The following from Hamish Birchall
The Live Music Bill will become the Live Music Act tomorrow morning when
it receives Royal Assent in the House of Lords:
However, the legislation is unlikely to come into force until October.
On 27th January, when the Bill completed its Parliamentary stages, the
possibility of early implementation in time for the Queen's Diamond
Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics was raised by Lord Colwyn and Lord
Clement-Jones, co-sponsor of the Bill with Don Foster MP.
But the statutory licensing guidance that accompanies the Licensing Act
('Guidance issued under s182 of the Licensing Act 2003') must first be
substantially revised, with input from key stakeholders, including the
police and Local Government Association (LGA). This is essential if the
legislation is not to be misunderstood and misapplied by all sides, as
has so often happened in the past.
Some in the music press seem to think that the Bill marks the
culmination of a few years lobbying by musicians and the music
industry. In fact, it has taken more than 30 years of lobbying and
campaigning by musicians, backed by a coalition of the music industry,
arts organisations and performers' unions, to arrive at this historic
moment for the regulation of live music in England and Wales.
Since at least the mid-1980s, musicians have been making representations
to central government to relax entertainment licensing because it was
hindering or actually preventing small gigs. Hopes were raised when New
Labour announced an overhaul of licensing in 1998, but dashed when it
became clear in 2002 that controls were actually to be increased, with
the scrapping of the exemption for one or two musicians in bars, and the
introduction of licensing for 'entertainment facilities'.
When implemented, the Live Music Act will do away with the entertainment
facilities licensing requirement. The unlicensed provision of pianos,
or other instruments, for use in live performance will no longer be a
potential criminal offence.
Performances of live music between 8am and 11pm will be exempt in pubs,
bars, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and indeed all premises falling
within the definition of a 'workplace' for the purposes of health and
For amplified music, audiences are limited to 200. There is no audience
limit for unamplified live music. In premises already licensed for
alcohol, existing conditions relating to the provision of live music
will not be enforceable for performances between 8am and 11pm. But if
there are noise problems, and complaints, a licence review could result
in enforceable conditions.
The Bill also amends the Licensing Act to allow amplified live music to
accompany performances of morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature.
Ironically, while deregulation for live music is going ahead in England
and Wales, in Scotland entertainment licensing is being increased, much
to the annoyance of those at the receiving end: http://bit.ly/A1ekNr
This is an untenable position for the Scottish government. The
rationale for entertainment licensing there is the same: to control
public safety and noise. But the legislation that regulates public
safety and noise applies across the UK. It is absurd to have within one
jurisdiction essentially the same gig legal in one part, but illegal
in another, unless licensed.