The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Wednesday 17th March 2010 - Live music bill still live

Rumours of the death of Lord Clement-Jones' live music bill were, it seems, exaggerated.

Although not debated in the House of Commons last Friday, a new date has been set for 2nd reading: Friday 26th March.

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb announced the new date, although for some reason Hansard does not record his name. For even stranger reasons, Hansard does not record who shouted 'Object' to this and five other private members bills. One of quirks of the mother of democracies is that while individual Parliamentarians may originate bills, other individuals may scupper them with one word. No wonder why, for many, Parliament has become something of a farce.

The House of Commons is not sitting on 26th March, but Mr Lamb's announcement means that the bill remains live until the general election is called. Put another way, the ball is in the government's court. They could make time for the bill before the election. That is, they could make time if they were sincere about wanting to act 'very quickly' to introduce an entertainment licensing exemption for small gigs, as licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe told BBC You & Yours almost five months ago:

Friday 26th March happens also to be the closing date for the DCMS public consultation on a new small gigs exemption:

Ministers will know by then whether or not the majority of responses back a 200-capacity exemption, like the one in Lord Clement-Jones' bill and recommended by the All Party Culture, Media and Sport Committee last year. Both the Musicians Union and the Live Music Forum have already criticised the consultation's proposed 100-capacity exemption as too small to be of much use.

By 26th March the government runs out of excuses for any further delay.


Hamish Birchall