The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Wednesday 27th January 2010 - Minor Variations - 3 new live music permissions - 3 new EDMs

The government has confirmed that they know of only three new live music permissions resulting from the 'minor variation' licensing process, introduced on 29 July 2009.

'Minor variations', which requires an £89 application for an uncertain outcome, was touted by the government as a cheaper and simpler means to add live music permission to an existing premises licence. About 40% of smaller venues have no live music permission.

Only two weeks ago, the Local Government Association suggested that the minor variations process, and confusing guidance on the 'incidental music' exemption, were reasons no new exemption for small gigs was needed - this despite the fact that they already knew some councils had a policy of refusing all such applications ['info @ lacors' in-house magazine, p5, Issue 18, November 2009].

The government's admission came on 25 January in response to a written question by Lord Clement-Jones:

'To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications there have been for live music under the Legislative Reform (Minor Variations to Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates) Order 2009; and how many of these applications have been granted.' [HL1360]
Lord Davies of Oldham replied:

'The minor variations process came into force on 29 July 2009. Official statistics on its use are not yet available. We hope to be able to include data about minor variations in the next Statistical Bulletin on Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing, which we expect to be published in autumn 2010.

'The Government have asked the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) to request information from licensing authorities about minor variations applications that relate to live music.

'LACORS has informed the department that, although it has not conducted an exhaustive survey, it is aware of six examples of applications being made that include requests to add or extend authorisation for live music. There were three requests for the easing of conditions relating to an existing authorisation for live music, and three for new authorisations for live music. All these applications were granted. LACORS is not aware of any minor variation application relating to live music that has been refused.'


Three new related Early Day Motions have been published.

EDM 666 by Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland calling on the government to support Lord Clement-Jones' live music bill:

'That this House supports the Second Reading of the Live Music Bill; commends the proposal contained in the Bill to revive live music by the creation of an exemption from licences for small venues such as pubs; regrets that there has not been an expansion of live music since the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2003; recognises that bureaucratic procedures and red tape have stunted the growth of live music; further regrets that this has had a detrimental effect on both musicians and on the pub industry; believes that pubs and small venues play a vital role in nurturing new and unsigned music talent; and calls on the Government to support the Live Music Bill to encourage the return of live music to pubs and similar venues around the country.'

EDM 689 by Labour MP Janet Anderson welcoming the government's small gigs exemption consultation, but claiming that a 200 capacity exemption would be more effective:

'That this House celebrates the cultural value of live performances in enriching and entertaining communities; welcomes the Government's consultation regarding an exemption to the Licensing Act 2003 for venues with audiences of 100; but believes that an exemption for audiences of 200 would be more effective in tackling the negative impact of the Act in reducing the number of small venues hosting live performances.'

And EDM 689A1 by Independent MP Bob Spink calling for the 200 capacity exemption to apply up 500 capacity.

See EDM database:


Hamish Birchall