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Mr. Moss: The hon. Gentleman is continuing the argument that has been used over and over again by the DCMS, and I think it false. It leads people to believe that just by ticking that box they will be able to have any form of entertainment on their premises. That is not the case. When the local authorities look at the operating schedule and what is proposed, they will come round to inspect. In the local authorities that I know, when such people get involved, they then start nit-picking. They
I ask the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones) to talk to the publicans in his area. I have talked to publicans in my constituency, and those who have recently applied for public entertainment licences do not complain about the cost of that application, although I accept the point[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman's local authority may charge through the roof; I do not know. In parts of Cambridgeshire, local authorities do not charge inordinate fees for the application.
Mr. Moss: Let me finish my point. The hon. Gentleman must not be too eager. Now I have lost the thread, of course, which is exactly what he intended. It is not so much the cost of the application but the cost of the work that people are told to do so as to comply that worries them. If they are to have someone crawl all over their premises and dictate major improvements, they will not bother to tick the box. What will happen, which is even worse than the hon. Gentleman predicts, is that there will be not two in a bar, but none in a bar.
Mr. Jones: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I doubt whether that will occur in most cases involving a small number of performers, but is he really suggesting to the House that he is against expense being incurred if there is a serious public safety risk that warrants an extra fire door being put in?
Mr. Moss: I am not against measures for public safety, but I have been through a list of Acts of Parliament that deal with noise and safety and which cover most of those eventualities. The hon. Gentleman used the same argument in Committee and I repeat what I said then: we are not arguing that there should not be proper safety measures, but countless existing laws should take care of that situation. Why are we overburdening this sector of society with even more layers of bureaucracy?
Dr. Howells: If that is the case and if all those laws are a terrible bureaucracy that will put off venue holders from allowing such events to happen, why does the Musicians Union have a code of practice on its website? It urges its members to insist on that code being used at existing venues to ensure that the inadequacies of the current system do not result in lots of injuries to its members, let alone to audiences that may pack in there. Why does the Musicians Union feel that that is necessary?
The hon. Gentleman is now the great champion of the Musicians Unionit is wonderful to see Tories behaving in this wayso perhaps he will tell us why the need for additional safeguards has been mentioned on that website. The union insists on those safeguards because the existing system is not good enough to protect its members.
The Minister may confirm otherwise, but I am sure that the website does not say that people must put the appropriate legislationthe Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, for exampleon the table in front of the landlord and say, "Right, tell me whether you comply with all this before I start playing my oboe." I do not think that that is the case. Common-sense advice is being given to those who are involved.
Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): There is considerable concern in my constituency over events such as the Brecon jazz festival. The Government seem to be punishing the Musicians Union for being prudent in looking after the interests of its members.
Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney): I am a regular visitor to the Brecon jazz festival, which is a fantastic event, and I am only sorry that I cannot attend this year. I cannot believe that the event is not already licensed. Although parts of my speech will agree with what the hon. Gentleman is saying, I cannot believe that the Brecon jazz festival is threatened by the Bill.
Dr. Howells: I was at the first Brecon jazz festival and I have been to virtually every one since. Will the hon. Gentleman take this from me? If the pubs and the other venues in Brecon were not licensed, the Brecon jazz festival would never have taken place. He is bound to know that after 60 hours of Committee sittings. If he does not know it, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
Mr. Moss: I do not want to challenge the Minister, but perhaps he will point out the column of Hansard in which the Brecon jazz festival was mentioned in Committee. I do not remember it being mentioned. [Interruption.] Oh, it was, was it?
Dr. Howells: I am sure that the festival was mentioned, but not as often as the Isle of Wight. The hon. Gentleman knows exactly what I mean: any venue where more than two musicians are playing has to have an entertainments licence under current law. If he believes that that is not true, perhaps he should stand up, say so and tell me how the Brecon jazz festival continues to thrive year after year.
Let me end by quoting from a report published today or yesterday by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, entitled "Scrutiny of Bills Further Progress". Page 17 contains a couple of short paragraphs in heavy type which deal with the wonderful Bill that we are discussing. The Committee says
As I said earlier, amendment No. 63 is similar to an amendment that was passed in the other place and subsequently thrown out. We shall return to the issue again and again, because unless the Government have some bright ideas at the eleventh hourwhich I suspect they will notthis seems to be the best way of exempting small live-music events from the draconian measures in the Bill.
Amendment No. 109 is also similar to an amendment passed in the other place and removed in Committee. We cannot see why, if village and parish halls and community centres are to be exempt at least from fees, a similar exemption cannot be applied to educational establishments.
I plead with the Minister to ensureby amending the Bill if necessarythat traditional folk performances are not stamped out. Most have survived efforts to stamp them out by Cromwell and the Puritans, and by landlords and squires in the 17th and 18th centuries. They have survived the Victorian period, and all the commercial pressures. Their activities tend to be on a small scale.