HL Deb 12 December 2002 vol 642 cc331-72

11.6 a.m.

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Blackstone.)

Viscount Astor

My Lords, at Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, gave a commitment to reply in writing to questions that he was either unable or did not have time to answer at the end of the debate. I raised a number of questions and have received no letter from the noble Baroness's department; nor, so far as I am aware, have a number of my colleagues on this side of the House.

If a Minister makes a commitment at Second Reading to answer in writing questions with which he was unable to deal, the department and the Minister should make some effort to reply to us, or indeed to explain why we were unable to receive replies. Serious points were made during the debate. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a commitment to consider them and that, between now and Committee stage next week, she will reply to any issues to be dealt with then.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, of course I can do that. I received a number of letters yesterday to sign, but I thought that some of them needed changes. Because of the preparation that was necessary for this morning's proceedings, I did not feel able to ask officials to spend a lot of time changing them. I will, however, endeavour to obtain replies to the specific questions raised, some of which were not answered by my noble friend Lord McIntosh—although he did a splendid job, standing in for me at the last minute, in answering many of them. I will look specifically at the questions raised by the noble Viscount and at any others relating to points that will not be covered in ministerial responses today.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Brabazon of Tara) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Licensable activities and qualifying club activities]:

Lord Faulkner of Worcester moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 9, at end insert— (e) the provision of indoor spaces in which smoking is permitted in premises where other licensable nib, activities are carried on.

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 78 and 90, which are grouped with it.

The first amendment adds a further licensable activity to the list contained in Clause 1. The proposed new paragraph (e) relates to the provision of indoor spaces in which smoking is permitted in premises where other licensable activities as already described in paragraphs (a) to (d) are carried on.

There are four main reasons why the amendment is desirable and necessary. The first is to continue what has been a previous practice and to give to the new licensing authorities the responsibility which currently lies with magistrates. It is thus in accord with the main thrust of the Government's Bill.

Magistrates have historically imposed conditions on smoking in public places in licensed premises, especially in banning smoking in areas open to children. The amendment would continue that practice but would make it the responsibility of the new licensing authorities.

Secondly, it is in line with the Government's general policy of making decisions locally. My noble friends increasingly emphasise the importance of local communities in policy-making and delivery. This follows that approach. Local authorities are best placed to make, and are properly accountable for, decisions made about smoking status in pubs and restaurants. Experience overseas indicates that most progress is made in this area when relatively small jurisdictions are given the responsibility. It would be much more difficult to impose a "one size fits all" approach from Whitehall for the whole nation.

By giving powers to local authorities to impose conditions, we are more likely to get appropriate solutions for the local community and solutions sensitive to the commercial needs and practical constraints of particular premises.

Thirdly, the amendment is intended to contribute towards linking the objectives of the Bill with health. The BMA's recent report on passive smoking, Towards Smoke free Public Places, establishes beyond doubt that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and asthma attacks in adults; and cot death, middle ear disease, respiratory infections and the development of asthma in children.

The most recent statement of the Government's policy on passive smoking is contained in an admirable Written Answer given two days ago by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath to the noble Lord, Lord Laird. It contains these words: we accept the right of everyone to breathe air unpolluted by cigarette smoke and we encourage the introduction of smoke-free environments. We recognise that this is not always going to be possible and encourage in these circumstances other measures to be taken to reduce people's exposure to smoke".—[Official Report, 10/12/02; col. WA 21.] I hope that my noble friend will accept that my amendment is a helpful "other measure" which goes some way towards meeting the Government's aims.

The fact that "public safety" and "the protection of children from harm" are specified as licensing objectives—in Clause 4(2)—makes smoking status relevant in licensed premises. Including the provision of smoking areas as a licensable activity in such premises will mean that the licensee and licensing authority must make active decisions about smoking status.

Fourthly, it is consistent with other approaches to smoking. At present, there are no meaningful regulatory requirements on landlords or restaurant managers to improve air quality in pubs or restaurants.

The hospitality industry seeks to introduce a voluntary agreement known as the "public places charter". But, as that permits its members not to participate, progress has been slow and patchy. I am advised that only 50 per cent of premises are expected to be covered by January 2003. It also allows a "do-nothing" option whereby all that happens is that a sign is placed at the entrance to indicate that smoking is permitted throughout. Even if the hospitality industry meets its own very modest, informal targets, this approach will be chosen by two-thirds of the premises that comply.

So, in other words, only 17.5 per cent in total will have done more than nothing. The rest will opt to do nothing or will not join the charter. Local authority licensing would stimulate uptake of the options under the charter for smoke-free areas, improved ventilation or both. The charter signage would be used to indicate what smoking status is available in premises.

If—dare I say, when—the Government introduce the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Passive Smoking at Work drawn up by the Health and Safety Executive four years ago, it would give specific effect, in the case of passive smoking, to general duties to protect employee health and welfare as required under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

When the ACoP comes in, it would be better to have a local authority responsible for determining what is deemed a "reasonably practicable" approach to smoking in each local establishment. Even if the Government continue to stall on the ACoP, there are still duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. Local authorities should uphold them with clear guidance from environmental health officers rather than leave the employers' obligations vague, as they are now.

I do not intend to make provision of smoking spaces anywhere a licensable activity, but only in places licensed for other licensable activities, such as retailing of alcohol or entertainment. The reason for making the provision of smoking areas a licensable activity is to recognise non-smoking as the norm and then require smoking status to be granted under licence. That principle is already accepted by the hospitality industry. Its public places charter states: The signatories to this Charter recognise that non-smoking is the general norm and that there should be increasing provision of facilities for non-smokers and the availability of clean air".

My final word about Amendment No. 1 is that I am not trying to use the Licensing Bill as a means to sneak in a back-door ban on smoking in pubs. My aim is to give local authorities powers and responsibilities to tackle this issue in a way that suits the local community. That could include doing nothing except complying with existing law, or it could mean taking a progressive approach to health and to health inequalities. But it will be up to a local authority to decide what is best for its own area.

My second amendment, Amendment No. 78, which is grouped to Amendment No. 1, is to include a further licensing objective under the general duties of licensing authorities in Clause 4. The new Clause 4(2)(e) would specify as a licensing objective, the protection of health, safety and welfare of workers in licensed premises".

These objectives already focus on public safety and protection of children from harm, and rightly so. But the rights of workers in licensed premises should be considered. That would apply in such matters as violence, noise and smoke exposure. Although there is overlap with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and related regulations, it would enable the licensing authority to apply conditions that are specific to the kinds of hazard present in licensed premises. We know that the HSE finds it difficult to give one-size-fits-all guidance on obligations under that Act. This amendment would allow the local authority to impose licensing conditions that would protect workers in licensed premises.

My third amendment, Amendment No. 90, is consistent with the other two, and is also wholly in line with the Government's policy on protecting children from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. The Government's Smoking Kills White Paper stated: Children, more vulnerable than adults and often with little choice over their exposure to tobacco smoke, are at particular risk". We know that other people's smoke makes children ill. It is hard to find a much clearer definition of harm from which children need to be protected than that. As adults, we can choose whether to enter a smoky environment. But children, who under the terms of the Bill will be free to enter licensed premises, do not have that choice if their parents take them in.

Amendment No. 90 makes clear that licensing authorities should do their best to ensure that children are excluded from areas of licensed premises where smoking is permitted. Already, some of the more enlightened pub operators operate such a policy voluntarily. I beg to move.

11.15 a m.

Baroness Buscombe

Before responding to the amendments referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, I say to the Minister that, with regret, we had a difficult task last night and this morning dealing with the draft groupings presented to us mid-afternoon. To give one example, the amendments were grouped with the debate on whether the whole licensing system should be moved from magistrates' courts to local authorities. That was entirely inappropriate and ill thought through. Although the Minister may be under pressure to respond to questions raised at Second Reading two and a half weeks ago, we on Her Majesty's Opposition Benches and other noble Lords are also under enormous pressure. We urge the Minister to encourage her officials to think through carefully the drafting of the groupings.

Turning to the Bill, the Opposition do not support the amendments. We feel that they would be an inappropriate addition to the scope of the Bill. The Bill is intended to provide for unified regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment and the provision of late-night refreshment, referred to collectively in the Bill as the licensable activities.

The Bill is intended to ensure that the provision of additional opportunities for licensable activities is matched by additional measures enabling the police and licensing authorities to act promptly to maintain public order and safety. The Bill is therefore not about the sale or supply of tobacco products or about smoking in the workplace or in public places and it is not appropriate that it should be.

It is entirely inappropriate and wrong that the four licensable activities currently stated in the Bill should be added to by a fifth, as the amendment proposes, to include, the provision of indoor spaces in which smoking is permitted in premises w here other licensable activities are carried on". That means that smoking—not generally, but in otherwise licensable premises—would require approval by licence and licence conditions. I disagree entirely with the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester. We believe that the proposal would lead to a possible back-door ban on smoking in pubs. If the noble Lord wishes to make it necessary for licences granted under the Bill to make specific requirements as to the conditions under which smoking may be permitted, Clause 1 is not the appropriate place.

The amendments, individually and collectively, would unnecessarily add to the regulatory burden. The key purpose of the Bill is to reduce the burden of unnecessary regulation. The amendments take no regard of the obligations under existing legislation and regulation and of the widespread and growing effectiveness of self-regulation.

It is not appropriate that this or any other legislation should seek to achieve statutory regulation when it is so obvious that voluntary self-regulation of smoking is already a satisfactory and increasingly effective alternative in the workplace or in public places.

Employers have a common law responsibility to provide a safe place and system of work. Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers have to ensure that there are arrangements to protect non-smokers from discomfort caused by tobacco smoke in rest rooms or rest areas. If there is a risk to health, the employer must take action to deal with it. Health and safety inspectors can take enforcement action if necessary. Ultimately, it would be for the courts to decide in a particular case whether a risk to health was significant.

These facts make the noble Lord's amendment to Clause 4 redundant. In any event, well over 80 per cent of workplaces now have policies in operation that have the acceptance and agreement of employees and all other parties. Smoking in public places is also likewise now regulated largely on a voluntary, self-regulatory basis without the need for legislation. This is true on most forms of public transport and in taxis, hotels, restaurants, shops, shopping malls and many places of public entertainment.

A significant public demand exists for improved air quality generally in the hospitality sector, represented for the most part by pubs and bars. There is widespread and growing adoption by owners and operators of the public places charter on smoking. We disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who says that progress is slow. On the contrary, we understand that substantial improvements are being achieved in the provision of cleaner air in the hospitality sector through ventilation, filtration and separate smoking and non-smoking areas. The charter is based on education and training and has the support of all the relevant trade associations and leading commercial operators. It is a progressive scheme that encourages operators to agree and implement a smoking policy with appropriate signage, and to invest in improvements over a number of years.

It is worth noting the Government's stated position. As recently as 3rd December, the Secretary of State for Health said that, we have been trying to persuade employers, through our local tobacco control alliances, to take action locally. We want to encourage more of them, especially in the restaurant and pub business, either to make their environment smoke free or to at least make it clear to consumers and workers where smoking is allowed. Many employers want to take such action. I agree that there is a lot more to do, but we are beginning to make real inroads into a real problem".—[Official Report, Commons, 3/12/02; col. 741–42.] In conclusion, in enclosed spaces, environmental tobacco smoke is far from being the only or most significant element in the context of air quality. Nor is the significance of the health implications clear or undisputed. There are many air pollutants—gaseous, chemical and biological—that are most satisfactorily dealt with by improved ventilation and filtration techniques. Regulation that relates only to environmental tobacco smoke would have an unmeasurable effect on overall air quality. Surely the key to improved indoor air quality is proper ventilation and filtration.

Lord Redesdale

As a non-smoker, I can well understand the noble Lord's motivation in tabling the amendment. There are obviously health implications of smoking in pubs. However, we do not support the amendment. I shall not give the detailed reasoning, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, has already done so, but we believe that such regulation should be part of the role of the Health and Safety Executive rather than part of this Bill.

Lord Skelmersdale

My noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, have responded to the amendment in moderate terms. I have been known to lose my temper on this subject inside and outside the Chamber. I do not intend to do so today.

My noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, are absolutely right. Knowing the background of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, described in Dod's as a liaison Peer to the Cabinet Office, I was amazed that he tabled these amendments to the Bill. As my noble friend on the Front Bench said—or almost said—the Bill was originally sold to us as a flagship deregulation Bill. It contains a lot of balancing of retained regulation on one side and easing on the other. It retains the need to maintain public order and safety. The amendments would be an unnecessary addition to the regulatory burden. I agree with everything that my noble friend said about smoking in the workplace.

The charter was agreed between the Department of Health and originally five—now 14—hospitality trade associations. It is very new, having come into effect only in 1999. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, mentioned 2003, which is when the first targets should have been achieved. The targets are that half the pubs and some restaurants must be signed by early 2003, in fewer than 65 per cent of which smoking would be allowed throughout. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, doubted whether that would be achieved. However, according to the public market report of 2002, 39 per cent of pubs have already achieved that aim. Therefore, it is a growing occurrence.

Although the targets will not be exceeded, I have no doubt that over the next three or four years we shall find that around 80 per cent of pubs and restaurants will, at the very least, have smoke-free areas. At best, we shall find a significant number being totally smoke free. I accept that there is a public demand for improved air quality generally. As the noble Lord said, the charter is a voluntary agreement; but, as my noble friend said, it has the approval of the Secretary of State for Health. I believe that it will actually achieve its objectives.

I do not believe that anyone on this side of the Committee has spoken about Amendment No. 90. It is a very worrying trend when the state seems to know better than parents what is good for their children. I hope the noble Lord will accept that it is good for children to be with their parents, whether in pubs, restaurants, or anywhere else. Indeed, as I understand it, this is part of the thinking behind the Bill. Surely it should be for parents to decide where the family sits in a public restaurant; it should not be a matter of law. It follows, therefore, that it should not be a licensing condition.

11.30 a.m.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

I do not want my noble friend to feel that he is the only person in the Committee with such views, so I rise to support him. My noble friend outlined the reasoning behind these amendments. Therefore, I do not propose to reiterate the points that he made. I shall merely say that I wholeheartedly support the amendments, especially Amendment No. 78, which gives protection relating to the health, safety, and welfare of those working in licensed premises. At present, workers in this industry do not have a choice as to whether or not they work in smoke-free areas. I accept that there are provisions in other Acts that currently cover such workers, but, unfortunately, they are outstandingly inadequate. The proposed provisions would further protect workers in licensed premises.

I do not believe that these proposals represent a backdoor method of banning smoking in pubs—I only wish that they did. I used to enjoy a drink in a pub. But, as I have become older and seem to be more and more affected by cigarette smoke, I can no longer do so. We shall have to wait for another day for such a ban. Indeed, we have been waiting for the ACoP for four years. I worked on the ACoP when I served as a health and safety commissioner. I do not know why we are still waiting. I have my suspicions, but I shall not verse them today. I support the amendments.

Lord Geddes

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, on two counts: first, I congratulate him on the impeccable and lucid way in which he read his brief, which was masterly. Secondly, I congratulate him on managing to keep a straight face when he said that his proposal was not to try to bring in legislation by the back door. It is. This is a licensing Bill; it has nothing whatever to do with smoking.

As the late Lord Benson once said, "Everything that I wish to say has been said". But just to reinforce my argument, I should point out to the noble Lord that if he wishes to bring in legislation of this type, Clause 1 is not the place to do so; neither is this the right Bill for such provisions.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

Before I speak to the amendments, perhaps I may declare an interest for the purpose of this Committee stage; namely, that I am a non-executive director of a large regional brewer, which operates 1,500 pubs countrywide, including the famous Pitcher & Piano in Westminster—the subject of a good deal of publicity of which noble Lords may be aware. I quite understand the objectives that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, has put forward. If he were to use the words, "discourage people from smoking", I could understand his argument, especially where passive smoking is involved. But I share the view that this is not the way to achieve the discouragement that the noble Lord outlined as his objective.

However, I can offer the noble Lord, my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, some comfort. Within the estate that, we operate there is clearly a continuing and rising tide of public opinion in favour of smoke-free areas and the view that the number should be increased. Therefore, market forces and public opinion are on the noble Lord's side. That must be the way to achieve the objective, because we would arrive at the desired point with complete consent. Everyone would buy into the solution that had been found, which is better than trying to impose an anti-smoking provision in licensing legislation and, at the same time, increasing the regulatory burden on both the operator of the pub and licence holder of the premises.

Where attempts have been made to widen the smoke-free areas too far and too fast because of a vocal minority, there has been a backlash from smokers who believe that they, too, have rights. This proposal would put the personal licence holder, the premises licence holder, or the brewer, into the frontline of a battle of public opinion, which would not be fair on any of them. It is up to the legislature to set the framework; it should not be passed down the line and left to people on the frontline to arbitrate and address.

Baroness Blackstone

Perhaps I may begin by responding to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, about the groupings of amendments. This is always an issue, and the Opposition have the right to degroup when they believe it to be necessary. However, my officials put forward these groups in good faith, in the belief that that was the best way to organise the debate. I do not believe that the extent of the degrouping carried out by the noble Baroness will help the debate, though I completely sympathise with some degrouping. We have a great many single groups that seem to deal with more or less the same issue. However, I am perfectly happy to accept the degroupings that have been made by the Opposition; that is their right. We, too, have had to reorganise our way of approaching the Bill in order to take such degroupings into account.

Baroness Buscombe

I am grateful to the Minister, but surely it is the job of officials to help all of us in terms of the way that these groupings are presented. To group this debate with the whole transfer of the licensing system from magistrates to local authorities indicates, perhaps, the depth of misunderstanding of the Bill, which is most disturbing. It simply does not make sense when we are dealing with a Bill that has been coming towards the statute book for two-and-a-half years.

We have degrouped considerably because we believe that the Bill is worthy of full debate. The way that the original groupings were drafted was, to be honest, frankly dismissive of so many of the important issues that have been raised by both individuals and organisations. We have been lobbied extensively on this legislation. We believe that it is right for it to be properly scrutinised.

Baroness Blackstone

I am most puzzled by what the noble Baroness says about the group that we are debating at this stage. In its original form, this group was smaller rather than larger in size. It certainly did not have anything in it about transport. There is some misunderstanding in this respect. I saw the groupings that were put forward yesterday, and this first group of amendments was smaller. It did not refer to Amendment No. 90, which has since been perfectly legitimately added.

I must defend my officials. The groupings originally put forward were designed to enable a sensible debate to take place, without the need to repeat the same argument endlessly. That was the intention. The Opposition have a right to disagree, and they have done so. However, it is not fair to my officials to suggest that they approached the matter on any other basis than in good faith to promote the best possible debate. I am sure that Members on all sides of the Committee who have served as Ministers will accept that that is the case. I hope we can proceed on that basis, with that shared common understanding.

I turn to the amendments. As my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, Amendments Nos. 1, 78 and 90 seek to address concerns about smoking on licensed premises and the protection of those who work on such premises. Smoking is an issue that should be taken seriously. I take it very seriously, as I know do many other noble Lords. On a number of fronts, the Government are considering whether sufficient controls are in place to protect customers and employees in venues where people smoke. However, this Bill is not about smoking. I entirely agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, when she set out very clearly that this Bill is not about smoking. On that she was also supported by her colleagues on the Conservative Benches and by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale

I share some of the views of my noble friends Lord Faulkner and Lady Gibson and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. I am not a smoker and I do not like going into pubs full of smoke. I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, that public opinion has been shifting quite dramatically and that the market itself will lead ever more pubs to want to restrict smoking. I think that he will have more customers in the pub chain where he is a non-executive director if that organisation moves in that direction. I am sorry that I do not know the story about the pub in Westminster, but perhaps on another occasion he can tell me and other noble Lords who are a little curious about what went on there.

As my noble friend Lord Faulkner said, one way in which we are already addressing public smoking in pubs and bars is through the public places charter to which various speakers have referred. The charter is a Department of Health initiative focusing on the link between smoking, drinking and eating. It does not ban outright the right to smoke in various premises, but it has provided a number of helpful practical solutions to smoking issues in what are known as "hospitality venues" in England and Wales, making it possible for customers to know whether the premises have smoke-free areas and the quality of the ventilation provided.

I have not seen the statistics quoted by my noble friend Lord Faulkner. However, I am inclined to agree with the comment of the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, that much progress is being made, and rather more than he suggested. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, also mentioned that and quite rightly pointed out that, as the targets do not have to be reached until next year, there is still quite a lot more time for people to put in place better provision for those who prefer to be in a non-smoking environment. I think that he quoted a figure of 80 per cent of pubs responding. I cannot comment on that as I do not yet know the figures, and I am not sure that we yet have figures on which we can rely.

I tell my noble friend Lord Faulkner that the Good Practice Guide issued by the Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks' Society advises the licensing justices not to set conditions that generally relate to health. I think that we should be absolutely clear about that. The Good Practice Guide states that these matters are properly for local authorities under their responsibilities for environmental health and are not properly dealt with in a licensing context. I think that we should all expect local authorities to take seriously their duties under other legislation such as environmental health law about health and safety matters, and I believe that they do.

The Bill's four licensing objectives were developed after extensive and detailed consultation with stakeholders. From the first consultation, and including the Government's White Paper, it was made clear that the purposes of the licensing regime needed to be absolutely clear and focused. The result of consultation was to choose for that clear focus the prevention of disturbance and disorder, as well as ensuring public safety wherever possible in places where people gather together for leisure purposes, whether as staff or patrons, and of course including children.

Amendment No. 90 would require licensing authorities to have regard to the need to exclude children from areas of licensed premises where smoking is permitted. For exactly the same reason as we do not believe that the regulation of smoking on premises where other licensable activities take place should be included in the Bill, I am not able to accept this amendment. However, I am ready to consider what more might be done to bolster the charter we have discussed, to discuss this with my right honourable and honourable friends in the Department of Health, and, in particular, to encourage its adoption by the licensed trade. I am sure that there will be general agreement across the Committee on that.

The issue of regulating smoking on premises is, however, beyond the scope of this Bill. I therefore ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.

11.45 a.m.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

I am most grateful to everyone who has spoken. I particularly appreciate the comments of my noble friend Lady Gibson and the reply just now from my noble friend the Minister. This is an issue that will not go away. It is clear from the tone of all the contributions that the climate on smoking in public places, in licensed premises and indeed elsewhere, is changing steadily; on that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, is absolutely correct. I would expect that the climate will have changed sufficiently for the great majority of businesses to realise that it is good commercial practice to provide properly for those who dislike the smell and taste of other people's tobacco smoke.

The purpose of moving and speaking to these amendments was to give a helping hand to my friends at the Department of Health who are desperately attempting to secure a proper tobacco control policy in this country. I pay tribute to what they are doing. The Answers that they are giving to parliamentary Questions and other Statements in this place and in the other place show that they are absolutely on the right lines. These amendments were a contribution, I thought, to joined-up government.

I should like to pick up one or two of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale. I am pleased that he did not lose his temper this morning; he is an agreeable and equable character most of the time. I do, however, have to make the point about children and adults. Of course I am not suggesting that children should be separated from adults when they go into licensed premises. What I am saying is that, because of the damage which we know that passive smoke does to children, adults should be persuaded not to smoke in front of their children. Clearly that cannot be enforced at home, but it does not appear to be an unreasonable aspiration in public places and in licensed premises.

Nevertheless, I shall, as my noble friend Lady Blackstone suggests, not press the amendment to a vote. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Provision of regulated entertainment]:

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No.2: page 108, line 10, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 2, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 3, 7, 18, 19 and 20. This group brings us immediately to Schedule 1 and the issue of what constitutes the provision of regulated entertainment for the purposes of the Bill.

These are very straightforward amendments to achieve what we believe is a simple purpose: to remove the question of "facilities" from the Bill. We believe that the proposed legislation is quite rightly directed towards licensable activities. The step beyond that whereby an attempt is made to license the mere provision of "facilities" ceases to focus on the potential problems related to activities. We believe that the reference to facilities creates a whole tier of unnecessary and onerous regulation. We believe that there is no need to define "entertainment facilities" in this schedule. A simple provision to allow music, dancing and similar forms of entertainment to take place within the regulatory framework, subject to conditions deemed necessary and appropriate, is all that is required. The permission for the public to participate should be included under sub-paragraph (2) as proposed.

If the Government were to accept these amendments, they would remove one of the core problems of this part of the Bill by eliminating references to facilities and concentrating instead on the activity; that is, the description of the entertainment. Our amendments seek to exclude references to facilities in sub-paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) of the first paragraph of Schedule 1 and add two obvious descriptions of entertainment; that is, dancing and making music.

We believe that the measures relating to the provision of entertainment facilities are very vague. Will the Minister confirm whether entertainment facilities could include, for example, music shops, music studios, music and dance teachers? Does the Minister really intend to catch those facilities?

My next point relates to many of the amendments that we have tabled. I refer the Minister to a letter written by the Secretary of State dated 13th November 2002 which states with regard to music that the introduction of new arrangements will promote live music and encourage performers. We fear that that kind of unclear and vague reference to facilities will achieve precisely the opposite of what is intended. Many organisations and individuals have written to us asking what the provision means and whether they will be caught by it. We should be grateful if the Minister would confirm the meaning and intention of the provision. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale

I support the amendments we are discussing to which I have added my name. I welcome the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe. The Bill's purpose as set out in the White Paper is deregulation. However, the provision we are discussing appears to add a whole raft of areas which we believed were outside the ambit of the Bill and should remain there. The owner of Hobgoblins Folk Music Shops wrote to me suggesting that the provision could jeopardise the survival of his shops. The licence itself may not be too onerous a burden to bear if the fees are to remain within the guidelines set in the White Paper—although they may, of course, vary—but in the past the ongoing costs of meeting health and safety requirements under the public entertainment licence scheme have been onerous. Therefore, we hope that the Minister will accept the amendments. We shall almost certainly return to this matter at a later stage.

Lord Skelmersdale

I have a rather more fundamental point to make. Will the Minister explain to an ignorant mind such as I possess how you can have entertainment without providing facilities? Therefore, why is sub-paragraph (3) needed at all?

Lord Carlile of Berriew

Will the Minister clarify a point that perplexes many noble Lords such as myself who are involved with small charities, often in rural areas? If I make my house and garden available to a local charity, a harpist plays to welcome people as they enter, wine is provided and perhaps a juggler turns up to entertain the children, will I and the charity now be faced with an expensive bureaucratic burden or can I carry on holding such events at my premises? Many people are asking such questions as the explanations provided for the Bill are poor as regards small charities and, indeed, some other larger organisations that we shall discuss later today.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

We have started on Schedule 1. It is appropriate that I should comment: in general terms on the way in which we approach these matters. We did, indeed, group together many amendments to Schedule 1 regardless of which noble Lord tabled them as we considered that that was exactly what would happen in practice. What I shall say now applies not only to the amendments in the group we are discussing but to many amendments in subsequent groups.

The first point to be made about Schedule 1 is that the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities is strictly set out in the early paragraphs of the schedule. Sub-paragraph (2) of the first paragraph of Schedule I refers to, entertainment or entertainment facilities… provided… for members of the public or a section of the public… for members of a club… and their guests, or in any case… for consideration and with a view to profit". I believe that we shall discuss that matter further when we discuss a later amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I refer to the matter now to respond to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.

The point here is that the facilities and the entertainment are provided as the main object of the exercise, so to speak. In other words, the horrible and ubiquitous muzak is not covered by the provision. There is no licensing requirement for it whether it be played in a pub, a shopping mall or, indeed, in the public street, where it is even worse.

Lord Carlile of Berriew

I must take advantage of the noble Lord's kind offer to allow me to intervene. Where does the schedule say that the main purpose of the provision of the entertainment is the music? Nothing in the schedule removes the impression that has been gained that an event will be caught by the schedule if music is provided, which is incidental to the event but furnishes some entertainment for people attending that event.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I shall continue with the argument as I want to refer specifically to music as, clearly, it is of particular concern. A whole series of amendments relate to music and to the differences between live music, recorded music, amplified and unamplified music and so on.

The provisions of Schedule I do not attempt to discriminate in any way between one kind of music and another, or indeed, to discriminate between one kind of entertainment and another except in the sense that we are concerned with its effect. The effect is twofold: first, there is a health and safety issue as regards the protection of the audience—I refer only to entertainments carried out in the presence of an audience or members of a club or their guests—and, secondly, there is an effect on the area surrounding the premises. I refer in that connection to noise and disturbance. That is the basis on which the whole of Schedule I is constructed.

Lord Redesdale

The Minister refers to entertainment being provided in the presence of an audience. But if someone was paid to prepare music for a wedding, would he not be caught by Schedule 1? That person would be presenting music to an audience for profit. Could that also not apply—perhaps I prejudge what the Minister will say—to music shops whose main purpose is to make a profit out of the provision of music?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

No, that is not the case. A wedding party, for example, does not constitute an event conducted in the presence of members of the public. It involves invited guests. A music shop does involve members of the public but the main purpose of the music shop is to sell music, not to invite people in to listen to music. Those people are not charged for coming into the shop to listen to music. There is no question of music shops, wedding parties or anything else of that sort being covered by the Bill. That is simply not provided for.

The second question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, was about facilities. Why do we need to cover not only entertainment, as defined in paragraph 1(1), but also facilities, as in paragraph 1(3)? Entertainment facilities are needed in the Bill to ensure that, when a nightclub provides a dance floor rather than staging performances, it is still required to have a licence. The effect of dancing in a nightclub, and the music that is necessary for dancing, constitutes a health and safety issue for those taking part and the audience and an issue of protection for those living nearby. That is why it must be included in the provisions.


Lord Redesdale

I apologise to the Minister for interrupting at this point. I have a particular question that he may be able to answer now. If a dance floor is already in a venue but is not used for that purpose, does the physical presence of the dance floor mean that an official could say that the premises must be licensed, or does the dance floor have to be removed? That question has been raised by the industry, because the financial provision of pubs will be affected. What is a dance floor?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I come to the third part of the argument, because we need to consider the matter as a whole. I refer to the availability of licences. One is not going to have a dance floor in a nightclub unless one is proposing to dance, and one is not going to dance except to music—at least, not in my experience. Any licensed premises, such as a nightclub or pub, which is selling alcohol, is going to have an alcohol licence to start with. At the same time as applying for its alcohol licence, and at no extra charge, it will be able to apply for an entertainment licence.

As I have made clear, the judgment on the entertainment licence will not be made on the basis that the music is live or recorded, or amplified or not amplified. It will be made on whether an audience is present that needs to be protected on the grounds of public safety, and whether protection is needed for those who live around. The conditions that will be applied to the licence relate not to whether it is live or recorded or amplified or not amplified but to whether health and safety and public safety requirements are met by the premises and by the emission of noise and other disturbance from the premises. In other words, they could be controlled in terms of the numbers of decibels, such as a requirement for a lower level of noise later at night. All those matters can be dealt with in the conditions of the individual licence.

Therefore, it is unnecessary to go into all the detail into which many of the amendments go, except for the purposes of explanation, as we do in paragraph 2 of the schedule. The purpose of facilities is to have entertainment, for which they will need a licence. The purpose of protection from licences is to discriminate not between one form of entertainment and another but in terms of public safety and public nuisance. That purpose is set out in the licensing objectives, although we have not yet come to that part of the Bill.

Taking the amendments in more detail, I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, that, if there is any concern about rehearsal studios or music practice, those rooms are not subject to licensing. The playing of music at either of those would not constitute regulated entertainment because it would not satisfy the first condition set out in the schedule, which is that the entertainment must be, for members of the public or a section of the public", or for "members of a club" or their guests, or "for consideration". There would be no audience at a rehearsal studio or practice, and no, consideration … with a view to profit". I believe that the Committee will agree, however, that when there is a public dress rehearsal or press night, for which people are not paying but to which they are invited, the same issues of public safety and nuisance arise as if it were a paid public performance. Therefore, it should be subject to licensing.

Amendment No. 18 would add dancing and making music to the list of descriptions of entertainment in paragraph 2. The performance of live music and any playing of recorded music is already caught, so I do not understand what that amendment would add.

Amendment No. 19 would amend the description of entertainment by including entertainment provided for the purpose of "participation by the public" in addition to that provided for, an audience and … for the purpose … of entertaining that audience. If an audience is present when an entertainment under the Bill is carried out, and the other conditions of the schedule are satisfied, the entertainment will be licensable. The Committee will agree that issues of public safety and nuisance arise under those circumstances. The participation or otherwise of the audience does not make any difference as to whether a licence would be required.

I was asked a specific question about where incidental music is exempted. Paragraph 7, in Part 2 of the schedule, exempts, recorded music … that … is incidental to some other activity", whether that is selling music, shopping, walking in the streets or travelling up and down in a lift. I believe that sort of music to be absolutely horrible, but it is not, and should not, be licensable.

Lord Skelmersdale

Perhaps it will be a subject for future regulation.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Not in this Bill.

Baroness Buscombe

I find the Minister's reply depressing, in the sense that it has raised more questions than it has answered. I shall want to read his comments carefully in Hansard. For example, if there is a party to which there are invited guests, does a gatecrasher trigger the need for a licence?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

No. I shall not find out where it mentions gatecrashers in the Bill.

Baroness Buscombe

The point I am making surely shows that our amendment would simplify the Bill. It would remove the vague reference to facilities and concentrate on the description of entertainment, so that we can all understand to what extent licensing will be required.

There are questions of health and safety and with regard to the effect on the area around the premises, but we remain confused about the extent of the meaning of "facility". In later amendments we shall develop the argument about why the schedule needs clear amendment. All we are doing in the amendments to which I have spoken is to seek to assist the Government in simplifying the schedule so that it focuses on the entertainment itself, and on the impact that that entertainment will have on its environment.

We shall read carefully what the Minister said. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that if the Government do not accept the amendments, we shall probably return to the matter on Report. This is an important area of the Bill, in relation to which we have been lobbied heavily because it raises so many questions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 4: Page 108, line 14, leave out "to any extent

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 4 relates to paragraph (2) of Schedule 1. Does the phrase, to any extent for members of the public or a section of the public", mean that any entertainment to which the public may be admitted will be covered, even if the purpose of the entertainment is mostly or nearly entirely private? Will the performance—this question has to an extent already been asked—of a concert by children for their parents at a school, village hall or elsewhere he a performance for, a section of the public", even if all those in the hall are related to or know the children and no consideration was provided? How wide will the provision cast the net? I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale

The Bill appears vague and somewhat confusing and is therefore almost a paradise for lawyers, who will need to explain what we meant when we passed this wonderful Bill. Will the issues raised by it be covered by the guidance, which of course has not yet been published?

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I support the amendment. It was said earlier that weddings will be for invited guests but my experience is that if a wedding is in a church, the public are not excluded; anyone can walk in. The phrase, "to any extent" could mean that that answer about the church might not be correct. Similarly, the point about the gatecrasher might be covered by that phrase. It is a very sweeping phrase and I support its removal from the schedule.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I ask the Minister—I am glad that she has regained her dulcet voice—whether agreeing to the amendment would make any difference. Paragraph 1(2)(a) of the schedule states, to any extent for members of the public or a section of the public". Even if one removed "to any extent", the phrase "a section of the public" could mean two people. If one wants to carry home the point, another amendment will be needed next time. Will the Minister confirm that?

Lord Carlile of Berriew

The phrase, "to any extent" will be pored over by the courts; the whole Bill will provide a field-day for lawyers and there will be a huge number of judicial review applications as a result of the transfer to councils of licensing responsibility. What the Minister says in Committee about the words "to any extent" will be pored over, bearing in mind the Pepper v Hart decision, which allows courts to look at Hansard in certain circumstances.

I intervene on this issue to try to tease out of this Minister, having tried with the previous Minister, whether this provision provides a gateway through which small charities, such as those that I mentioned earlier, can go. If the event is organised on the basis that tickets are sold by people with a particular interest so as to invite some members of the public to private premises—a village hall or church, for example—in order to support a charity, will the words allow us not to have to apply for a licence? If not, what do they mean, if anything at all?

Lord Bridges

I raise another example, which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, might care to consider. I speak as a former vice-president of the Aldeburgh Foundation. One of our most successful activities are the Britten-Pears musical schools, in which a number of masterclasses are given by experts: singers, violinists and so on. They are extremely interesting events, to which one can go and pay a small fee. Not many people can go but they are generally very popular. If one is ambitious to become a Lieder singer, one will learn much by going to listen to a masterclass. At the moment, the funds received, which are not considerable, go to help to pay for the foundation's expenses. Would they be caught by the phrase "to any extent"? I suppose that they will be.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

The Minister may regard my observation as dated but I raise a footnote to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. I offer to the Chamber the remark by Raymond Asquith's mother-in-law, Lady Homer, in about 1900. She said that there is no social event in the entire kingdom to which one cannot gain access by writing "Admit two" on your visiting card.

12.15 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I remember many years ago being in Carmel, California, for the summer musical festival and discovering that, as is often the case, fire safety regulations were at odds with security. If one went up the fire escape, one could get into part of the hall and obviate the need to pay for a ticket at the door. I hasten to say that I have not done that for many years!

I can answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, very simply. Of course the public can go into weddings, but weddings are not covered because they are religious services. I was discussing wedding parties; in other words, the "do" afterwards, not the wedding service. That also applies, I believe, to the register office.

I shall respond to the amendment about the phrase "to any extent" before dealing with some of the other challenges. Members of the Committee may appreciate why we wanted to group these amendments: all the questions being raised could and should have been raised in relation to the subject matter of Schedule 1.

Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 defines the "provision of regulated entertainment" for the purposes of the Bill. Sub-paragraph (2)(a) sets out the condition that the "entertainment or entertainment facilities" must be provided, to any extent for members of the public or a section of the public". That is one of three alternative descriptions in the paragraph that must be satisfied for the entertainment to be regulated. The amendment seeks the removal of the phrase "to any extent" in that condition. That expression is understood by the courts. I say that with some trepidation in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. It removes any argument that the provision of entertainment for any number of people, including a single person attending an event, if only for part of that event, is covered by the licensing regime.

There are entertainments—some fringe entertainments at the Edinburgh Festival—at which only one person turns up. I have heard of an entertainment on the fringe of the Edinburgh Festival at which only one person was allowed to be present; in other words, it was a one-to-one entertainment. However, the consideration in this regard, as always, is about the twin issues of public safety and protection of the public from public nuisance. If we took out the phrase "to any extent" there would be the possibility that the definition of "members of the public" and "section of the public" could be open to misinterpretation and a good deal of argument. The law must be clear for venue operators.

I was asked a number of specific questions, which I shall try to answer, anticipating future amendments in future groups. School concerts, surely, are for invited guests—that is, the parents and relatives of those in the school—and are therefore not covered.

I have already dealt with the issue of the wedding service. On the question of the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, about Aldeburgh masterclasses, I have only got into a masterclass once—

Lord Carlile of Berriew

Will the Minister—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

Perhaps the noble Lord would allow me to finish my sentence; I am trying to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Bridges.

I have got in only once because the tickets are very difficult to get hold of; but, yes, they are licensable activities. They are for members of the public and issues of public safety and public nuisance apply.

Lord Carlile of Berriew

I am grateful to the noble Lord. He made an assertion that school concerts are for parents and members of the school. That is right. But, now, in a great many schools where school concerts are given by, for example, the school orchestra, the local community is invited to attend the concert and to pay money for a ticket; nevertheless, it is the school concert. Will that be included within the licensing requirements and, if so, is that reasonable?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

If any query were to arise on the basis of public safety and public nuisance, it would be in relation to the exemption which is being made only for those who are invited to school concerts. The answer is: yes, if the public attend, the event will be licensable because issues of public safety and public nuisance arise. However, the question should be: should events which are not open to the public be licensable because issues of public nuisance and public safety arise? Perhaps I may be allowed to finish and I shall then give way to noble Lords in turn. The fundamental consideration must be public nuisance and public safety. Within that, we are trying to be as deregulatory as we can. I give way to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale.

Lord Redesdale

I thank the Minister. He mentioned public nuisance and public safety and, quite legitimately, that has been the catch-all for a number of his points. However, we are talking about schools, churches or certain other institutions that are already covered by health and safety guidelines on safety at work. Obviously, this point will be raised in relation to churches. But this is meant to be a piece of deregulation. We are adding on top a piece of regulation which already exists because school halls are already adequately covered by fire and noise regulations. Therefore, we are simply adding a piece of secondary legislation. I believe that the Minister's point that we cannot object to this because of health and public nuisance issues somewhat misses the point of the amendments.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

No. That is the reason for the exemptions. But if anyone stages a commercial concert and charges for admission, and if there is any, consideration and with a view to profit", as stated in Schedule 1(2)(c), then clearly issues of public nuisance and public safety arise.

Lord Crickhowell

I am now utterly bemused by the argument about safety and public nuisance. Following on from the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, I take a keen interest in an organisation known as the National Opera Studio. The Minister will know that that organisation is responsible for training all our best young opera singers from every opera company in the country. During the course of a working week with one of our national opera companies, it usually holds a concert in a school hall. During the week, it also goes out to, and does work with, a number of schools.

I attended the last event organised by the National Opera Studio in the school hall of a school in Penarth. I cannot see that a safety issue arises for those who attended that concert to listen to people being trained in a school hall that does not arise for anyone attending a school concert in the same building. No other question of health and safety arises from people being present to listen to those performers than it would for anyone else sitting in a school hall and listening to a performance. Therefore, I simply cannot understand the argument.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

From this side of the Chamber perhaps I may support some of the contributions thus far. I went to St Mary's Church in Battersea a week last Thursday for a musical event which raised funds for the fabric of the building. Members of the congregation and members of the public generally were charged £7.50 per head for attending. Presumably, under this provision, the church would be required to be licensed. Is that or is that not so?

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am sorry to extend the debate but this is obviously a matter of huge importance and wide application. I believe that the last comment made by the Minister before he kindly gave way—I thank him again for letting me intervene—concerned consideration being charged for events. However, as he earlier said correctly, subsection (2) does not require tickets to be sold for an event in order for the event to fall within subsection (2). Therefore, taking the example of the school play, one would not need to charge anyone attending the event for the event to be caught by subsection (a) if, to any extent … members of the public or a section of the public", were present.

As the noble Lord said in defending that wording, it is designed to catch one or two people who are present for part of an entertainment. I put it to the Minister that, in fact, the organisers of most school plays, especially those held in a large hall and with several performances, encourage pupils to bring along friends. As the wording stands, I believe that if friends are allowed—indeed, encouraged—to come along to a school performance of any kind without charge, that is caught.

Lord Williamson of Horton

I am sorry to add to the woes of the Minister but perhaps I may ask for clarification on one other point. The amendment that we are discussing does not refer only to "entertainment"; as we were aware earlier, it refers also to "entertainment facilities". Those are still covered by the wording, to any extent for members of the public", and so on. Let us take the example of a school which has its own concert facilities—a stage and so on. Normally that school would not use those facilities for the public; they would normally be used only for the school. However, under certain circumstances every year or two years, the public might be present at an event. I refer specifically to the "facilities" that are available. In those circumstances, it seems to me that the school will require a regulated entertainment licence because the facilities exist and might be used to any extent for the public. I refer not to the entertainment itself but to the facilities.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Perhaps I may also ask the Minister to clarify the point which follows on from the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. He said that one does not necessarily have to charge. Can he clarify whether, in the school concert scenario, there is a difference if people are not specifically charged but are asked to donate? I cite as an example the case of the charge of £7.50 for the event at a church. When one enters museums, one often sees a notice saying, "Donations suggested", with an amount, even though it may be a non-charging museum. Can the noble Lord clarify whether the word "donation" makes any difference?

Lord McNally

Before the Minister reads those helpful pieces of paper that are on their way to him, perhaps I may, in a spirit of comradeship, give him a little advice. He knows of the affection that I have for him. Part of my job from these Benches is to go to another place and sit in on our parliamentary party meetings. Very rarely do I receive questions or comments on what we are doing at this end of the building. Last night, a large number of Members said that their post bags were already being filled by complaints, fears or doubts about this part of the Bill. Before the Minister plays his usual elegant, straight bat in response, perhaps I may suggest that he takes back the matter to the department. He will certainly have trouble from this end of the building and my suspicion is that, as those post bags fill up, he will also have trouble from the other end.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I can get a word in edgeways—excellent! Clearly a large number of specific questions about specific cases—whether they be master classes, opera schools or whatever—have been raised, and it would be foolish of me to attempt to answer them at the Dispatch Box. I shall undertake to write to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate about all the issues raised.

There will obviously be difficulties at the margin. However, I believe that the fundamental principles that I stated in relation to Schedule 1 deal with the large bulk of the questions raised in the post bags of the colleagues of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, and, indeed, with the questions raised in this House.

I want to return specifically to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, about existing health and safety legislation and whether it is being duplicated. Our existing health and safety legislation relating to the workplace covers schools. It does not matter whether it is a place of work or an educational institution; health and safety issues are addressed in a place of work or educational institution. It does not cover the issues which may arise when those premises are used for other purposes; in other words, when the public have access to entertainments which are comparable to those provided in commercial premises. The issues when large numbers of the public come into a school are different from those concerning schoolchildren in a school.

12.30 p.m.

Lord Redesdale

I apologise to the Minister for interrupting at this late stage. As I understand it, under health and safety legislation a school hall in which 200 to 300 children sit, and where there is amplification for the teachers, is covered in the same way as a play.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

What if a rock group plays in a school? There are issues of public safety and public nuisance.

I shall try to answer as many as I can of the individual points raised in so far as they could be helpful to the general tenor of the debate. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Williamson of Horton: no. Clearly, that is an exact example of an occasional licence for up to five occasions a year. He said once every year or every two years. For the reasons I have given, although that is licensable, it is on a restricted and a limited scale.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, raised the question of donations. Donations are not a charge made for the entertainment provided and do not give rise to the need for a licence.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I apologise to the Minister, who is being extraordinarily patient. However, I believe the Committee would want me to say that that reply was unintentionally misleading. Under this paragraph, it does not matter whether there is a charge, a donation or nothing. That is the point. As was rightly said in introducing the amendment, there are three alternatives, any one of which being satisfied brings in the whole of the registration procedure.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The word used in the Bill is not charge but for consideration and with a view to profit". Donations, which are clearly voluntary, do not fall within that category.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. He was right the first time. In order for this paragraph to be applicable, it is not necessary for there to be any consideration or a view to profit. Regardless of that, one is caught if members of the public, or any section of the public, to any extent are present at the occasion, full stop.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

That is right, and that is why issues of public safety and public nuisance arise. That is exactly the reason.

I did not properly deal, except flippantly, with gatecrashers. The answer is that a gatecrasher would not make an event licensable, because the entertainment has not been provided for the public. The entertainment must be provided for the public in order to bring it within the regime. If someone gatecrashes your wedding party, you are not in retrospect guilty of not having applied for a licence.

Baroness Buscombe

I do not know where to begin. I shall try to be brief. In relation to previous amendments, the Minister said that it is unnecessary to go into all the detail. I hope he now accepts that we are raising significant questions with regard to clarity and the implications of the Bill, which require answers.

I am grateful to the Minister, as I am sure are all noble Lords, for offering to write to us to give answers to some of the questions raised. However, surely the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, is right when he says that as currently drafted, this provision will create a field day for lawyers. As a lawyer, I support that. I simply do not understand some of the answers given by the Minister. My noble friend Lord Brooke put it succinctly and summed up the problem. When referring to how to get round the problem of an event which is private, one has an invitation card on which one writes, "Admit 2". The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is right. Perhaps the amendment is not the right one, and we should consider excluding the whole of the subsection.

Questions have been asked about weddings as religious services. Sadly, many weddings today are not religious services, although now we are told that they do not need to be religious in order to be exempt from the Bill. There is much here that is unclear. The noble Lord, Lo rd Redesdale, rightly said in relation to school concerts that schools are subject to considerable burdens in relation to health and safety issues—quite rightly. However, this is another layer of regulation. We believe passionately that this is entirely against what we were led to believe; that is, that this would be a deregulatory measure. The Bill will give us more regulation, more red tape, and more cost.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, rightly said that complaints following this debate alone will mean that our postboxes will be fuller than they have been hitherto, as will our e-mail accounts. We shall consider with care the Minister's remarks. I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate. We hope very much that the Government will consider carefully before Report all that has been said. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 5: Page 108, line 14, at end insert "(otherwise than by an educational or religious institution)

The noble Baroness said: We now turn to another important area. In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 23, tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, which we entirely support, and to Amendment No. 24.

The amendments relate to the question of whether "public" should include educational and religious institutions. We ask whether schools, churches, synagogues and mosques will be required to have premises licences for the performance of plays and concerts. This subject was covered to some extent by previous amendments. However, I believe it is important that we now consider this in detail.

While there is an exception for religious meetings and services in paragraph (9) of the schedule, that does not appear to extend, for example, to an orchestral concert or a play performed in a church, cathedral or other religious building. Do the Government intend that where such activities are performed in religious buildings, they would be licensable, and that therefore a premises licence would be required if there were more than five such occasions in any one year?

What does the Minister have to say in respect of the Written Answer in another place given on Monday 9th December at col. 1W to my honourable friend Anne McIntosh, by the Second Church Estate's Commissioner, Mr Stuart Bell, which was as follows: Final figures for complying with the proposed provisions of the current Licensing Bill, which has had a second reading in Another Place, will depend upon the level of fees set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, as well as on the extent to which church buildings apply for licences to cover the proposed provisions of 'regulated entertainment". The figures provided in the Regulatory Impact Assessment would, however, suggest that under the Bills proposals churches or other places of worship seeking to provide entertainment five times a year would pay £100 each year. If more events than this were required, a full licence would be needed a ad annual inspections would be necessary, each of which would attract a fee. There are 16,250 church buildings belonging to the Church of England alone: many other denominations and faiths will also be covered by the proposals as they stand".—[Official Report, Commons, 9/12/02; col. 1W.]

If each of those 16,250 buildings had to pay £100—never mind the fee that would be attracted in terms of inspections—the cost to the Church Commissioners would be £1.6 million. The level of fees would probably be much higher than £100 in many cases, as they would require full premises licences if they held more than five concerts, plays or "other entertainment" events in any one year.

Does the Minister intend that such costs to churches of all denominations should be attached to the consequences of this legislation? In essence, does this mean that the proposals will cost the Church of England and other religious communities of whatever faith, many millions of pounds in licence fees, either in the form of temporary event notices or full premises licences?

There are no exceptions for schools. Thus, will school halls be required to have premises licences and/or issue temporary event notices? Schools put on plays and concerts—defined as "entertainment" in paragraph 2—for the public or a section of the public", and the premises are, made available for the purpose…of enabling the entertainment…to take place". Thus, all the conditions for the provision of regulated entertainment laid down in paragraph 1(1) are satisfied. What discussions have been held with the Department for Education and Skills about the position of schools?

I conclude by referring to one of many letters I have received, particularly in relation to churches. I was written to by a well-known actress, Prunella Scales. She wrote: Many rural churches, struggling financially, asked to find £200–£300 for a licence would simply not consent to the use of the church by village organisations and schools". Is that really what the Government intend? She continued: The Church of England is struggling to maintain ancient churches which are part of the Nation's Heritage with very little help from the state. Only two English Heritage/Lottery grants have been made to Sussex churches [for example] in the last three years, and VAT is still 5 per cent". Prunella Scales went on to say: Churches need new roofs and urgent work on spires. The only way open to them to raise money is by the holding of concerts. Again, even reduced Health and Safety and Fire standards would be difficult or impossible to meet. What effect will this have on the cultural and musical life of the country? At present, students from the London College of Music gain experience performing in local churches. Financial and administrative obstacles would deter churches from providing this opportunity. What evidence is there to show that churches need to be included in this legislation?

As I said at Second Reading, the Government have shown their support for evidence-based research in draft legislation in relation to the draft communications Bill. What evidence-based approach can we see in relation to this Bill? I beg to move.

12.45 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of London

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, for her speech. I agree with much of what she says. The amendment standing in my name covers ground that is treated by other noble Lords, but it is not tabled in a spirit of unseemly competition. We simply wish to help the Minister, who will be understandably concerned to secure some form of words that would protect from any abuse a general exemption for places of public religious worship and educational institutions.

Many of the arguments for maintaining the present position were rehearsed at Second Reading. I do not wish to weary your Lordships by repeating them and delaying the Committee proceedings. The exemption was approved by Parliament in 1982 and we have heard no argument that justifies removing it. The present situation has assisted places of worship to fulfil their wider community role, as they have for centuries.

Since Second Reading, some two-and-a-half weeks ago, countless examples have come to light of just how close the relationship of church and community entertainment often is. St Paul's, Covent Garden, for example, is a place that provides facilities for young musicians and actors at the beginning of their careers, while children from local schools and special art schools use the space for concerts and drama.

We have already heard examples from across the river in Southwark diocese. I must say that I admire the scale of fees it seems to be charging just across the Thames. But as to the situation countrywide, I have been told of one church in Ludlow which has held 27 performances so far this year, ranging from the local choral society to the rugby club. A church in Carlisle has detailed 10 events from organ recitals to a concert by local people. They are far from being money-spinners; for example, that programme in the church in Carlisle has been subsidised.

That is an important point which has been emphasised again and again in correspondence. Some of the events are simply seen as part of the church's outreach into the local community. Some are intended, as in the example we had from Battersea, to raise funds, but usually for charity or to maintain the building itself. Many places of public religious worship are listed as important parts of the architectural inheritance of the whole community. Nearly one-half of Grade I listed buildings in the country are ecclesiastical. They are cared for, very cost effectively I may say, on behalf of the whole community by an army of volunteers. If unamended, the Bill would represent a further tax on their efforts.

I note Dr Howells' comment in his letter to The Times that it would be possible for the Secretary of State to waive or reduce charges for places of worship and charities, but that would still be an added layer of regulation imposed on hard-pressed volunteers by a Bill with the laudable aim of deregulation.

I fear very much—Prunella Scales has got the matter absolutely right—that if volunteers contemplate the costs of obtaining a licence, the time involved in annual inspections and making temporary notifications, they will conclude that it would be safer and simpler not to hold the events at all. This is a very law-abiding part of the community and I can hear in my inner ear now the anxious debates on the PCC.

I know very well that this would be a long way from the intentions DCMS. The department's paper A Force for Our Future argues cogently for the wider use of heritage buildings for community activity and as a focus for tourism and regeneration. There is an army of unpaid volunteers countrywide who are trying to do just that. They need encouragement.

The amendment I have tabled, with the support of friends from all the major faith communities—I must underline that this is not just a Church of England pitch—seeks to provide this encouragement by exempting from the definition of "regulated entertainment" events in a place of public religious worship.

Why have we used the formula: place of public religious worship"? Because, we understand, it is a phrase that has a clear and precise legal meaning; it covers both Christian churches and places of worship of other faiths without laying the exemption open to abuse. It is the wording that the Government themselves employed in relation to relief from rates in local government legislation.

The second element in the amendment recognises the problems likely to arise from the attempt to exempt those entertainments that are incidental to a religious service. Of course, it is often difficult to make a dear distinction between religious services and entertainment—although unfortunately, sometimes it is only too easy. For example, how should we classify a medieval mystery play or a Christmas carol concert at which some crooner sang "White Christmas"? By inserting the word "anything", we hope to assist the Minister by avoiding confusion and making the exemption workable.

In the light of so much that has been said in this debate and real and—judging from my post bag—growing concern, I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the amendments and take the opportunity to improve the provisions by taking into account the valuable contribution made to community and cultural life by educational institutions and all the nation's faith communities.

Lord Redesdale

I rise to speak to Amendment No. 24, to which my name is attached. However, I must admit that I prefer the amendment tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, which I should have supported if I had read it in time. The amendments highlight a massive concern that goes to the heart of the Bill. The Bill is "one size fits all"; it deals with massive venues as well as the smallest church in the land.

I raised with my local church, St Marks, the question of a Nativity concert of a school nursery that was based in the church. I asked whether the Bill would apply but, being in London, it already has a public entertainment licence. St Marks could perhaps bear the cost. However, my local church in Northumberland, which has a congregation of eight, would find it a different matter altogether.

I support everything that the right reverend Prelate said. We shall return to the issue, and I hope that the Minister will make some concession on it, because I am sure that if the right reverend Prelate were to press it, it would receive support from around the Committee.

I have two questions. Are carol concerts covered under paragraph 9 of the exemptions? What about instrumental music? What if there was a religious service, an orchestra performed and at the end of the orchestra's performance a prayer was said? Would the orchestra's performance become part of the incidental music and therefore exempt under the Bill?

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough

I do not want to add to the arguments advanced by my friend the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of London, but I want to stress the widespread concern about the matter and the importance of churches and religious buildings in the cultural life of the countryside. In my episcopal ministry, I have served in two dioceses—Peterborough and Chichester—which are typical of the English countryside. They combine urban settlements, small towns and even smaller villages. In all of those settings, churches and other places of public religious worship are increasingly used by the local community for concerts, school plays—as we have heard—and other cultural activities.

My predecessor was probably unfair when he described Peterborough as a cultural desert, but without Music in Country Churches, Music in Quiet Places, the Oundle Organ Festival, Music in Lyddington—and so the list could go on—the cultural life of our communities would be considerably impoverished. Many of those events use a variety of venues in different villages and different churches, all of which would have to apply at least for a temporary licence under the proposals. Many of the organisations involved run on a small and fragile budget and, as we have heard, are subject to subsidy.

I therefore warmly support the amendments, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider the schedule. It would be anomalous on the one hand to encourage the increasing use of churches and other places of religious worship for cultural purposes by the community and on the other to add financial and bureaucratic burdens that could frustrate that purpose. When, as far as I am aware, there is no evidence of abuse of the current exemption, why are the Government legislating to remove it and require those places to seek a licence?

Lord Ahmed

I rise to support the amendment, and that in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. As a Muslim, I know that musical events do not affect the Muslim community. However, cultural activities do, and, in any case, in solidarity with all religious groups and places of worship, I support the amendment.

Before I became a Member of the House, I was a local councillor, and from my experience I know that many groups use places of worship such as churches for cultural events—especially those people who cannot afford to go to opera houses. Places of worship are the local, community place available to be used. I do not know of any crime and disorder in any place of worship. The White Paper talks about encouraging tourism and self-sufficient rural communities, reducing crime and disorder and reducing the burden of unnecessary regulation. I cannot see how including places of worship achieves any of those objectives.

I support the amendment, and hope that the Minister will consider all that has been said, with which I entirely agree.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My name is also attached to Amendment No. 5, and I support everything that has been said so far. It is extraordinary that at a time when schools have been working so hard to forge good relationships across the whole community by bringing people in to use school premises sensibly and by holding events for all kinds of groups in the community, they should then be penalised for doing so by having to pay a fee.

I turn to the community work of and cultural activities in cathedrals and churches, which have been so greatly valued by the community. Southwark Cathedral, where I worship, has a full, constant programme of events. I must tell my noble friend Lord Luke that we once had a knifing in Southwark Cathedral, but that was in the middle of a carol service, not of an alternative cultural event. I do not think that a licence for a carol service would have helped.

I reiterate to the Minister that it would be counter-productive and contrary to government policy to discourage the community outreach of schools, universities, colleges and churches by penalising them in that expensive way.

1 p.m.

Lord Carlile of Berriew

A few weeks ago, I had the daunting task of cross-examining the right reverend Prelate in the Central Criminal Court. I am, therefore, pleased to speak on the same side as him, on this occasion—again, some might say.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My noble friend should make it clear that the right reverend Prelate was not the accused.

Lord Carlile of Berriew

He was not the accused.

I want to say a word about small music festivals. Immediately, I declare an interest or, at least, the interest of my wife, who is chairman of the Gregynog festival in mid-Wales. It is one of a large number of small music festivals that operate on a shoestring but bring high-quality music to communities that cannot always gain access to it. However, I shall not use my wife's festival as my example.

I want to draw the Committee's attention to three other examples. One is the Llanfyllen festival, which takes place in a small town on the Montgomeryshire-Shropshire border. The festival depends entirely on the remarkable goodwill of the Allegri String Quartet, who perform two or three concerts there every year as a result of the fact that a retired member of the quartet has a holiday home locally. Festivals such as the Llanfyllen festival have no financial margin of error; they operate on a shoestring. Indeed, that festival recently had to reduce the number of concerts.

The festival takes place in a beautiful church that is not full every Sunday, despite the great efforts of the local rector, but it is more or less full for the festival concerts. It brings people into the church; it brings the church into the mind of the people; it binds the community together; and it brings high-quality culture to that small town. If there is to be a charge that falls on the church, it will have to be passed on to the festival. If it is passed on to the festival, the festival may no longer be viable.

Another example is the remarkable English Haydn Festival, which takes place in a church in Bridgnorth. The church is redundant, but, I believe, it is still consecrated. It is a large festival in terms of the quantity of Haydn's music that is brought to the community around Bridgnorth, in Shropshire and mid-Wales. It, too, is run on a shoestring. A sum of £1,000 makes a huge difference, and £100 makes some difference. As I said, the church in which the English Haydn Festival at Bridgnorth takes place is no longer used for regular religious worship, but the festival provides a rationale for the retention of the building, which is in a crucial architectural position in the historic centre of a town that has, over the years, seen some poor development round its edges. So, as well as the cultural issue, there are architectural and civic issues.

The third example relates to the activities of an organisation with which my wife and I have had some dealings over the years—the Welshpool Choral Society. Not so many years ago, the Welshpool Choral Society sang the "Messiah" in Welshpool parish church. The society paid an organist to play for the occasion and sold tickets to the public. It lost a lot of money. We who sang had to pay for the privilege of singing and did so gladly, but the margins on which such small societies operate mean that extra charges will possibly bring such events to an end, along with the involvement of the community.

I already hear the Minister saying, "Ah, but we must be sure that health and safety law isn't broken. The same rules apply". I suppose that we will hear from the Minister that there is a danger at a chamber concert of the cello being played too loud and that there will have to be licensing conditions before it takes place. That is illogical. Under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1, a gospel rock band taking part in a religious service would not require licensing under the Act. There is a great deal of such activity, particularly in evangelical churches throughout the country. I have witnessed it myself in mid-Wales.

The schedule will create a bureaucratic nightmare that will drive small musical performances, particularly the smallest music festivals—which mostly take place in rural areas—out of existence for the sake of what appears to be only the principle of uniformity. I strongly support the amendments.

Lord Crickhowell

I can be brief, as the case that I was going to make has just been admirably made from the Liberal Democrat Benches. I was going to speak on the same subject—music festivals, particularly music festivals in Wales. The case was also comprehensively and adequately presented from my Front Bench and by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. I prefer the right reverend Prelate's amendment to the other amendment.

I speak, I suppose, as a representative of the disestablished Church in Wales. I am churchwarden of a small church in a group of parishes in a Welsh valley. I think that I could speak equally well for the chapels of Wales, in which the same situation would arise. The importance to churches and communities of the kind of social and entertainment activities that have been described by speakers on the Bishops' Benches, the Liberal Democrat Benches and, indeed, the Government Benches, cannot be over-emphasised.

I have two detailed points. One—on health and safety—has just been made. In the church of Crickhowell, there is a wonderful choral festival every year. We all sit in the seats that we might have occupied at a church service the previous week or at a wedding. In fact, there are almost exactly the same numbers as there would be for a large wedding service or as there were recently for the funeral of a popular local figure. I cannot see that there can be a health and safety question that arises for the people who attend the concert that does not arise for those who are present for a funeral or a wedding. I find the argument on health and safety utterly unconvincing and incomprehensible. As the right reverend Prelate also said, there has been exemption for about a hundred years, and no good case has been made for removing it.

For all the reasons so cogently given and as a passionate supporter of the kind of concerts and musical activities that take place all over the country—certainly in my part of the country—I strongly support the amendments. I suspect that they will not be pressed to a Division today, but I hope that, if the Government do not listen to our arguments, there will be an occasion later in the progress of the Bill when we can vote for the right reverend Prelate's amendment.

Lord Williamson of Horton

Many noble Lords have spoken about the disadvantages of what is in the Bill, and I support what they said. However, I ask the Minister to set out in her reply the reasons why the proposal is in the Bill. I am an ex-bureaucrat, and I have a vivid imagination, but I am unable to see why it is in the Bill. It is not sufficient to make a general argument about health and safety. It is not sufficient just to say that there could be a problem with health and safety in some parish church or elsewhere. I am not convinced by that argument; we need a lot more than that, if we are to respond to the Government's position. At present, I see no reason to do that.

I have one other question. Is there a district council in the kingdom that has asked for the power?

Lord Bridges

There is one aspect of the clauses that has not yet come to our attention—their financial effect. Although it is made clear who will conduct the licensing, there is no procedure for appeals against the amount of the fee for the licence or the annual inspection. The relevant references are Clause 54 and Schedule 5.

I know the effect that it will have on my parish church, which is a Grade I listed building, with 130 people on the church roll. We are at a loss as to how we would finance activities without collaring four or five string quartets who come each year to play in the excellent acoustic. That helps us. Not only will we lose that amount, but we may have to pay more. The district council's finances are always in a difficult condition. If it sees that it can up the ante and charge more, as far as I can see there is nothing in the Bill to prevent it from doing so. Therefore, I believe that this is a serious matter and hope that we shall adopt one of the two amendments to those clauses. Like the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, I have a marginal preference for that produced by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

To follow up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, I should be grateful if the Minister would say what would be the average cost of an annual visit for licence purposes, if one has to be undertaken.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

I support the previous speeches and, in particular, that of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. St Leonard's Church in Bridgnorth—the home of the Haydn concert to which he referred—will undoubtedly be affected by the type of charges that are in contemplation. Astley Abbots is a small village two miles outside Bridgnorth and I have known the church all my life.

The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London referred to Ludlow. That brings us to wider implications of the Bill. St Lawrence church, Ludlow, where the concerts to which he referred take place, does not just maintain the fabric of the church—good though that is—it also maintains the grave of A E Housman, the famous poet and writer of "A Shropshire Lad", in the churchyard. Therefore, all those activities have more to offer the community than first appears to be the case. I very much support those amendments and I hope that the Government will consider them and return with a sensible and thought-through amendment to the Bill.

The Earl of Sandwich

I simply want to underline the important point of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London as regards public access. I speak as someone with some years experience of small rural communities in the West Country where the tiny parish church is often an important—if not the only—focus of rural life. As the right reverend Prelate said, it is the Government's own heritage policy—is it not?—to encourage access to all our public buildings and make every possible use of, say, churches built for a religious purpose. In the case of my local community, half the church is a badminton court.

I am partly responsible for access to a tiny church. I feel that any licensing system would be a nonsense and would deprive churches of income that they desperately need for repair and maintenance.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

I seem fated in these debates to be adding footnotes to speeches made from the Liberal Democrat Benches. Those ancestors of mine who sat as Liberal Members of Parliament in another place are, I hope, smiling in yet another place, to see me do it. I declare an interest as a former chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust. That is a trust which maintains the very church in Bridgnorth to which the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, referred. It maintains in excess of 300 other churches as well.

The Minister will know particularly well how the Churches Conservation Trust is encouraged by her department to engage in outreach to a national public. That involves making available for events, as well as for the occasional services, churches which, long before they came into the hands of the trust, were declared redundant by the Church of England. Moreover, in addition to holding events, as a method of outreach, it is the case that ancient buildings gain immensely by being used and not simply being left shut up. The Minister, again, is particularly well qualified to recognise the irony that 70 per cent of the funding for the Churches Conservation Trust comes from her department.

1.15 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone

The common intention of Amendments Nos. 5, 23 and 24, is to exclude places of worship from the entertainment aspects of the licensing regime. Amendment No. 5 goes further and also exempts educational institutions.

I am sure that all Members of the Committee will want to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on our churches. I entirely accept that, as the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London said, unnecessary burdens should be avoided. The Bill, as currently drafted, exempts all music and other entertainment which is for, or incidental to, a religious meeting or service. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that would certainly include carol services. However, it does not exempt secular entertainments in churches or other places of worship, as I believe those who have taken part in the debate clearly understand. It is that matter to which many speakers object.

The noble Lord, Lord Williamson, asked—

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I apologise to the Minister for interrupting so early and am grateful to her for giving way. I believe that she may have misled the Committee inadvertently in saying that incidental music was exempted by the Bill. It is only recorded incidental music that is exempt, under paragraph 7.

Baroness Blackstone

I did not say that incidental music was exempt. I said that programmes such as carol services are exempt. But it would be so much easier if I could complete what I want to say without being interrupted—it might make some difference to how we proceed.

The noble Lord, Lord Williamson, asked why those provisions were inserted. I have to remind the Committee, again, of a matter that arose at the beginning of the debate. Churches in London are already subject to a premises licence regime. Concerts take place in London churches. I believe that my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey is involved in some of those concerts. They are not just in rural areas, although there are many in rural areas too.

I believe that it was thought right that one regime should apply to the whole country and that this was an anomaly. Of course, Members can argue that the Government could have gone in the other direction and taken London out, rather than that there should be one rule for churches in London and another rule for churches in rural areas. I entirely accept that it could go in that direction rather than being extended to cities, towns and villages elsewhere in the country.

We are naturally concerned that the Bill should treat all faiths equally—indeed, it must, as my noble friend Lord Ahmed said. A definition which properly includes all potential places of religious worship and does not drive a coach and horses through the Bill is no easy matter. Members need to think about so-called "new-age" religions and "raves" which some people believe masquerade as worship—and, indeed, they sometimes do. Therefore, we should be extremely careful before settling on a form of words which does not protect bona fide places of worship.

Therefore, we intend to consider our position again in respect of places of worship and to do so carefully. I undertake to return at a later stage and address a way forward. In those circumstances I hope that Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 will not be pressed today.

The issues that arise from Amendment No. 5 also came up in the previous debate. It calls for educational institutions to be exempt from the licensing regime. The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, asked whether the Department for Education and Skills had been consulted, and the answer is no. There was no need to consult it because we are not changing the position of schools or colleges in any way in the legislation. In so far as schools, colleges, universities or any other educational institutions involve the public in paid events, they are currently not exempt from the licensing regime.

We should be absolutely clear that the provisions of the Licensing Bill—or, indeed, of the current regime—will not affect musical instruction or musical tuition. The performance of live music falls within the scope of the Bill where the entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience and is provided for the purpose of entertaining that audience. Tuition is not provided for the purposes of entertainment but for the purposes of instruction.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, referred to the possibility of a teacher or head teacher standing in front of a very large group of 500 or even 1,000 children and possibly having amplification. That teacher or head teacher is clearly not there for the purposes of entertainment—although some of the pupils might find what he or she has to say entertaining, or might seek to find it entertaining—but for the purpose of instruction. I can again assure the House that entertainment provided without charge for pupils, their parents and other invited guests is not a licensable activity. It is a private event to which the public are not admitted and no charges are made. However, it would probably be wrong to go further and exempt automatically schools, colleges and universities which stage public and commercial concerts. They sometimes stage extremely large pop and rock concerts where public disorder can take place. The public safety implications of such concerts in terms of very loud noise and disturbance are no different from other commercial concerts. I hope that the Committee will accept that point. Some schools put on first-rate commercial performances—sometimes with professional orchestras—but the safety of the public must be our first concern.

Having made a very important concession—which I hope will be welcomed—that we will go back and look carefully at the issue of an exemption for churches which is watertight and not subject to all kinds of difficulties, including cases being taken to court, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Redesdale

Before the Minister sits down, she asked a perhaps rhetorical question about whether London should be exempt or the rest of the country. Although the debate has centred around the difference between London, being a metropolitan area, and rural communities, especially Wales, it is only London and not the rest of the country, rural or urban, that falls within this category. So it is only the position of London that is at issue.

Baroness Buscombe

I am grateful to the Minister, as are all noble Lords, for the concession that she 'will reconsider whether or not places of worship and religious establishments should be exempted. I wrote down three words while noble Lords were speaking to this issue—"heritage", "cultural" and "community". Next to those words I wrote, "It is not worth it". Is this really what the Department for Culture, Media and Sport really intends? I think not.

A number of important points have been made. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Peterborough said that there is no evidence of abuse of present legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, said that the Bill is intended to reduce crime and disorder and encourage tourism, and that that is exactly what places of worship and schools are doing already across the country. As my noble friend Lady Perry of Southwark added, they are building relationships in the community.

We have had a full debate. We all believe passionately that religious establishments should be exempted. We on these Benches also believe that the position of educational establishments should be reconsidered and that they should form part of the concession to which the Minister has kindly agreed for the many reasons given by noble Lords.

The noble Lord, Lord Williamson of Horton, asked what are the reasons for including schools and places of worship. I return to the point that I made—perhaps not forcibly enough—in relation to previous amendments: that the Government expressly support the evidence-based approach to drafting legislation. May we please now have the evidence, particularly in relation to schools? We cannot agree with the Minister that the Bill means no change for schools.

I again thank the Minister for her concession. I am glad that the Government will reconsider the amendments. Given that several noble Lords said that they prefer the amendment of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, I have drafted a different amendment should we need to bring it forward on Report. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

Does the Minister wish me to proceed with the next amendment three minutes before the lunch break?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey


Lord Phillips of Sudbury

It will cut what I have to say into two parts.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo)

First course and second course.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury moved Amendment No. 6: Page 108, line 19, at end insert— other than in circumstances where the whole proceeds of the entertainment, after deduction of expenses thereof, and the relevant expenses of any exempt lottery under the provisions hereof, are applied for purposes other than private gain

The noble Lord said: The disadvantage with the previous set of amendments is that they cover only a very small part of the concern mentioned. The crucial point—which, by now, the Committee may fully comprehend but I am not sure that the Government Front Bench do—is that even if you have a case where there is no consideration made for an event with a view to profit, you will still be caught under paragraph (a). So all the ecclesiastical occasions referred to by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London would still be caught under paragraph (a).

Three possibilities will sweep up entertainments and catch them within the tentacles of the Bill. The first—and much the most dangerous—is any event to which, to any extent, members of the public or a section of the public are admitted. Even if the right reverend Prelate's amendment had been carried, that would still catch all the ecclesiastical events to which he referred.

More important, it is clear from what has been said that the Committee demands that the whole of the voluntary sector—the little clubs, organisations and charities that fortunately proliferate in this kingdom—is not caught up in a new, complicated and expensive regime.

At Second Reading I referred to the fete held for my local church, St Gregory's, in my garden. I ventured to suggest that under the Bill it would be caught in four ways. I received an astonished look and a shaking of the head from the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I have gone back to the Bill and I must tell him that each of the four circumstances I mentioned are caught by the Bill.

First, we have a puppet show. That is caught because it is the performance of a play. Secondly, we have a barrel-organ. That is caught because it is the performance of live music. Thirdly, we have a folk singing group. That is certainly caught, being a performance of live music. Lastly, we always have a small group of country dancers. That is caught as a performance of dance. As if that were not enough, we have a raffle—who does not?—and some tickets are sold beyond the gates of the fete because that is where we get money from the non-believers. That is caught under Clause 172, dealing with the raffle and tombola exemption, for the reason that a bottle of whisky is always given as one of the prizes—I give it.

If I may say so with respect, what we need to concentrate on is not the Churches, vital and important though they are, but voluntary society as a whole. I venture to suggest that anyone in this Chamber who runs through the voluntary organisations in his or her own community—the Scouts, the Royal British Legion, the choirs, the clubs, the Brownies, the Rotary clubs, and so on—will see that every one of them is caught under one or other of the Bill's many-headed branches.

I venture to suggest that Amendment No. 6 would exempt all those voluntary and charitable organisations that hold these types of events, not for profit but to increase their own resources. I have used the language of Clause 172 dealing with exempt raffles. I am hopeful, therefore, that the amendment will be acceptable, at least in terms of its drafting. However, as I believe other Members of the Committee will agree, this is an extremely dense and interlocking Bill into which to insert amendments that do nor reverberate unintentionally in other parts.

I want to emphasise a point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Peterborough and other speakers. There is no abuse of which I am aware in relation to the status quo—indeed, quite the contrary. Given that the Government are repeatedly on record as supporting the voluntary sector and wanting to do everything possible to aid and abet its endeavours, it is astonishing that this part of the Bill has been included.

I want to refer to an aspect of paragraph 1(2)(a) of Schedule 1. Members of the Committee may have attended a memorial service recently. Such services are often advertised in communities so that anyone can attend. If, after the service, people are invited back to a place where there is refreshment, that occasion will be caught by the Bill if any music is provided—the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, shakes his head, but it is a fact—whether or not for consideration.

To take an extreme case, if at the funeral of a well-known Welsh chorister a group of his or her friends at the reception afterwards broke into song, they would inadvertently have consigned the event to a breach of these wretched regulations. It would be an occasion to which the public were invited. There would be a performance of live music. And, hey presto, they would be sunk.

I believe that Schedule 1 needs sinking. Short of that, I commend Amendment No 6, which I believe will come to the aid of the whole scope of voluntary and charity organisations. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I am sorry to say that although I enjoyed the noble Lord's speech it does not bear much relation to the amendment or to the way in which it would affect the Bill. Paragraph 1(2) of the schedule provides under heading (a) that the condition is that the entertainment or entertainment facilities are provided, for members of the public or a section of the public"; under (b) that it is, exclusively for members of a club … or … their guests"; and under (c) that it is entertainment or entertainment facilities, in any case not falling within paragraph (a) or (b), for consideration and with a view to profit". Clearly, the fete referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, does not fall under (c). It falls under (a) because it is open to the public. So amendments to (c) are irrelevant to his village fete.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am sorry, but the Minister misunderstands my amendment. It applies to (a), (b) and (c).

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

It does not say so. It comes at the end of line 19 rather than as an additional provision. If I have misunderstood, I am sorry, but if it is meant to apply to (a), (b) and (c), it should have been in a separate sub-paragraph.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I acted on the advice of those who purport to know, and this will apply to all three headings.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

It will not. That is all I can say. I have to deal with the amendment as it is. It seeks to qualify the condition relating to profit—that is the point about heading (c)—by exempting circumstances where the proceeds of an entertainment after deductions of expenses of any exempt lottery are applied for purposes other than private gain. That is where I understand the point being made about the village fete to lie.

The only way we could make that work would be by examining the accounts—not so much those of a village fete, but let us think, for example, of a Live Aid concert or an entertainment where people are paid to take part. I referred to such a case at Second Reading: a choir and an orchestra play in a church and the choir is not paid but the orchestra is. Are we going to examine the accounts every time? Even if the proceeds of an entertainment are not intended for private gain, they will be licensable if they are provided for members of the public—which is the village fete. Incidentally, any memorial service is exempt under Schedule 1(9).

To return to the example, unless I wholly misunderstand the nature of his village fete, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is forgetting the provision of the Bill which says that if there is provision for an audience of less than 500, and provided that there are no more than five occasions, which can each be three days long, in any one calendar year, notice must merely be given; there is no provision for a licence. Does the noble Lord's village fete attract more than 500 people for more than three days, more than five times a year? I very much doubt it.

Lord Carlile of Berriew

A few days ago, I attended a memorial meeting of a secular nature for a celebrated forensic scientist. It was held in a room in a college at Cambridge University. Some recorded music was played, chosen by and at the request of, the deceased person's children. It seems to me that that would be caught under the Bill as it was not a religious service. If so, I invite the Minister to reconsider whether that is appropriate.

I refer to an example I gave earlier. I am a trustee of a small mental health charity in mid-Wales which holds events in private houses, sells tickets to members of the public and, typically—because we have a large number of young harpists in Montgomeryshire—we invite a harpist to play. Are we really to be subject to licensing in such a situation? If so, it seems to me a ludicrous piece of regulation. A government who seek to support small charities such as ours, which do a lot of work that used to be done by the National Health Service, should make life easier for us, not more difficult.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, should look at paragraph 2 of Schedule 1, which, after listing descriptions of entertainment, states, where the entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience and is provided for the purpose, or for purposes which include the purpose, of entertaining that audience". The audience at the memorial meeting to which the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, refers, came to honour a forensic scientist. Incidental music is not licensable.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

I am grateful to the Minister for his response but I am unswayed by it. He is not right in saying that one does not need a licence for a fête—he said that there must be five occasions. Equally, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, is wrong to say that schools are excluded from the provisions of this licensing regulation. Can she show me where they are excluded? There is no reference to schools' exclusion from this legislation. The amendment applies to sub-paragraph 2(a), (b) and (c). Nothing that the Minister has said affects my case. We will certainly bring this back at the next stage.

Baroness Blackstone

Before my noble friend gets up, perhaps I may explain to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that I did not say that schools were exempted. On the contrary, I said that schools, colleges and HE institutions are covered by the existing licensing regime if they are holding events involving the public and charging, for commercial purposes. There is no change from the longstanding situation. We have not had complaints from either the Department of Education or schools.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

With great respect to the Minister, I heard her correctly. I am reluctant: to contradict her blankly, but there is no option. She is not taking account of the fact that sub-paragraph (2)(a) stands alone. To be caught by this Bill, an event does not need to involve charging or to be run in a school for profit. The mere admission to an event of any member of the public, or any section of the public, whether or not there is a charge, will catch it, with the result that it will be licensable. That is new. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 1.42 to 2 p.m. for Judicial Business and to. 3 p.m. for Public Business.]