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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Pub music law to be relaxed
The Dublin Castle in Camden, north London
Pubs can currently stage duos without an entertainment licence
Pubs will find it easier to put on live music if plans to reform licensing laws in England and Wales go ahead.

The government has pledged to simplify the rules regarding and pubs would be affected mainly by the end of the so-called "two musicians rule".

This states that no more than one or two people can perform without the landlord applying for an entertainment licence.

Kim Howells
Howells is the minister responsible for music

Under the new system, the right to stage acts featuring any number of performers would be covered by the same licence that allows the pub to serve alcohol.

Culture, Media and Sport minister Kim Howells told a music industry conference in Sheffield he was committed to the reform of "our archaic and at times, wholly stupid, licensing laws".

"I do not need persuasion that the 'two musicians rule' is outdated and pointless," he said.

But he warned: "Simply abolishing the two musicians rule is not enough.

"Abolition would remove the exemption and make it harder and more costly for pubs to put on singers and other musical performers. "


The issue would have to be addressed through primary legislation, he said.

"We intend to bring forward a bill modernising the licensing laws as soon as parliamentary time permits.

"Our approach is to simplify and integrate the licensing regimes."

The government hopes an alcohol and entertainment licensing bill will be part of the Queen's Speech before parliament re-opens, a spokeswoman for Mr Howells' department told BBC News Online.

Sirius B
Anglo-Brazilian band Sirius B play at Modal Music on Saturday

"This will be the biggest shake-up to the licensing laws since 1964," she said.

Mr Howells' announcement comes as Sheffield prepares to play host to more than 30 artists from four continents over the weekend in its annual Modal music festival.

The event is held at the city's National Centre for Popular Music and Showroom.

Scheduled speakers include the musician and radio DJ Tom Robinson, and BBC Radio 3 producer Philip Tagney.

See also:

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Robbie toast of pub crooners
25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
The songs you love to hate
03 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Karaoke machine's key to good singing
12 Apr 02 | England
Landlord wins World Cup drink bid
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