The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Thursday 15th April 2010 - Lib Dem gig exemption manifesto commitment

Liberal Democrats are the only party making an explicit manifesto commitment to an entertainment licensing exemption for small-scale performances of live music:

'Cut red tape for putting on live music. We will reintroduce the rule allowing two performers of unamplified music in any licensed premises without the need for an entertainment licence, allow licensed venues for up to 200 people to host live music without the need for an entertainment licence, and remove the requirement for schools and hospitals to apply for a licence.' (p46)

In fact, if Lord Clement-Jones' live music bill is revived in the new Parliament, the two performer exemption would apply anywhere, not just licensed premises.

The Conservative manifesto doesn't mention music at all:

A party press officer said: 'The manifesto isn't meant to be an exhaustive list of all our policy commitments. But rest assured we plan to do what we previously announced.'

Last week, Conservative shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told The Publican that the Licensing Act had been 'a disaster' for live music and that his party backed the campaign for a 200-capacity exemption:

After the high-profile u-turn announced by licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe last October, and the DCMS consultation on an exemption for gigs with an audience of up to 100, Labour's manifesto is a disappointment. It coyly alludes to the issue, but only for pubs, and avoids any mention of an exemption:

'Restrictive covenants applied by pub companies to property sales will be curbed and flexibility for pubs to provide related services promoted, making it easier to have live entertainment without a licence.'
(Communities and Creative Britain, 7:4, p52 in PDF file)

Since at least 2008, Green Party cultural policy has included a commitment to make it easier for pubs and other places to host live music:

'To modify the licensing regulations to ensure that small scale live performance in pubs, clubs and similar venues is not stifled.' (CMS433)

I understand this will be included in the party's manifesto, due to be launched in Brighton at 10.30am today.


Hamish Birchall