The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #88019   Message #1653358
Posted By: The Shambles
22-Jan-06 - 08:02 AM
Thread Name: Jamie Cullen leads the way
Subject: RE: Jamie Cullen leads the way
I do share that opinion of the Act's entertainment provisions and the words of Schedule 1 need to changed by the Secretary of State as soon as possible and pressure needs to be applied to that end.

However these provision are now past to our local authorities to enforce. It is my firm belief that where there is a will there is still a way under this legislation for LAs to hold policies that could still enable much live music that is needlessly threatened. It is up to us to ensure that our LAs do find such a will.

A will demonstrated by Sheffield City Council when they enabled without entertainment permission, what was in effect a regular participatory pub session just prior to Christmas, by considering it exempt - rather ingeniously as the provision of entertainment for the purposes of a religious meeeting or service. Unless there is evidence to the contrary.

You may like me consider this move by Sheffield City Council to be a little questionable but the point is that (where there is the will to do so) such interpretations can be made under this legislation will stand unless or until someone mounts a legal challenge to it.

It could well be a good idea to mount a legal challenge to this - on the grounds of potential discrimination under human rights legislation.

The exemption for music that is for the purposes of, or purposes incidental to, a religious meeting or service would seem to discriminate against secular music in secular venues or at events that could not be described as 'religious meetings'. Why should carol singing in bars be treated differently to secular singing in bars?

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Parliamentary committee which scrutinises all new legislation, considered the religious venue exemption back in 2003, commenting:

'The Government announced on 3 February 2003 that there would be exemptions from the need to obtain a licence for places of religious worship where secular entertainment takes place. This apparently random exemption for places of religious worship might tend to undermine the argument for the rationality of the blanket licensing scheme as a whole, and could engage other human rights issues by appearing to discriminate against occupiers and users of non-religious premises.'
['Scrutiny of Bills: Further Progress Report', Fourth Report of Session 2002-03, HL Paper 50, HC 397, 10 February 2003, para 18, p10]

Of course, the Act's exemption for entertainment at places of religious worship covers not only entertainment at places of religious worship, but entertainment at any other place if it is for the purposes of, or purposes incidental to, a religious meeting or service. In other words, the scope for potential discrimination is far wider than first considered by the JCHR.

It may therefore be possible for secular singers in non-religious venues reasonably to argue that this exemption amounts to arbitrary and wholly unjustified discrimination against their right to manifest '...religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance' under Article 9 of the European Convention. This in addition to the by now well rehearsed arguments that the Act unjustifiably restricts the right to freedom of expression (Article 10) and freedom of assembly (Article 11).

Is there anyone - (preferably qualified for full legal aid) - willing to take this one up with Sheffield City Council?