HL Deb 13 October 2004 vol 665 cc261-3

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what basis they have concluded that the United Kingdom has a flourishing music scene given a recent survey indicating that a majority of restaurants, hotels and public houses had had no live music in the previous 12 months.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords, the survey referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, was conducted by MORI. It showed that there were around 1.7 million live music events in England and Wales in the previous 12 months. This demonstrates that we have a flourishing live music scene. Of course, the Government would like to see more live music; they are doing everything they can to encourage this, and we are working to that end. I am confident that the reforms included in the Licensing Act 2003, supplemented by the work of the Live Music Forum, chaired by Feargal Sharkey, will increase opportunities for all musicians.

Lord Redesdale

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. In the DCMS/MORI survey on the impact of the Licensing Act on live music, it was rather distressing to note—way down the list of statistics, although it seemed the most important fact—that those who knew most about the Licensing Act were the least likely to put on live music in the future and the most deterred from doing so. This seems a significant problem, considering how few pubs and clubs put on live music at present. If fewer of them put on live music in the future, that will mean even fewer venues in which aspiring musicians can perform.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords, I remind the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that the Licensing Act has not yet come into force and will not do so until November 2005. We remain absolutely confident that the acts, reforms and work of the Live Music Forum will provide real opportunities for live music to flourish. The Government started a campaign over the summer to tell everybody about the new licensing system. Two hundred pages of statutory guidance have been issued, a newsletter has gone out, there have been 12,000 hits on the DCMS website and more than 400 local authorities have begun extensive consultation on their draft licensing policy statement. So it is far too early for pessimism to run rampant. We are totally confident that when we have been through the consultation period and when we reach June 2005, we will see the very thing we want—a thriving and flourishing live music scene in Britain.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

My Lords, what financial assistance are the Government giving to enable young people, especially in our schools, to understand and appreciate live music and to encourage as many of them as possible to become participants in it, and what financial assistance is being given to schools for the provision of musical instruments?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords. I thank my noble friend for that question. The Government, with their commitment to live music, recognise that if we are to have live music played in the public arenas about which the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, is so anxious, we must start with the education system. As noble Lords will know, music is a statutory subject for all pupils aged five to 14. Local education music services receive £60 million to provide specialist instrumental tuition beyond the curriculum. This grant is protected until at least 2008.

In July, we published the music manifesto which underlines the Government's commitment to live music. There is a tremendous amount of evidence that the Government's commitment to music tuition in schools that was part of the 1997 election campaign has been realised, with knobs on.

Baroness Buscombe

My Lords, the Minister has given us some statistics. I should like to refer to the survey, which was commissioned by the DCMS. Based on what respondees have heard about the Licensing Act so far, only 1 per cent of respondees polled said they would certainly consider putting on live music in their venue, 3 per cent said they were very likely to do so, 12 per cent said they were fairly likely to do so, and the rest—84 per cent of the respondees to this poll—said that they would not consider putting on live music. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has every right to be despondent.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords, first, we must give the Government some credit for conducting the survey. It is the first time there has been a survey of the live music scene in Britain. It shows that a great amount of work needs to be done, and I have already explained what is happening to make sure that in a year's time, a great many people will apply for these licences.

We shall have another survey in a year's time so that we can compare what happens then with what is happening now. I remind noble Lords that this was the first survey of the live music scene in Britain, and until we have a second survey, we cannot start generalising about the results.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, given the ever increasing encroachment of muzak in every area of life, even when one is trying to make a telephone call and, even worse, trying to get someone to answer, will the Government and the Opposition draw a distinction between live music and good music? Will they both also take on board the fact that there are twisted people around who go to restaurants and pubs for a quiet drink and a meal?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords, I cannot make value judgments. I happen to like rock and roll—a view, I am sure, that is not shared by a considerable number of your Lordships in this House. I would hate the idea of going to a restaurant and having music played while I am eating. I return to the Government's education policy for young people in relation to music. It is absolutely clear from the music manifesto that when money is being spent on young people and their knowledge of music, we are talking about serious music and not muzak.

Lord Colwyn

My Lords—

Lord Tordoff

My Lords—

Noble Lords


The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)

My Lords, I think that noble Lords are calling for the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn.

Lord Colwyn

My Lords, I am very grateful. There is obviously some discrepancy in the figures for live performance. It is vital that venues are increasingly available for instrumentalists and performers of all types of music. I am glad that the Minister reaffirmed that as government policy. Does he plan to be in the atrium at Portcullis House this evening, when the Live Music Forum will be highlighting the importance of live music and many musicians, including the MPs' rock hand, will be performing?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting

My Lords, I welcome that wonderful piece of self-publicity. I will be there and I was hoping to have an opportunity to mention that as yet another example of how important live music is.

Forty-seven per cent of surveyed venues said that they had staged live music, but almost a third—29 per cent—said they were not able to do so because their venue did not have the capacity. If one takes out those venues, about 55 per cent of the remainder staged live music, which represents not a minority of venues, but a majority.

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