Live music reforms to be debated by peers

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Live music Westminster system Government Bill

Peers are set to debate changes to the rules around the licensing of live music - adding pressure on the government to reveal its hand on the issue....

Peers are set to debate changes to the rules around the licensing of live music - adding pressure on the government to reveal its hand on the issue.

Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones' Live Music Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords on March 4, it was announced yesterday.

The Bill includes plans to allow pubs to host live music for gigs attracting an audience of fewer than 200 people, which mirrors the aims of The Publican'​s Listen Up! ​ campaign.

Though it is a private members' Bill, which rarely become law, it could force the government into revealing what is has planned for live music licensing.

The coalition has promised to cut red tape on small scale live music events, but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been stalling on the issue for some months.

John Penrose, the DCMS minister responsible for overseeing the changes, previously promised "radical" reform, but last month argued there was "real risks" around live music.

However Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, which is backing the changes said he remained "optimistic".

He told Music Week: "I think the entire industry is indebted to Lord Clement-Jones' stance on this issue. We obviously fully support his Private Member's Bill, and we remain optimistic that Government will meet it's stated commitment to cut red tape around the performance of live music. "

Pressure is mounting on the Government to show its hand on live music licensing after the House of Lords set a date for the second reading of the Clement-Jones Live Music Bill.

Lord Clement-Jones' Bill will go to the Lords on March 4 and is an opportunity for the Government to get on board to support an exception in the Licensing Act to allow pubs and clubs to host small scale gigs without an expensive licence.

A spokesman for the peer said he had been in discussions with Minister for Tourism and Heritage John Penrose, who has responsibility for the licensing issues, but could not say whether the Government would support the Bill. The Bill has proposed an exception from the Act for a band playing a venue with 200 people. "There have been some talks between them and we have been hearing some encouraging noises," he said.

It is now thought that Penrose, who has been sitting on a Government consultation around grass roots live music for over a year, could make amendments to the Bill - the Government has proposed an exception for 100 people - or sponsor it to it pass into the Commons.

A DCMS spokeswoman said, "We will say something when we know."

Lobbyists have been encouraged that the Bill has found room for debate. Live Music Forum campaigner Hamish Birchall said, "This is very good news. It will be a place for proper debate."

UK Music CEO Feagal Sharkey added, "I think the entire industry is indebted to Lord Clement-Jones' stance on this issue. We obviously fully support his Private Member's Bill, and we remain optimistic that Government will meet it's stated commitment to cut red tape around the performance of live music. "

However, they were also aware that Penrose recently said he will be required to alert his colleagues in at least two other Government departments to move on any exception.

Related topics Legislation

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