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Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. I assure your Lordships' House that it is not our proposal to introduce new regulation where none exists. Furthermore, noble Lords should rest assured that I have no intention of dividing the House
It remains a concern to us and to ACPO. However, I shall not dig into the huge pile of documentation that we have received from many quarters beyond your Lordships' House to illustrate that concern. I shall refer only to page 10 of the Scrutiny of Bills: Further Progress Reportthe fourth report of Session 200203from the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It was published on Monday 10th February 2003. It states:
We do not want to regulate in that way. We want a level playing field for musicians and other performers within premises such as public houses and clubs. We hear what the Minister says. I do not want to divide your Lordships' House but merely send a message to all those who enjoy television broadcasts of live football and other forms of entertainment. We are not agin it; we are trying merely to show that the Government should be doing all they can to provide a level playing field. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 8, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 12. Although not consequential, the amendments are grouped together because many of my arguments rest on the same premise. Depending on the Minister's response, I may return to Amendment No. 12 when we reach that point in the Marshalled List.
However, at that stage I was working on the assumption that the Minister's facts were correct. Information has since come forward which causes me a degree of worry. Some of the statements made in Committee were based on the report of the Institute of Acoustics, which was unaware that it was being cited in the guidance document. The material used in the guidance document appears to be from an Institute of Acoustics document which is currently being rewritten and misleadingly implies a hierarchy in the list of sources of potential complaint.
Indeed, the as yet unpublished Institute of Acoustics document also lists noise from televised sporting events as a potential source of complaint. I mention that in view of the debate on the previous amendment. The Institute of Acoustics relies on noise complaint data from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health that do not discriminate between noise from pubs and other commercial premises, let alone between live and recorded music. Therefore, if it is based on the Institute of Acoustics document, much of the regulation in regard to live music is somewhat suspect.
We must therefore debate where noise complaints come from. Much was made by the Minister at the previous stagewe are at Report stage and therefore I am dealing primarily with issues raised in Committeeabout how noise could be a public nuisance. I have carried out some research in this regard and some 81 per cent of noise complaints about pubs and bars relate to noisy people outside the premises. My noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury raised the issue of people banging car doors late at night.
The UK Noise Association has stated that complaints about live music are rare. It receives more complaints about recorded music. The Institute of Alcohol Studies states that none of the residents' associations it has consulted has ever made an issue of live music. Residents' associations in the heart of London agree that there is adequate legislation to deal with noise within premises. It is the noise and anti-social behaviour outside premises that most concerns residents.
I raise these issues because, as the Minister said about recorded music a few moments ago, there are adequate provisions in the Bill outside of regulation that already deal with noise pollution. Indeed, health and safety legislation is extremely rigorous in this area. We are concerned that we are basing much of this legislation on a problem that is overstated and, to a degree, misinterpreted.
We support the abolition of the two-in-a-bar rule. It hidebounds many musicians into giving the kind of performance that destroys much spontaneous music. It seems very unfair to limit all live music to only two performers in an evening. We support wholeheartedly what the Government are trying to do to widen the
I read an article by Billy Bragg in the Observer in which he stated that he got into music by playing in local pubs for drink money. Whether or not you like Billy Bragg's musicI am a devotee, but it is an acquired tastewill determine whether you believe that that is a good thing or bad thing.
If there is a problem with the Billthe Minister says that there is not a problem, but that is a matter of conjectureit lies in the fact that there has to be a degree of proportionality; there has to be a human right to make music.
I mention this because there is a real concern that Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention may be breached. Indeed, the most recent report on the Licensing Bill by the Joint Committee on Human Rights considered the Government's justification of the Bill in respect of the implications for a performer's right to freedom of expression under Article 10.1 of the convention. The Joint Committee was not satisfied with the Government's argument. Not only did it criticise Clause 134, which renders all performers potential criminalsalthough the Government amendment has gone some way to alleviate that situationbut crucially it stated:
I notice that the right reverend Prelate is in his place and I shall say nothing about the exemption made for churches. However, the Government have rightly made considerable concessions for churches after taking on board the views expressed. These amendments seek to reintroduce the aspect of proportionality, one of the fundamental principles on which human rights are based. There is a reason for introducing legislation in regard to noise control, but musicians also have a right to stand up and perform.
If there was no problem with that principle musicians would not be worried, but their concern is based on past experience. I particularly welcome the petition raised by the Musicians Union which now contains approximately 75,000 signatures. So a vast number of people in the country believe that the issue needs to be addressed.
This is worrying. Does the "vocal minority", whose views should not be allowed to predominate over the community that the committee represents, refer to singers? Perhaps the word "vocal" is misleading, but should singers automatically have their views suppressed because of the views of the local community? Or is it the other way round? Should vocal minorities within the community stop the majority of people who sing from expressing their views? It is particularly badly drafted. I believe that the guidance may be made into regulations due to an amendment later in the Bill's proceedings. However, it is causing real concern, and that is the basis of the amendments. They are wide ranging and will affect large sections of the Bill and how licensing is regulated. I believe that they are necessary in order to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s of a welcome piece of legislation. We are not against the Bill, but we believe that live music is a fundamental right, as set out by the committee, and we have to be proportional. We believe that those at the bottom end of the scale who are producing live music should have the right to do so. I beg to move.
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