Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:51 UK

MPs want live music laws relaxed

Reverend And The Makers' Jon McClure
Indie star McClure has been a vocal critic of form 696

Legal restrictions on live music, introduced less than five years ago should be relaxed says a group of MPs.

Pubs and smaller venues should be exempt from needing a live music licence, says a select committee.

They say "draconian" rules, introduced in 2005, have hampered performances "especially by young musicians".

The MPs also want a form, which forces promoters in London to provide personal details of artists and their target audiences, to be scrapped.

The Licensing Act 2003, which came into force in 2005, has been criticised for reducing the number of places where artists can play, even to small audiences.

The Culture Media and Sport select committee, led by Conservative MP John Whittingdale, expressed "concern at the linkage of live music and public order issues".

The report said music should not automatically be treated as a "disruptive activity, which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder".

Mr Whittingdale added: "We were particularly concerned to hear of the way the Act may be hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break though performing live at small venues such as pubs."


The form 696 scheme was introduced in 2005, when police became concerned about gun crime at clubs.

Music promoters are expected to submit the completed form to police, 14 days before an event.

Feargal Sharkey
Mr Sharkey performed his song Teenage Kicks at the report briefing

High profile campaigners against the document include the head of UK Music and former Undertones singer, Feargal Sharkey, and Jon McClure of indie band Reverend and The Makers.

The committee heard evidence from Mr Sharkey, who said a charity concert in London for a teenage cancer victims was cancelled because organisers had not filled out the correct form.

As well as phone numbers and addresses, form 696 requires license owners in London to denote the music genre and the target audience of the gig.

The committee said it imposes "unreasonable conditions on events" and "goes beyond the Act". It recommended that the form should be scrapped.

It has also asked for the reintroduction of the "two-in-a-bar" exemption.

That enables venues of any size to put on a performance of non-amplified music by one or two musicians.

The exemption was axed in 2005, after having been in force for 44 years.

Welcoming the committee's recommendations, Mr Sharkey said: "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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