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Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I support these amendments. As has been pointed out by many, it is anomalous that severe and strict regulations are placed on the playing of any form of music while, at the same time, wide-screen televisions can be operated at any volume that does not break health and safety guidelines. I watched a particularly fine rugby match recentlyindeed, I counted a number of pubs locally which relied on wide-screen televisions. However, it is strange that televisions, where sound can be greatly amplified by many speakers and so create an extremely noisy event, should be outside the provisions of the Bill. A wide-screen television could be easily regulated. It is easy to control the volume, as it is to control the volume on amplifiers of live music.
Has a specific deal been done with those providing broadcast entertainment? I do not understand why every form of music in the country has been regulated under the Billwhich the Government claim is deregulating legislationwhile wide-screen entertainment is left out of its remit. People who enjoy
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not want to be provocative, but this is a deregulatory Bill and a great deal of the thrust of the amendments continues to be deregulatory. However, Amendment No. 6 wants to impose new regulation. As has been made clear, the Government's position is that when music is incidental to the purposes of the licence, it will not be regulated. Muzak in shopping malls, recorded music in restaurants or pubs, and so forth, is not regulated. On aesthetic grounds, some of us may wish that that was not true and that it would be forbidden in many cases. But some people like it. I have just returned from Portugal where it is impossible to go into a small restaurant without the television being on. I find that offensive, but we do not propose introducing new regulation where none exists.
The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, have spoken about wide-screen television, Sky sport and the type of television that encourages noise from those watching it. However, the great bulk of television, which would be covered by those amendments, is television playing quietly in the background or being watched by a few people. Whether the television is being played in a shopping mall while people shop, or in a pub while people drink and talk, or a restaurant while people eat, drink and talk, for the sake of dealing with offensive large-scale noisy television, all television would be brought under the scope of the Bill.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the Minister raises an interesting point but he is arguing from both ends. I have visited a number of pubs, as I am sure he has, in which there has been little control on the volume of television and recorded music. However, the argument put forward by the Minister at Committee stage was that music, at any level, could cause the same amount of nuisance and had to be severely regulated against.
I have not put my name to these amendments. I hope that they will not be pursued because I understand that this Bill is deregulatory. It is not my intention to add to regulation. However, I still do not understand the Minister's argument because it seems contradictory that noise from live music is more offensive than noise from recorded or amplified televisions.
The pub or wherever the television is playing must have a licence because alcohol is being sold. Perhaps I may finish the sentence, even though I may not be allowed to finish the argument. In obtaining a licence, the applicant must state what will be occurring on the premises. If there are representations, there must be a hearing.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I want merely to say that on several occasions during the debate he has talked about public nuisance and again he said that the matter would be dealt with by public nuisance legislation. I have to tell him that it would not because it would not be a case of public nuisance.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not want to get into a Committee stage debate with the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, particularly as the challenge to the concept of public nuisance was not made in Committee and is not made in the amendment and is therefore not the subject for debate. The point
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I do not believe that that argument can stand up. All governments get things wrong. I used to watch my own side getting things wrong time after time. Here again the noble Lord appears to be getting something wrong. It is not good enough to say, "The argument should have been made earlier. We got away with getting it wrong earlier and now we are not going to do anything about it". That is, in essence, what the Minister has said.
I admire and know the noble Lord sufficiently well to realise that when he puts on a face like the one he is wearing now, which looks very uncomfortable, he knows he has done wrongas someone said of a
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my discomfort is with the behaviour of noble Lords opposite; not with the quality of my arguments. We are not in Committee. I have made it clear that the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, do not arise in consideration of the amendment; they do not arise on the intervention of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow; and they ought not to be considered by this House at Report stage. They ought not to be the subject of intervention when there has been a perfectly good opportunity to take part in the debate before the Minister has risen to his feet. I have made no new points but noble Lords opposite are seeking to make new points in the form of interventions. They are not relevant to the amendment before us. If we are to have any semblance of order in this House, we must debate the amendments before us.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister said that he has made no new points, but one new question struck me in what he has said. He explained that when the applicant applies for a licence, he must make it clear what is to take place. Does that mean that in the application he must say in advance that he intends to show television broadcasts on wide-screen television?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, an applicant will be applying for an entertainment licence and he will be subscribing to the licensing objectives. That is the point I want to make. Under those circumstances, the suggestion that we should be putting under the licensing regime all television programmes that are shownthat is what the amendment meansis not acceptable. It is a degree of new regulation which is not acceptable. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, is plainly wrong. The regulatory framework in the area has been in place for many years. It works now and it will work in the future.
It was claimed that ACPO is in favour of the amendments. I would like to see the chapter and verse for that. The police are certainly concerned about rowdy behaviour caused by heavy drinking when people watch televised sporting events in public houses. We control the sale of alcohol and allow conditions to be imposed to control disorder, but television without alcohol is no different from inviting friends to watch something in one's own home. Control on the sale of alcohol and disorder is the key to our regulatory regime, rather than the imposition of a new degree of regulation.