The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Saturday 5th March 2011 - Government to support live music bill

In a surprise and welcome move, the government yesterday announced its support for Lord Clement-Jones' live music bill, subject to certain conditions.  Government support significantly increases the bill's chances of success.
The conditions include an 11pm cut-off time for performances of live music exempt from entertainment licensing, and a full impact assessment before the bill could become law.
Speaking for the government in yesterday's 2nd reading, Baroness Rawlings said:
'I offer my congratulations once again to my noble friend on his Bill, and reiterate the Government’s general support, qualified as I have outlined earlier for the measures. We wish to see the Bill amended to take account of the 11 pm noise cut-off for unlicensed live music performance, to make certain that he has continued support. We would like to explore consequential drafting and other amendments with my noble friend in Committee. We are delighted to see that the Bill retains the key protections from the Licensing Act 2003, while making certain that low-risk community events are no longer prevented, or overburdened, by red tape and bureaucracy. The consequences of the Licensing Act 2003 have been to disadvantage many of the cornerstones of local life. It should not be the role of government to restrict creativity and community interaction, but to promote it.'
She concluded: 'I congratulate my noble friend once again and wish the Bill a safe and swift passage.'
The bill now moves to Committee stage in the Lords, probably within a month.  There its provisions will be put under detailed scrutiny, and the government is likely to table its own amendments.
Eloquent and passionate support for the bill came in speeches from a number of Peers, including Michael Grade (Conservative, maiden speech), Jenny Randerson (Liberal Democrat - maiden speech), Robin Teverson (Liberal Democrat), Anthony Colwyn (Conservative), Joan Bakewell (Labour), Floella Benjamin (Liberal Democrat), Rupert Redesdale (Liberal Democrat), Merlin Hay (Earl of Erroll, Cross-bencher) and of course the bill's sponsor, Tim Clement-Jones (Liberal Democrat).
Opposition Labour spokesperson Lord Stevenson of Balmacara admitted that his government had 'got it wrong' with the Licensing Act and live music.
Winding up the debate, Lord Clement-Jones thanked his colleagues for their contributions and for the government's 'encouraging words':
'We have been inspired during this debate by the description of the key role played by live music in all our lives and how we want it to make an even bigger impact on them. The Live Music Bill aims to rebalance the Licensing Act and restore some fairness to the treatment of live music and musicians by the licensing authorities. I hope that noble Lords will support it as it goes through the House and I request that it be given a Second Reading. '
Full Hansard text of the debate:
Media coverage includes this morning's BBC Radio 4 'Today', with a clip of Lord Clement-Jones' opening speech (from about 2'30" to 3'20"):
'... we had the ridiculous situation where Westminster City Council told Tate Britain to get an entertainment licence for Susan Philipsz’s Turner Prize-winning sound installation. Ms Philipsz’s prize-winning exhibit features a recording of her singing “Lowlands Away”, a traditional folk song, played through two loudspeakers. Westminster’s legal department ruled that the Act’s incidental music exemption could not apply in this case.'
The Publican 4th March, 'Live music bill gets government backing':
and the same story in Music Week, 4th March:
The Stage 4th March: 'Grade uses first speech in the Lords to back live music bill':
The Incorporated Society of Musicians welcomed the government's backing for the bill. ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:
‘We’re delighted that the Live Music Bill has passed its first parliamentary test and has received the support of the government. It’s vital that we demolish the bureaucratic barriers of the current licensing regime and allow live music to thrive.  Live music-making is a crucial part of our creative economy and many musicians receive their first break by performing in a small venue. We will continue urging peers and MPs to support the Bill as it progresses through Parliament.’
Watch the debate on the Parliament website:
Debate text with hyperlinks from

Hamish Birchall