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Churches win exemption from licensing laws

 The government has agreed that churches and other places of worship will be exempt from the need to apply for expensive entertainment licences. An amendment to the Licensing Bill in Parliament yesterday means that churches outside London will be freed from regulations for performances 'incidental to a religious meeting or service.' Other events held in church halls and community centres will also be exempt, provided they do not sell alcohol. The government is to instruct licensing authorities that the conditions attached to licences must be 'proportionate to the risks involved - which are likely to be minimal in most cases.' Church leaders have been lobbying for the exemption for months. They said the high fees would have made it impossible to hold many events such as nativity plays, parish concerts and even some children club meetings.