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article imageLive music gets a welcome boost from UK Parliament Special

By Louise Auty     Jan 27, 2012 in Entertainment
London - A Bill which seeks to make it easier for live music to be performed in pubs and clubs has received the backing of the United Kingdom's House of Lords. The Live Music Bill passed its third reading this week and will now go to the Queen for Royal Assent.
Spearheaded by Liberal-Democrats Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster, MP for Bath, the Bill passed through the House of Commons last week.
Its aim is to reduce the crippling affect that red tape and bureaucracy has had on the live music industry across the country. The Bill intends to remove unnecessary licensing restrictions currently in place for unamplified music and for amplified music performed to audiences of fewer than 200 people.
Lord Clement-Jones said: "Small venues are vitally important to Britain’s creative culture. Removing the ‘two-in-a-bar’ rule means you can’t even have a pianist in a restaurant without having to go through the palaver of applying for a licence.
“Many of our most successful musicians got their first break gigging in pubs, cafes or student unions, but the Government is denying this opportunity to young musicians today by making it costly and time-consuming for small venues to apply for a licence. We risk suffocating our live music scene in red tape," he added.
The Bill has also received backing from The Musicians Union, as well as pub chains around Bath, which was what prompted Mr Foster to table It in the first place.
He said: "It will help reverse the decline of live music events in smaller venues. By removing unnecessary red tape it will help struggling venues such as pubs and clubs and preserve our world class grassroots music scene. "It is significant that not one MP objected to the passage of the Bill. Across all parties, MPs agree that the red tape on our live music must go."
Abbey Ales and Inns founder Alan Morgan said he was delighted by the news. He said it would be a great help to the pub industry in Bath as it would allow small venues to put on music without the hassle of red tape.
"Music goes hand in hand with British pubs but existing licensing laws make it nigh on impossible for small pubs to put on live entertainment."
Yorkshire musician and singer-songwriter Karl Robins said: "Small venues such as pubs and bars offer the opportunity for those starting out on the ladder to display and hone their talents in front of live audiences.
"These venues are imperative to the development of 'roots' music in our localities and without them it is not possible for live music to thrive in a supportive environment. This is, therefore, such an important bill in helping musicians to realise their potential."
As the House of Lords agreed with changes made earlier in the Commons, Lord Clement-Jones said: "I look forward to an early commencement date, before the Queen's jubilee and the Olympics, when at that time there will be suitable celebrations and performances in pubs and clubs up and down the land."
Conservative Peer Lord Colwyn, a bandleader and Musicians' Union member, said the Bill represented a 'historic change' in the treatment of live music.
"The Licensing Act of 2003 and its preceding acts embodied a presumption against most performances unless first licensed, on pain of criminal law sanction. This harsh treatment, dating back more than 250 years, will end for performances within certain hours and to a relatively small audience."
Raising hopes of an early implementation for the legislation, Government spokeswoman Baroness Rawlings said: "Regarding the Olympics and Her Majesty the Queen's Jubilee, it would seem appropriate. I will take your wishes back to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport."
The Bill exempts small venues with audiences of up to 200, such as pubs, restaurants and community halls, from requiring a licence to hold live shows with amplified music between 8pm and 11pm. It also removes the need for a licence for unamplified live performances between 8pm and 11pm in all venues.
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