Feeds

Bill seeks to decriminalise pianos in pubs and schools

NuLab crackdown on unlicenced joannas, trumpets to end

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A private member's bill proposing to decriminalise offering musical instruments without a licence received its second reading on Friday. The, er... what? You may well ask.

The Licensing Act of 2003 introduced bans on unlicensed musical instruments appearing in public. The law, intended to promote musical events at small venues, must be one of New Labour's most absurd and bureaucratic legacies. Leaving a piano in a school or church hall without the necessary paperwork and approval risks a £20,000 fine and six months in jail.

Lord Tim Clement-Jones introduced his Live Music Bill last year. The bill seeks to scrap the worst of the red tape introduced by the Licensing Act – decriminalising the provision of musical instruments.

One event that ran on the wrong side of the law was a touring artwork called Play Me I'm Yours, which offered 30 pianos upon which the public could perform in London public spaces.

"It's regarded as an entertainment facility. Without a licence, it would have been committing a criminal offence – for each piano," Clement-Jones said.

The main consequence of all of Labour's new red tape was to reduce the number of live music events in small venues such as pubs. Previously, a venue could use a "two in a bar rule", allowing two musicians to perform without the venue (which could be a wedding party, church hall, bar or restaurant, for example) requiring a licence. After the 2003 Act came into effect, almost a third of those venues didn't apply for a licence.

The peer contrasted this with the public broadcast of football matches, which don't require a licence... and which regularly result in public disorder.

(You might require the notorious Form 696, by which the police and local authorities demanded mountains of paperwork ahead of live events, singling out black music genres as a potential "terror risk".)

In typical New Labour fashion, the Act spawned a mini-industry for academics, consultants and other hangers-on. There were nine consultations, two public projects, and two enquiries. By contrast, Scotland's provisions are three lines – and there, venues are licensed until 5am.

Clement-Jones says his bill would remove the worst of the red tape introduced by the 2003 Act, and cut away much of the red tape for venues with a capacity under 100.

He admits the bill isn't ideal: for example, one clause allows acoustic performers in venues until 11pm – he'd have preferred midnight. But with 30 pubs a week closing, removing the bureaucratic requirements (for example, leafleting local residents in advance that a musical performance may be committed) will make the trade more attractive.

The bill now goes to third reading, which will be followed by a report stage, then a Commons debate. After a long slog, the peer says he now has the support of both main parties. He fully expects the bill to become law. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.