Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Buscombe: I support the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, on all the amendments to which my name and that of my noble friend Lord Luke have been added. It would be otiose to repeat what he said. The

12 Dec 2002 : Column 398

Bill appears to be clamping down on entertainment while liberalising the drinking of alcohol—a strange juxtaposition.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I shall speak briefly to Amendment No. 21, which would remove from Paragraph 7, which exempts incidental music, the word "recorded", so that the exemption would apply to incidental music whether recorded or live. I agree with what the Minister said about the previous amendment, when he was adamantly disinclined to distinguish between live and recorded music, and said that they should be treated the same. What is good for the goose in that amendment should be good for the gander in this.

Lord Bridges: Perhaps I may make a brief suggestion about the amendments and some of those that we discussed earlier. It concerns the concept of live music as a discrete and recognisable commodity. Live music varies enormously between the chap crooning with a friend over a ukelele in a bar and the "Hallelujah Chorus". The Government have got into difficulty by providing such precise definitions that do not translate into the world in which we live. Perhaps they will reflect on that as we consider the Bill further.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, is entirely justified in reminding me of what I said on the last amendment; I was very deliberate. The difference between amplified and unamplified music is more important than the difference between live and recorded music.

The noble Lord referred to Amendment No. 21 and to paragraph 7 of Part 2 of the schedule. The point is that we are referring to recorded music when it is incidental to other purposes, rather than being the purpose itself. Generally speaking, I hope, live music is not incidental. I have been to parties at which pathetic string quartets of music students play in the corner and no one pays the faintest attention. People clap politely when they finish. That is as deplorable, in its way, as Muzak is. However, my personal views should not come into it. Generally speaking, background music may be offensive aesthetically. But it is not offensive in public safety or public nuisance terms. That is why there is an exemption in paragraph 7.

The fundamental point is the one I have made—clearly, not to adequate effect—on several groups of amendments. The licensing regime that we propose is related to the effect of the entertainment, not to its origin. When a distinction is made between amplified and unamplified or live and recorded, we must consider the effect. There can be quiet—relatively quiet—amplified music, and there can be loud unamplified music. A brass band can be very loud, and I gave the example of bagpipes. A symphony orchestra is loud. I would not care to live next to the "1812 Overture", even if—especially if—a live orchestra was playing it.

If we stick to the fundamental principle that we are licensing the effect for the sake of public safety and the avoidance of public nuisance, we will not get into the

12 Dec 2002 : Column 399

trouble that the amendments would get us into. The amendments would not help musicians or live music and are not in the public interest.

Lord Avebury: I would like the Minister to clarify something that I find mysterious. Under paragraph 7, it will be permissible for stores, hotels and so on to play the revolting Muzak that most customers loathe. I cannot understand, from a marketing point of view, why they do it. If they had live music in the foyer, for example, would that be regarded as incidental to the other purposes of the establishment? They hope to attract people to stay in the hotel or to eat or drink there. Railway stations, already referred to, are there to persuade people to travel on trains. The position is similar for any other termini. Where is the logic in saying that there can be Muzak in all those places but not a string quartet or carol singers?

4.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am in danger of being swayed by my aesthetic judgments, rather than by the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, is right. People go to a railway station to travel by train; they go to a shop to buy things. If the criterion used is whether the music is incidental, it may be that we should think again about the adequate distinction being whether the music is live or recorded. I say that because Amendment No. 21 is in the group.

Lord Redesdale: I am rather interested by that change of tack. The Minister is talking about incidental music. Surely, folk musicians playing in the corner of a pub are incidental to the licensing criteria of the pub. If they are playing for their own amusement, and it is incidental that they are doing so, music is being performed.

Noise abatement, noise pollution and health and safety are important issues. However, I find it amazing that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is promoting the Bill and should be promoting live music as a cultural aspect of our life, is more interested in the health and safety aspects. The health and safety aspects are already covered by the premises licence and the facilities licence.

If the Government are prepared to change their view on the incidental playing of music in, say, hospitals, railway stations or anywhere else, that is fantastic. However, I must bring to the Minister's attention something about which he might get a few letters. He mentioned his personal aesthetic view that it is sad that people play in a corner and are never listened to. Many music students make a living or support their studies by providing that service. That is an important point. I am sure that the music schools will put him right on it.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am not objecting to their playing; I am objecting to the fact that no one listens.

12 Dec 2002 : Column 400

Lord Redesdale: Of course, that is a different aspect.

The incidental nature of the music is one aspect of the matter. On this side of the House, we are concerned about our cultural heritage of folk music and the ability of people to play it in local pubs so long as they do not infringe health and safety or noise pollution rules. Those rules should be covered by the premises licence criteria anyway; the Bill is too restrictive.

The Minister said that the purpose of the Bill was de-regulation. We believe that also. If it is, and if the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to take seriously its responsibility to promote culture, the issue must be addressed. I say that because we will bring the matter back at the next stage. I hope that the Government will consider changing their position. We will press the issue hard at the next stage. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 13:

    Page 109, line 14, at end insert "to the public"

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 13, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 28. Amendment No. 28 deals with the issue of play rehearsals. The issue has already been covered and the Minister has, I think, spoken to it. However, I would like some reassurance that if the rehearsal of a play was not for the benefit of the public, it would not be covered by an entertainment licence. I say that because the issue has direct financial consequences for production companies that are rehearsing. There can be a difference in the fee they are charged, according to whether the premises are licensed. I beg to move.

Baroness Buscombe: I support the amendments, to which my name and that of my noble friend Lord Luke have been added.

There is huge scope for confusion between the reference to,

    "any playing of recorded music"

and paragraph 7, which provides an exemption for the playing of recorded music,

    "to the extent that it is incidental to some other activity".

That begs the question of when recorded music is deemed to be incidental. I was pleased by the Minister's response to the previous group of amendments and will read that part of Hansard extremely carefully tomorrow.

The question of when music is,

    "incidental to some other activity"

could make an enormous difference to the gulf that exists between how we on this side of the House and in other parts of the House interpret the Bill and how the Government interpret it. Will businesses risk being in breach of their operating plan if they misinterpret their recorded music as incidental and do not include it when submitting their application to the licensing authority?

12 Dec 2002 : Column 401

I turn to Amendment No. 28. It is unnecessary to regulate a rehearsal without an audience. Surely, if it has an audience, it is caught anyway.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 1 lists the descriptions of activities that are entertainments, including,

    "any playing of recorded music".

Amendment No. 13 proposes inserting at the end the words "to the public". Any playing of recorded music to the public which is not exempt under paragraph 7—because it is incidental to other activities and satisfies all the conditions in the schedule—is clearly a licensable activity. If the intention is to exempt the playing of recorded music which is not to the public, I am baffled. I cannot envisage a situation where recorded music would be played for consideration or with a view to profit where neither the public nor members or guests of a club were present and the other conditions of the schedule were satisfied.

As regards Amendment No. 28, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, recognises that I have already given the assurance for which he asked. Rehearsals are specifically mentioned in that paragraph because we want to make it clear that a rehearsal to which an audience is invited—such as a press performance or a dress rehearsal—should be licensed because of concerns for the protection of the public. People attending would expect to be protected as they would be for a proper performance. But I can give the assurance that closed rehearsals need not be licensed.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page