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Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I speak briefly to support the welcome that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, gave the Minister and to ask a question. Does the exemption apply to redundant churches? They range from somewhere such as St John's, Smith Square, down to one in my own town used regularly for concerts. It is used on one day a year for public worship, because the Historic Churches Preservation Trust insists on that. It is not regularly used for public worship, yet it is a church and is known as a church. I feel that it ought to fall within the definition that the Minister has given.

Lord Bridges: My Lords, I should like to join those who thanked the noble Baroness for tabling the amendment, which will give great satisfaction to those of us who spoke at earlier stages of the Bill's passage.

If I had to choose between the government amendment and that tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, I would prefer the latter, because one phrase in paragraph 9 of the schedule leaves a certain lingering doubt. The paragraph covers:

Does that cover a point that concerned me at an earlier stage of the Bill's passage? Those of us who try to support the structure, appearance and capabilities of ancient buildings—the building that I support is listed as class I by none other than the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and we arrange for charitable concerts—wonder whether we will be covered by purposes incidental to a religious meeting. It is not absolutely clear. I am sure that the intention is there, but I hope that we are not causing any difficulties.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, accurately reflected my views on bell ringing. I raise the subject only for the reason that I explained in my letter to the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, on 15th February. A document described as a leaflet about the Bill has come into my hands. To my surprise, it contains a whole paragraph about bell ringing. I think that it must have been written before the stages of debate in which the subject was raised. A sentence in the leaflet gives rise to doubt when it states,

    "if an organised bell ringing event takes place for the public that would be licensable".

We were given some extremely helpful and categoric statements by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, at earlier stages that bell ringing was not a licensable activity. I moved an amendment in Committee to that effect. I was told by the noble Baroness that the amendment was entirely unnecessary and would not be required. I therefore withdrew it. I hope that she can ensure that if the leaflet is given further circulation, the offending sentence will be removed. If she can, that will close me down, otherwise I might have to come back to the subject at Third Reading.

4.45 p.m.

Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market: My Lords, I too very much welcome the amendment. I speak only because I was a little concerned when I heard the Minister say that Amendment No. 11 would be redundant if Amendment No. 10 was accepted. It seems to me, as it does to the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, that Amendment No. 11 is much clearer than Amendment No. 10.

My point follows what my noble friend Lady Buscombe said, and from my interest as a patron of an orchestra. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is also a patron of the same orchestra. It mainly performs its evening concerts in churches in London. If the heading "Religious meetings or services" remains in the Bill, does that qualify Amendment No. 10? The great attraction of Amendment No. 11 is that its heading is "Religious buildings", which is very much clearer. Amendment No. 10 seeks to go beyond religious meetings or services, but the heading still remains in the Bill, so far as I can see.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I begin by saying how very grateful I am to noble Lords for their welcome to the Government's change of mind on the issue and our amendment. I also want to explain that the wording has been agreed with all the main religious groups, so I believe that it satisfies them all that we are making a genuine change to the Bill.

I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, that bell-ringing will not require a licence. I want to reiterate what was stated quite clearly in Committee, and I hope that he will accept our good faith on that matter. Several noble Lords asked whether concerts would be covered by the amendment. They certainly will. In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, I can

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say that all forms of entertainment in places of public religious worship will be exempted. I hope that that is helpful to her.

Several noble Lords asked about disused churches or disused chapels, to use the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. If a church is not consecrated, it would not be covered by the exemption. The trigger is,

    "a place of public religious worship".

That is the right wording, because it is an understood term and was agreed with the various religious groups consulted. Case law tells us that not only must the place be available to the public for religious worship, but it must be apparent that it is so available. I am not sure whether that covers the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, but I shall certainly take his question away and look at it again.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister appreciate that the chapels in HM Prisons are not consecrated, and that they would therefore not be covered by the exemption? Can she think of a way round that one?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I was not aware that chapels in prisons are not consecrated. I shall take away the issue that the noble Lord raised and examine it.

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that consecration is a technical term and that most places of public religious worship, even in the Christian tradition these days, are not legally consecrated? They have a lesser form of legal dedication. It is a particular term and the difficulty about prison chapels is not as substantial as may appear at first sight.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, that was extremely helpful. I must admit that I am not terribly familiar with the niceties of the meaning of the terms "consecrated" and "deconsecrated" but I am glad to be reassured that the right reverend Prelate does not believe that that will be a problem.

I say to the right reverend Prelate that it is indeed our intention that church halls, chapel halls and other similar buildings—village halls, parish halls and community halls—will be exempt from the fees associated with the provision of entertainment and entertainment facilities. A relevant amendment has not been tabled because we do not need one: the Secretary of State is already able to set fees at any level for any class of premises. We shall take this issue into account when setting the fees.

I believe that I have answered all of the questions that were put to me. I hope that we shall now be able to go ahead with an arrangement that has existed in the rest of the country for a very long time; I hope that concerts and other forms of entertainment will be able to take place in churches and other places of religious worship without having to seek a licence.

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Lord Bridges: My Lords, before the noble Baroness concludes, will she kindly answer my question about the phrase in the leaflet that I mentioned?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I have not seen the leaflet to which the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, refers. I am confident that what he wants will happen and that there will be no particular problems in relation to the issue that he raised.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 11 not moved.]

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 12:

    Page 110, line 32, at end insert—

"Unamplified music incidental to certain other activities

(1) The provision of entertainment consisting of the performance of live music (and not comprising or including the playing of recorded music) is not to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment for the purposes of this Act to the extent that the conditions specified in sub-paragraph (2) are satisfied and to the extent that it is incidental to some other activity that is not itself—
(a) entertainment of a description falling within paragraph 2, or
(b) the provision of entertainment facilities.
(2) The conditions referred to in sub-paragraph (1) are that—
(a) the other activity referred to in sub-paragraph (1) is the subject of, and is undertaken in accordance with, a licence granted under this Act;
(b) the live music being performed is not provided in whole or part by means of, or with the assistance of, electrical or electronic amplification, or made more readily audible by such amplification either in the place where the performance is occurring or in any other place."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I believe that this amendment is not consequential on Amendment No. 8. On the understanding that it will be accepted, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 13:

    Page 110, line 38, at end insert—

"Educational establishments

The provision of any entertainment or entertainment facilities in the premises of an educational establishment for the purposes directly connected to the activities of the establishment is not to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment for the purposes of this Act."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now turn to the question of educational establishments. We do so purely in relation to the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities in the premises of an educational establishment. I make it absolutely clear from the start that we are not talking about the provision of alcohol in educational establishments. That is one of the problems with the Bill—there is much confusion about it in your Lordships' House and beyond; there are misconceptions about whether entertainment or alcohol is involved. It is unfortunate that although the Government had the opportunity of a fresh start in repealing the licensing laws, they confused the issue—not, I am sure, intentionally—with regard to entertainment and alcohol.

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In Committee, we discussed the issues raised in the example of a school concert when the local community is invited to attend and to pay for a ticket. The Minister responded by saying that if the public attended the event, it would be licensable because issues of public safety and public nuisance arise. I found that a curious response because if there are any public safety issues about members of the public attending a school event, surely there are public safety issues about children attending, for example, assembly in the same place. Is the Minister aware of any school in which children are safe but members of the public would not be safe?

We in your Lordships' House know that schools are over-regulated and are already covered by many health and safety guidelines and regulations. Surely those are sufficient for members of the public attending a school concert. As regards public nuisance, children are by nature noisy. When schools finish for the day, children pour out of them and normally make an incredible amount of noise and create some disturbance in the streets surrounding the school and in the neighbourhood at large. Are the Government seriously saying that adults attending a school concert will cause a greater public nuisance than that?

The Bill will impose yet more regulations on schools. As noble Lords know, teachers are already overburdened with regulation and paperwork. The bureaucracy is now so great that teachers have less time to teach and no time at all for extramural activities. We believe that it is time to call a halt to that bureaucracy and that enough is enough; using school premises for entertainment must be exempt from the legislation.

I shall refer briefly to the recent report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which was published on Monday 10th February 2003 and which has already been referred to. The committee referred to the proposed exemption for places of public religious worship and we are all extremely grateful to the Government for that. However, the committee said that that apparently random exemption for places of public religious worship might tend to undermine the argument for the rationality of the blanket licensing regime as a whole and could engage other human rights issues by appearing to discriminate against occupiers and users of non-religious premises. We could list a number of different types of premises—we tried to do so in Committee—which we believe should be exempted. However, we on these Benches have been very constrained. We feel, after much consideration, that we should again propose that educational establishments at least—in addition to places of public religious worship—should be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. I beg to move.

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