HC Deb 16 December 2002 vol 396 cc526-7
12. Mr. David Cameron (Witney)

How many regulations relating to live entertainment and sport her Department has (a) abolished, (b) repealed and (c) withdrawn in the last two years. [85580]

The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Dr. Kim Howells)

My Department has revoked one regulation relating to the prohibition of live entertainment in casinos. As a result, there is no longer an automatic prohibition to prevent casinos from offering dancing, live music or entertainment.

Mr. Cameron

I thank the Minister for that answer, but is not the revocation of one regulation in the past two years a little disappointing? If his Department is to be the ministry for fun, is it not time for it to do better? As the Government are fond of targets, why do they not have some for getting rid of the bossy regulations that apply to everything from bingo to bookmakers? Will he introduce a moratorium on new regulations, such as those discussed earlier in respect of the Licensing Bill, that could impose new burdens on churches, music teachers and local organisations?

Dr. Howells

As a humble Under-Secretary of State, I do not have the money to visit a casino and find out whether deregulation has had the effect that the hon. Gentleman suggests. In introducing the Licensing Bill, we are certainly looking to reduce the burden of regulation wherever possible. Instead of the current plethora of licences, including those for holding entertainment in public houses, there will be only one licence: a premises licence that will include other forms of entertainment and cut cost and bureaucracy. I am sure that he will welcome that.

Mr. Gareth Thomas (Harrow, West)

Will my hon. Friend consider urgently the case for new regulations in sport to help with the possibility of our hosting the Olympic games? Such regulations should be considered, not least because of the huge benefits that the Olympic games would bring for sport, business and regeneration.

Dr. Howells

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport will have heard that request.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

Is it not a triumph of stultifying bureaucracy over freedom of expression that the ludicrous three-in-a-bar rule should be replaced with a none-in-the-bar rule? What on earth has the Minister's Department got against live music?

Dr. Howells

It is the two-in-a-bar rule, not the three-in-a-bar rule, but I know what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. I can assure him that, as a great supporter of live music and especially of some of the brands of music that are sung in pubs in Somerset, I will do all that I can to ensure that such venues are strengthened, not weakened.