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Sharkey calls on government to back Live Music Bill in closing days of parliament

By | Published on Thursday 1 April 2010

UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey has called on the government to back the previously reported Live Music Bill that was put to parliament earlier this year by Liberal Lord Tim Clement-Jones.

As previously reported, Clement-Jones’ bill is a response to the 2003 Licensing Act, and aims to remove some of the extra bureaucracy that Act introduced for promoters of grass roots gigs. A lot of its proposals came from a earlier review of the Act undertaken by parliament’s Culture Select Committee. However, the government has refused to back the Live Music Bill, arguing it plans to make its own proposals regarding reforming live music licensing, which would be less far reaching than those of the Liberal Lord.

But a government consultation on the issue has only just been completed, meaning Labour ministers won’t have time to introduce any proposals to parliament before it shuts down for the General Election. In a letter to Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, published by Music Week, Sharkey argues that if Labour would back the Live Music Bill as it currently stands, that could be rushed through before the Election and while Labour are still in power.

He writes: “The Department For Culture Media And Sport have just days to evaluate possibly hundreds of submissions, seek appropriate agreement and clearances with other government departments, formulate a decision and then lay an LRO [legislative reform order] before parliament. With a General Election imminent, might we enquire how you might expedite this process with just days available?”

Bills put forward by MPs or Lords not affiliated to the political party in government rarely succeed, and it seems unlikely the live music licensing issue is important enough to the current government for them to undertake a u-turn with regards their criticism of Clement-Jones’ proposals. Still, it was worth a try.