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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: The Minister may regard my observation as dated but I raise a footnote to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. I offer to the Chamber the remark by Raymond Asquith's mother-in-law, Lady Horner, in about 1900. She said that there is no social event in the entire kingdom to which one cannot gain access by writing "Admit two" on your visiting card.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I remember many years ago being in Carmel, California, for the summer musical festival and discovering that, as is often the case, fire safety regulations were at odds with security. If one went up the fire escape, one could get into part of the hall and obviate the need to pay for a ticket at the door. I hasten to say that I have not done that for many years!
I can answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, very simply. Of course the public can go into weddings, but weddings are not covered because they are religious services. I was discussing wedding parties; in other words, the "do" afterwards, not the wedding service. That also applies, I believe, to the register office.
I shall respond to the amendment about the phrase "to any extent" before dealing with some of the other challenges. Members of the Committee may appreciate why we wanted to group these amendments: all the questions being raised could and should have been raised in relation to the subject matter of Schedule 1.
Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 defines the "provision of regulated entertainment" for the purposes of the Bill. Sub-paragraph (2)(a) sets out the condition that the "entertainment or entertainment facilities" must be provided,
There are entertainmentssome fringe entertainments at the Edinburgh Festivalat which only one person turns up. I have heard of an entertainment on the fringe of the Edinburgh Festival at which only one person was allowed to be present; in other words, it was a one-to-one entertainment. However, the consideration in this regard, as always, is about the twin issues of public safety and protection of the public from public nuisance. If we took out the phrase "to any extent" there would be the possibility that the definition of "members of the public" and "section of the public" could be open to misinterpretation and a good deal of argument. The law must be clear for venue operators.
I was asked a number of specific questions, which I shall try to answer, anticipating future amendments in future groups. School concerts, surely, are for invited gueststhat is, the parents and relatives of those in the schooland are therefore not covered.
I have got in only once because the tickets are very difficult to get hold of; but, yes, they are licensable activities. They are for members of the public and issues of public safety and public nuisance apply.
Lord Carlile of Berriew: I am grateful to the noble Lord. He made an assertion that school concerts are for parents and members of the school. That is right. But, now, in a great many schools where school concerts are given by, for example, the school orchestra, the local community is invited to attend the concert and to pay money for a ticket; nevertheless, it is the school concert. Will that be included within the licensing requirements and, if so, is that reasonable?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If any query were to arise on the basis of public safety and public nuisance, it would be in relation to the exemption which is being made only for those who are invited to school concerts. The answer is: yes, if the public attend, the event will be licensable because issues of public safety and public nuisance arise. However, the question should be: should events which are not open to the public be licensable because issues of public nuisance and public safety arise? Perhaps I may be allowed to finish and I shall then give way to noble Lords in turn. The fundamental consideration must be public nuisance and public safety. Within that, we are trying to be as deregulatory as we can. I give way to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale.
Lord Redesdale: I thank the Minister. He mentioned public nuisance and public safety and, quite legitimately, that has been the catch-all for a number of his points. However, we are talking about schools, churches or certain other institutions that are already covered by health and safety guidelines on safety at work. Obviously, this point will be raised in relation to churches. But this is meant to be a piece of deregulation. We are adding on top a piece of regulation which already exists because school halls are already adequately covered by fire and noise regulations. Therefore, we are simply adding a piece of secondary legislation. I believe that the Minister's point that we cannot object to this because of health and public nuisance issues somewhat misses the point of the amendments.
Lord Crickhowell: I am now utterly bemused by the argument about safety and public nuisance. Following on from the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, I take a keen interest in an organisation known as the National Opera Studio. The Minister will know that that organisation is responsible for training all our best young opera singers from every opera company in the country. During the course of a working week with one of our national opera companies, it usually holds a concert in a school hall. During the week, it also goes out to, and does work with, a number of schools.
I attended the last event organised by the National Opera Studio in the school hall of a school in Penarth. I cannot see that a safety issue arises for those who attended that concert to listen to people being trained in a school hall that does not arise for anyone attending a school concert in the same building. No other question of health and safety arises from people being present to listen to those performers than it would for anyone else sitting in a school hall and listening to a performance. Therefore, I simply cannot understand the argument.
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: From this side of the Chamber perhaps I may support some of the contributions thus far. I went to St Mary's Church in Battersea a week last Thursday for a musical event which raised funds for the fabric of the building. Members of the congregation and members of the public generally were charged £7.50 per head for attending. Presumably, under this provision, the church would be required to be licensed. Is that or is that not so?
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am sorry to extend the debate but this is obviously a matter of huge importance and wide application. I believe that the last comment made by the Minister before he kindly gave wayI thank him again for letting me interveneconcerned consideration being charged for events. However, as he earlier said correctly, subsection (2) does not require tickets to be sold for an event in order for the event to fall within subsection (2). Therefore, taking the example of the school play, one would not need to charge anyone attending the event for the event to be caught by subsection (a) if,
As the noble Lord said in defending that wording, it is designed to catch one or two people who are present for part of an entertainment. I put it to the Minister that, in fact, the organisers of most school plays, especially those held in a large hall and with several performances, encourage pupils to bring along friends. As the wording stands, I believe that if friends are allowedindeed, encouragedto come along to a school performance of any kind without charge, that is caught.
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