Lord Grantchester: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for his constant championing of a better control regime for dogs over many years. He has worked tirelessly with all the organisations in this area and has brought forward this Bill in conjunction with the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group, which consists of nine high-profile organisations including the Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, the BVA and many others.
While it is appreciated that private Members' business will often proceed at an extremely gentle pace, I remind noble Lords that the Second Reading of this Bill occurred on Friday 9 July 2010. The Bill was scheduled to have its Committee stage on Friday 21 January, but, unfortunately, that day became filled with other business. We on this side of the House wished to take this Bill on that date, and our amendments were not intended to wreck the Bill. They were, as are appropriate to Committee on a Bill such as this, probing amendments to trigger debate. They should not be described as wrecking. Furthermore, most of the amendments were from the author of the Bill.
That the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said what he did on that day has been taken extremely seriously, especially as we have tried over many days to meet him. We spoke with his office and left several messages, including yesterday, but no response has been received. I should like the noble Lord to withdraw his remarks when he comes to reply.
We have asked for our amendments to be grouped with this stand-part debate to present our approach to the Bill. We share the noble Lord's concerns that dog control legislation is not working effectively. We understand the anxieties of the public as each week brings further reports of dog attacks. Several consultations on dog control have been undertaken in the recent past. The most recent consultation was conducted from 9 March to 1 June 2010, which was one month prior to Second Reading. We are now 10 months on without the Government coming to Parliament to say how they wish to proceed.
It is important that everyone works together to agree and support the best way forward. I have commended the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for his work with the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group. Unfortunately, the results of the consultation reveal that the police and the Royal Society for the Prevention
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What is the response of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, and his group to these remarks? Does he agree that the best way forward is one that can be supported by all the enforcement and animal welfare organisations? Will he await the outcome of this consultation? Will the Minister convene a meeting with all interested parties to find the best way forward?
How the Government respond to this situation is crucial and needs to be carefully considered alongside the Bill. We understand that the Government wish to review the workings of the anti-social behaviour orders and that they might bring elements of dog control into those new arrangements. We would like the Minister to explain the thinking in his reply. What cross-government discussions have there been with other interested departments such as the Home Office? We note that the Permanent Secretary, Dame Helen Ghosh, has recently transferred to the Home Office. Will the noble Lord and the Minister advise us on any discussions that have taken place?
Lord De Mauley: My Lords, perhaps I may say at the outset that, like the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Redesdale for drawing our attention to the need for the proper control of dogs through this Bill and for the considerable amount of time and effort that he and others have put into it. He will be aware from the speech made by my noble friend Lord Henley at Second Reading that the Government are unable to support it. I can, however, assure him that the Government are concerned about dangerous dogs, are well aware of public concern and are very keen to promote responsible pet ownership.
As the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said, the previous Government launched a public consultation exercise on dangerous dogs legislation last year. I can assure noble Lords that we are firmly committed to taking forward the issues raised in that exercise. We have received more than 4,000 responses from a wide range of individuals and organisations.
We are currently considering all the comments received and are discussing the issues raised with the relevant people. They are complex issues and we need to consider our approach very carefully. It is very important that we make the right decisions, but we hope to make an announcement on the Government's proposed way forward shortly. I can inform your Lordships that we are considering a number of different options, which range from legislative changes to guidance and working with local authorities and the police at a local level.
We are also working with other government departments-in particular with the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local
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We are keen to ensure that departments are working together properly to deal with this important and complex issue. I hope the noble Lord will accept that it would not be right for the Government to give this Bill their support at this stage, although, as I said, we are grateful to my noble friend for his work on the Bill and to other noble Lords for their contributions to the debate.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has a chance to respond to this clause stand part debate, I was on the opposition Front Bench when we discussed a Bill concerned with marine matters. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, was critical of the Opposition for what he considered were wrecking amendments to his Bill. I was not able to respond to that because, interested as I am in the control of dangerous dogs-I have some sympathy with the noble Lord and his Bill, and we have discussed these issues in the past-I was not at all briefed at that stage because we were dealing with other matters. Consequently, I was obliged to accept what the noble Lord said in his criticism of the Opposition. I checked it out immediately, of course, and I considered his comments to be completely and totally unjustified. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will today withdraw the position that he adopted on that day.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, before I answer some of the points that have been raised I want to say that the purpose of this Bill, as has been set out already, is that we have a major problem with the control of dogs in this country. While I am devastated by the Minister's response, I have brought forward so many Private Members' Bills that I am hardly surprised at the position that the Government are taking at this stage. The reason for bringing this Bill forward is that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 has created a situation in which people own dogs for the wrong reasons.
Some dogs are now owned by young men purely for the status that they give and to cause fear among other people. Many people will have heard stories about people feeling threatened by dogs that they suspect might be pit bull-type dogs that are off the lead and out of control. The purpose of the Bill is to try to look at that serious problem. The problem has massive cost implications because of the number of people who have gone to hospital with dog bites and the number of dogs that have been attacked. I was at a reception the other day with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which said that the number of guide dogs that are attacked by other dogs has risen year on year. That is unacceptable, and is the purpose of the Bill.
I will deal with the amendments and then come to the accusations that I made to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, and why they were brought about.
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I am particularly concerned about the position of ACPO. I talked to the organisation and was shocked to be hear, "Is it the role of the police to deal with dogs?" Anti-social dogs are a major cause of concern on the streets. It is incredible that ACPO has taken this position. Rather than try to say why the RSPCA should be listened to on this issue, I would ask why the RSPCA, having drafted this legislation and having worked with me over a number of months when I originally tabled this Bill, has suddenly changed its position. Nothing has changed except that it has decided to go down a different route.
I am sure the noble Lord will have noticed that the RSPCA lobbied him on dog licensing. Dog licensing has failed almost everywhere. There is dog licensing in Northern Ireland, but only a quarter to a third of people take it up. This is not about making more legislation for the people who are responsible; it is about targeting people who are irresponsible. I am glad that the noble Lord said that this was a probing amendment and that he will not press it.
On the second point, this Bill was unfortunately, as were many Private Members' Bills, held up by the AV Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said that I acted improperly. However, when the Bill was last scheduled to be heard on the Friday, the noble Lord had not tabled any amendments. I was going to talk to him about that, but no amendments were tabled until 5.30 on the Thursday night before the Friday sitting. It was quite clear that business time was stretched. Noble Lords had been sitting throughout the night and were unhappy about sitting late on a Friday, so the Whips Office felt that it had no option but to cancel the business. It was not my decision; it was taken by the Whips' Office, and I think it was perfectly proper.
However, the issue that I am slightly perturbed about is that Private Members' Bills are a way of expressing an interest in a situation. I had to cancel a large number of radio interviews and the organisations concerned had to cancel the press releases that they were doing to get the message across to the public.
Lord Grantchester: My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord briefly. I did say that I had made several attempts to have a word with his office. I even had a word with the Defra officials to see whether I could contact him in order to explain our position, debate our approach to the Bill, and see whether we could find a way forward together. However, that contact was not forthcoming, so we were left in the position of having to go straight ahead. I might also say that it is not unusual for amendments to be tabled rather late in the day, as indeed some of the noble Lord's were last night.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, my amendments were not tabled last night, but they ended up on the Marshalled List then because of the way in which they went through. The noble Lord's amendments were tabled at 5.30 in the afternoon. That is why I was slightly surprised. I apologise to the noble Lord for not getting back to him that week. I think that that week was slightly disrupted because we had been going through the night.
The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, asked why I made the remarks that I made the next morning. Private Members' Bills are quite hard. It is very easy to take lightly the amount of work done by a large number of people. I know that he would not take that position, but I do know that there were some very unhappy people and that I had to talk to a large number of them to explain the position.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, just a second; I am coming to the point which the noble Lord raised. I then sat in on the amendment that he was talking about. He was berating the Government for the late tabling of amendments. On that basis, I raised this issue myself because there are few opportunities to do so when legislation goes through this House. I thought it appropriate to do so.
I also raised the issue of wrecking amendments because the proposal that Clause 1 should stand part goes to the very heart of the Bill. If that amendment had been passed, it would have destroyed the Bill. The noble Lord has said that this is a probing amendment. I take his word for it, and if my words were inappropriate, I apologise for them. However, I was put in a position that perhaps many noble Lords find themselves in; they have done a great deal of work and then, because of what actually happens, they find that they have to do the work yet again. It was not entirely a criticism of the noble Lord, and I apologise if he took it as such. We have worked on this issue on a number of occasions and I have nothing but respect for that position. However, tempers were raised by the AV Bill, because obviously we had been going for quite a long time on it, and then all private legislation was pushed back.
This is something that I am particularly exercised about. I have had hundreds and hundreds of letters on this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said that the results of the consultation initiated under the previous Government have come in. An analysis of the people who responded in writing to the consultation-it was a very large one, and I understand Defra will have difficulty getting through and analysing the information properly-shows that 70 per cent are actually in favour of this legislation. On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his Motion that Clause 1 should not stand part.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendments 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 15 and 16. The reason for these amendments is quite clear. A number of issues were raised at Second Reading. This is a complicated matter with many unforeseen circumstances, and it was during the Second Reading debate that I came to believe that it was important to try to address some of those real issues. It was put to me that we should retain the concept of an aggravated offence and set more severe penalties for it. It seems entirely reasonable that the penalty for allowing your dog to bite someone should be greater than allowing it to show unprovoked aggression. It also seems entirely reasonable that allowing your dog to cause severe injury to or occasionally the death of a person should be treated as a serious offence with serious consequences. That is what these amendments seek to achieve.
Amendments 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 make it a more serious offence if the dog causes actual injury to the person and, in effect, mirrors the current offence set out in Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Amendments 15 and 16 deal with the penalties, and again mirror those in the existing legislation. They allow for someone accused of the aggravated offence to be tried in a Crown Court with the increase in penalty that that implies. I beg to move.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I declare an interest as a dog owner and I regret not having taken part in these proceedings before. As a dog owner I welcome the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, to remove the words "aggressive or" from line 13, but he has left in the words "dangerously out of control". Who decides what "dangerously out of control" is? For instance, if a dog were to bark at a stranger on, shall we say, a public footpath in the country, the dog might only be saying hello in the way that some dogs do. But the person who has been barked at, especially if they have young children with them on an enjoyable stroll in the countryside, might regard that as a dog being dangerously out of control. My question to the noble Lord is this: is that an offence in the eye of the receiver? How is it to be decided? This seems to me to be very important because there really is enormous scope for confusion on the issue.
Lord Redesdale: This is one of the major problems of legislating in this area. However, the Bill provides that an authorised person brings the control notice and would be the person to whom the offence would be reported. This would probably be an official of the local council or a police officer, and it would be someone with knowledge of the issues.
The issues surrounding the phrase "dangerously out of control" are quite important. If a dog is on the street without a lead, or if it is a certain breed of dog without a muzzle on, which you would expect, or if it snarls at a person, then those are circumstances in which the dog is dangerously out of control. Obviously there are circumstances for which the phrase would not be appropriate, such as when a dog is barking. Indeed, a later amendment clarifies that if a dog is being kept under control in a garden with secure fences and a warning has been given, if it then barks, that is normal for a dog and therefore would not be
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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord says about dogs in cities, on leads and all the rest. Is he therefore saying that a dog that merely barks at a stranger on a public footpath in the countryside would not fall foul of this Bill?
Lord Redesdale: Yes, my Lords. However, I shall cite an occasion when I was in my own woodland and someone was trespassing with three Alsatians, which surrounded me. The person, who had not been there until that moment, walked up and found it amusing that these dogs were growling at me in a stand-off position. I did not know who the dogs belonged to or what their intentions were. I would count that as a situation in which the dogs were dangerously out of control. Subsequently I found out that one of them had bitten a postman on the drive and really should not have been off the lead in the first place.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and I accept his assurance that the example I have given is very different from the one that he gave and that my example will not be caught by the Bill.
Lord Skelmersdale: That said, my Lords, in the instance that my noble friend has just given, surely the dogs were out of control but not dangerously out of control. They might have become dangerous later. Therefore, what is "dangerously" doing in line 14?
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if they cause fear that is a situation. However, we should take this in context. If noble Lords would read the Bill, its purpose is not to go down the route of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that any offence leads to the dogs being taken away and destroyed. If a control notice is given, it might be that it implies only that the owner should keep the dog on a lead in public places. It might imply that the owner should muzzle the dog or that the owner should undergo training. Many of these notices would stop all the problems that then go forward. Many of the dogs that attack children have a reputation for being out of control. Many dogs that attack other dogs go on to attack people. The purpose of this Bill is to bring about an early intervention at that point so that a control notice can be introduced which is appropriate to the situation.
Lord Grantchester: My Lords, this group of amendments by and large improves the drafting yet there may still be one or two problems, as have been raised today by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson. From our Benches, we wish only to draw attention to Amendments 3, 6 and 7. Would Amendment 3 cover adequately the situation where gang members may encourage dogs to be intimidating perhaps only by their presence, by being with the dog and exhibiting
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Lord Richard: My Lords, before we leave this subject, does the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, not accept-he should accept it-that the construction of the Bill depends upon the courts, not upon what he says in this House? Therefore, on the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the magistrates might take a totally different view from the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. The highest that he can put it at this moment is that it is his view that, properly construed, the Bill means X, Y or Z. He certainly cannot give an assurance that that is the way in which the courts would interpret it.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I am certainly not arrogant enough to assume that I could dictate to the magistrates how they should look at the provision. They will do it on the evidence that is placed before them. However, the magistrates might take the opinion that a dog out of control on one occasion could be stopped from being out of control by being put on a lead. They would therefore go with the minor but effective measure of making sure that the person keeps the dog on a lead. If the person does not do that, it is a secondary issue and the situation will therefore become far more serious on a second offence. This was looked at particularly because of the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, raised when I brought the Bill forward the first time round. I hope that he will take comfort from the fact that it was his intervention that first time which caused many hours of dispute on this subject. That is why many of the amendments have been drafted in the way that they have.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I do not want to prolong the proceedings, but the noble Lord has already admitted that a dog on a lead that is barking at someone at close quarters could be regarded as being aggressive.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, there was seen to be a problem with the original drafting of the Bill, which would have made it an offence to allow a dog to show aggression to any animal. That could include allowing a dog to chase a wild animal, even-I have to raise this issue-a squirrel, and that seems unreasonable. This issue was raised at Second Reading and it was one on which we said, "Ah, we got this one totally wrong". The effect of the amendment is to restrict the offence to allowing a dog to be aggressive or to intimidate protected animals. The term protected is already defined in the Bill as that in the Animal Welfare Act.
What would happen is that this would give a dog the freedom to behave like a dog and to chase wild animals without any fear of the owner being prosecuted. However, it would remain an offence to allow your dog to attack another dog or domestic animal. There has been much publicity recently, as I said earlier, about Guide Dogs for the Blind being attacked and unable to continue to work as a result. I beg to move.
Lord Richard: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a question. He has taken out "aggressive or" from Clause 2(1)(a) but has left those words in Clause 2(1)(b). Is that intentional or should those words come out of Clause 2(1)(b) as well?
"( ) the person or protected animal was in a place where they were not permitted to be which was enclosed by adequately maintained and substantial boundaries which would reasonably be expected to be capable of restraining a dog and which was clearly marked to warn such persons against entering;
( ) the dog is being used for a lawful purpose by a person licensed by a body established by the Private Security Industry Act 2001 or a person who complies with BS8517-1;"
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the purpose of Amendments 8, 9 and 18 is to clarify the situations in which it is reasonable for a dog to show aggression. The Bill protects a dog's owner from any prosecution if the dog bites a burglar or a mugger. It seems right to me that any dog's owner should feel secure in the knowledge that his dogs will defend him and his house against someone threatening him or breaking into his house. It has been put to me that a dog in its owner's garden with a good secure fence surrounding it, with clear warning signs that a dog is within, would be expressing only normal behaviour if it should show aggression to someone entering the garden.
It has also been pointed out that, in addition to dogs used by the Crown to protect property, there are now private security companies providing similar protection services. Those companies are licensed by the Security Industry Authority and there is now a British Standard that covers their training and use. Dogs are also used for similar purposes as part of displays. Those dogs compete against each other at trials to demonstrate their ability to control someone who is dressed as an intruder and wearing appropriate protective clothing. I believe that it would be unreasonable to prevent the continuation of such displays.
Amendment 8 seeks to allow the dog to behave naturally and for the owner to be protected if he has taken reasonable precautions to ensure that his dog is properly under control. The second part of the amendment seeks to protect those companies while they are being used at work. Amendment 18 defines the companies. Amendment 9 seeks to exempt dogs being used at such trials. The real effect of these amendments together is to broaden the number of situations in which a dog may lawfully show unprovoked aggression to include dogs kept under control on private properties, dogs used as commercially registered guard dogs and dogs at work trials.
The amendments have taken many hours of negotiation with a number of bodies. The great value of a Private Member's Bill is that certain issues can be brought forward so that, if this Bill ever goes forward to another place or is accepted by the Government in another form of legislation, many of these issues will already have been aired. I beg to move.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord referred in passing to the Security Industry Authority. Is he aware that late on Monday night we had a debate on the Public Bodies Bill where it was clearly the intention of the Government to abolish the statutory basis of the authority? For clarification, I should like to know whether, if it no longer had statutory authority, that body could perform the role that the noble Lord envisages in this legislation.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, asks me to tread on difficult and prickly ground. That is beyond my pay grade on these Benches. There has been much discussion about the Security
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Lord Grantchester: Amendment 8 would allow for guard dogs with adequate safeguards to be outside the scope of the noble Lord's Dog Control Bill. Is that enough? He mentions that the RSPCA has swung behind the police, as if the RSPCA had not come forward with concerns about other areas in its briefing. This is one such area where it has expressed concern; it could lead to a flood of "Beware" signs going up all around the countryside, as if that would somehow allow due defence for dogs undertaking aggressive actions in people's gardens and properties. The society draws attention to possible situations involving children. What would be the definition of adequately maintained boundaries, when we all know that fences between one person's garden and another can become very insubstantial? Would the amendment now also allow guard dogs to be held by doormen in front of establishments such as nightclubs? Would that now be a permitted defence and use of dogs?
On Amendment 9, also in this group, the RSPCA has also drawn to our attention its concern that the Bill, particularly Clause 2(3), allows a lot of leeway whereby responsible dog ownership is somehow being neglected while the Bill merely focuses on attacks. Perhaps the noble Lord could comment on that.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I am slightly surprised. I do not think that the Bill gives any leeway for guard dogs outside nightclubs. That would not be seen as acceptable by anyone going into the nightclub, and I would be surprised if any nightclub owner actually employed dogs outside their club. I do not think that that is an issue.
The second issue is that I am surprised that the RSPCA is worried about a plethora of signs going up. I have been lobbied quite heavily by the Communication Workers Union, representing postal workers, because one of the largest numbers of attacks by dogs is on postmen. It would be only appropriate that those people who have dogs that could lead to an attack should make the postman, above anyone else, aware that there is a dog inside the garden that might bite him so that he could leave the post in the post box outside.
It is not just postmen who have to beware. Many noble Lords, though not all, have been in the situation that I have when we have been out at elections on the stump and have had to exit a property rapidly because of a small dog that is intent on ripping large chunks out of people. It is not just large dogs that people have to be aware of; in a recent study, conducted almost across the world, miniature dachshunds were mentioned. If you get bitten by a miniature dachshund it is slightly more amusing than being bitten by a Staffordshire bull terrier, but I think that I should raise the issue.
(a) the appropriate national authority;
(b) a local authority; or
(c) a police officer who complies with subsection (6).
(6) In appointing any person to be such an authorised officer for the purposes of this Act, the appropriate national authority, local authority or police authority is to satisfy itself that the person is skilled in the control of dogs and has the capacity to instruct and advise others in matters relating to the control of dogs."
Lord Redesdale: I shall speak also to Amendment 10A. I apologise to noble Lords; on reviewing the amendments, it was realised that a section of Amendment 10 had been left out, which would have caused a problem. That was spotted only this week, and it is why this amendment has been added.
The police have made it clear to me that they need to be able to issue dog control notices where dog owners are behaving irresponsibly and encouraging their dogs to be aggressive. This is particularly the case with regard to gang members, the issue that the noble Lord raised. These are the so-called status dogs about which there has been so much in the press in recent months.
Amendment 10 enables an appropriately trained police officer to issue a dog control notice in addition to an authorised local authority officer. The ability to issue a notice is limited to police officers who have shown their competence when dealing with dogs, and I intend here primarily officers from dog sections or the dog legislation officers that were introduced as a result of guidance issued by Defra in 2009. This goes back to a question that was raised earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. Amendments 11, 12 and 14 are subsequent to Amendment 10 to ensure that the records to be kept by local authorities are comprehensive.
If the police believe that they need the power to issue dog control notices, it seems correct that they should be allowed to do so. However, not all police officers are knowledgeable about dog behaviour, so limiting the power to specifically trained officers is reasonable. They should therefore be competent to issue appropriate notices. The local authority would
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I should add that the purpose of the Bill is not to give a great deal more responsibility to the police or to be a burden in these financially straitened times. We believe that the Bill would save a great deal of money because not every dog will cause a problem; 99 per cent of dogs cause no problem to anyone at all and their owners are responsible. It would allow the police to target particular individuals-in this case, I suggest, people who deal in drugs, as in a case I came across recently in Newcastle where a person was not carrying a knife because that would have led to action by the police but had two extremely aggressive dogs to be used for exactly the same purposes, to cause fear and raise the status of the individual-and those dogs. I beg to move.
I have seen wording saying that something "must" satisfy itself or that it "could" satisfy itself-I have even seen the words "should" satisfy itself-but I have never seen, "is to satisfy itself". I wonder what it means.
Lord Skelmersdale: When the noble Lord is looking at these two proposed new subsections to Clause 3, perhaps he could look again at subsection (5)(a). I note that it means any local authority or police officer, within the proviso given by subsection (6)-but what on earth is an "appropriate national authority" in this case?
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the wording of this amendment is to try to give as much latitude as possible but also to ensure that the area is dealt with by those with knowledge. There is a grouping within local authorities that understands present dog legislation, just as there are groupings within the police that understand the legislation. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that that knowledge is used so that we do not end up with a situation in which any police officer at any point can bring about an action that might be inappropriate.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I am afraid that my noble friend has misunderstood my point, which I may have abbreviated a little too much. I am looking at proposed new subsection (5)(a), which talks about an "appropriate national authority". I am not sure what makes a national authority appropriate in this case but, in any event, the word by definition must be restrictive.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the appropriate authority is the one that would be the most logical home in any area for this information to be taken, because there have been changes and not all authorities are constructed in the same way around the country. I shall look again at the wording and question whether it is appropriate.
Lord Richard: I am a bit surprised that that is the noble Lord's intention. I thought that "appropriate national authority" meant the reputable doggy quangos-that sort of thing-or the RSPCA. That type of authority would seem to me to be appropriate. I am not sure what the noble Lord has in mind.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the RSPCA would not take on the role of an enforcement agency on this, and doggy quangos would I imagine be first on the list in the Bill mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. We are looking at local authorities and such groupings that will act on their behalf.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: If the noble Lord will forgive me, my noble friend is totally right. You cannot have a statute which involves penal provisions implemented in different parts of the country. This is an absolute nonsense.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, under the present enforcement of dog legislation, there are a number of different bodies in different parts of the country. For example, in London there is a status dogs unit in the Metropolitan Police. That is not replicated in the same way anywhere else, so I do not think that you could say that one appropriate authority is taken on by a number of different organisations.
Lord Grantchester: My Lords, this area highlights the very nature of dog legislation to encompass all the technicalities. It has only highlighted the very great difficulties that we have in trying to get control of the situation. These amendments are redrafted amendments in light of the criticism that this Bill was transferring dog control from the police to local authorities. The noble Lord has sought here to try to share the responsibility in some way. However, it is not entirely clear where responsibility will lie between the police and local authorities and who will be the appropriate supervising overall authority in this situation.
We understand that ACPO is not generally in favour of repealing Section 1 at the moment. It wants to get control of the situation, as it is concerned about the large number of dogs which are in the wrong hands and about public safety. So how exactly the responsibility between local authorities and the police will be divided is still largely unclear to me. Will the change be to local authorities, keeping present police officers as merely dog wardens? How will they be funded when given this new responsibility? The noble Lord spoke about the pressure on local authority budgets. We are far from convinced that there will be the savings that he suggests.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the approach of the Bill is not to bring about savings, and I am rather surprised by the position taken by the Opposition on this. Anybody
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On the point about savings, Section 1 has cost the Metropolitan Police £10 million over three years by taking the dogs off the street so that they have then to be kept in kennels, where they become even more desocialised. Many of those dogs, because it is so difficult to prove that they are pit bulls, are returned to their owners. I find it incredible that we are taking the dogs off the street and then nobody points out that they are going back to their owners. The legal costs are enormous. If that £10 million was spent not on enforcing Section 1 but on the provision of this Bill, it would pay for the measures in this Bill and bring about a saving.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the purpose of Amendment 13 is that a court may issue an order for the destruction of a dog. It seems reasonable that when such drastic measures are to be taken, the owner must have the right to appeal to save the life of the dog. In many circumstances, a dog that may or may not have shown aggression is someone's beloved pet, and the owner deserves the right to appeal a death sentence on that dog. The amendment introduces an appeal procedure when a destruction order has been made by a court. The amendment will allow natural justice by allowing an appeal against the most drastic sentences for the dog. I beg to move.
"( ) on summary conviction other than for the aggravated offence, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale;
( ) on summary conviction for the aggravated offence, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine not exceeding the statutory minimum, or both; or
( ) on indictment for the aggravated offence, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine, or both"
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, Amendment 17 repeals the Dangerous Dogs Act 1989. The Act amends the Dogs Act 1871, which is already repealed under my Bill. This is an important measure because it tidies up pieces of legislation. From the Government's point of view, we are not introducing an additional piece of legislation; we are introducing one but repealing three. That is totally in line with the purpose of the "one in, one out" rule. I beg to move.
That sounds perfectly reasonable. However, if you go on to sub-paragraph (3)-I am referring to a point I made about the word "appropriate" in a debate on an earlier clause-it says, "any police constable", or, more importantly,
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I have given an undertaking to look at the word "appropriate" again. I will obviously discuss this with the noble Lord. The purpose of the Schedule is to ensure that the provision is not limited to those who are appropriate who can undertake this action.
Lord Richard: My Lords, before we leave Committee, I have a simple thing to say. The noble Lord will have realised from his experiences at Second Reading and the consultations that he has had-and, indeed, from this Committee-that this is an extraordinarily complex and rather technical matter. I have restrained myself in terms of the drafting of the Bill with, I am bound to say, commendable zeal in the past half hour or so. I wonder whether the Government should not perhaps take this issue over, look at it, and produce their own legislation. The matter needs to be dealt with. I am not sure that the Bill is an appropriate way of doing so.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Richard. It would be excellent if the Government took over this legislation and moved forward with it; that would be the answer to my dreams. The noble Lord will know that this is a very complicated area. Some of the questions that have been raised over the drafting are due to its complex nature. This has not just been thrown together. It has been worked on by a large number of people. Sometimes the intent of the words is the result of an enormous amount of debate on extremely emotive issues.
No piece of dogs legislation would be perfect. Nobody is going to be happy. I have noticed this from the large number of letters that I have now received, including "My dog should be allowed to bite anybody who comes anywhere near my property" and across the board. This has been an extremely difficult issue to work on.
The noble Lord has given me an opportunity to sum up briefly before the Bill goes forward. This area needs to be addressed. I quite understand that there are difficulties with the legislation. The former Government undertook a review, and the present Government are looking at the review. It would be irresponsible not to deal with this issue considering that the number of dog attacks has risen year on year, and that the number of children killed by dogs which fall into a category that did not exist 20 years ago has increased year on year.
The purpose is not just to bring another piece of legislation before the House and Parliament. This issue affects people around the country, day by day. I have known from the letters I have received, some of which are quite harrowing, how people's lives can be ruined by the fact that somebody else has a dog of which they are terrified, such as old people who are terrified of going out to the shops in case they meet dogs of this nature. That situation has to be addressed.
The whole purpose of this legislation is not against dogs. I have owned dogs in the past. I do not own one at the moment; my children are desperate for us to own one in the future. I am keen on dogs being owned responsibly. However, there are two problems. First, there is a group of people who are causing a problem in the ownership of dogs. Secondly, responsibility must lie not with the dog itself, because tens of thousands of dogs have been treated badly and de-socialised, and
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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I believe passionately in live music. I went to the Brits recently in what I hope will be its permanent new home, the O2. It was a stunning experience which confirmed my totally unbiased view that British musical talent is the best in the world and that we must do everything we can to encourage its development. Clearly, this view is shared by the coalition Government, who pledged in the coalition agreement to cut the red tape involved in live music performance. However, I am afraid to say that the Licensing Act 2003, introduced by the previous Government, created a bureaucratic minefield which has stifled creativity and prohibited innocent and innocuous live music events taking place. Even the provision of musical instruments without a licence became a criminal offence. However, despite some encouraging discussions with the Minister, my honourable friend John Penrose, we are still awaiting the outcome of interdepartmental discussions on how to achieve the objectives of the coalition agreement. I welcome the fact that John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, who is as impatient as I am for reform, has now tabled an EDM in the other place asking for an exemption for small venues to be introduced without delay.
I move the Second Reading of what I believe is a new and improved Live Music Bill, designed to reduce the red tape surrounding the performance of live music, particularly in small venues, in the hope and expectation that it will receive an explicitly positive response from my Government. In 2002, the previous Government introduced the Licensing Bill and promised that it would make it much easier to host live music. At the time of its passage, Ministers were confident about the likely impact of the Act. Lord McIntosh of Haringey, then DCMS spokesperson in the House of Lords, who we remember so well, told this House:
In fact, the Bill significantly increased entertainment licensing control over live music. Among other things, it abolished a "two in a bar" rule-a long-standing exemption in pubs and bars for two performers. In effect, this became a "none in a bar" rule. Under the Bill, most public performances and many private performances need a licence.
Liberal Democrats opposed these changes on the grounds that separate legislation was already more than adequate to regulate most small-scale performances, and that criminalising such performances, unless licensed, was unnecessary and disproportionate. I am very glad to see my noble friend Lord Redesdale in the House today taking part in the debate. We forced defeats on the Government in the House of Lords, creating exemptions for incidental music and certain small-scale performances. Naively, perhaps, in the subsequent ping-pong, we accepted a new clause to the Bill-Section 177-which the Government put forward, which appeared to be an exemption for live music in certain small venues. In 2003, the Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament. As feared, the Licensing Act has not delivered an increase in live music, despite these promises. Back in July 2007 the Live Music Forum, which had been set up in 2005 by the then Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, published its findings and recommendations on the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on live music. The LMF concluded that while the new law had a broadly neutral effect the Act harmed certain small local venues, and recommended an outright exemption for these. The LMF also reported a huge disparity in local authorities' interpretation of the law when issuing licences, and that the promised increase in live music had not occurred. In fact, it found that 29 per cent of smaller establishments that had previously operated without a public entertainment licence, but used the "two in a bar" exemption to put on live music, did not apply for live music provision when the new Act came into force. In particular, the Live Music Forum called for the reform of Section 177. The LMF argued that the wording contained in the Act is convoluted and in many respects totally impenetrable. The forum was unable to find a single example where Section 177 was actually used by licensing officers or venue owners, so it recommended new exemptions for small gigs as a matter of some urgency.
The LMF's report was followed in December 2007 by a BRMB survey commissioned by the DCMS on the impact of the Licensing Act on live music, which concluded that there had been a 5 per cent decrease in the provision of live music in secondary live music venues since the benchmark MORI survey of 2004. However, the figures for restaurants and cafes and church halls and community centres showed a drop of 12 and 24 per cent respectively. As a result, the then Secretary of State, James Purnell, pledged to explore exemptions for some venues. But despite assurances by the Government, this was put on the back burner. In July 2008, the House of Commons DCMS Select Committee launched an inquiry into the Licensing Act. In May 2009, it concluded in its report that the Act hampered live music performances, especially by young musicians. The committee recommended an exemption for venues up to a capacity of 200 and the reintroduction of the "two in a bar" exemption, which existed prior to the 2003 Act. As the chairman, my honourable friend John Whittingdale, rightly said:
However, the then Government continued to put their faith in the minor variations procedure. But as I made
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The absurdities and inconsistencies of the Licensing Act generally in respect of live music are manifest. The interpretation varies widely from local authority to local authority with some taking a lenient view of incidental music and others a much more restrictive approach. There are many examples of licensing authorities imposing, or allowing to be imposed, absurd restrictions on live music; for instance, the number of musicians allowed to perform, the genre of music or the type of musical instrument they may play, restrictions on those under 18 listening to live music, the days of the week they may perform and the frequency with which they may perform. Some premises are required to leaflet the surrounding area, warning residents of impending live music events, and some local authorities have issued no premises licences for public spaces, effectively banning live music in public.
Many of us recall the fact that the provision of 30 pianos in London streets under the Play Me I'm Yours scheme was caught by the Licensing Act as the provision of an entertainment facility. Without a licence from the local authority, the organisers could have committed a criminal offence. More recently, we had the ridiculous situation where Westminster City Council told Tate Britain to get an entertainment licence for Susan Philipsz's Turner Prize-winning sound installation. Ms Philipsz's prize-winning exhibit features a recording of her singing "Lowlands Away", a traditional folk song, played through two loudspeakers. Westminster's legal department ruled that the Act's incidental music exemption could not apply in this case. Even more absurdly, the morris dancing exemption under the Act could have offered Tate Britain an intriguing way round Westminster's licensing requirement. It allows unamplified live music if it is an integral part of a performance of morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature. If Susan Philipsz, or another vocalist, were to sing "Lowlands Away" unamplified in the gallery to some morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature, this should be exempt. Of course, that is entirely her choice.
As we can see, the Act has had the effect of criminalising the showing of a prize-winning piece of art by one of the world's leading art institutions, a range of musical and other performances, and the provision of facilities for them that could not conceivably produce anti-social levels of noise. I could come up
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At the end of 2009, a very effective demonstration in aid of live music was held in Parliament Square by the MU and Equity. The demonstration coincided with a full debate in Westminster Hall on the Select Committee's report. At that point, the previous Government suddenly seemed to wake up and make proposals for an exemption for a capacity of 100. They launched yet another consultation on this issue, close to the general election, when they had absolutely no hope of implementing any proposals. Mr Feargal Sharkey, the CEO of UK Music, the umbrella organisation that represents a large proportion of the music industry and strongly backs deregulation for live music, calculated that there had by then been nine consultations, two government research projects, two national review processes and a parliamentary Select Committee report-yet still no action.
The desire to nurture creativity, cut back bureaucracy, save costs for small venue owners and eliminate the inconsistencies and absurdities of the Licensing Act explains why I am once again bringing forward a Private Member's Bill on live music. This is somewhat different from the previous version, but I hope that this Bill is even more effective than the previous Bill I introduced this time last year.
My Live Music Bill amends the Licensing Act 2003 in five main respects, including an exemption for live music in small venues for audiences of up to 200 that are licensed under that Act. This exemption is conditional on a new Section 177, which could be triggered to review a licence and make live music in that venue licensable if complaints by local residents are made.
The Bill reinforces the rights of residents by allowing conditions to be placed on the premises' licences, following complaints upheld under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Unamplified live music is exempted anywhere between 8 am and midnight on the same day, but this can be disapplied in alcohol-licensed premises if complaints are upheld. Conditions could then be applied.
A broad exemption is introduced for any premises not already licensed under the Licensing Act that qualify as a workplace for the purpose of health and safety legislation. This covers not only hospitals, schools et cetera, but factories, offices and any place covered by the workplace definition. This is an important new addition to the Bill.
Then there is the removal altogether of the entertainment facilities provisions. There would no longer be a separate requirement to authorise the provision of musical instruments such as the piano for a school concert open to the public.
The rationale for this approach is as follows. The Licensing Act 2003 creates and regulates the three licensable activities: the supply and sale of alcohol, regulated entertainment and provision of late-night refreshment, subject to the operating schedule that forms part of every premises licence issued. Live music is classified as regulated entertainment under the Act and, therefore, without an exemption, small premises are bound by the same legislative burden and costs as larger premises in relation to being able to provide live music, which can be disproportionately prohibitive.
The 2003 Act created the review process as a safeguard to residents and other parties who are subject to noise and other disturbance. The Live Music Bill preserves this right for residents and businesses in the vicinity of licensed premises, and explicitly allows for the exemption to be removed in circumstances where premises operating under the small venues exemption are found to undermine the licensing objective of prevention of public nuisance.
A further exemption for unamplified music at venues of any size, regardless of whether they possess a licence or not is again a proportionate solution, because it allows, for example, cafés to put on such entertainment without the cost of applying for a full licence.
The final exemption for hospitals, schools and colleges would permit such institutions to host live music entertainment without the additional cost and administrative burden of a licence, subject to a reasonable limit on the number of people attending. My proposals are not set in stone. The Bill can be amended as it moves through its stages in this House; but let us remember that the Select Committee recommended that the appropriate figure was 200. This figure is backed by the MU, Equity, UK Music and the Incorporated Society of Musicians. I look forward to the debate on the Bill, which I very much hope the Government will support, and that we hear some encouraging words from the Minister at the end of today's debate.
The pub trade is particularly concerned about the health of live music. There are 39 pubs closing every week. This form of live music exemption could give a great boost to the economy of the pubs and I commend my honourable friend Mike Weatherley's Rock the House campaign, which will set up live music competitions in constituencies right across the country. Perhaps we should add to them a competition to see who can find names of pop songs with "dog" in them as many times as possible.
I hope that the Government will respond positively today. I am delighted that we have so many speakers in today's debate. In particular, I look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friends Lord Grade and Lady Randerson. I am delighted that they are taking part. I beg to move.
Lord Grade of Yarmouth: My Lords, that late and much loved comedian Harry Worth may not have been in the top flight of the 20th century's great philosophers and thinkers, but he had some sage advice for anyone foolish or brave enough to speak in public.
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It is customary to thank all those who work in this House for making new Peers -and I am no exception-so very welcome and I do so wholeheartedly now, but with one small caveat. Those who patrol the doors and corridors of your Lordships' House to such great effect have brought me, quite late in life, to a stark self-realisation: I have absolutely no sense of direction whatever. Each time I step out of one Room or other in this great Palace, the nearest staff member is quick to anticipate the glazed look in my eyes and tactfully steps in to save me from my fourth fruitless lap of the Chamber. So I have more reason than most to be grateful for their support and direction. As Blanche DuBois might have said in one of the greatest curtain lines ever written for the stage at the end of "A Streetcar Named Desire", I have always put my trust in the kindness of strangers.
Still on a personal note, I would like to be allowed to record how proud I feel to be following in the footsteps of my two late and noble uncles, Lords Grade and Delfont. They gave me so much to live up to, not just by their achievements in the entertainment industry but, more importantly, the immaculate reputations and the good will they engendered throughout their careers. Along with my late father Leslie, these three remarkable brothers really taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, they did not teach me everything they knew, so I am still working for a living.
And so to the Bill under debate this morning. Let me state from the outset that I speak in full support of my noble friend and erstwhile colleague Lord Clement-Jones in his legislative quest to repair the unforeseen damage that the Licensing Act 2003 has caused. There is overwhelming support for the proposed reform of this Act, since it threatens musical life in our nations at its most fragile point-grass-roots level.
No doubt in the case of the 2003 Act, the road to these unintended consequences was paved with good intentions, with or without musical accompaniment along the way. I can certainly understand the need to give the authorities the necessary powers to curtail public nuisance and noise disturbance caused by unruly and unlicensed events of scale. No one wants a Glastonbury-style rock festival to explode on the local allotments but in the event the Act contains such wide powers that, as we have heard today, it threatens to criminalise even small groups of unlicensed music lovers huddled together in a public place, giving pleasure to but a handful of innocent lovers of live music. In the iPod and headphone world that we inhabit today, surely we should be doing everything to encourage and promote live music.
I have had a long career nurturing and spotting talent. If I know anything-I hasten to say that this is not a question I should like to see the House divide
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Under the current Act, without a licence, you can tune up and get banged up. I admit that there are some purveyors of alleged modern music that I would happily see locked up-preferably in a sound-proof cell. But, as your Lordships especially understand, hard cases make bad law. The 2003 Licensing Act is bad law. It is beyond the credible to argue that the legislators' intention was actually to stifle the small pleasure of sharing live music with a small audience in any public space.
I hope that one or two of your Lordships may recall, with me, that the age of rock and roll was spawned by what became known as the skiffle era-Lonnie Donegan, and all that. Tea chests, a broom handle and a line of string made a double bass, and Mum's old washboard and thimbles sufficed for percussion. That DIY musical movement liberated generations of kids who found that they could make their own music at virtually no cost. All they needed was an audience. It spawned a great British musical tradition and movement which put Britain in the forefront of live popular musical culture-a tradition that continues today.
In those days, no one had to care if halls and rooms above the coffee bars were licensed or not. From this amateur beginning, Britain gave the world the Stones, the Beatles, the Who and a whole hall of fame of music industry legends. As they set out on their roads to world fame, they performed anywhere they could find a public room and a few people-no licence required but a licence to inspire.
I ask your Lordships to consider how many of those legends who have brought such benefits to Great Britain plc would have had these opportunities had the 2003 Licensing Act been in force in those days. This Bill does not offer a simplistic anything-goes antidote to the 2003 Act. It does not propose going from the heavily prescriptive requirements of the Act to a free-for-all. My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones has presented a Bill that contains some very well thought through protections and checks that offer real powers to the authorities where there is unacceptable abuse. These, I believe, are more appropriate and better fit the original intentions of the 2003 Act. I support these reforms wholeheartedly.
In conclusion, I offer my grateful thanks to your Lordships for your patient attention and for resisting the urge to walk in any direction. One last question: when I exit the Chamber for the Peers' Dining Room, do I turn left or right?
Lord Colwyn: My Lords, I am delighted to follow my noble friend and pleased that he has been able use the occasion of his maiden speech and long experience in the media and entertainment business to show support for the Live Music Bill which concerns the promotion of live music entertainment and consequent support for many thousands of musicians.
The noble Lord has a long and distinguished career in media which started at the Daily Mirror in 1960 and progressed to London Weekend Television in 1973, the BBC, Channel 4, the BBC again, and most recently as executive chairman of ITV in January 2007. He stood down as chief executive to become non-executive chairman at the conclusion of regulatory reviews into advertising contract rights and digital television in April 2009. Many noble Lords will have seen his programme last Monday on BBC4 recalling the days of music hall and variety which has many similarities with your Lordships' House.
For a time, the noble Lord joined the family business as an agent and was responsible for booking acts and planning variety running orders. Of course, in this House, persuading noble Lords to perform and planning a running order is the job of the Whips-agents are not involved. If the acts are put in the wrong order, the show can be destroyed. This has been very obvious in the past month or so when old jokes and stories have been repeated ad infinitum by the same comedians and the shows have overrun by several hours at each performance. The noble Lord will be comfortable with a speakers' list despite the fact that there is no bill matter. A brief description of the intended speech might be a very good idea for contributions in the House. Today he is designated "maiden". For noble Lords who are unfamiliar with theatrical bill matter as opposed to matters concerned with Bills, it was the description that acts gave themselves. Max Miller was the Cheeky Chappie and Spike Milligan was the Performing Man. I am delighted to welcome the noble Lord as another performing Peer.
At speaking position number 2 my noble friend is top of the bill this morning, perhaps sharing the position with the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. I congratulate him on his delightful maiden speech. It was informed and interesting. I am sure that we will look forward to many further contributions but must remind him that jokes about playing the Palace of Westminster, comments about the size of the audience and the use of props are not appreciated.
My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones covered most of the issues this morning. Under the current law, the performance of live music is regarded as regulated entertainment and must be authorised either by a premises licence or a temporary event notice. There are certain exemptions for religious music and music played which is incidental to some other activity which is itself not regulated. Until 2005 the exemption known as the "two in a bar" rule allowed one or two musicians to perform at premises where a justices' licence was in force. Small venues did not need a public entertainments licence for live performances by up to two musicians but they did need a licence if the two were joined by a third musician or if a succession of musicians performed
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I have campaigned on behalf of musicians for many years and again declare my interest as a member of the Musicians' Union, a very part-time musician and co-chair of the All-Party Group on Jazz Appreciation, and member of the Performers' Alliance parliamentary group. Live music licensing has been discussed for many years.
I will not take up your Lordships' time by going over the old ground of Section 177 of the Licensing Act which, as a last-minute compromise, was intended to protect certain forms of live music in small premises. The whole process exposed the Act's absurd overregulation of the most innocuous live music against the light touch for canned entertainment such as big-screen sport and recorded music. The restrictive legislation had serious implications for musicians, who were prevented from performing and learning to play to a live audience. Many of our biggest selling British artists started out by playing gigs in pubs. Section 177 has proved to be a complex, unworkable provision. There is no exemption from holding the required licence and the Government at the time considered that such exemptions were not necessary to protect live music, but were forced to compromise in this House to secure the passage of the Bill.
In May 2009, the Culture Select Committee considered the Act's impact on live music and concluded that live music in smaller venues was decreasing. It recommended that the Government should exempt venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence for the performance of live music. The committee also recommended the reintroduction of a "two-in-a-bar" exemption for non-amplified music. In their response, the former Government rejected these recommendations. However in October 2009, they indicated that they were now minded to consider an exemption for live music in small venues with a capacity of less than 100 and would launch a public consultation on the issue.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has covered most of the key differences between this Bill and the previous one. I am sorry to see the "two-in-a-bar" rule go, but understand that performers did not agree with it. Blanket exemptions can be unhelpful. Two musicians playing loudly and attracting a large crowd might not
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Under the new Bill, unamplified live music-I hope that this includes minimally amplified-will be exempted anywhere between 8 am and midnight on the same day, but can be removed in alcohol-licensed premises if complaints are upheld. The Bill also redefines the exemptions for live music in schools, colleges or hospitals and removes entertainment facilities provisions altogether.
"The Government are currently considering options to remove red tape from live music and other entertainment. I hope to be able to announce our conclusions, including the timetable for reform, shortly".-[Official Report, Commons 31/1/11; col. 507W.]
Baroness Bakewell: My Lords, I support the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, with all the energy I can. I am aware how important it is. I declare an interest: I was for eight years the chair of the National Campaign for the Arts. As such, I thought of addressing your Lordships with a poem:"We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams. World-losers and world-forsakers, Upon whom the pale moon gleams; Yet we are the movers and shakers, Of the world forever, it seems".
The National Campaign for the Arts was inundated from the moment that the original Bill, which became the 2003 Act, went into operation. We have hundreds of members, and they all, in small groups, seek to find a voice through the National Campaign for the Arts to speak for their interests. It quickly became clear that the Act was not working. Like other speakers, I shall address the problem from three points of view: that of the musicians, the audience and the venue.
Musicians in this country have the benefit of an outstanding musical education, if they go to college. If they get together in small groups, they are often better. The noble Lord, Lord Grade, has already spoken of the emerging music of the 1960s. When the Beatles came to public knowledge, they had already been part of a group of musicians in Liverpool at a time, from 1960 to 1962, when there were 300 groups in that city alone. How could they have survived under this law? They met in small places, playing to friends and family. They were in cellars and attics everywhere. Young
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Audiences need our help. We live in a world in which music is intrinsic to our lives in every nook and cranny, but too often it is coming from iPods and is not a real live activity. Anything that can move the enjoyment of music to a live event with a space between the music and the audience seems to me valuable. That exchange between the performer and the audience is about more than the music. As the poem suggests, it is about a whole relationship of creativity, as was demonstrated so well in Liverpool.
Small audiences need to go to small venues. Young people are often in awe of the larger music venues, not to mention the cost of going and the distance. Small venues that are local, familiar and congenial are an enormously important element in inspiring music-making and music appreciation. Rites of passage-birthdays and celebrations of all kind-are often occasions where small musical groups, whether informal or groups of friends, perform in venues where alcohol is consumed. They are not an appropriate subject for the 2003 Act.
As for venues, we are all aware of and saddened by the decline of the English public house. Publicans have suffered enormously from the smoking ban, as we know. Many now feel that small groups for music-making-jazz or folk-will make a difference to their survival. The PRS for Music commissioned research in December 2009, and found that 80 per cent of pub managers said that music would help them survive the recession. Pubs with music are three times more likely to stay in business.
The Licensing Act 2003 is an Act with unintended consequences. We have already heard how the Tate was required to have a licence for a Turner Prize-winning piece of sound installation. In 2009, a Northamptonshire school had to scrap a production of "We Will Rock You" following a warning from the licensing officer. As a consequence, the head of the council's licensing committee resigned in protest, saying that, soon, people would need to apply to host wine and cheese parties in their own home because selling alcohol for a good cause would need licensing permission. The current provision is not working and it calls out for revision. The movers and shakers, of whom I am now proud to be one, back the Bill.
Baroness Benjamin: My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones on introducing this important Bill, which of course I support. I declare an interest as someone who started off at the age of 12 singing live music with a small band in small venues.
Nowadays, if you were to ask a child or young person about what type of music they like, the vast majority would answer with a list of the most current
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This clearly demonstrates that young people usually access music at arm's length, in a sort of detached way. Many of today's most popular performers are acts and groups made famous by television talent shows, but, for me, one of the most worrying aspects of these performances is the absence of performing musicians in vision. In the vast majority of cases, the audience is treated to a dazzling display of dancing, lighting effects and highly produced soundtracks, but nowhere to be seen are the musicians who make the music which backs the singer or group. It is as if the music just magically plays as a backing track behind the performers.
My concern is that many youngsters are growing up never seeing or enjoying the performances of talented musicians. As the daughter of a jazz saxophonist and a singer, I find it both sad and disturbing that many of the nation's children believe that the music which backs their singing idols is produced electronically in a distant studio and played as a backing track.
I went to a concert recently at which some of today's biggest stars, pop groups and boy bands were performing. I saw not one real musician playing on stage; they all used backing tracks. In contrast, last year, I hosted a concert at the Royal Festival Hall where children and young people performed live music-some were as young as seven. The performers included Sahana Gero's 51st State Band-100 young musicians who played saxophones, flutes, trombones, trumpets as well as percussion and guitar instruments.
Many of the performers were from disadvantaged backgrounds who might otherwise have found themselves drawn to gangs and street crime if it were not for the opportunity to learn an instrument and play in a band. It enabled them to focus on something positive; it taught them to be disciplined, to show consideration to others; it built self-esteem and confidence as well as helping them to be creative and use their imagination. However, my concern for them is that if they decide to branch out and form a small group in the hope of being discovered, the places and opportunities for them to perform are limited because of the existing live music legislation.
As a teenager in the 1960s, I grew up performing with my father's jazz band in pubs, at weddings and parties, and at town halls and private functions all over London and beyond-we even performed in a prison once, which was quite an experience. In those days, there were no restrictions on what we did or where we could perform. Of course, our instruments were unamplified and so caused little nuisance. Mind you, we once experienced some restrictions, when we arrived for a gig at an Irish-run pub on St Patrick's Day. The landlord asked whether we played Irish music. My father replied, "No, we play jazz!". To which, the landlord said, "Well, you'd better leave quickly before the customers hear you".
With the progress and growth in the popularity of pop music and the introduction of amplifiers, it became less acceptable to allow a free-for-all in the performance of live music in venues without stringent licensing
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I therefore wholeheartedly support my noble friend. Let us amend the Act and allow more freedom for musicians and venues to provide live music and create a much needed feeling of well-being-because, as I said, music is food for the soul.
Baroness Randerson: My Lords, I must begin by thanking your Lordships for the warmth of the welcome that I have received here. I wish in particular to thank my sponsors, the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Finlay of Llandaff, both of whom have provided me with valuable advice. I also thank the staff of this House, who have been unfailingly helpful and have, quite literally, steered me in the right direction on many occasions-indeed, I think that my fitness has improved since I came here because of my needless laps of the Building and fruitless climbing of the wrong stairs.
I speak in this debate with a mixture of emotions: pride, humility and considerable trepidation. I am one of a growing number of Members of your Lordships' House who have been Members of the devolved Assemblies and Parliaments. In my case, I remain a Member of the National Assembly for Wales, but only for the next four weeks.
It has been a great honour to represent my constituency of Cardiff Central for the past 12 years. Cardiff is a beautiful city with a strong and distinctive culture. Of course, there have been, and are, several Members of your Lordships' House from Cardiff. However, I believe that I am the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat Peer from Cardiff since DA Thomas, who was briefly MP for Cardiff in 1910 and became Baron-later Viscount-Rhondda in 1916. He survived the sinking of the "Lusitania", so I hope that I have survival skills here.
I am, of course, a member of a political party, the Liberal Democrats, which until recently was in opposition for many years. I believe that it was my noble friend Lord Ashdown who once said about those years in opposition, "The first 60 years are the worst". However, we have in the mean time been part of coalition Governments in Scotland and Wales. Indeed, I was
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As an historian by training, I am more than a little intimidated by the history and traditions of your Lordships' House. In contrast, in the Welsh Assembly, we have literally been creating our own history during the past 12 years. Speaking on the day when the votes on the referendum on further powers for that Assembly are being counted, I hope that there will be the opportunity to create even more tradition there.
Noble Lords will be pleased to hear that one of the disciplines that I learnt in the Welsh Assembly was that of brevity, so I shall proceed rapidly to the topic of this debate-I thank my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones for bringing forward the Bill today.
I come from what is popularly known as the land of song. However, the Licensing Act 2003 has made it considerably more difficult for that for that song to be heard by an audience. As Minister, I introduced a culture strategy, Creative Future, which emphasised the importance of music in the cohesion of communities and for our tourist industry and economy in general. We planned to increase opportunities for professional musicians, and to reinvigorate amateur and semi-professional community music organisations such as choirs and brass bands. We planned to strengthen the infrastructure of small venues for the performance of all types of music. However, the Licensing Act 2003 proved a hindrance to those ambitions.
Your Lordships will be well aware of the reputation of Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. What your Lordships might not be aware of is that those renowned organisations also tour extensively in Wales, in small groups to small venues-to churches, village halls, schools and youth centres. They are funded by the Arts Council of Wales to do so to inspire our young people, provide community cohesion in deprived areas and provide entertainment in rural areas that get very little else by way of entertainment. The Arts Council of Wales has a very well established and highly respected scheme called Night Out, which helps to fund professional organisations in community buildings.
However, these initiatives have had to work against the grain of the Licensing Act. The time, cost and bureaucracy involved in getting a licence for a small venue when you are likely to hold only two or three such events a year is simply not worth it. Remember, those venues are almost invariably run by volunteers, who have neither the time nor the expertise to go through that bureaucratic minefield. Geographically, Wales is 80 per cent rural and characterised by a network of village and church halls. The entertainment that they can host has been curtailed by the 2003 Act.
Your Lordships will also have heard of the National Eisteddfod. That internationally famous music festival is underpinned by a network of local festivals and eisteddfodau. The national youth Eisteddfod, the Urdd, holds preliminary competitions in every part of Wales and almost every school participates. The tip of the pyramid, you see, is underpinned by a very wide base. It is the community venues that provide the opportunities for a performer's first step in performing music. Without that first step, they will not take the second, which is to
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Like the rest of the UK, Wales has suffered from the reduction in the number of premises licensed to sell alcohol that have sought a licence for live music. There has been a reduction to about one-quarter of those premises seeking a licence. That means that the opportunities are very much lower for those wishing to participate. Many of those licences, as my noble friend has indicated, already contain other restrictions. Therefore, I urge your Lordships to look at the evidence very carefully. The live music scene appears to flourish, but it is the upper end and the middle that are flourishing; the small-scale venues are suffering and declining. As the poorest part of the UK that is often overwhelmed by the culture of its much bigger neighbour, Wales has a particular need to develop its own culture and identity, and has suffered disproportionately from the impact of the Act.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, it is my duty and privilege to congratulate my noble friend on her wonderful maiden speech. People coming into this House are often overawed by being in this situation, although the atmosphere is not always as exciting as it has been in the past month or so. However, my noble friend Lady Randerson has been in politics for quite some time. She became a councillor for Cardiff in 1983, and her career in local politics culminated in her becoming the first Liberal Democrat Minister for any national body. That is a position that, I am happy to say, is now commonplace. We have many Ministers among our colleagues in another place. If the Bill for five-year terms is passed, probably almost all our female colleagues in the Commons will emulate my noble friend Lady Randerson in the coming years.
My noble friend's expertise will be extremely helpful, especially as her career in teaching and lecturing will bring such knowledge to debates on education. Particularly pertinent to this debate was her introduction of Creative Future, a cultural strategy for Wales, and Iaith Pawb-I knew that that would be embarrassing, and I will get letters about my pronunciation being wrong-which means "a language for everyone". This is particularly pertinent because, just as the Welsh language is a cultural indicator, I would argue that music is of incredible importance and has been terribly undervalued.
In their maiden speeches, the noble Lord, Lord Grade, and my noble friend Lady Randerson talked about the difficulty of finding out about this place. As they have many years yet to come in this place, I suggest that they spend a couple of days wandering around. You find many new Peers in strange Corridors, saying, "I just thought I'd take a day to wander around". I suggest the cellars. Most people have not been to the cellars; I spent a week there and was thrown out many years ago. What makes up this Building is incredible. I just leave noble Lords with that.
This is a Private Member's Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is to be congratulated on bringing it back. I say that because he gave me the same accolade. Private Members' Bills in this place over the past few years have tended to be about either live music or dogs. I hope one of us will break the deadlock.
I am speaking in this debate because I was heavily involved in the 2003 Act. What I find depressing is that most of the complaints that we get about the Bill were expressed at the time. We worked out that there would be a major effect on the provision of live music. One of the problems is that, at the time, we were running a campaign to get rid of the "two in a bar" rule for being too repressive. The noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, as a publicity stunt, was in the Red Lion across the way. We had two people playing and, when he tried to blow his trumpet, he was immediately thrown out of the pub because he was breaking the laws, which were extremely strictly enforced by Westminster Council. There were occasions when, if members of the audience took part in a sing-along, it was seen as having more than two in the bar. Cases were brought against organisations. We thought this was terribly restrictive but, looking back, we should have been campaigning for the retention of the "two in a bar" rule. Many places that used to keep to it now simply do not bother because of the paperwork. The situation now is far worse than it was then.
I declare an interest. I am chairman of the national committee of Best Bar None-an organisation for pubs and clubs that tries to improve the situation for the night-time economy by raising standards. I have been all around the country to award ceremonies and have seen best practice in many pubs and clubs. I have often asked those running them about the provision of music and they have replied that their business is dying because of the amount of bureaucracy instituted by the 2003 Act. There are 36 pubs closing a week.
I declare an interest as the owner of a pub, the Redesdale Arms on the A68. It is a very fine pub if you happen to be going between Newcastle and Jedburgh or are on your way to Edinburgh. It has sleeping accommodation and very fine food, although I am obviously not advertising here. I understand that at the moment publicans have a real issue in trying to keep their pubs going. My own pub was particularly hit by the fact that announcements kept being made on the radio that the A68 was closed, even though it was not. That has an effect on your trade when you have a pub on that route. Publicans are having a real difficulty in keeping going at the moment. Of course, live music is helpful but not if you have to fill in an enormous amount of paperwork, and that leads me to the second point to be emphasised, which is that you do not go down that route if you think that, by instituting live music, there will be a review of your premises licence. That is a real threat to an organisation and, unfortunately, due to the 2003 Act, it is one that licensees are not prepared to take.
I believe it is a human right to have unamplified music, and I moved an amendment during the passage of the 2003 Act to say that that type of music should not be included. The problem was that the Government were totally opposed to it. At the time, they said that
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Lord Redesdale: No, we do not have an entertainment licence, although morris dancing is exempt. There are 14,000 morris dancers in the country but the legislation could have destroyed that activity. Every time there was a morris dancing event, it would have needed a temporary event notice, which would have cost £15 a time, plus all the time needed to fill in the paperwork. That would have killed off a traditional dance in this country, which would have been devastating. I very much hope that when the Minister answers some of the questions today she will be up there at the front saying that morris dancing should be included in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games as an indicator of how important it is to the culture of the nation. We foresaw the problem and it was extremely lucky that morris dancing was exempted. The amendment referred to morris dancers and their like, so I have never understood why jazz singers have not called themselves "morris jazz singers". You could also have "pop morris". It would fall under the Act and it would be up to the licensing authority to prove that they were not morris dancers. However, I should have thought that if they put a couple of bells around their ankles, they could get away with it.
What is so ridiculous is that large-screen TVs are exempt under the Act. You can watch football matches on large-screen TVs because that is not going to cause an uproar. You could even have three people performing next door to a pub, with their performance beamed on to the large-screen TV in the pub at exactly the same volume. That is legal, but it is not legal to have the people actually inside the pub.
This matter really needs to be addressed. It was often said that the legislation would be proportionate and would not be misused. The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, said that if you have a cheese and wine party and sell alcohol, you might soon need a licence. The noble Baroness should be aware that, if she has advertised, she already needs a licence to do that. It falls within the Bill. It is ridiculous but that is the case. The legislation has stopped the performance of music in hospitals, schools and village halls, and has been a massively destructive element in our society.
The Minister might say that this is a problem that we need to look at, but we have put off doing so again
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Lord Teverson: My Lords, I am going to risk the mood of the House because I am going to start by speaking in defence of the iPod. The iPod, or MP3 players, have been mentioned a couple of times. They did not exist when I was young and became a great enthusiast of popular music, yet just before I came into the Chamber I checked my iPod and found that I have 1,269 different tracks on it of what I believe is the best music in the world. An iPod or MP3 player means that, when I am mowing the lawn, doing my ironing-which I do-and doing mundane tasks, I can listen on shuffle to an extraordinary mixture of music in a way that was never possible before, whether it is Manfred Mann and the Doors through to Spandau Ballet and Level 42, or even Kasabian and the Gorillaz. That may be considered to be a rather narrow taste in music but it is fantastic that we are able to listen to music in this way.
My noble friend Lady Randerson, in her fantastic maiden speech, mentioned the Welsh Assembly. I was also part of an Assembly-the European Parliament-that had more than one language, so there was an excuse for putting on earphones during the parliamentary sessions. However, no one knew what you were listening to. Perhaps one of the tragedies of this House and the other place is that we do not have that excuse. Of course, at that time I always listened on my iPod to Radio 4 podcasts, rather than music, as well as the debates. However, that is only one section of music. In December, I went to the O2 Arena for the first time to attend a fantastic large live music event. On that occasion, there was a performance by the Scissor Sisters, to whom I listen with my eldest daughter. It was a fantastic event, but those are only two dimensions of music.
I have a reason for wanting to take a small part in this debate. My road to Damascus-or, in this case, my road to Donegal-was when we went on holiday for a week to the Republic or Ireland a couple of years ago. We went for the scenery, to see friends and relatives, to experience the culture and to enjoy the Guinness of Dublin. However, what I remember most is visiting the villages of rural Ireland and the towns of western Ireland in the evenings in particular. What rang out and struck me most strongly, and what has left me with those memories, was that a huge proportion of the pubs, restaurants and other places where people gathered had a huge range of different styles of live music performed by local people. It was that memory that made me ask myself, on returning home, why the United Kingdom is so barren in that form of creativity and entertainment. Of course, one reason is that this country has a prohibitive licensing structure that has to be surmounted and passed through in order for live music to be performed legally.
One thing that I believe to my soul is that music is one of the greatest things that we as human beings enjoy. It is a liberation. It can take us out of troubles or things that we are thinking about and into a different
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The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, I rise in the gap to support this Bill strongly and to give the Government a warning from history. Cromwell banned music and frivolity and closed a lot of inns and theatres, but look what happened. After five years of his military dictatorship, everyone was so fed up that they welcomed a king back with open arms and they had fun-look at the Restoration comedies. People do not like too much puritanism and Cromwell was a strong puritan. The frightening thing about the Act is that the fact that the regulations would stifle innovation was foreseen in the debates and therefore, I assume, must have been intended. In other words, we have a lot of puritans somewhere behind the Government. We have to remember the definition of "puritan". A puritan is someone who has a haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves. Do we really want to be run by those sort of people? That is the warning that I want to give. I finish by saying that I was highly amused by the juxtaposition of the two Bills today. Perhaps we should think of the words of Florence and the Machine and hope that the "Dog Days are Over".
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, this is the second time in just over a year that a Bill on this topic has come before your Lordships' House. Indeed, those who spoke in the earlier debate must be pinching themselves to make sure that this is not some sort of weird déjà vu. Or is it worse? Your Lordships' House may recall the movie "Groundhog Day". Are Bill Murray, now played by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and Andie MacDowell, now played by the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, doomed to find out that everything that happens on Friday 4 March plays out exactly as it did on 15 January last year, with an endlessly repeating time loop? Well, it could be true. As in the movie, the settings are the same, albeit in mirror image; the time of day is, eerily, the same; and many noble Lords who graced the debate in January 2010 have returned to give admittedly different speeches today-and we are all the better for that.
So how will the movie turn out this time? Of course, the parallel is not exact and keen movie buffs will have quickly picked up that the first time round the debate was not so well adorned as it has been today by the three categories of person that we must consider, in the words of my noble friend Lady Bakewell: the performers, the musicians and the venue owners. She said that we are the movers and shakers-I like that. We have had comments from performers and players, such as the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, and the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin. We have had poetry, which is now a performance art, from my noble friend Lady
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We also had two excellent and assured maiden speeches, by the noble Lord, Lord Grade, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. Those who know Michael Grade, whom I still count as a friend, will not be surprised that he spoke so wittily and well. It was as if he was "to the manner born", which I suppose he was, given his distinguished family. He brought to the debate real knowledge and experience of our topic. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, explained her connections with Wales and the Assembly and was able to add valuable insights to our debate, particularly about the situation on the ground in the land of song.
We have learnt a lot about the live music scene in this debate and we have been on a trip down memory lane, given the many groups and bands that have been mentioned. We heard some useful facts; I did not know that there were 14,000 morris dancers in the country. They all seem permanently to be performing in my local pub, but now I know why that is the case.
I reassure the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, that I am not a puritan and that on our side we do not take that view on this matter. I should say at the start that I agree with Feargal Sharkey that, particularly in the midst of recession and with an increased emphasis being placed on our creative industries to stimulate the economy, it is paramount that we should be creating opportunities for and not stifling our creative talent. As he said:
As a nation, we produce many of the world's best musicians, as we have heard, and Britain is home to some of the most innovative music entrepreneurs, the vast majority of them being small companies and therefore to be cherished. Music is a growth industry. It attracts millions of users to high-tech services-we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, about his iPod-it attracts people to want to work in the industry and, like all the creative arts, it drives tourism. We should all back live music and we should do so to the hilt.
I was not involved in the Licensing Act 2003 but I am happy to admit that we got it wrong. However, we have heard only one side of the story in the debate so far today. Clearly, we want to support live music and we want it to happen with the minimum of bureaucracy and the minimum of cost, but there is another side to this. There is a concern for everyone who lives next to a pub or venue and we should not curtail their liberties to enjoy a peaceful life. Clearly, it is difficult to get this to bottom out, but I do not think that we should duck it.
There are two competing freedoms. First, we should bear in mind that live performance carries with it a downside in terms of the impact that it has on others. People may wish to allow others to perform live but they may also feel the consequences when there is an
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There is a third point, however. The main purpose of the 2003 Act was, of course, not just about music; it was also about alcohol and, in particular, the potential to allow premises to open for flexible periods. Then as now, we still have split responsibilities within Whitehall. The Home Office is responsible for alcohol and DCMS is responsible for regulated entertainment. If you then add in the fact that responsibility for enforcement lies with DCLG and local authorities, you have the absolutely classic Whitehall problem-a three-way crunch, with all that that implies for the difficulty of trying to make progress. I suspect that that is behind a lot of this and I will be interested to hear the Minister talk about that.
Clearly, a good response to that sort of blockage is to provide evidence, which is why we have the Live Music Forum. We have heard what it found about this. It is important to recognise that the research carried out by MORI has been influential. The fact that 29 per cent of smaller establishments that had operated without a public entertainment licence did not apply for live music provision when the Act came into force should have rung strong alarm bells for those responsible. It is worth recalling the figures given by my noble friend Lady Bakewell: 80 per cent of pub managers felt that music would help them to survive the recession, while pubs with music are three times more likely to stay in business. We must have regard to the venues and, as my noble friend Lady Bakewell said, to something that is so intrinsically a part of our national life.
"We recommend that the Government should exempt venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence for the performance of live music. We further recommend the reintroduction of the 'two-in-a-bar' exemption enabling venues of any size to put on a performance of non-amplified music by one or two musicians".
That, as well as some lobbying and demonstrations, led the Government to introduce an exemption for small live music events performed for 100 people or fewer in licensed and unlicensed premises. Of course, as we have heard, that has not been satisfactory.
The truth is that we are stuck because, much like the film, we seem to be in a continual loop. A formal consultation has taken place and UK Music has analysed the submissions of all respondents to the consultation and found that 74 per cent were in favour of an exemption for small music venues, including some local authorities. For example, Oxford City Council, in welcoming the proposal, said:
"We believe that the proposal fully reflects the need for small venues to provide live music should they choose in order to generate much- needed streams of revenue and provide much-needed diversity. The measures proposed to uphold the licensing objectives seem to be both proportionate and fair".
Although the previous Government were intending to move on this, the general election intervened. As we have been told, rather surprisingly perhaps, the coalition agreement includes the following undertaking:
We have had some recent experience of the determination that the Government have to see coalition measures forced through without amendment and with minimum delay, and with scant regard, perhaps I may say, for the conventions and courtesies of this House. But that is not happening as regards red tape encouraging the performance of more live music. Why is that?
The public responses were published in June 2010. In a response to Don Foster MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DCMS, John Penrose, as has already been quoted, in June 2010 said that,
In response to Mr John Whittingdale, that same Minister floated the idea that there might be a broader and potentially more radical solution to the problems which this Bill is intended to address. Perhaps that is another reason why we are having continuing delay, which seems rather odd at this late stage in the process, after there has been so much time, so much lobbying and so much unanimity, as we have heard, around the industry and the users for a more radical solution.
"The Government are currently considering options to remove red tape from live music and other entertainment. I hope to be able to announce our conclusions, including the timetable for reform, shortly".-[Official Report, Commons, 31/1/11; col. 506W.]
In June 2010, the Government were committed to moving as fast and as positively as they could with a minimum of further consultation, but it is now March 2011. So we are hardly setting the heather alight, even on the A68. Perhaps I am right that we are in "Groundhog Day".
Will the Minister please inform the House when the coalition agreement's commitment to cut red tape will be enacted? Can she give us even an outline timetable for a proper response to the extensive consultations and pretty convincing case put by UK Music and others for action in this area? Can she throw any light on what Mr Penrose meant when he said he was considering radical solutions? Despite the convention of maintaining a neutral stance on Private Members'
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UK Music, which is the representative body for the commercial music sector, has argued persuasively that live music needs to be nurtured at grass-roots level. Without the hundreds of small bars and music venues developing young raw music talent up and down the country, there would not be a music industry. The worry is that the unintended effects of the Licensing Act have harmed and will continue to harm the grass roots British music movement. With this Bill there is a chance to prevent the harm from continuing. The Government talk about developing an economic growth strategy: what better way than by starting with this Bill?
I leave noble Lords with this thought: at the end of "Groundhog Day", the two main protagonists-noble Lords will recall that in our version the heroes are played by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the Minister-get together and the loop is broken. The next day, when they wake up, they can get on with their lives together. That is all fiction of course, although film buffs will say that if you look at the film in critical detail it covers 39 days of continuous loop. We have been stuck in this loop for rather longer than that.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, first, I offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, on securing a Second Reading for his Bill. It has been a fascinating, constructive debate with much unanimity and I welcome and add my congratulations to my noble friends Lord Grade and Lady Randerson on such excellent maiden speeches. My noble friend Lord Grade's witty, wise and wide-ranging speech was a treat. Of course, we look forward to many more occasions on which to hear his wisdom. However, it will be of no consolation to him that after many years in your Lordships' House I still go around in circles, but no longer do I dare ask my way. My noble friend Lady Randerson enchanted us with all her Welsh connections and experience in cultural matters. She will be a huge asset to your Lordships' House.
It is a good, although rare, occasion to follow the opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and to agree with most of what he said so eloquently and so clearly. The case for change relating to the regulation of live music has been well made by most noble Lords here today, and both inside and outside this House. The Government are in agreement with my noble friend on the need for reform and we are committed to delivering change. The coalition agreement states:
and we are keen to deliver this promise. This does not preclude the use of my noble friend Lord Teverson's iPod. We have a clear, unequivocal intention to free performers from unnecessary regulation and to return the right of performers of all ages to perform.
For all the good intentions of the Licensing Act 2003, it is clear that there are many instances where the public and voluntary organisations that make up the fabric of our society have been adversely affected by unnecessary regulation. There were countless representations from musicians, teachers and many charities during the passage of the Licensing Bill in 2003. This still continues.
We heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, about her experience that the licensing regime deters schools, hospitals, village halls and community centres from putting on events for the benefit of the local community or in support of charitable activities. My noble friend Lord Colwyn has been involved with live music petitions for many years and was involved with the Licensing Act 2003. He envisaged an explosion in the number of gigs in small places, but that has not happened, as he rightly said. He stressed that live music is thriving in larger venues, but smaller events have been cancelled because of licensing requirements, or because expensive and restrictive conditions have been imposed. All these obstacles reduce the scope for new talent to get started, because small-scale venues find it harder to stay open with all the extra red tape.
There is also the role played by public houses in local communities, as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Redesdale. There is evidence that public houses that have diversified to include activities other than drinking are better able to survive the recession. It is important to make it easier to put on live performances that can provide an important source of new income to struggling businesses such as public houses, restaurants and hotels.
In 2009, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended that the Government consult on permitting live music for low-capacity audiences, which the previous Government took forward last year. In recent days, we have seen another Early Day Motion in support of live music deregulation garnering support in another place. We agree with my noble friend that reform in this area is necessary and that it is the right thing to do to help local communities and boost the big society, as well as helping businesses. We must do so in a manner that at the same time ensures appropriate public protections are in place to cover issues such as noise nuisance, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said. We are pleased to announce that it is the Government's intention to be supportive of the Live Music Bill.
I must, however, add a number of caveats before we can offer unreserved support. First, we would support my noble friend in examining the technical aspects of the Bill to make certain that the legislation operates as effectively as possible and has no unintended or adverse consequences in the way that it amends the Licensing Act 2003. Secondly, we wish to explore issues relating to the time limits for live music performance. The previous Government's public consultation on the removal of restrictions for live music was predicated on a cut-off point of 11 pm, rather than midnight, as currently outlined in the Live Music Bill. This is an
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Thirdly, we will need to explore with my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones issues such as what the effect of the provisions of the Bill should be on conditions imposed by licensing authorities prior to such time as the proposed legislation comes into force. Those things aside, we are clear that we wish to support my noble friend's Bill. We are pleased that the Bill retains key local protections, including the right for licensing authorities, local residents and other interested parties to request a review of a premises licence where there are concerns about the licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder, public safety, prevention of public nuisance and-as my noble friend Lady Benjamin will appreciate-the protection of children from harm. It is important that licensing authorities, local residents and businesses retain this right, and that robust controls remain in place to deal swiftly and effectively with problem premises. As part of the discussion process within government, we will be conducting a full impact assessment on my noble friend's Bill that will be subject to agreement from the Regulatory Policy Committee.
We see the Bill of my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones as being an important and complementary part of any reform and will do all that we can to help the Bill reach the statute book, if appropriately amended. We can offer support for the Bill today. These are wider, active discussions that we will have within government on the wider issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and others.
I offer my congratulations once again to my noble friend on his Bill, and reiterate the Government's general support, qualified as I have outlined earlier, for the measures. We wish to see the Bill amended to take account of the 11 pm noise cut-off for unlicensed live music performance, to make certain that he has continued support. We would like to explore consequential drafting and other amendments with my noble friend in Committee. We are delighted to see that the Bill retains the key protections from the Licensing Act 2003, while making certain that low-risk community events are no longer prevented, or overburdened, by red tape and bureaucracy. The consequences of the Licensing Act 2003 have been to disadvantage many of the cornerstones of local life. It should not be the role of government to restrict creativity and community interaction, but to promote it.
This has been a most constructive and uncontroversial debate, with passionate speeches from noble Lords who obviously care about and love live music. I hope that I have addressed most of the points mentioned. If I have missed out anyone, I shall of course write to them with the further points that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, raised. I congratulate my noble friend once again and wish the Bill a safe and swift passage.
Lord Clement-Jones: I am delighted to see that the Bill has received such a positive reception from all those around the House, including some very encouraging
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As for my noble friend Lady Randerson, I am delighted that she brought in the Welsh dimension. I was born in Neath, the home of several bards and the host of the Eisteddfod on many occasions, so there is a connection there that I value very greatly.
It has been a very good debate. We started off with the difference between recorded and live music. Of course the iPod is an incredibly useful thing to have and it is wonderful to have a collection of music that one can access so easily. I shall compare tracks with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, any day of the week. But live music was what we were talking about today. It is absolutely crucial; without those young performers getting that start in life and a chance in small venues, we will not see the big bands who are able to sell their records and have downloads on iPods.
We heard all about the very long history of the attempts to deregulate the licensing of live music. The noble Lords, Lord Colwyn and Lord Redesdale, are the two musketeers who have been working on this since 1988-something that I had not appreciated before. Then there is the interesting saga of how the morris dancing exemption came about. The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, made the vital point that music is central to our lives, and we have a duty to the music makers of this country. She reminded us of what she called a tidal wave of music inspiration in Liverpool and the value of small venues in that context.
My noble friend Lady Benjamin talked about how she grew up playing live music and how participation in live music is so important. That is where small venues have an incredibly important part to play.
My noble friend Lady Randerson talked about the frustrations caused by the Licensing Act when trying to encourage live music initiatives, and how they were curtailed by the requirements of the Act, even with the small venues and the preparations for the Eisteddfod. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has engaged in similar initiatives across the country and talked about the similar frustrations when trying to encourage live music in pubs.
My noble friend Lord Teverson spoke about the Irish experience. Does it not appear extraordinary that they have such a different regime from ours in this country? It reminded me of that great movie "The Commitments"-one of the best movies of all time, which showed how a small Irish blues band made it by starting off in the pubs and clubs around Dublin. It was fantastic.
I also want to address the wonderful confection made by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. Perhaps I should call it the Groundhog Day fantasy. I very much hope that we are not in Groundhog Day and I took considerable comfort from what the Minister had to say. I also took strong comfort from what the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said about the positive economic benefits of live music. I thought that I should quote not Harry Worth but perhaps another comedian on the metamorphosis of moving from government to opposition, "before your very eyes". Many people will pick up that reference to another comedian.
To address the point about residents which the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, picked up, the Local Government Association and others have commented on that and it is the reason why these proposals have sometimes got rather stuck in the pipeline. I do not believe that this Bill will adversely affect local residents. The Bill explicitly safeguards residents from public nuisance caused by noise from live music, by allowing licence conditions to be imposed as part of the process under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If these exceptions under the Bill are not granted we may well go backwards, as the coalition Government's Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill proposes changes to the Licensing Act 2003 that are aimed at dealing with alcohol-related crime.
Two proposals in particular may have the unintended consequence of stifling live music. The vicinity test for making representations is proposed to be removed, so that any party can now object to a live music event even if they are not located in the licensing authority area. Also under the same proposals, "necessary" will be replaced with "appropriate" in the powers given to councils when imposing licensing conditions. In 2009, the DCMS Select Committee rightly expressed concerns about the automatic association between live music and public disorder, so if we are not careful we will very much be again in the area of unintended consequences of combining the two forms of licensing: alcohol and music. That will not produce an effect which will advance the cause of live music.
I listened carefully to what the Minister said about three particular areas which any impact assessment would look at: examining the technical aspects so that there were no unintended consequences from this Bill, the question of time limits and the effect on conditions imposed by licensing authorities. I have always said, both on the previous Bill and on this version of it, that I am more than happy to talk to the Government about amendments if they are necessary and proportionate. I believe that this will be a way to make sure that all are comfortable with new forms of licensing.
We have been inspired during this debate by the description of the key role played by live music in all our lives and how we want it to make an even bigger impact on them. The Live Music Bill aims to rebalance the Licensing Act and restore some fairness to the treatment of live music and musicians by the licensing authorities. I hope that noble Lords will support it as it goes through the House and I request that it be given a Second Reading.
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