|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am sorry, but the only criterion for a temporary events notice is that the police have the opportunity to object for the purposes of crime prevention. It is not true that such people could get a temporary events notice.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I am sure that anyone who was intending to undertake criminal activity would not put it in the temporary event notice. I also foresee a problem for the police in dealing with tens of thousands of temporary event notices, although I am sure that they will be notified and are extremely professional. We must examine whether all forms of criminality will be stamped out simply by achieving a temporary events notice. Perhaps that is a side issue, however. We have to remember what the purpose of
The Government have raised the issue of health and safety. We understand those issues and believe they have been addressed. They raised the issue of the police being informed and I know the police are concerned over this. However, we also have to be concerned about introducing legislation that will restrict and curtail the right to expression, available up until now. On that basis I shall support the amendment.
I gave the Minister notice earlier of a particular question about the provision of folk dance. I know that it falls outside this amendment. However, I have had a large number of representations from the folk dance world. Kim Howells, his right honourable friend in another place has definite views on folk dance. However, I would be very grateful if the Minister could give some indication over how temporary event notices will work in relation to Morris men so that they may be reassured in carrying on their activities.
Lord Monson: My Lords, I rise solely on the narrow question of strip clubs. The Minister tried to chill our blood by claiming that nearly all such clubs would be totally unregulated if the amendment of the noble Baroness were accepted. I am not a great expert on such places but I would guess that virtually no strip club closes as early as 11:30 p.m. and that none nowadays employ live music as opposed to recorded or taped music.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I have been silent today as I was probably unnecessarily loquacious when the Bill was last in your Lordships' House. I shall be very brief now. I have had some passages of arms with the Minister on amendments to this and other Bills. I owe it to him, in his new capacity, to seek to repair my reputation for consistency. I wish to put on record that I have seen the letter from the leader of Westminster City Council to him and also the letter from the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Hampstead along similar lines. The Minister knows what they said in relation to central London. Indeed, he has quoted from them this morning.
Lord Colwyn: My Lords, I found the Minister almost very persuasive on this argument. However this is not what the amendment is about. As far as I am concerned, this amendment is about trying to find premises to encourage young musicians. Throughout the passage of this Bill, the Musicians' Union, of which I have been a member for many years, Jazz Services and the English Folk Dance & Song Society have all agreed that further rejection of this amendment would be a disaster for the performing arts. The Government are going against their policy of trying to encourage young musicians, singers and actors. As my noble friend Lady Buscombe said, the Bill allows big-screen broadcasts and pre-recorded amplified music. It allows a play, musical performance, disco or dance at a garden fete or a church. But it insists on a licence when exactly the same event takes place at a school, pub or restaurant.
My noble friend has covered the noise and the public safety aspects. The Minister in another place, Dr Howells, has said that live music has been distorted for years by the two-in-a-bar rule and that jazz has suffered especially. The two-in-a-bar rule is currently the only form of limited exemption for live music. Both Ministers have said, in this and another place, that to take up a public entertainment licence it is just a matter of placing a tick in the appropriate box. It is not that simple. There is a worry that local authorities will become more involved. They will inspect premises and come up with alterations that must be madea new fire door here, an exit there. The licensees are unlikely to want to take that risk. The two-in-a-bar rule becomes the none-in-a-bar rule.
I read carefully the debate on this amendment in another place. There, members of the Labour Party supported this amendment, yet when it came to the vote, they voted the opposite way. I have been co-chairman of the Parliamentary Jazz Club for many years. There are many members of your Lordships' House, unfortunately not in their places, who have lobbied for many years to get rid of this two-in-a-bar rule to encourage the provision of premises for young musicians. I hope they are outside and will vote for us. This amendment is about encouraging young musicians. Even if it is rejected, I hope the Minister will come up with some ideas as to how we might achieve this.
Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, I have just two points for the Minister. The first is that the Minister said in his first intervention that village halls were already exempted. If that is true, I should like to know where that is in the Bill. Secondly, I find it extremely difficult to believe that strip clubs and film shows would be covered by this exemption. I find it impossible to believe that a strip show or a film show
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am taken aback by the persistence of noble Lords. The Front Benches, in particular, have not even started to address or challenge the points I made in my opening speech. Our concerns are not just about individual parts of the licensing regime, but the whole of it. Amendment No. 62A would strip out huge chunks of all licensing legislation. The Government are concerned with public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder. We are concerned with the protection of public nuisance and with the protection of children from harm. When the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, talks about fire safety regulations, does she not realise that almost all fire safety regulations affecting cinemas are contained in regulations made under licensing law? The 1955 Cinematograph Regulations are part of licensing law, not of fire safety law. They would disappear if this amendment were carried.
When the noble Baroness says in her amendment that the entertainment should cease no later than 11:30 p.m., does she not realise that under her amendment it could start again at 11:31 p.m. and carry on for 23 hours 59 minutes? There is no protection against late night noise and nuisance or anything else in the Opposition amendment. Does she not realise that the difference between 200 and 250 is nugatory? This is not the issue at all. Is she more concerned with the safety of 8,000 people in the Albert Hall than with 199 or 201 young people in a basement club in Soho? Regulation under licensing law to protect these people in terms of public nuisance, fire and health and safety would be wiped out by this amendment.
The noble Baroness referred to noise nuisances. If the premises are outside the scope of the Bill because of an exemption, how are the local authority environmental health officers to know that a form of entertainment will take place that is likely to create a noise nuisance for the purposes of the 1990 Act? The noble Baroness, Lady Oppenheim-Barnes, was eloquent on this subject on an earlier amendment. She said that the local environmental health officers cannot do anything, because the noise is intermittent. Someone complains under the Environmental Protection Actthey cannot do it under licensing lawthe environmental health officers come along, and, by that timeor perhaps because of a tip-offthe premise has been closed down, and it simply starts again after the visit.
That is not adequate. Health and safety conditions imposed on the licence will be based on experts' concerns specific to the premises in question. That is much better protection than that which is provided in more general health and safety law. That is not to say that health and safety law is wrong, but it is generalised. When one is talking about alcohol and entertainment, it is better to have an operating licence that ensures in advance that the protection is there. The operating licence will make it clear what a particular applicant for a licence must do to gain a
I can say something nice to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, about morris dancing. He will have heard, as I have, the moral law that only two things are absolutely forbiddenincest and morris dancing. I want to make it clear that when morris dancers arrive at a pub unannouncedfor example, on the way back from another eventand have a pint in a pub garden, and start dancing, there is no need for an authorisation of this kind. They would not be providing entertainment that fell within the definition of the provision of regulated entertainment. No genuinely spontaneous activityI say this to the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, as wellwhether it is singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument, will be caught by the Bill.
I heard what the noble Lord said about the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Unfortunately, it looks as if the Joint Committee did not consider the department's reply of 10th April to its seventh report. Its officials have apologised for that. The context in which the quotation that he read out is made is the distinction made in the Bill, under pressure, after amendment, that there is a difference between churches and places of worship and other places. That is the context in which it makes that point.
Nothing that I said in my opening speech on this amendment has been adequately answered by this amendment. I put it to your Lordships that to allow this amendment through would be allowing huge risks of danger, physical danger, moral danger, and licence in the other sensethe lack of any reasonable and regular controls in this Bill.
They would take away protections that are essential, not only in central Londonthe noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, is right about thatbut all over the country. Those are essential protections for the people of this country. I urge the House not to approve Amendment No. 62A.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page