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Lord Redesdale: I apologise. But there seems to be a theme to some of the Minister's answers that any live music will bring about disorder. I know that some of the original regulations about live music were brought in because it caused disorder in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the noble Lord's comments indicate that live music is a cause of disorder and of public nuisance. I did not wish to speak to this amendment but the noble Lord's comments have forced me to. Can the Minister tell us what evidence he has for the assertion that he makes?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have made no such assertion. I am saying that there is no distinction to be made, from the point of view of public safety or public nuisance, between live and recorded music. To single out live music for the purpose of the amendment is to misunderstand both the purpose of the Bill in the way it is drafted and the effect that it has.
It is a widespread misunderstanding but it is just wrong. As a result of the Bill, not only will there be no further impositions on live musicians, but there will be huge new opportunities for live musicians. The Bill does not discriminate against live music in any way. Let us take as an example the pubs, which after all
Under the Bill as drafted the pub licensee will get a licence for the sale of alcohol. At the same time, without any difficulty and without extra charge, and subject only to conditions about noise and capacity levels, he will be able to get a music licence. In that sense, the possibility of live music being available in pubs and other places where alcohol is being sold will be greater rather than less. Regulation is being reduced not increased.
I simply do not believe that the distinction between live music and recorded music that is made in the amendment helps in any way. Of course that is not saying that all live music is damaging. I gave examplesperhaps extreme examplesof Glastonbury and the Wembley Arena. Of course a small folk group in a pub will not cause the kind of problems that Wembley or Glastonbury can cause. But it should not make a difference whether it is two, one or three people taking part in such a group.
The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, introduced the amendment by talking about carol singers and nativity plays. Singing in nativity plays is not going to be licensable. In most cases those activities will come within the exemption in paragraph 9 as incidental to a religious meeting. In any case, they will be for the family and friends of children and will not be for members of the public. Neither of those circumstances will be licensable. Carol singers going door-to-door, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, or taking part in a religious service are not licensable. People singing carols in a supermarket or a railway station and so on would need to be covered by a premises licence or a temporary event notice. That is hardly different from the present situation. In any case, a temporary event notice just says that there will be carol singers. That is all. It does not require any more than that.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: The Minister cannot be allowed to get away with saying that there will be no real difference from carol singing at the moment. Nor, with respect, should he be allowed to get away with the notion that there is nothing to getting one of these notices. Getting the forms, filling them in, returning them 10 days before the event and paying the fee is a series of bureaucratic impediments that will put off a great many people who are only too happy now to sing in Liverpool Street station or wherever. The Minister misjudges the feeling of the House if he believes that this combination of bureaucratic hurdles is of no significance.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Let us talk about that aspect; I am certainly happy to do so; but I have given the assurances sought by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, about both Nativity concerts and carol
Lord Skelmersdale: I appreciate the Minister's reasoning as to why, on this occasion, my noble friend Lady Buscombe is wrong, but he made the most amazing assertion in his answer. He said that there was no difference to him between live and recorded music in this regard. Why, then, are they separated in the Bill?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: They are both there; they are separated, presumably, for the sake of completeness. There is a much greater difference in terms of public nuisance between amplified and unamplified music than there is between live and recorded music.
Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for his reply, but I am now deeply confused. I heard the Minister say that, to take carol singing as an example, it is perfectly all right to go carol singing in certain places but not in others. With regard to the need for a premises licence, there must be people up and down the country who are about innocently to go out on carol singing sprees and may enter supermarketswhere I am sure that they would be welcomeor railway stations, not realising that they would be in difficulty if they did not have a licence to cover that activity. I must disagree with my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale when he said that I was wrong in that regard.
The Minister said that school Nativity plays would be exempt from the need for a licence if, as was suggested, they were incidental to a religious meeting. That returns us to an argument raised earlier: most Nativity plays attract all sorts of people, not just immediate family and friends. How far and how wide does the definition of friends extend?
In essence, we seek clarification from the Government. We said on Second Reading that we support the Bill in principle, but we passionately believe that, in a number of areas, it deserves and demands improvement. Otherwise, to return to the reference made this morning to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Bill will be a licence for lawyers.
I urge the Government to reconsider what we have said on this and previous amendments. We are in Committee; there is an opportunity to revisit the issues on Report. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 12:
The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 12, I shall speak also to Amendment Nos. 21 and 25, which are grouped with it. I shall speak first to Amendment No. 25, which sums up the meat of our objections to the Bill.
I have campaigned against the "two in a bar" rule, and I do not intend to introduce grandfather rights for the "two in a bar" rule into the Billalthough in a way, that might be helpful to the Bill as drafted. I understandand, to a degree supportthe Government's objective of making entertainment licences an easily accessible form of variation of a licence.
However, I have concerns about such variation of licence. The Minister said that varying the licence to include an entertainment licence will be easy. However, will licensing authorities reject variations if people then seek to add an entertainment licence? That is a matter of considerable concern. If someone applies for a variation of licence, the licensing authority has the opportunity either to reject the variation or to impose conditions. Pubs may be worried that if they apply for an entertainment licence they may be rejected unless a vast amount of work is undertaken at the pub for live music to be performed therebecause of health and safety considerations, which have been cited in the past in the granting of public entertainment licences.
That is one reason why we were so keen to remove the "two in a bar" rule. Amendment No. 25 is therefore an attempt to allow live, unamplified music to take place outside the confines of the Bill. That is important, especially as the Bill is promoted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, because we are discussing a vast amount of folk music. Folk music is a form of culture in this country and is often passed on by word of mouth in pubs. Reducing people's ability to hear folk music played could lead to its decline and extinction. I think especially of areas such as Tyneside, where much traditional folk music has been passed down through word of mouth in pubs.
We are therefore attempting through Amendment No. 25 to exempt unamplified music. As the Minister said, amplified music can be extremely loud and intrusive. However, unamplified music is rarely complained against. The Noise Abatement Society, which most keenly opposes any noise pollution, states that 81 per cent of noise complaints about pubs and bars are due to noisy people outside. Most of the rest are due to recorded music and noisy machinery. The United Kingdom Noise Association states that noise complaints about live music are relatively rarely lodged. There are more complaints about amplified pre-recorded music, which is exempt under the Bill.
I find it anathema that, under the Bill, while pubs can happily play canned musicmost pubs dothey cannot host unamplified live music of a type that is so important to the cultural diversity of our country through folk clubs, which often meet in pubs. I beg to move.
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