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Andrew Bennett: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. When we debate Lords amendments, is there not a requirement for hon. Members to address their speeches to the amendments rather than repeating their
Mr. Moss: I take your stricture seriously, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall attempt to refer to amplified and unamplified music in every other sentence of my concluding remarks. Perhaps that will keep me well in order.
Dr. Vis: The hon. Gentleman's comments suggest that he has canvassed an audience that he thinks could go either way. Have a significant number of people come to him to oppose, or agree with, the Bill?
Mr. Moss: It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman delayed asking that question until the final throws of the dice on the Bill. I assure him that hundreds of thousands of people, especially members of the Musicians Union and those who are associated with live music, have continuously made representations, not only to Opposition parties but to the Government, to say that the two-in-a-bar rule causes no problems. However, the Bill will remove that rule and effectively replace it with a none-in-a-bar rule. Although the amendment contains a minor concession on unamplified music, if the hon. Gentleman knew anything about music in this day and age, he would know that about 90 per cent. of it requires some form of amplification. The irony of the amendment is that it would be okay for a pub to have a huge brass band, with a row of trumpets and trombones, but one guitarist plugged into a small amplifier would need a licence. Where is the logic in that?
Mr. Moss: It might be a big pub. [Interruption.] The Minister can interject to clarify whether the analogy is correct, but it seems that he does not want to contest it because he knows that it is true.
Promoters who want to make a business out of live music should find the new regime simpler and cheaper. We admit that. The Musicians Union also welcomes it. However, whether live music will prosper as it should in bars, pubs and restaurants remains to be seen. Pragmatically, the industry must make the best of the new law, but that does not mean that it has to accept it without criticism. It is illogical to expect the music industry to condone laws that render unlicensed solo unamplified performances illegal while bars can pack them in with big screens and powerful sound systems. It is disproportionate by any standards.
The Government have a duty, agreed by international treaty, to ensure that everyone can participate freely in the cultural life of the community. If they want the music industry to collaborate on implementing the new laws,
Nick Harvey (North Devon): The amendments represent a small step in the right direction, and for that reason must be welcomed. The Government have made what they would like the world to view as three concessions in relation to small events exemptions. The first is that any small pub with an entertainment licence can put on music at any time permitted by that licence. Any licensing conditions that relate to noise or the protection of children will not have effect. There remain curious questions on the logic of the Government waiving two of the licensing objectives and not the other two, but at least it is progress in the right direction.
The second concession, which is new, is that any small licensed premises, not just a pub, that puts on unamplified music will have no conditions on its licence that relate either to noise or children, or to safety or law and order, between 8 am and midnight. I do not entirely understand why the Government have chosen to distinguish for the first time between amplified and unamplified music. It is hard in principle to appreciate why unamplified music presents so much less of a problem than amplified music.
The two conditions that are waived in one case and not in the other are safety and law and order. I do not understand why a bigger law and order issue is presented by the performance of live music depending on whether amplification is used. The only argument that I have heard on why a safety distinction can be drawn between the two is that a cable might trail from the amplification equipment. That is apparently of no concern if the performance is in a church because it is exempt, so the good Christian folk can trip on the cable and die. It is of no consequence if it is used in a school performance of something that is on the curriculum, so children can trip and die. The paramount safety issue causes a distinction to be drawn between the two conditions for performances in small premises. It is curious and illogical, but as I said at the outset, there has been a small step in the right direction, which we welcome.
On the so-called exemption that is being offered for unamplified music, I want to probe the Minister on the relationship between the first two concessions. The small pub with a licence can put on music at any time. The unamplified music exemption for small venues operates only between 8 am and midnight. I would like the Minister to confirm that if a small pub puts on a performance of unamplified music and goes beyond midnight, although it can no longer avail itself of the second exemption, it can nevertheless avail itself of the first. I have studied the matter patiently and slowly and believe that to be the case, but I would appreciate the Minister's confirmation that that is so. The first exemption states that it applies when the second does not, so outwith the hours of 8 am and midnight, the second does not apply, and I presume, therefore, that the first can. That is important and needs nailing down.
The only reason that I can see why there could be any difference between the two in terms of law and order or safety is that, as was said in respect of the point made by the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Moss) about the brass band, there is essentially no such thing as unamplified music in a pub. Even under the two-in-a-bar rule, it is almost unheard of for a jazz duo not to use modest amplification. Without it, they could not make themselves heard above the general background hubbub in a pub. Even if they could be heard, it would be impossible for them to inject into their performance any sort of range. They would have to sing forte the whole time and virtually scream, getting a sore throat very quickly.
Mr. Hopkins: Some of the points that the hon. Gentleman is making are fair and logical, but a six-piece jazz band playing unamplified in a pub, as I have done, would make a perfectly good noise and be perfectly audible, even with conversation going on at the same time. There is no problem.
Nick Harvey: I have no doubt that the noise would be good, particularly if the hon. Gentleman was performing, but the advice that I have received from acoustic experts is that to make themselves heard over the general hubbub in a pub, performers would have to sing forte the whole time and would make themselves hoarse pretty quickly. In practice, that occurs infrequently, which may be the reason why there is a difference in implications for law and order and for safety. The second case simply does not happen.
I shall deal now with the small venue that is not a pub, whose primary purpose is not the sale of alcohol. Perhaps we are talking about a restaurant, an art gallery, a stately home, a country house, a library or someone's garden. Such premises can avail themselves of the exemption for unamplified music between 8 am and midnight, but if for any reason they want to go on beyond midnight with the performance, they are suddenly subject to the full weight of the licensing measures. Despite the fact that those concern licensed premises, it all comes down on their head. Right next door, a pub can have an amplified band performing and carry on into the wee small hours. I readily acknowledge that this is a small point, but there is a curious logical loophole, and I do not understand how the Government begin to justify it.
The third exemption that has been granted relates to morris dancing. It is welcome but has come, as the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire said, very late in the day. It refers not just to morris dancing, but to dancing "of a similar nature". Lawyers will have endless fun discussing what that might mean.
Mr. Sanders: I am the first to admit to being somewhat confused about the definition. What activity is similar to morris dancing? Could it be exotic dancing? If so, does that not contradict the whole point of the Bill? Or is the distinguishing factor a requirement that