Shipley MP Philip Davies sparked controversy by backing ticket touts – describing them as a key part of the “free market”.
The Conservative MP said agents who snap up bulk tickets for music and sports events – to sell on, at inflated prices – were “desirable” for real fans. And he poured scorn on a Labour backbench campaign to crack down on touts, describing it as “nonsense” and “another populist bandwagon”.
Mr Davies also said the campaign showed Labour no longer believed in the “redistribution of wealth”, arguing many touts were poorer people selling to the rich.
The MP said: “The first rule of the free market is that if a product is sold to someone, the product belongs to them and they can do with it as they please. That happens in all walks of life. If somebody who is relatively poor wants to sell off their ticket at a huge profit, that seems a rather good redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor.
“If I want to go to an event but am not sure whether I can, because of work commitments, I have only one mechanism through which to buy a ticket – the secondary market.”
But Sharon Hodgson, a Labour MP in Sunderland, called touts “parasitical”, arguing they harmed the tourist industry by denying tickets to overseas visitors.
The MP described how her Take That-loving daughter was unable to buy a ticket to the band’s concert – only to see them on sale on websites moments later, at massive prices.
She urged ministers to force websites to state the face value of tickets – so potential buyers can see the original cost – and reveal how many tickets they have sold in the past.
That would tell buyers whether they were dealing with someone with a spare ticket they no longer needed, or a profit-making agency buying up tickets in bulk. But Mr Davies likened secondary ticket agents to retailers who broke the ‘net book agreement’ – to the fury of publishers, who wanted to set higher book prices.
He also pointed to the way the first people to snap up much-sought after gadgets – such as Buzz Lightyear toys – only to sell them on at a profit.
Mr Davies said: “Is anyone suggesting that the Government should intervene in the law to stop people reselling their Buzz Lightyears, or their designer handbags?”