Mudcat Café message #898725 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54636   Message #898725
Posted By: The Shambles
25-Feb-03 - 07:53 PM
Thread Name: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
Subject: RE: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
The following from Hamish Birchall...

Yesterday's Report Stage debate of the Licensing Bill saw opposition Peers defeat the Government over key live music provisions.

The Lib Dems teamed up with the Conservatives, winning amendments to the Bill that would exempt certain categories of live performance (incidental, acoustic), and certain categories of premises (educational establishments). For reference, these amendments were 8, 12 and 13 respectively. Press coverage today included 'Lords pull plug on rule for unamplified music', Daily Telegraph 25.02.03, p10.

View the Marshalled list of amendments online at:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200203/ldbills/021/amend/ml021-i.htm

And read the debate:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds03/text/30224-03.htm#30224-03_head1

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds03/text/30224-14.htm#30224-14_ignore0

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds03/text/30224-22.htm#30224-22_ignore0

This is good news, but it is not the end of campaigning. Why? The reason is clearly stated in the Daily Telegraph report: 'When the Bill is returned to the Commons, MPs will be asked by the Government to throw out the amendment approved in the Lords' (specifically refering to the unamplified music amendment). Direct lobbying of MPs continues to be essential. Encourage them to support the Lords' amendments. If they decline, ask why.

If they say licensing is necessary for safety or noise reasons, ask them to explain in detail what licensing achieves in terms of safety and noise control that cannot be achieved by subsisting legislation. Ask them why subsisting legislation is good enough for Scotland but not for England and Wales. Ask whether the government has evidence that live music in England and Wales is a greater noise or safety risk than in Scotland. Ask them what data for noise complaints does the government rely on. Ask whether the statistics discrimate between complaints caused by live or recorded music. No doubt you can think of better questions.

If enacted, the Lords amendments would mean that live music 'incidental to other activities' (i.e. not featured entertainment), amplified or acoustic, would be exempt. Folk sessions would be exempt, as would a jazz trio or solo pianist playing background music in a restaurant. However, I think it is debateable whether the amendments would exempt a pub that made live gigs an advertised feature. So, while falling short of a total exemption for small-scale performance in this type of premises, the amendments would bring the licensing regime very close to the Scottish example for which the MU has been lobbying.

The Government also introduced two of its own amendments that would:
1) limit the potential criminal liability of performers to those organising their own events (Amendment 218, applies to Clause 134), and
2) Amendment 2 (and 3) clarifies, in their view, the following circumstances:
'Amendment No. 2 makes clear in Schedule 1 that for private functions, an individual who simply makes facilities available, but is not concerned with the management or organisation of the entertainment for which the facilities are used, is not to be considered as doing so for a charge.

In practical terms, that means that an individual—perhaps someone who owns or manages an historic house or other suitable venue—will not be subject to the licensing regime simply because he hires out the venue to a third party, perhaps for a wedding or other function, and that third party then chooses to provide regulated entertainment using the venue's facilities unless the person hiring out the room becomes concerned with the organisation and management of the entertainment.'

And '...A private wedding would have to be a rather peculiar wedding to be licensable, anyway. It would have to be open to the general public, and there would have to be an entry charge. I am not aware of any private weddings that do that. So, that would be exempted to start with. The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, asked me about band leaders who negotiate with the organisers. They would not be responsible, and the amendments cover that point. '

However, a close reading of Amendments 2 and 3 (which are somewhat convoluted I'm afraid), does not yet, in my unqualified opinion, make it unambiguously clear that private functions are exempt where musicians are closely involved in the organisation of the entertainment and providing a service for which they charge a fee paid for by those being entertained. The Performer-Lawyer Group will no doubt offer an opinion.
Any considered comments welcome.