Tuesday, July 23, 2002

TWO IN A BAR SHOCKER: During yesterday's questions on Culture, Media and Sport, the issue of the present two-in-a-bar rule (which limits the singing of live music in pubs) was given another airing. While its a noble aim, we're not sure whether Lawrie Quinn is going the right way about making his case by inviting Kim Howells to go and hear him and Billy Bragg break the current law - "it all sounds a bit left-wing for me" was the new Labour minister's response to the invite. Siobahn McDonagh approached the question from a different angel, asking earlier in the debate why crowds can gather to watch football in pubs, but not to listen to music. Howells replied "[the government] will certainly look at getting rid of the absurd two in a bar rule. I have looked long and hard at the evidence, but we have never received any to suggest that watching television in a pub causes the kinds of scenes that have sometimes occurred in pubs with live music. Nor, indeed, have we had any reports of disturbances caused by watching television in a pub—we have certainly received some reports of incidents following the playing of live music in pubs. Generally speaking, however, pubs are excellent venues for live music. We want to make sure that that continues to be the case and that there are more venues for live music, not fewer." Which is positive sounding - although I'd be curious to know exactly how the government has managed to avoid being in a pub at the moment when the beery atmosphere turns fetid at the full time whistle - or, indeed, what these incidents of music leading to riot are, precisely.
Hansard coverage - turning slightly into the now-defunct Melody Maker

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