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The Home Affairs Select Committee has published a report which has criticised the Government’s Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – also known as Protect Duty – following a period of pre-legislative scrutiny.

Live music industry umbrella organisation LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) has welcomed the report and its recommendations to Government. It has identified three areas of concern in the draft bill.

Protect Duty (also known as Martyn’s Law) campaigner Figen Murray – the mother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 killed in the 2017 Manchester bombing – has criticised the findings of the Select Committee report. She said the committee’s recommendations are “dangerous and misguided”.

Murray said, “Having lost my son to terrorism, along with so many others in the Manchester Arena attack, I find it hard to understand the argument that a few hours of training each year is a disproportionate step for businesses to take.

“Martyn’s law is a proportionate response that will keep millions of us safer and the Government must now press ahead.”

Draft bill criticism

LIVE said the draft legislation has been rushed through pre-legislative scrutiny stage and lacks “any thorough impact assessment” which risks leaving the bill in a sub-optimal state.

It said the draft lacks consideration of the role of the existing licensing regime in preventing terrorism and protecting the public.

The group added that the powers to serve restriction notices or to impose civil penalties are not “proportionate or necessary” and pose “existential risk” to the sector, particularly for smaller venues.

LIVE CEO Jon Collins said, “We welcome the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report which vindicates our members’ view that the draft bill is both impractical and, through the excessive penalties it proposes, would create existential risk for live music venues, and could lead to events and festivals leaving the UK.

“LIVE’s members fully support the original purpose of the Bill to better protect audiences but, in its current form, it will fail to do this while also placing disproportionate burdens on venues of all sizes around the country.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) also said it supported the Select Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill: “While recognising that the overall intent of the bill is positive, there are concerns about its current lack of detail, proportionality, risk, legislative integration, regulatory framework and sector specific financial and operational impacts.”

“We are in agreement with the Select Committee in that the bill needs further clarity and evaluation to inspire confidence in its ability to effectively address and prevent terror attacks in the future.”

“The lack of specific details and the range of uncertainties raised by the sector regarding the bill’s implementation and implications reinforce the committee’s report, which suggests that the bill requires significant improvement and refinement before it can be considered a practical and viable measure to enhance public safety in public spaces.”

Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Dame Diana Johnson MP said costs in money and time required under the Bill could put the future of smaller businesses and voluntary organisations at risk: “The overall intent of the bill is right. We must do all we can to ensure venues are equipped to react to terror threats. But the Government must ensure that the steps they need to take are based on an accurate assessment of risk and not arbitrary capacity figures.

“We are also concerned that this bill as currently drafted would fail to make a significant impact in preventing or mitigating the effects of terrorism. For example, in its current form a local village hall would be required to carry out safety precautions while a city centre open-air farmers market or Christmas market would not. This makes little sense and takes no account of the actual terrorist threat they face.”