge degree of sympathy with that, but I will explain why I cannot support him today. We should all know exactly what we are eating. We should have a good deal of information about how animals have lived and died. I have major concerns that Europe does not have the same high standards of animal welfare that we have in this country, yet we import meat from those animals that have been raised with living standards we do not find acceptable and have outlawed, such as farrowing pens for pigs.

Briefing from the Eurogroup for Animals, published in 2011, gives some interesting information about European standards of animal husbandry and, indeed, animal slaughter—much of the meat involved enters our own food chain—and makes it clear that many of us should be very concerned about those issues. That organisation opposes the slaughter of all animals without their being stunned beforehand. The briefing states:

“In 2010, the European Commission requested from Member States official data regarding numbers of animals ritually slaughtered within their territory.”

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Unfortunately, there was a real lack of data. According to the briefing,

“most of the countries do not have reliable figures available as no traceability exists to differentiate between animals”

when it comes to how they have been slaughtered. Of course, I am concerned about how they have lived as well. There is also a significant over-slaughtering of animals for halal and kosher meat within the food chain to allow for the amount of demand that might arise in countries that import such meat, which means that there is no way of showing what happens to animals that have been killed in that way and where they end up in the food chain.

This is indeed a labelling issue, but I must say to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley that, according to some of the information that has been gleaned through the examination of people who do not wish animals to be killed without being stunned, it is almost impossible to trace the meat involved, and that without Europe-wide traceability, his proposal will be totally unenforceable. I appreciate that many consumers would like to know how the animals were treated, where and in what conditions they were raised, the extent of the confinement in which they were placed, and how they were slaughtered. While I agree with my hon. Friend’s sentiments—I, too, believe that consumers should know exactly what they are purchasing—I therefore cannot support his new clause.

Let me now say something about the tenancy issues that have been raised. I quote my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley a great deal, because he talks a lot of good sense, and his heart is often in the right place. However, I believe that if we put all the onus on landlords when it comes to any fees associated with the checking of tenants—they often have to be checked now because of the rules on residency, which govern whether they have the right to rent in this country—those fees will go into the chain, and other ways will be found to put up rents. I cannot believe that the Labour party wants that to happen.

A small letting agency in St Albans, which contacted me about the Labour party’s proposal, is deeply unhappy about it. Given that the agency provides a service enabling people to go into its office, choose from the properties that are advertised, be shown round and so on, why should a fee not be incurred for the benefit that the potential tenant enjoys? The landlord may enjoy a different benefit in the form of the checking of the tenants; the benefits are not always exactly the same.

I suggest that the Government should be extremely cautious before accepting any blandishments from the Labour party, which constantly tries to impose all the cost on businesses. We, as consumers, also want a degree of protection.

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab) rose—

Mrs Main: I am afraid that this is a very short debate.

Part of those fees go towards ensuring that there is a market for people who want a good choice of tenanted properties that they can go and look at.

Let me now add my few words to the extensive debate about tickets. The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) made a very good point about touts who would potentially sell tickets

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back. That is a flaw, but I have a huge amount of sympathy with those who have bought a ticket that cannot be used for some reason. I do not see how it can be wrong to sell that ticket on, as I might sell on anything else that I might have purchased. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley made the valid point that if a major company selling tickets en bloc wants to try to stop the practice, it should be working with the Government for that purpose.

I do not wish us to outlaw the selling on of tickets that people may have purchased quite rightfully and of which they then wish to dispose. I feel that that would creep into other areas and start applying to people who buy the latest thing from Kate Moss At Topshop, the latest pair of trainers or the latest toy, and then choose to sell it on. I think that that is a slippery slope, and I do not wish to go down it.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. Of course I am in colleagues’ hands, but I simply point out that anyone who speaks for longer than three minutes will knowingly be stopping another colleague contributing. I just put that in my usual gentle fashion.

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): I want to speak to new clause 22 about letting agents’ charges. When the Communities and Local Government Committee did a report on the private rented sector last year, we had more evidence and more complaints about letting agents’ charges than almost anything else. That was reflected by the OFT, which said that complaints to Consumer Direct about letting agents were almost all about fees and charges. It is not just that there is one fee up front for a tenancy agreement; there are also the charges for inventories and for credit checks, and people enter into a viewing not knowing what the ultimate charge will be. It is a charge they have to find up front as a prospective tenant, at the same time as they are trying to find the deposit, and often these are people on very low incomes.

The process gets repeated to a degree every time people renew their tenancy after six months or 12 months, and that militates against having longer term contracts. Agents see this as an incentive not to let longer term contracts because short-term contracts mean renewals and more fees for them. I have described letting agents as being a bit like football agents as they make their money out of transfers and renewals of contracts. We ought to be extremely wary of that.

Shelter said the average size of a fee to a tenant was £355. The Foxtons website gives its fees as £420 to a tenant to create a contract, £96 to renew it and £150 for an inventory check. Such charges are replicated by most letting agents.

The Committee responded that there should be absolute transparency of fees up front when a property is advertised and it must be clear what the totality of charges to tenants will be and there should be no double charging. If there is transparency, it will be harder for a letting agent to charge a tenant and a landlord for the same thing, which happens at present.

We want these changes to be put in a mandatory code of practice, but the Government have not agreed to do that. On transparency, all that has happened is the

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Advertising Standards Authority has given a ruling saying the fees that are compulsory should be shown up front as part of the price quoted. However, when we go on websites like that of Foxtons, we see those fees are in very small print, so, in practice, letting agents are going through the motions when it comes to the ASA ruling, but they are not sticking to the spirit of it.

We did not recommend a complete abolition of fees to tenants. What we said was that it has been done in Scotland and that we should review the Scottish experience. The Committee will come back in the autumn and look at the Scottish experience and consider whether banning charges to tenants means higher rents. If so, there is a question as to whether tenants favour paying a bit more in rent rather than having a massive fee up front. The Committee will also look at the fact that the contract is with the landlord, not the tenant. We will take further evidence on those matters in the autumn.

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage) (Con): I wish to speak briefly to new clauses 18 to 21. I was a member of the Public Bill Committee and we had a long debate about ticket touts and the secondary ticketing market. I think there is cross-party support on this, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) and the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) for the work they have done as chairs of the all-party group on ticket abuse of which I am proud to be a member. The report that has been produced is excellent and is close to my heart as Knebworth, which is in my constituency, is the largest outdoor music venue in the UK. I am therefore very keen to ensure that we eradicate ticket touting for all events. Having cross-party support to eradicate ticket touting is very welcome, and we need to push that forward.

In Committee I referred to an organisation called Twickets. It takes a photograph of the ticket in question and places it on its Twitter feed and it can then sell that ticket for the face value or less. That is the only way in which that ticket can be sold. That provides a good opportunity for someone to sell a ticket at face value or less to a third party whom they do not know.

One thing that disturbed me in Committee, and one of the reasons why I cannot add my name to new clauses 18 to 21, is that botnets are buying up huge amounts of tickets from the online retailers, and 90% of tickets in the UK are currently sold online. So one huge problem facing us is how to stop these botnets buying up the tickets. Consumer behaviour is in many ways driving the problem, because consumers are prepared to pay almost any price and so they accept the market; they pay the price and that allows ticket touts to flourish. We need to focus on how we can remove ticket touts from the UK and how we eradicate them as much as we can.

6.30 pm

Many people feel that because they are buying a ticket online they are not engaging in behaviour that is associated with a criminal activity, but few of the people who would buy a ticket online would speak to a ticket tout in the street outside a venue and buy a ticket off them. Therefore, part of this may be about educating people so that they understand that when they are buying these tickets online, they are helping some people

13 May 2014 : Column 687

who are often engaged in criminal activity and they are also working with a group of organisations that are not putting money back into the film and music industries. I am not able to support these new clauses. Although I agree with the spirit of them, I do not feel they would do enough to eradicate the scourge of ticket touts.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) (Lab): I rise to support new clause 22 which is an important first step in addressing a private rented sector into which many hundreds of thousands of people who would previously perhaps have been allocated a social housing dwelling have been forced because council houses and housing association properties are currently in short supply. Many of them have to move over and over again: often these are people on very low incomes and they are hit with punitive charges by profiteering rogue letting agents. I say that this is an important first step because it is not just about the charges associated with establishing a tenancy in the first instance.

A letting agency in Derby, Professional Properties, hits people not only with the sorts of charges we are debating, which would be covered by the new clause, but with additional spurious charges when they end their tenancy. I am dealing with one case in particular where a young woman who looked after the property in which she had been living very well was hit with an enormous charge of more than £1,000 for spurious repairs. As a result of my intervention that charge was dropped, but there has been a refusal to allow her to have her deposit back. Those are shameful tactics by letting agents who are exploiting a very vulnerable group in society, and it is incumbent on us in this place to stand up for people who are being exploited in this way.

It is important to acknowledge that the private rented sector does have a role to play, but we want a responsible private rented sector and a responsible letting agents sector. Rents in the private sector have gone through the roof, so there is ample money in this system without these additional charges being heaped on people, who, as I have said, are often on very low incomes. I strongly support new clause 22 as a very important first step to regularising the private rented sector in our country.

Andrew Percy: I want to speak primarily to new clause 22, but first let me briefly speak in support of new clause 14. I thought I was the only person who had problems with switching, believing it to be another in the long list of failures in my life, but since I got elected I have realised that there is a massive issue to address so I fully support that provision. I have some sympathy with new clause 13, as I would like to see better labelling, but I am not sure I can support it as drafted.

On new clause 22, I should declare that I do not have any buy-to-let properties—I struggled enough to qualify for one mortgage, so the idea of qualifying for a further mortgage is probably a bit of a joke. Going through the list of other Members who have relevant interests, I noted that an awful lot of them were on the Opposition Benches. I assume that no Labour Members who rent out a property do so through a letting agent that charges fees, because to do so would be to fall foul of a word we are not allowed to say in here.

With this new clause we have a campaign going on. We have student union politics at the moment whereby the Opposition pick an issue and throw it out there in

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the hope it gets some traction. They do not think it through; there is nothing more to it than that. This time the issue is letting agent fees. It is my belief that they have not spoken to the letting agents or to many of the tenants who have to pay the fees—if they had, they would not be proposing this measure in such a way. I want a sensible debate on this, but we do not get it. As I have said, what we have had is an orchestrated campaign in which Labour opponents, many of whom live in massive houses in particular constituencies, have been told by the Labour party centrally here in London to parrot a particular line. They do not care about it to the extent that they have ever stood up and talked about it before. My Labour opponent, who wrote to me about this, certainly never had a word to say about it before she was told to do so by Labour headquarters in London. That is what is going on here. We are not having a sensible debate about this measure, which hits some of the big cities such as London, or about repeat fees. Labour has taken this scattergun approach in the hope of trying to drum up support for the measure, but what will happen is that rents will go up, because these charges will not disappear; the tenant will have to pay them in some way.

In many houses in my constituency, particularly in Goole which is relatively poor, the landlords do not charge bonds. They say is that if they cannot charge a relatively small fee—the biggest company in my constituency, Goole Property Centre, does not charge repeat fees or fees to people who do not then get a property—they will charge bonds instead. The cost of getting into a property to begin with could double or quadruple in my constituency.

I can tell Members what some of the letting agencies use their fees for. A large number of those who are renting are foreign tenants, and the agencies try to provide somebody who speaks their language and who gives them additional support, often getting them signed up to gas and electricity. They also help out with some of the simple things, which lead to a huge number of letters in my postbag. I am talking about things like bin collections—how to follow the rules—and community cohesion problems, which occur when large numbers of foreign migrants live in homes in multiple occupation. Landlords use their letting fees to subsidise such activity, and that is what will disappear. This is an ill-thought out policy from the Labour party. Let us have a sensible debate about it. The hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) said that it was too early to make a decision, because we need to see what happens with the trial in Scotland. Unfortunately, Labour has decided not to wait, but wants to continue with a student union type approach to try to build something around the cost of living issue. It is a bit pathetic in my view, which is why I will not support this measure until we have a proper and sensible debate.

Yasmin Qureshi: I am concerned about the way in which this debate on halal and kosher has been taking place in the country and about some of the things that have been said in the Chamber. At the heart of this debate is a suggestion that somehow the halal and kosher slaughtering processes are more painful for the animal than the stunning process. Some 90% of the meat in this country is stunned, so we are talking about just 10% of meat. I am sure that Members can see behind what the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies)

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is saying. He claims that the whole country is concerned about the issue. As somebody who is virtually a vegetarian, but occasionally will eat meat, I am concerned not just about the rights of animals but about the issue of experimentation on animals, which I speak up about and campaign against. The newspaper that is going on about halal meat does not talk about experimentation on animals, which is real cruelty. We know that it just wants to have a go at one particular group of people. I want to deal with one central question, which seems to be the accepted wisdom of everyone here, and that is whether the kosher and halal method of slaughtering is more painful.

A scientific study was carried out by Professor Schultz and his colleague at Hanover university in Germany. They took one group of animals and followed the halal and kosher slaughtering process, and then took another group and followed the stunning process. They placed electrodes on the animals concerned and monitored the level of pain experienced by the animals. If anyone is squeamish here, they can place their hands over their ears. This is what they said about the halal method:

“The first three seconds from the time of Islamic slaughter as recorded on the EEG did not show any change from the graph before slaughter, thus indicating that the animal did not feel any pain during or immediately after the incision…For the following 3 seconds, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep—unconsciousness. This is due to the large quantity of blood gushing out from the body…After the above-mentioned 6 seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all…As the brain message…dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing”—

at this point, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other organisations might say that the animal is suffering, because it is convulsing, but the reason for that is not pain, but that the blood is leaving the body and the bones in the body structure are convulsing. That is not pain—[Interruption.] I wish hon. Members would listen.

With the stunning method, although the animal appeared to fall unconscious after the stunning, in fact the EEG graph

“showed severe pain immediately after stunning”.

Let us be realistic about stunning. It is not a nice little prick; it is done via an electric shock or sometimes, with some animals, a pistol. We are not talking about a painless death.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Yasmin Qureshi: No, I will not, because I only have a few minutes.

The third thing to notice is that the

“hearts of animals stunned by C.B.P. stopped beating earlier as compared to those of the animals slaughtered according to the”

halal meat method. No one wants to talk about the science, because the accepted wisdom goes with the prejudice that I am sorry to say certain newspapers in this country show towards certain groups without looking at the evidence.

Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) (Con): Will the hon. Lady give way?

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Yasmin Qureshi: No; as I said, I am not going to give way.

I am very concerned about how animals are treated and reared and concerned that they should not be treated cruelly when they are transported. We should have a proper scientific debate about slaughtering, because the evidence is out there. Concern is perpetuated because most people do not know how the halal or kosher methods of slaughter take place. If they looked into the studies that have been done in America—I do not have the time to go into all of them—they would find that this is a proper system with the animal’s level of pain being monitored—[Interruption.] I know that Government Members do not want to hear this, but I am sorry: they are going to have to listen to me. I have the Floor, and I am not—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The House must listen to the hon. Lady.

Yasmin Qureshi: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am probably saying something that a lot of people are finding a bit difficult to swallow, but it is about time that the counter-argument and the full facts were presented to the country and to Parliament. For far too long, the debate has been skewed, because certain sections of the media want to deal with just one aspect, but they are misleading people. A myth is being perpetuated that somehow kosher and halal methods, carried out as they should be, are more painful and cause more suffering to the animal, but that is incorrect. The stunning method is probably more painful, so banning things or labelling based on “humaneness” or whether animals are being treated properly is wrong. I want to say more, but I will leave it at that, because others want to speak.

Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con): I will not detain the House for long. I want to talk about new clause 13. I was hoping that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) would not divide the House on it, but it has highlighted yet again the extremely important issue of food labelling and consumer choice, and the work that still has to be done.

I start with a simple principle and question. Should consumers be allowed to know where their food has come from, how it has been prepared and how it has been slaughtered? For me, the answer to that simple question is yes so that consumers can make an informed choice. However, I accept that the issue is more complicated than that and more complex than this simple new clause. I am not being critical of my hon. Friend when I say that, and I completely understand why he has worded it as he has. However, although I have great sympathy with new clause 13, I cannot support it as it stands.

6.45 pm

In essence, the stunning of livestock has been mandatory in the EU since 1979, although member states can grant exemptions for religious slaughter. Some people in this Chamber might want to follow the lead of Denmark and ban non-stunned slaughter altogether on animal welfare grounds, but I for one would certainly not want to go down that road. As my hon. Friend has said, the proposal is not about banning anything, nor should it be. I strongly believe that consumers should have the

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right to make an informed choice, and the new clause should serve as a warning shot across the bows of Government that the issue will not go away.

The Government are going to have to grasp the nettle at some point and for me that point needs to come sooner rather than later. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Jenny Willott: We have had a varied and wide-ranging debate this afternoon, so I shall do my best to cover as many of the issues that Members have raised as I can. First, however, I want to explain the Government amendments, which are designed to protect consumers from a delay in receiving a refund. We discussed the issue in Committee and although delay might arise only in a minority of cases, the Government are persuaded that the potential detriment means that this is a sensible change to make. We are ensuring that any refund must be made without undue delay and always within 14 days of the trader agreeing that the consumer is entitled to a refund. Since we discussed that in Committee my Department has been consulting business organisations and consumer groups to identify the best way to make the change without disadvantaging either consumers or businesses. I am glad that the Opposition support the change.

The Government agree that consumers should be protected from fraudulent, counterfeit and misleading ticket sales. I think that everybody in the House would agree with that. However, we also need to allow the market to operate for the benefit of consumers who would miss out on events without it. We have made new regulations that will come into force this year to empower and inform consumers. From June, traders will have to ensure that consumers have all the information they need before they buy. We published detailed guidance when the regulations were made in December 2013, but since then the Trading Standards Institute has been working on additional guidance. We have today updated our guidance on those regulations to make it clear what that means for ticket sales. That went live on our website this morning. It includes clarification that if the ticket is for a specific seat that information must be given, that the total cost, including delivery costs and other charges, must be given and that, depending on the circumstances, the face value may also need to be given.

In addition, from October of this year we are making it easier for consumers who have been misled by a trader to take their own action to get their money back and, if appropriate, to get damages as well. Armed with that information and access to redress, consumers will be empowered to make use of the market for their benefit and hopefully not fall victim to fraudulent, counterfeit or misleading ticket sales. There are also rules in place to protect consumers, and when a marketplace is aware of illegitimate activity on its site it might be in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

As for new clause 12, when there are concerns about the secondary ticketing market the first port of call should be for the industry to source a solution. Some of the larger event organisers, as has already been mentioned, already have refund procedures in place and we welcome that. However others, including smaller players, have chosen not to, for very good commercial reasons in many cases.

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The hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) highlighted the importance of industry-led action, and we agree with that. The hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) and a number of other Members mentioned the rugby world cup in 2015, and that is a great example of industry-led action. The organisers’ 10-point plan lists many of the actions suggested by the hon. Member for Shipley, including the release of tickets in batches and the late issue of tickets.

All that is being industry-led. I hope that what I have said has reassured members of the all-party group that we share the concerns that they have highlighted and that we have looked carefully at the best way to take on board the group’s recommendations to try to protect consumers. I hope that they are reassured by what I have explained about the information on the website and in the guidance.

On halal meat—a completely different subject—we want people to have the information that they need to make informed choices about the food that they buy. Many retailers or restaurants and fast food outlets already voluntarily provide information on whether meat is halal or kosher. As we have seen from the debate today, this is a complex and sensitive area. There is no single clear definition of halal meat. The majority of halal meat produced in this country comes from animals that are stunned before slaughter, whereas kosher meat all comes from unstunned animals. That is just part of what consumers want to know, as we have heard in the debate today. We already have powers under the Food Safety Act 1990 to make domestic regulations to introduce a requirement to label with the method of slaughter. However, we do not consider at this stage that regulation is the best approach. Primarily, food businesses should provide consumers with the information that they want and need. If there is to be compulsory labelling, we believe that this would best be done at a European level. That would be best for consumers and also ensure that we do not put our food industry at a competitive disadvantage.

Philip Davies: Will the Minister give way?

Jenny Willott: I will not give way, I am afraid. I have no time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley said that there was widespread customer demand for labelling of the kind that has been suggested. An EU study is currently being undertaken on precisely that question, so we are waiting with interest the publication of the study so that we have full information on what consumers want. We will review all our options at that point.

We had a good debate about product safety in Committee and we have discussed it recently in the Chamber. There is already legislation on product safety recalls, which places strict duties on producers and distributors to ensure the safety of products. These regulations also provide trading standards with comprehensive powers to enforce them. As the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) said, we need to improve the effectiveness of product recalls. The traceability of products after sale is a real challenge, as he said, but I do not believe that introducing new reporting requirements or a new overarching agency is the right approach. The vast majority of businesses take the safety of their customers very seriously and I believe that the best approach is therefore for us to continue to work with representatives from industry, consumer groups and enforcement agencies to ensure that the system is as effective as possible.

13 May 2014 : Column 693

The issue of lettings has also excited people this afternoon. Most letting agents offer a good service. A blanket ban on fees, as new clause 22 proposes, cannot therefore be the answer to tackle a minority of irresponsible agents. In addition, banning fees will not make it cheaper for tenants, because tenants will just end up paying through higher rents rather than upfront fees. The hon. Member for Walthamstow highlighted the example of Scotland. My understanding is that in the first quarter after the change was introduced rents rose significantly in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and in the year to March rents rose by more in Scotland than in England and in Wales. In fact, the rate of increase in rents was double that in Wales. So it is not quite as simple a picture as the hon. Lady highlighted.

We are already changing the law to require all letting and managing agents to belong to an approved redress scheme, which will give tenants an effective way to make complaints. Last month the Housing Minister approved three redress schemes that all letting and property management agents will be required to join later this year. This will ensure that tenants and leaseholders have a straightforward way of holding their agents to account. The three compulsory schemes, which are the property ombudsman, ombudsman services: property and the property redress scheme, will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service. Where a complaint is upheld, tenants and leaseholders could get compensation.

We are going further. Today, in a move that ensures a fair deal for landlords and tenants, I am pleased to announce that we will be amending the Bill to require letting agents to publish full details of the fees that they charge. Currently the Advertising Standards Authority requires letting agents only to list charges to the tenant up front in their advertisements. Those letting agents who are found to have imposed hidden charges face little more than being named and shamed on the authority’s website. We want to go further to require all letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees both on their website and prominently in their offices. Anyone who does not comply with those new rules will face a fine that is a much stricter penalty than currently exists. While every business remains free to set its own fees it has to be transparent, so competition will ensure that letting agents will have to justify those fees to tenants.

Today’s plans add to the work that the Government have already done to offer stronger protections for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector while avoiding excessive regulation, which would force up rents and reduce choice. We intend to review the requirement for greater transparency after 12 months of operation to confirm that it is delivering the expected benefits. If not, the Government will consider whether the proposals need to go further.

We have discussed micro-businesses in an earlier debate, so I will briefly state that we do not support extending the consumer protections in the Bill to smaller businesses. The provisions in the Bill have been designed for consumers, and we cannot and should not assume that they can be applied as successfully to small businesses as they can to consumers. As the Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills acknowledged, all business groups that responded to the Government’s 2008 consultation preferred to retain the clarity of the current distinction between business and consumer.

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Finally, on Government amendment 14 and Opposition amendment 5, I am happy to change the process from a requirement for the negative to the affirmative procedure, and have tabled a Government amendment to that effect. I therefore hope that the hon. Member for Walthamstow will not press her amendment.

Philip Davies: I did not hear the Minister make any remarks about new clause 14, which appeared to have cross-party support. Will the Government support it too?

Jenny Willott: Given the time restrictions, I shall say that we support the intention behind the new clause but not its wording, as there are a number of problems with it. I am happy to discuss with the hon. Gentleman after the debate the points that he has made to see if there is a way forward. With those remarks, I hope that hon. Members are happy that I have covered all the issues that were raised in the debate.

Stella Creasy: A number of issues have been raised. I am conscious of the time so I shall be brief and discuss the two new clauses that we want to push to a vote because we are not satisfied with what the Government have said. First, on new clause 22, which deals with letting fees, the Government should realise that it is not a small minority of letting agents charging fees. Indeed, good landlords do not want to lose tenants who cannot afford those fees.

The hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) was disrespectful about the idea that tweeting in the Chamber was a good idea. Let me tell her that in the past hour we have had an example of a fee of £1,300 to change the names of two tenants on a tenancy agreement. Those are the sorts of fees that we are talking about. Shelter disputes the evidence that the Minister gave about there being no impact on rent inflation in Scotland since the measure was introduced. Members have to make a decision about whether they are on the side of the consumer or on the side of business. We are firmly of the view that we need to be on the side of the consumer in this instance in changing the way in which the rental market works. Rental fees are anti-competitive, and there is a conflict between who acts for the landlord and who acts for the agent. We need to change that, so we want to push new clause 22 to a vote.

We also want to push new clause 16 to a vote, because it is clear that Members across the House want to see action on ticket touting. New clause 16 puts into practice the amendments that the Government proposed on consumer information and consumer evidence. The Minister discussed the rugby world cup, but it is clear that tickets are already being sold on secondary sites, so the measures that she discussed have not had an impact. We need to make progress on that too.

We are happy to take advice on amendments on businesses, and we are happy to accept the Minister’s assurances about refunds. We are seeking more Government U-turns, but on letting agent fees and ticket touting it is time for action, and that is exactly what the Opposition seek in the amendments. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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New Clause 13

Goods to be as described: meat products

‘(1) All products containing halal and kosher meat shall be labelled as such at the point of sale by retail and food outlets.

(2) A food outlet is anywhere where food is served to the public.’.—(Philip Davies.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 17, Noes 281.

Division No. 277]

[

6.59 pm

AYES

Bone, Mr Peter

Bridgen, Andrew

Davies, Philip

Evans, Mr Nigel

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Gray, Mr James

Henderson, Gordon

Hermon, Lady

Hoey, Kate

McCartney, Jason

Paisley, Ian

Percy, Andrew

Reevell, Simon

Shannon, Jim

Smith, Henry

Turner, Mr Andrew

Walker, Mr Charles

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr David Nuttall

and

Mr Philip Hollobone

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Barclay, Stephen

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Andrew

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.

13 May 2014 : Column 696

13 May 2014 : Column 697

7.13 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

New Clause 16

Secondary ticketing platforms: product and seller information

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall issue guidance to all traders who operate as secondary ticketing platforms on the application of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

(2) Guidance issued under section (1) shall include how secondary ticketing platforms must inform consumers of—

(a) the chosen identity of the seller;

(b) the country of residence of the seller;

(c) information provided by previous buyers on the reliability of the seller and the tickets he has sold;

(d) information on any complaints made against the seller for failing to supply tickets;

(e) information on any complaints made against the seller for supplying fraudulent or invalidated tickets; and

(f) information on all other accounts currently or previously held with the secondary ticketing platform linked to the seller by virtue of personal, financial and contact information provided by them.

(3) Guidance issued under section (1) shall set out how information required under Part 2 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 shall be—

(a) accurate; and

(b) prominently displayed before a buyer is able to purchase.

(4) Guidance issued under section (1) shall set out how secondary ticketing platforms must disclose clearly if the seller of the ticket is—

(a) the secondary ticketing platform themselves;

13 May 2014 : Column 698

(b) individuals employed by the secondary ticketing platform;

(c) other companies linked to employees, directors or shareholders of the secondary ticketing platform;

(d) the event organiser or an agent acting on their behalf; or

(e) any other party connected to the event organiser of the event.

(5) Guidance issued under section (1) shall set out the status of tickets as unique goods with distinct characteristics which would affect—

(a) the enjoyment of the good by the consumer;

(b) the use of the good by the consumer; or

(c) the inherent value of the good in questions.

(6) Where a ticket is sold through a secondary ticketing platform, guidance issued under section (1) shall set out how the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to tickets as unique goods, including—

(a) how sellers must provide all relevant information about the ticket including but not limited to the face value of the ticket and a designated seat or ticket number;

(b) how secondary ticketing platforms will publish all the information about a ticket provided by the seller in a prominent and clear way; and

(c) what sanctions will apply for failing to provide this information under the regulations.’.—(Stella Creasy.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

The House divided:

Ayes 229, Noes 290.

Division No. 278]

[

7.13 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Julie Hilling

and

Tom Blenkinsop

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Barclay, Stephen

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.

13 May 2014 : Column 699

13 May 2014 : Column 700

13 May 2014 : Column 701

13 May 2014 : Column 702

New Clause 22

Prohibition of fees in contracts for services: letting of residential accommodation

‘(1) The provisions in this section apply to a contract for a trader to supply a service in connection with the letting of a residential premises.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this section, any person who demands or accepts payment of any sum of money from a person (“P”) for services in connection with a contract for the letting of residential premises shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), P is any person—

(a) who seeks to enter a contract to let residential accommodation, or

(b) who has a tenancy of, or other right or permission to occupy, residential premises.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2)—

“letting” shall include any service provided in connection with the advertisement or marketing of residential accommodation or with the grant or renewal of a tenancy;

“services shall —

(a) include, and are not limited to—

(i) the registration of persons seeking accommodation,

(ii) the selection of prospective occupiers, and

(iii) any work associated with the production or completion of written agreements or other relevant documents.

(b) not include credit checks of person seeking accommodation.

(5) Where a person unlawfully demands or accepts payment under this section in the course of his employment, the employer or principal of that person shall also be guilty of an offence.

(6) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under this section by reason of his demanding or accepting payment of rent or a tenancy deposit within the meaning of section 212(8) of the Housing Act 2004.

(7) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under this section by reason of his demanding or accepting a holding deposit.

(8) A “holding deposit” for the purposes of subsection (7) is—

(a) a sum of money demanded of or accepted from a person, in good faith for the purpose of giving priority to that person in relation to the letting of a specific property, which is to be credited towards the tenancy deposit or rent upon the grant of the tenancy of that property, and

(b) not greater than two weeks rent for the accommodation in question.

13 May 2014 : Column 703

(9) Costs incurred by persons seeking accommodation for the undertaking of credit checks shall be reimbursed upon the signing of a tenancy agreement.

(10) In this section, any reference to the grant or renewal of a tenancy shall include the grant or renewal or continuance of a lease or licence of, or other right or permission to occupy, residential premises.

(11) In this section “rent” shall include any occupation charge under a licence.’.—(Stella Creasy.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

The House divided:

Ayes 228, Noes 281.

Division No. 279]

[

7.26 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huppert, Dr Julian

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Swales, Ian

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop

and

Julie Hilling

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Barclay, Stephen

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunter, Mark

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, John

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.

13 May 2014 : Column 704

13 May 2014 : Column 705

13 May 2014 : Column 706

13 May 2014 : Column 707

Clause 20

Right to reject

Amendment made: 9, page 11, line 39, at end insert—

‘(13A) A refund under this section must be given without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

(13B) If the consumer paid money under the contract, the trader must give the refund using the same means of payment as the consumer used, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise.

(13C) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the refund.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

This amendment and amendments 10, 11, 12 and 15 require a trader to provide any refund due to the consumer without undue delay and at the latest within 14 days. They also provide that the refund must be in the same form as the original payment unless the consumer agrees otherwise and that no fee may be charged.

Clause 24

Right to price reduction or final right to reject

Amendment made: 10, page 14, line 42, leave out ‘(11)’ and insert ‘(13C)’.—(Jenny Willott.)

The explanatory statement for amendment 9 also applies to this amendment.

Clause 44

Right to price reduction

Amendment made: 11, page 27, line 45, at end insert—

‘(4) A refund under this section must be given without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

(5) The trader must give the refund using the same means of payment as the consumer used to pay for the digital content, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise.

(6) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the refund.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

The explanatory statement for amendment 9 also applies to this amendment.

Clause 45

Right to a refund

Amendment made: 12, page 28, line 8, at end insert—

‘(3) A refund must be given without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

(4) The trader must give the refund using the same means of payment as the consumer used to pay for the digital content, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise.

(5) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the refund.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

The explanatory statement for amendment 9 also applies to this amendment.

Clause 46

Remedy for damage to device or to other digital content

Amendment made: 13, page 28, line 31, at end insert—

‘(4A) A compensation payment under this section must be made without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to the payment.

13 May 2014 : Column 708

(4B) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the payment.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

This amendment requires that compensation for damage caused by digital content to other digital content or hardware must be provided by the trader to the consumer without undue delay and at the latest within 14 days. It also provides that no fee can be charged for this payment.

Clause 48

Contracts covered by this Chapter

Amendment made: 14, page 30, line 3, leave out subsection (7) and insert—

‘(7) No order may be made under subsection (5) unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing it has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

Clause 48(5) gives the Secretary of State power to remove specified services from the application of Chapter 4 of Part 1 by order made by statutory instrument. This amendment changes the Parliamentary procedure for such statutory instruments from the negative resolution procedure to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Clause 56

Right to price reduction

Amendment made: 15, page 32, line 43, at end insert—

‘(4) A refund under this section must be given without undue delay, and in any event within 14 days beginning with the day on which the trader agrees that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

(5) The trader must give the refund using the same means of payment as the consumer used to pay for the service, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise.

(6) The trader must not impose any fee on the consumer in respect of the refund.’.—(Jenny Willott.)

The explanatory statement for amendment 9 also applies to this amendment.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. (Claire Perry.)

Bill to be further considered tomorrow.

Business without Debate

Business of the house

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 15),

That, at this day’s sitting, proceedings on the Motion on All-Party Parliamentary Groups may continue, though opposed, until any hour.—(Claire Perry.)

Question agreed to.

Deferred Divisions

Ordered,

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Kevin Barron relating to All-Party Parliamentary Groups.—(Claire Perry.)

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order—that means that every Member in the Chamber, whether in front of or behind the Chair, should be silent.

13 May 2014 : Column 709

All-party Parliamentary Groups

7.39 pm

Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): I beg to move,

That–

(1) this House approves the Sixth Report of the Committee on Standards, Session 2013-14, HC 357, on All-Party Parliamentary Groups, and the Rules for All-Party Parliamentary Groups contained in Annex 1 of that Report.

(2) the Resolution of the House of 17 December 1985, as amended on 10 March 1989, 29 July 1998, 7 February 2011 and 12 March 2012, relating to the registration of interests be further amended with effect from the beginning of the next Parliament by:

(a) leaving out paragraphs 3 and 4; and

(b) inserting a new paragraph 3:

“Chairs of All-Party Parliamentary Groups shall be responsible for registering the matters specified in the rules for such groups and for the group’s adherence to the Guide to the Rules for All-Party Parliamentary Groups”; and

(3) the Committee on Standards shall have power to update the Guide to the Rules for All-Party Parliamentary Groups from time to time and to make such minor changes to the Rules for All-Party Parliamentary Groups as are necessary to ensure the effective operation of the Register of APPGs and the regulatory regime applying to such groups.

I am delighted that the House is able to debate the report, which sprang out of Mr Speaker’s recognition that all-party group regulation needed to be reconsidered to ensure that it remained appropriate. As I recall, both you in a previous life, Madame Deputy Speaker, and I were members of the working group that was set up. It was chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw), who unfortunately is unable to be with us tonight, although he would have liked to have been here. The Select Committee on Standards built on the proposals of the Speaker’s working group but we also conducted our own investigation. The lay members of the Committee played a full part in this investigation and their presence meant that we had the power for the first time to see ourselves as others see us. I can assure the House that lay members may be friends but in private they have no hesitation in being critical friends. In my view, their ability to be critical friends is precisely what makes them worth having on the Committee. I am sure that view is shared by all members of the Committee. As a result of their involvement we know that the Committee’s proposals command the support of people who have taken the trouble to inform themselves about the way this place works and the wider issues involved in all-party group regulation.

As part of our work, the Committee joined with the Administration Committee to get some hard facts about the way in which all-party parliamentary groups operate. We surveyed all APPGs to find out the range of support they received and the frequency of their meetings, and besides that quantitative evidence we took qualitative evidence from colleagues from external organisations involved with APPGs, from those who reported on them and from critics as well.

I do not think we should be embarrassed about APPGs. Indeed, I would be surprised if more than a handful of us were not involved in APPG work. APPGs enable groups of Members to inform themselves about policy. They allow us to work across party lines and to work across both Houses. They allow us to educate ourselves. Today’s all-party Whip shows that Members

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have opportunities to meet with UK ambassadors from many different countries, hear about the launch of the Green Investment Bank’s new scheme to help local authorities install energy-efficient street lighting, look at the links between mental health and problem debt, or hear about immigration detention in the UK from Shami Chakrabarti or social work from Martin Narey—that is only some of the meetings that are taking place today under the all-party group system. There is a great opportunity for Members of this House—for legislators—to hear from experienced people on many issues.

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab): I draw the House’s attention to the various APPGs with which I am closely involved, and other declarations of interest. One APPG today met a group that included over 60 members of the freight industry. Members of the House were able to hear from them, and were informed by a response from Baroness Kramer. That knowledge would not be able to be received in any other way.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. Interventions must be brief.

Kevin Barron: My hon. Friend’s point is well put. I am no expert on freight but if I wanted to be and I was involved in making legislation in this House, that is the type of opportunity that is available to share experience from outside.

APPGs come in all shapes and sizes, from a few people effectively acting as a friendship group for a particular country to groups such as the parliamentary and scientific committee, which provides a way for parliamentarians and the science community to communicate with one another, often through major events. APPGs provide a forum for parliamentarians to press for change. They also provide a forum in which outside organisations working on the same topic can communicate with one another.

It is true that APPGs provide a forum in which outsiders can promote policy to Members of Parliament. I think it is reasonable for us to listen to those who want to lobby us, whether they are charities, businesses or knowledgeable individuals. Their ideas will only be taken up if we think they are good. This is a Parliament—a place where people talk. We talk to one another in formal proceedings, but, even more, we talk to people outside this place, both formally and informally. We need to do that to do our job, so there should be as few barriers as possible to people talking to MPs. Freedom of association is one of the rights protected by the European convention on human rights. Nobody wants to stop MPs talking to each other or to those outside this place, but we could not stop, even if we were mad enough to want to try. Any regulatory regime has to be proportionate, or all-party groups’ activities will simply be driven underground.

It is fair to say that there is a suspicion about all-party groups and at least a danger that they could be misused, so we need a regime that reduces the chance of such misuse. Before I go into that, I just wish to say that I hope last week’s events in this place made it clear that existing rules already prohibit Members from using all-party groups for personal gain and that the Committee on Standards will have no hesitation in condemning those who seek to misuse them.

13 May 2014 : Column 711

Our proposals in this report are based on five principles: ensuring parliamentary control of all-party groups; ensuring responsibility and accountability; financial transparency; improved understanding; and proportionality. On parliamentary control, it is already a requirement that groups should meet to elect officers at Westminster on a sitting day and that the meetings and annual general meetings should be advertised on the all-party notice. We also propose an increase in the quorum; that only parliamentarians should have voting rights in all-party groups; and that all members—MPs and peers—should be entitled to vote in an all-party group.

Our proposals on responsibility and accountability are designed to ensure that groups are regulated from this House and it is clear who is responsible for compliance. Rather than having a contact officer, all-party groups should have a chair from the Commons, who will have responsibility for ensuring that the group complies with the rules. All-party group notices should give a parliamentary e-mail contact—we are working on that at the moment. We recognise that external support can be invaluable, but if these groups are really of interest to Members surely we should be willing to provide some resource to support them. Complaints about all-party groups could be and will be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Members are already responsible for registering benefits they each receive as a result of APPG membership, such as visits or hospitality, and that will remain. We also recommend that APPGs that receive £12,500 per year will need to submit annual income and expenditure statements. Benefits in kind will need to be described and have an approximate financial value ascribed to them. We believe that is a sensible thing to do, but that does not take individual members of all-party groups away from their individual responsibilities to register such matters.

On improving understanding, we want there to be clear APPG branding, accompanied by clearer rules about the informal work Members undertake which is not linked to APPGs. The House has formal Committees and, in APPGs, a mechanism for MPs and peers to work together outside that formal framework. Members are entirely free to work outside those frameworks, but we should not be attaching the logo of Parliament to groups that do not comply with the regulatory requirements. Some offers were made during the debate and with the working group on getting harsher on this, but we genuinely believe that such an approach would drive people away from the formal all-party group structure into an ad hoc system, which would have little, if any, influence. We want to make sure that that is avoided. There also needs to be far better information on APPGs on the parliamentary website. I am pleased to say that the all-party Whip is now at least available on the intranet.

On proportionality, as well as making sure that the financial transparency regime is effective without being onerous, we propose to end the requirement for there to be 20 qualifying members before a group can be set up. In practice, it has meant that colleagues have signed up to groups on the principle that they might some day be interested, or because if they wished to found a group themselves their colleagues would be more likely to support them. I have had an interest in several all-party groups for most of my time in this place, so I know that

13 May 2014 : Column 712

that is the case. Members trade names. They may say, “Well, you can put me down for that one, as long as you don’t expect me to do any work in that area.” We feel that that behaviour should now end, and there is detailed recommendation about how to do that.

It was impossible to distinguish between groups that attracted a great deal of parliamentary interest and those that were, shall we say, more specialist, and we feel that there should be more transparency in that area. Let me end with a quote from our report. It says:

“No one wants a Parliament where Members have no interaction with wider society, take no steps to inform themselves about matters of public concern or are simply lobby fodder for whichever party they represent. APPGs perform a useful function in allowing Members to set the agenda and in allowing wider groups to put their case to interested parliamentarians within a framework which ensures transparency and control by Parliament.”

I hope that the House will agree to our proposals, which are intended to produce such a framework.

7.51 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Tom Brake): On behalf of the Government, I support the motion before us in the name of the Chair of the Committee on Standards. The right hon. Member for Rother Valley (Kevin Barron) has set out very clearly the conclusions of his Committee’s report and the effect of the motion before the House. All-party parliamentary groups have a distinct and important role to play in the work of Parliament. They provide a recognised forum in which Members of both Houses can meet together and with individuals from outside Parliament to share information and exchange ideas on issues of mutual interest. This is a healthy process. Indeed, the free flow of ideas and information between the lawmakers and citizens is an essential part of any properly functioning democracy.

There is a huge range of APPGs, the origins and purposes of which may range from a shared interest in a particular country or activity to a campaign for a good cause or policy objective. There is no problem with that. What is important—I would say essential—is that in respect of all such groups, there is transparency as to their purpose, membership and support, particularly any financial support, as well as accountability for their actions. That is what I hope will be achieved through the changes we are approving today.

I fully support the intention of the new resolution to make it clear that each chair of an APPG will be responsible and accountable for their group’s adherence to the rules governing all-party parliamentary groups. Those rules must be taken seriously and complied with scrupulously. The fact that significant breaches will be subject to investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and subsequent consideration by the Standards Committee should provide an effective deterrent.

I am also happy to endorse the proposal to give the Committee on Standards the job of updating the guide to the rules on APPGs and making minor changes to the rules from time to time as the need arises without having to bring such changes before the House for approval.

The House can have confidence in the Committee to entrust it with this function. Indeed such detailed changes are much better done in Committee than on the Floor

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of the House. The House should be grateful to the Standards Committee for its work on revising the rules and the guide to the rules on APPGs. This will serve to increase the confidence of the public in how Parliament conducts itself and the confidence of Members that their engagement with APPGs is not only valuable in itself but beyond reproach. I commend the motion to the House.

7.53 pm

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): The Opposition recognise the importance of this issue, and the debate is particularly timely given the recent scandal involving Mr Patrick Mercer.

I want to begin by thanking the Standards Committee for conducting a thorough investigation into the running of all-party parliamentary groups. In particular, I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Kevin Barron) for his continued chairmanship of the Committee and the leadership that he has shown on the issue. I also thank all those Members who provided submissions, and those organisations and individuals who gave evidence to the Committee. The inquiry was, I think, an historic first in that I am not aware of a previous occasion on which a journalist—Mr Mark D'Arcy of the BBC—was asked to give evidence as an expert witness.

It is worth noting the origins of the inquiry. As the Committee report explains in its introduction, there has been disquiet about the increasing number of APPGs in recent years and, in particular, questions about whether they were susceptible to undue external influence. Mr Speaker’s working group on APPGs was established earlier in this Parliament to consider such issues. From the group’s comprehensive study, it was right that the decision was taken for the Standards and Privileges Committee, as it was then constituted, to look at the rules on registration.

In parallel, the Administration Committee, under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), has at the Commission’s request examined the impact of APPGs on the running of Parliament. The Administration Committee’s key recommendations, such as the scrapping of the APPG passes, reform of the security and room-booking process and the requirement to have a parliamentary contact included in the all-party group Whip, have already been implemented. The House is grateful to Mr Speaker and to the whole Commission for their leadership and the decisive action taken, in particular in the light of the events that transpired last summer.

Returning to the Standards Committee report before us, Labour concurs with all the proposed changes. The recommendations to scrap associate groups and to end non-parliamentarians having a vote in the running of parliamentary groups are correct. The raising of quorums for meetings and increasing the number of officers, while at the same time ending the requirement to have 20 signed-up parliamentarians, is sensible. As the Committee explained, the 20-member rule has led to a number of cases in which MPs and peers who play no active role in an APPG are dragooned into helping out colleagues to meet the targets, as well as obscuring those who are actually playing a key role in the running of an APPG.

Transparency of activities is vital. To that end, we also support the proposed threshold for donations or gifts in kind of greater than £500. The Committee’s

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logic in recommending the same threshold as for party donations seems to be an appropriate figure. We agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley said, that requiring those groups that receive more than £12,500 a year to publish income and expenditure statements will go some way towards improving public confidence in APPGs. In short, where the Committee has recommended changes, Labour fully endorses the recommendations and urges the House to support them.

The Patrick Mercer case, however, has again highlighted the unease felt by many both inside and outside the House of Commons about the role that lobbyists and third-party organisations may play in the running of APPGs. In the interest of transparency, it might be appropriate at this point to highlight the fact that the charity for which my wife works provides the secretariat to a cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament. Cross-party groups are the equivalent of APPGs. Nevertheless, I recognise the role that lobbyists, charities and big business may play in providing secretariat and administrative support, which, for some people, has been and is still a contentious issue.

I note that the Standards Committee does not propose any alterations to the APPG rules on external support. As the Committee acknowledged, however, its report was produced without reference to the Patrick Mercer case. That scandal makes uncomfortable reading for all of us who believe that Parliament should be striving to restore public confidence in political participation. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards found that Mr Mercer sought to use an APPG as a vehicle for his commercial interests and that the pseudo-foundation that he proposed as the secretariat would be the engine of that vehicle.

Campaigners for greater transparency have long questioned why some organisations provide the secretariats to APPGs. As the Committee acknowledged:

“It would be naive to think that all the organisations supporting APPGs do so…for altruistic reasons”.

Indeed, the Chair of the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform, my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), warned only last week in the Chamber that

“all-party groups…are the next big scandal waiting to happen”—[Official Report, 8 May 2014; Vol. 580, c. 305.]

It is therefore sensible that the question whether it is acceptable for the secretariat to be provided externally be kept under review. Will the Leader of the House say, therefore, whether the Government share our view on that issue? Will he say whether the Government believe that a fresh, independent look at the issue should be considered in the next Session? Will he clarify whether the Government are relaxed about the question of lobbyists or big business playing a key role in the heart of the parliamentary system?

In conclusion, we believe that the report has much to commend it. It makes a range of important recommendations and also endorses the decisions of the Commission and the Administration Committee in a number of areas of the running of the House of Commons. We thank the Standards Committee for its work and endorse the motion.

8 pm

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): I declare an interest as the chairman of three APPGs—those on the police, skin and, unsurprisingly, dentistry. I occasionally

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attend others as well. Following the last attack, if you like, subtle though it was, I must say that I am always amused by the mythology surrounding APPGs. According to the media, in particular, they have mystical power over Ministers. Many, including those who should know better—I include some journalists—relate them to Select Committees. Journalists, when media effect is needed, always describe Select Committees as powerful and APPGs as influential. I am afraid that my response to that is “perhaps”.

The fear propounded by some in the media is that lobbyists will manipulate APPGs. In fact, one of the national papers floated that in an article today. The hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty) mentioned Mark D’Arcy, a parliamentary BBC journalist who knows, because he cruises the halls of the House of Commons and, I think, of the House of Lords, exactly how the systems work. The Standards Committee asked him various questions—his answers are in the report—and he said:

“Someone said to me during recent events that if someone was going around touting the idea that All-Party Groups have genuine influence on Government policy, they should be done for fraud”.

He then said that he agreed, but up to a point.

As a former Minister, I was always made very aware of the background of anyone I was officially meeting, whether they were a lobbyist, from an all-party group, or an individual who wished to influence policy. Every Minister will be well briefed on anyone trying to pursue a position or point—whether they are an individual, or from a group, a firm or an APPG. Their points might or might not be accepted by the policy makers, but it is right that APPGs can be one source of information. In fact, the skin APPG recently published a report for the accepted benefit of Department of Health Ministers following a gathering together of interested people, groups, trade representatives and so on, as clearly set out in the report. The APPG assembled the evidence in its report, which is absolutely transparent about its sources. Health Ministers will make of that what they will, but whatever they do it is a useful assembly of a particular subject of interest to that Department.

It is transparency that counts, and that the APPGs are driven and controlled by MPs or peers as appropriate. The Standards Committee was clear on the usefulness of most APPGs as a means of discussion and even the enlightenment of MPs and peers, but I might also say that sometimes the enlightenment comes from MPs and Lords to those attending. As many in the House will be aware, the outside perception of House procedures and timetables is often very wrong. Those who attend sittings from outside this place often find them very educational. I remember the chairman of an important chamber of commerce, whom I will not name, asking for some legal change involving primary legislation, and his absolute failure to understand that even if I, as a Minister, agreed, which I did not, it could not be enacted after having made progress through both Houses in the next week.

In essence, the changes desired in the report are fairly minor and reflect the Committee’s desire not to over-regulate. The sceptical media and others need to realise that APPGs with transparency and light regulation are preferable to ad hoc groups operating without transparency,

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undercover, which would be the result if APPGs were limited in number or were over-regulated. This is a carefully considered report with relatively minimal changes that essentially extends transparency.

8.4 pm

Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): I start by declaring that for a good long time—a decade or so—I was chair of the Africa all-party parliamentary group. Good and effective all-party groups—they are a mixed bag; some are extremely good and effective, others less so—can have a real influence on public policy. For instance, since the last election, when the Government introduced their defence and security review, the Africa all-party group put in a report that urged the Ministry of Defence to consider the possible security risks emanating from Africa. This was some time before the Libya campaign, but it led to the establishment within the MOD of a unit to look at the African dimension of security.

To give just one other example, under the previous Government, the group produced a report about British involvement in corruption in Africa. It led to the appointment by the Government of an anti-corruption tsar. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) held that job for a time, as did the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) after the general election. It also led the Government, after a couple of false starts, to introduce a Bribery Bill, which went through with all-party support in the wash-up just before the last general election.

So all-party groups can have a purpose, but they are a mixed bag. Some are truly independent and use that independent voice to great effect. Others are less than entirely independent; they are a front for particular interests or lobbies, sometimes a pretty transparent front—which is a better option—and sometimes a not particularly transparent front. I agree with the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee that there is a scandal to come about the way in which outside interests lobby in the House of Commons. I do not believe that the Lobbying Bill has addressed the problem properly, and I believe that the rotten tail of the all-party group spectrum provides inappropriate opportunities for outside interests to lobby in this place.

So I welcome the recommendations in the report. They move in the right direction, but to my mind they do not yet move far enough. For example, it suggests that each group should maintain a list of those Members of the two Houses who are active in their affairs, and that it should be available either because it is published or on request. It would be better if such lists were published, presumably on the all-party group’s website or the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It helps transparency if the public understand which Members have a particular interest in an all-party group.