‘Draconian' licensing rules threaten live pub music, warns committee

14 May 2009 by
‘Draconian' licensing rules threaten live pub music, warns committee

The Government must relax the "draconian" and "absurd" licensing restrictions that are damaging the culture of live music in pubs, MPs said today.

In a report on the 2003 Licensing Act, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said the act had been an overall success but expressed concerns about some of its consequences.

Restrictive licensing requirements, such as the Metropolitan police form 696, which requires performers to give the name and date of birth of all performers as well as specifying the musical style of the act, may be hampering live music, the MPs said.

John Whittingdale MP, the committee chairman, said: "The licensing requirements are still too bureaucratic and costly. Our report calls on the Government to relax restrictions in this area, which in some cases are unnecessarily draconian, and in others simply absurd."

The committee urged the Government to scrap licences for venues with a capacity of 200 or fewer and reintroduce the two-in-bar exemption, under which venues of any size can put on a performance of non-amplified music by one or two musicians.

Feargal Sharkey, the singer and chief executive of UK Music, said he was delighted at the committee's recommendations.

"The UK has a world-class music industry, but it is underpinned by extremely delicate foundations via an intricate network of back rooms in pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and halls," he said.

"For continued future success, it is vital that tomorrow's superstars and young musicians have somewhere to ply their craft, somewhere to play and that communities have a place to gather together."

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By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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