You may or may not be aware that the singing of hymns in church as part of a religous service is public entertainment.
The following is a letter to Dr Kim Howells MP.
Dear Dr Howells
Any music or dancing, including congregational singing of hymns (in churches and elsewhere) is public entertainment as currently defined by the 1982 Act.
Will this still be considered so under the proposed reforms?
This music making is currently and specifically exempt from the PEL requirement, due entirely to the nature and context of the music, (music as part of a religious service), not because it is safe. Most of the premises (like old churches), where this takes place would not come up to scratch for any PEL safety inspection.
Is this exemption also to be scrapped along with the 'two in bar' rule?
The fact that many of the tunes used for the congregational singing of hymns, were originally traditional folk songs, exposes the cruel irony of the current situation and of the one that will still exist after the Government's proposed licensing reforms.
Could you please confirm that the following four points are correct?
1. Currently any amount of people singing or playing such a tune (even amplified), in the unsafe and unlicensed conditions referred to above will exempt the premises from the current and future licensing requirement.
2. Currently, more than two people singing or playing the same traditional tune, non amplified, on safe and inspected licensed premises, simply for the pleasure of it (or for profit), will not.
3. Any number of people singing or playing this same tune, anywhere else, for the pleasure of it or for profit, amplified or not, currently and under the proposed reforms, will need the premises to hold and pay for an additional licence.
4. After the reform even one person singing or playing this same traditional tune, for profit or for pleasure, amplified or not, will not be permitted on safe and inspected licensed premises. Unless the licensee has paid for an 'entertainment' element and specified in advance that this particular activity is to take place.
As one who feels that the right to publicly sing/dance and play the traditional songs and tunes of my country for pleasure, to be no less important that being able to sing them publicly as part of my religion, I hope you will recognise that this right must not be conditional on a third party paying any fee to enable it.
The way to ensure this is to finally recognise that all music making on licensed premises cannot justify the need for any additional licence, fee or paperwork, the public's interest having already been ensured.
Other public premises should be made safe for whatever activity takes place, and no music should be prevented by local authorities calling all music entertainment in order to charge a fee, or risking any music making by classing it all as a noise hazard. One size does not fit all.
30 MPs have now signed David Heath's Early Day Motion 1182 calling on the Government to reform the two in a bar rule. But to make an impact, we need at least 100 MPs to add their name in support.
Have you asked your MP to sign? If you have not already done so, please write, e-mail or fax your MP now.
The postal address is:
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA
If you don't know who your MP is go to www.faxyourmp.com and type in your postcode. It will automatically identify your MP. You can then send a fax direct to their office. Some MPs publish their e-mail address on the Parliament website: www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/alms.htm
Finding your own form of words is better than simply copying a standard letter. You don't have to say much. BUT PLEASE DO SOMETHING. If you need inspiration, here is the text of the EDM:
Early Day Motion (EDM) 1182 was first put down on 23rd April 2002 by David Heath
That this House recognises the social, cultural and economic value of a thriving grass roots entertainment industry; notes that entertainment and music provision in venues ranging from pubs to village halls not only attracts vital custom but also encourages cultural diversity and growth; further notes that under the current two in a bar system it is illegal to allow, for instance, three folk singers to perform in a pub; agrees with the Minister for Sport that the current Public Entertainment Licensing system is archaic and just plain daft; and calls upon the Government to reform licensing laws to reduce the cost and bureacracy of entertainment licensing and promote the use of live music and singing in pubs and clubs; and urges the Government to introduce a Licensing Law Reform Bill in the next Queen's Speech.