Business News Legal Live Business Top Stories

Live Music Bill passes through Commons

By | Published on Monday 23 January 2012

Houses Of Parliament

With literally minutes to spare, and after a lengthy discussion on the weighty issue of the time space continuum (well, on the proposal the UK adopt mainland European time), the House Of Commons passed the Live Music Bill on Friday. The proposed legislation now has one last call at the House Of Lords where amendments will be considered, but the Bill’s parliamentary supporters say that is a routine process, and the new laws will almost certainly now proceed for Royal Assent.

This should be good news for the grass roots music community, who can expect to see the bureaucracy around small scale live music events, much of it introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act, drastically reduced, the hope being that simpler licensing rules will encourage more pubs and such like to stage music events involving grass roots musicians.

The Bill was introduced into parliament via the Lords by Tim Clement-Jones, and sponsored in the Commons by his Liberal Democrat colleague Don Foster. Although the proposals had proven uncontroversial in parliament, certainly since the Bill’s second submission following the last General Election, it was a private members bill, and such proposals have a very limited amount of parliamentary time set aside for them, meaning allotted slots can run out before all the required debates, amendments and votes have taken place. Clement-Jones’s bill got close to suffering that fate, but with enough MPs in attendance and the daylight saving debate finishing just in time, it passed what was basically the final hurdle on Friday.

Welcoming the vote in the Commons, Jo Dipple, acting CEO of UK Music, which has been lobbying MPs to support the Bill, told CMU: “This is a great day for music. The Live Music Bill will make a real and positive difference to lives of musicians. There is no doubt that the current Licensing Act has created needless layers of bureaucracy – making it complicated and expensive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs. The entire industry would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster MP who have made this change possible”.

John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians Union, which has also been lobbying for the new live music rules, added: “We are delighted that the Live Music Bill has finally made it through Parliament. It is a real achievement for a Private Member’s Bill to get through and the MU would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones, Don Foster and all of the other MPs who helped to pass this Bill. Over the past few years our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig, and is directly linked to the Licensing Act. The exemption that the Live Music Bill introduces will be hugely beneficial to these small venues”.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Don Foster told CMU: “The current system has had a deadening effect on the performance of live music in small venues. At the moment, the landlord of a small pub could face a big fine and imprisonment for letting a customer play a piano without a licence. The support received this afternoon from all MPs from all political parties just goes to show how important live music is in our country and the overwhelming support for changing our obstructive licensing laws. We’re now only one step away from the Bill becoming law and creating an even more vibrant and successful live music culture. This will benefit hundreds of small pubs, restaurants, schools, churches and community halls, and strengthen the British music scene immensely”.

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | |