New bid to free up live pub music

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Live music Westminster system License

Peer is hoping to make it easier for pubs to host live music
Peer is hoping to make it easier for pubs to host live music
A Liberal Democrat peer is to table a Private Member's Bill to make it easier for pubs to stage live music. Lord Clement-Jones' Bill wants the...

A Liberal Democrat peer is to table a Private Member's Bill to make it easier for pubs to stage live music.

Lord Clement-Jones' Bill wants the two-in-a-bar rule for unamplified live music to be re-introduced.

It will also call for a "conditional exemption" for licensing of live music in small venues — a licence hearing would be held if complaints by residents are made.

Clement-Jones announced his plan in a Lords debate on proposals to make it easier for licensed venues to make minor licence variations. He had earlier withdrawn a bid to free-up live music licensing via an amendment to the minor variations order.

Clement-Jones' Bill mirrors the findings of MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Last month a Committee report said pubs with a capacity under 200 should be allowed to stage live music without extra licensing conditions and the two-in-a-bar rule should be re-introduced.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is due to respond to the Select Committee's findings within the next few weeks and Clement-Jones' Bill adds extra pressure on Government to act.

Flush out intentions

The peer admitted that the aim of his amendment was to "flush out the Minister's and the DCMS's intentions".

"Is there any settled view within the DCMS as to what amendments are desirable and possible? With whom has it had discussions beyond the MU [Musician's Union], UK Music and the LGA [Local Government Association]? Will the consultation paper be forthcoming and the consultation be started? If so, when?"

He added: "Minor variations to an existing licence are no substitute for a new small-venues exemption under the Act."

"The Government have brought forward this mouse of a regulation when they should by now have been consulting energetically on a new exemption for live music in small venues as they promised.

"The absurdities of the Act generally in respect of live music are manifest. The interpretation of the Licensing Act varies widely from local authority to local authority, with some taking a lenient view of incidental music and others a much more restrictive approach."

Communications Minister Lord Barnes disagreed that the Act has had a negative impact on live music overall.

"Nevertheless, the Government recognise that there is evidence to suggest that small-scale, informal gigs may have been negatively affected by the Act."

He said discussions were held with musicians' groups, councils and others on draft exemptions for small scale music events but "it proved impossible to agree on exemptions that would deliver an increase in live music but still protect the rights of local residents"

He added: "We think that the minor variations process, appropriately implemented, will help venues to put on more small live music events."

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