PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE LAW ON SUNDAY OBSERVANCE RELATING TO MUSIC AND DANCING, AND TO THE LAW ON LIQUOR LICENSING ON SUNDAYS
The Sunday Observance Act 1780 prohibited charging admission to entertainments and amusements to which the public were admitted on Sundays. In England and Wales, Parliament has since removed this prohibition from many Sunday activities, but it still applies to public dances. Scotland has no prohibition. The Government proposes to amend the Sunday Observance Act 1780 so that charges can be made for public admission to dances or discotheques on Sunday in England and Wales.
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The Sunday Observance Act 1780 does not prohibit entertainments and amusements from actually taking place on Sunday. It prohibits the levying of admission charges to entertainments and amusements on Sundays to which the public are admitted. Charging inflated prices for routine refreshments in lieu of an admission charge, selling tickets in advance and advertising public entertainments which take place on a Sunday are also prohibited. The Act does not apply to bona fide clubs to which, by definition, members of the general public are not admitted.
The effects of the Sunday Observance Act have been removed from many forms of entertainment and amusement. The Sunday Entertainment Act 1932 enabled cinemas to open in some areas, subject to certain conditions, and permitted admission charges to them. The 1932 Act also removed the bar on Sunday admission charges to musical entertainments at places licensed for music and dancing; to museums, art galleries, zoological and botanical gardens and aquaria; and to lectures and debates. The Sunday Cinemas Act 1972 permitted cinema Sunday opening anywhere, subject to normal licensing conditions (this provision was consolidated in the Cinemas Act 1985). The Sunday Theatre Act 1972 permitted the use of a theatre for the public performance of a play, including an opera or ballet, on Sunday afternoons and evenings. In addition, the Licensing Act 1964 allows premises at which an extended hours order or a special hours certificate is in force when entertainments begin on Saturday night to continue into the early hours of Sunday morning. More recently, sporting events and activities were removed from the scope of the Sunday Observance Act by means of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994.