I don't think there'd be a public outcry if it were proposed to pay Lcal Givernment Officials in fish paste sarnies (that's sandwiches for those who aren't famiiar wity the lingo). I think it would win widespread approval. If it were extended to central givernment officials I think the approval would be virtually universal.
I hope that the Golden Jubilee can be used as a way of opening up things - I was pleased to see that in his draft letter to MPs Hamish Birchall included a couple of sentences about it: "What does this imply for Golden Jubilee celebrations? Will thousands of licensees face heavy fines and a jail sentence for allowing parents to dance with their children in a pub garden?"
Meself, I'm all for street parties and celebrations, and I couldn't give a monkey's whether they are Golden Jubilee celebrations, or Not-the-Golden-Jubilee Celebrations. Or ambiguous ones where you can maje up youir mind.
It's not too late to FaxYourMP - and here is Hamish Birchall's suggested letter:
Today (27 Feb) David Heath MP will lead an adjournment debate in the Commons on reform of public entertainment licensing. This legislation regulates public access to live music and dance throughout England and Wales. But the law is in a mess. Its draconian interpretation and enforcement by local authorities threatens to kill off any form of spontaneous music and dance.
In a traditionally liberal and tolerant democracy it may be difficult to accept that harmless music-making or dance is treated so harshly. But the fact is that 95% of licensees would be committing a criminal offence this evening if they allowed a trio or quartet to perform on their premises, or one person to dance. Even Morris dancing in a pub car park, or garden would be illegal. That is because only 5% licensees currently hold a public entertainment licence. The maximum penalty for unlicensed entertainment is a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.
An Appeal Court ruling last week makes the situation even worse (London Borough of Southwark v Sean Toye, Adminstrative Court, 21.2.2). Without a public entertainment licence it will now be illegal for licensees to allow one singer to replace another in a duo, or for a solo pianist to perform after a duo. Members of the public will now count as 'performers' if they sing along for their own amusement. This is undoubtedly bad law, but it is strictly enforced across the country.
What does this imply for Golden Jubilee celebrations? Will thousands of licensees face heavy fines and a jail sentence for allowing parents to dance with their children in a pub garden?
Can I ask that you participate in tomorrow's debate and encourage the Government to take immediate action.