The following appears to be the (current) standard reply from the DCMS.
Dear Mr Gall
Thank you for your e-mail of 17 June to Dr Kim Howells in connection with the Government's proposals for reforming the current public entertainment licensing system. I am replying on his behalf.
You will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on individual cases but I would like to assure you that our far-reaching licensing proposals will simplify and integrate the licensing regimes so that it is easier and less expensive for public houses to obtain the necessary permission to stage musical performances.
It is accepted that, while the majority of local councils do a throughly competent job under current legislation, there can be inconsistencies which must be addressed.
As you may know, we are planning a comprehensive reform of the current alcohol and public entertainment licensing laws. Details of our proposals can be found in the White Paper "Time for Reform" published in April 2000. The document can be read or downloaded from our web-site address www.culture.gov.uk (new responsibilities; alcohol and entertainment licensing; legislation). The new proposals would provide a more flexible and simplified system of licensing for alcohol and public entertainment and promote greater opportunities for musicians and other performers.
Under the new licensing regime, the concept of a public entertainment licence would completely disappear. Permission to sell alcohol, provide public entertainment, stage a play, show a film or provide late night refreshment (between 11.00 pm and 5.00 am) would be integrated into a single licence - the "premises licence". This integrates six existing licensing regimes ( and around a dozen existing statutes) into one, cutting at a stroke significant amounts of red tape. Accordingly, under our proposals, any public house would need to obtain permission to sell alcohol for consumption on those premises and would be free to apply simultaneously for permission to put on music or dancing or similar entertainment whenever desired.
The fee for such a premises licence would be no different whether the pub simply seeks permission to sell alcohol or if it decides to go for multiple permissions. There would therefore be no deterrent to seeking multiple permissions, whereas many pubs are currently wary of obtaining a separate public entertainment licence because the costs can be prohibitive in some areas. Subject to our continuing discussions with stakeholders, any variation in fee levels would more likely relate to the capacity of the venue so that smaller venues pay less than large ones.
The premises licence would also set the hours that the premises may open for its activities, and set fair, necessary and proportionate conditions under which these activities may take place in order to achieve three important purposes: the prevention of crime and disorder; the assurance of public safety and the prevention of undue public nuisance. Another important feature is that local residents would have the right to object to the grant of a licence or certain parts of the operator's proposals and to have their views considered. This means, for example, that the conditions affecting noise being emitted from the premises might be more restrictive after, say midnight, than before.
Public entertainment, which would be covered by the premises licence, is defined as music or dancing, or entertainment of a like kind, which is presented publicly for commercial purposes or gain. Public singing which is not undertaken for profit or gain would not be affected.
We fully support the thrust of Early Day Motion 1182 which pushes at an open door. We are wholly committed to delivering the reform and modernisation of the alcohol and public entertainment laws by means of primary legislation as soon as Parliamentary time permits. I do not use that expression in order to be evasive. You will be aware that by convention, no one is permitted to anticipate the content of the Queen's Speech. This is because final decisions about the content of the Queen's Speech will be taken collectively by Cabinet shortly before it is delivered; and because Parliament should be first to hear its contents.
Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Branch