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Lord Monson: I had not realised that Amendment No. 21 was grouped with an earlier amendment. If I am not out of order, I should like to add my plea to that of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, and the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, to the Government to accept Amendment No. 21 when it comes up at the next stage.

The other day I was in the lobby of a London hotel, having battled my way through Livingstonian traffic jams.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The amendment cannot be moved. The proposer is not present. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, will have to find another way of making his point, perhaps on another amendment.

Lord Skelmersdale: I hesitate to correct the Minister, but if he looks at The Companion to the Standing Orders he will find that once an amendment is on the Marshalled List it is the property of the Committee and not of an individual peer.

Lord Monson: In that case, perhaps I may complete my short intervention.

I was in the lobby of a large London hotel, having battled my way through traffic, waiting for a guest. I heard some marvellous, soothing, attractive, beautiful music coming from somewhere. I went round the corner to investigate, and there was an attractive lady harpist plucking on her harp, giving pleasure to all those present and offending no one. It is perfectly preposterous that a licence should be needed for that kind of music. The case rests there.

[Amendments Nos. 21 to 25 not moved.]

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 26:


"Small premises

The provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities is not to be regarded as regulated entertainment for the purposes of this Act if—
(a) it is undertaken on premises on which no more than 250 persons are present;
(b) no charge is made for entry; and
(c) the provision of the entertainment ceases no later than 11 p.m."

The noble Lord said: The Minister has made much of deregulation, and this is an extremely good piece of deregulation. The amendment seeks to promote mainly folk singing. I know that some Members of the Government find folk singing anathema and have said so in the press—I am sure that they were very unfair comments and probably misquoted—but I am sure that if tickets to folk concerts were sent to those people they would be only too glad to accept. Or perhaps not.

This is a probing amendment to which we may return. We believe that it meets the criteria for allowing folk singers and other small musical groups to practise and perform among themselves in licensed premises. The amendment introduces the criteria that there should be no more than 250 people present; that there should be no charge for entry, and therefore

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raves would not fall into this category; and, in order that we do not again receive the threat that it should be treated as a rave, the entertainment should cease at 11 o'clock at night, the start time of entertainment of the rave variety.

The amendment seeks to ensure that traditional folk music can take place in an acceptable environment. I hope that the Government will consider the amendment in the spirit in which it is put forward. It seeks to maintain and promote the proliferation of music. One of our major problems at the moment is that through the PEL system which the Bill seeks to remove—I quite understand the Minister's view that that is a good thing and may lead to many more venues opening up—the number of venues providing for folk music, jazz and other types of entertainment is presently 5 per cent of premises, which is unacceptable.

Music should be a part of everyday life. Indeed, one of the reasons for tabling the amendment is that we believe that some of these regulations could infringe on human rights legislation. I know that the Minister may say that that is debatable, but I am not sure that a case taken to the European Court of Human Rights under the relevant articles would not be successful. Given that the Minister has signed to say that the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, that is an extremely serious point.

The aim of the amendment—and, indeed, of the previous amendment—is to allow the flourishing of a cultural renaissance in folk music. I understand that certain Ministers would not like that to happen, but I hope that this Minister, when considering the amendment, will take forward the point we are making and perhaps even accept the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Buscombe: I support the amendment, to which my noble friend Lord Luke and I have added our names, and I support the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. We believe that the amendment helps to address many of the questions that have been raised. It reflects the Government's clarification that spontaneous activities are supposed to be free from regulation. In a sense, it provides a measure of de minimis. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that it attempts to meet the requirements of Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights—Article 10 in particular: the right to perform such music being an intrinsic part of an individual's right to freedom of expression. This is a good amendment. It would help to alleviate an enormous amount of concern, and it would reduce the work of lawyers. We therefore hope that the Government will seriously consider supporting it.

Lord Colwyn: I, too, support the amendment. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, restricted it to folk musicians. I feel that it should be wider and take in jazz musicians. Many young jazz musicians in

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this country have nowhere to play. To cut down on their ability to perform would severely restrict a good British art form.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It depends on the kind of jazz that is being played, does it not? It depends on whether it is West Coast or somewhat louder.

This is a well-meaning amendment. I well understand the frustrations that have given rise to it. We have agreed that the "two in a bar" rule is a nonsense. It is a nonsense to suppose that two musicians using amplification who are presently exempt from restrictions will cause less disturbance than a quintet playing at a tea dance. There is a whole range, both in terms of numbers of musicians and in terms of the kind of instruments they are playing, or indeed in terms of their voices.

But this amendment, like the others, goes against the way in which we are approaching regulation here. We say that, whatever the origin of the music, the concerns should be for public safety and the prevention of public nuisance. That can happen whether there are 250 people present, or more, or fewer than that. I am sorry to say that public nuisance could be caused before 11 o'clock. What about music being played next door to where a mother is seeking to put her child to bed at seven o'clock?

Given the way in which the amendment is drafted, a full orchestra could be performing in premises with a capacity of fewer than 250 people. It means that a small pub, for example, would have to employ people to count. It could cover a free rave involving 250 people. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said that it does not cover raves, but not all impose an admission charge: they make money on the sale of drinks.

The fact that music is presented commercially on a regular basis to boost sales of alcohol would be irrelevant. Pubs are commercial enterprises. They do not present music for altruistic reasons. We license many activities because the profit motive can make people careless about safety and the nuisance caused to others. The fact that no formal charge is made does not alter that. As I said, the 11 p.m. finishing time suggested in the amendment does not help mothers who want to get their children to sleep. I do not believe that it would be appropriate to introduce an exemption of this kind. It is better to rely on what the effect of the entertainment is, as we do in the Bill, rather than to introduce new criteria of this kind.

As to the human rights issue, Article 10 provides, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, said, for the right of freedom of expression. But residents are entitled to the right to enjoy their possessions in peace. That is the balance that must be struck. The European Convention on Human Rights—notoriously, I almost said—recognises that this balance needs to be maintained, which is why there are always disputes about what it means.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: It is unfortunate that the Minister has taken the line that he has. He talked about

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disturbance. There are many venues throughout the country which hold regular events in regard to which there is no complaint. The Minister said that it was possible to put an orchestra into small premises. I cannot think why anyone would want to do that. Yes, you can stick 31 jazz players in a cupboard, but that is a ridiculous concept.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Not if they are all the size of the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn!

Lord Redesdale: Indeed. As a former member of the Parliamentary Rugby Club, one would hope so. However, the issue is that many venues are already covered by health and safety regulations. Noise abatement is already one of the considerations that is undertaken. If a pub plays music, those noise considerations are already covered. So the issue of disturbance is already dealt with.

If disturbance is covered already, there can be no counter-argument under the convention. If no one is being disturbed, the counter-argument to the first argument about right of expression does not apply. It has been suggested that someone might try to bypass these rules. But as the noble Lord has pointed out on numerous occasions and will no doubt continue to point out, there are both new and existing regulations in terms of police powers, council noise abatement orders and all kinds of other regulations. If all these are in place, the argument about disturbance is unfortunate. This provision will lead to the destruction of a cultural form of expression—namely, jazz, folk music and many other forms of music.

I very much hope that the Minister will reconsider the rather hard line that he has taken. This is an issue to which we shall return at the next stage of the Bill, which may well leave this House containing such an amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


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