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Live Music Bill [HL]

Volume 734: debated on Friday 27 January 2012

Consideration of Commons Amendments

Motion on Amendments 1 and 2

Moved by

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 18, leave out “music entertainment” and insert “live music”

2: Clause 1, Page 2, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert—

“(b) either —

(i) the live music is unamplified, or

(ii) the live music is amplified and takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons, and”

My Lords, both amendments relate to Clause 1 of the Bill. Amendment 1 is a minor, technical amendment which simply alters the heading of new Section 177A of the Licensing Act 2003 to refer to live music.

Amendment 2 deals with an unintended lacuna as regards unamplified music taking place in licensed premises with audiences of more than 200 persons so that it will be possible, under the new Section 177A, following a review of the licence or club premises certificate, to alter or add a condition about live music to make the condition effective in the same way as it is for events with audiences of no more than 200. This is a modest Bill, but one which will have major impact on the performance and enjoyment of live music, livelihoods—especially of young musicians—and the viability of our pubs and clubs.

As the Bill is briefly back in the Lords, it is a perfect opportunity to thank all those who helped to conceive it and to ensure its passage through both Houses by handing out my own Brit awards. It is the culmination of five years of concerted campaigning by many people, and I want to pay tribute to the original Live Music Forum; John Whittingdale, MP, and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee; Equity; the MU; the Incorporated Society of Musicians; numerous organisations representing the licensed trade; Feargal Sharkey; and Jo Dipple of UK Music and its members. I also pay tribute to John Penrose, the Minister; my noble friend Lady Rawlings and the DCMS officials who have been unfailingly helpful on behalf of the Government; Members of all parties, both in this House and in the House of Commons, who have been so supportive of the Bill at all stages; and to Andrew Grimsey of Popplestone Allen, who drafted the Bill and advised on many technical aspects of licensing law. The greatest accolades, however, go to my honourable friend Don Foster, MP, who unerringly guided the Bill through the reefs and shoals of Commons procedure; and to my fellow long-distance runners, Hamish Birchall, live music campaigner, and our very own senior researcher in the Lib Dem Whips Office, Tom Kiehl, without either of whom it would not have been possible even to have got the Bill off the ground.

I look forward to an early commencement date, before the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. At that time there will be suitable celebrations and performances, I hope, in pubs and clubs up and down the land. I beg to move.

I do not have my trumpet with me, but I add to the congratulations that my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones has offered. I congratulate him and Don Foster on taking on the Bill, and the Government for accepting it. The Bill represents a historic change in the treatment of live music under the law. The Licensing Act 2003 and its preceding Acts embodied a presumption against most performances unless first licensed, on pain of criminal law sanctions. This harsh treatment, dating back more than 250 years, will end for performances within certain hours and to a relatively small audience. The potential risks are already regulated by separate legislation.

While there were and are rational grounds for licensing large events, there is also a puritanical streak in English culture that was embodied by licensing legislation. This enduring puritanism was expressed in often unreasonable objections to even the mildest live music licence applications, with absurd over-regulation and enforcement by many local authorities. Jo Dipple, acting chief executive of UK Music, has said:

“This is a great day for music. The Live Music Bill will make a real and positive difference to the lives of musicians. There is no doubt that the current Licensing Act has created needless layers of bureaucracy— making it complicated and expensive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs. The entire industry would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster who have made this change possible”.

I, too, thank John Penrose, the Licensing Minister; the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings; John Whittingdale, the chair of the Culture Select Committee; the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe; and the civil servants and lawyers who worked behind the scenes on the Bill. I should also like to thank Hamish Birchall, who has campaigned for many years. His dedicated hard work and research have been important for so many of us who have been involved with this Bill for many years. I hope that the Bill will be enacted as soon as possible to fit in with events marking the Jubilee and the Olympic Games.

My Lords, on behalf of the Government, I would like to add my thanks and congratulations to my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones on his persistence and for having successfully steered through this very worthwhile Bill. Regarding the Olympics and Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee, it would seem appropriate. I will, of course, take the wishes of my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones back to the DCMS.

Motion agreed.