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PELs - Letters to important folk.

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The Shambles 17 Apr 02 - 11:45 AM
The Shambles 17 Apr 02 - 11:59 AM
The Shambles 17 Apr 02 - 12:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Apr 02 - 01:03 PM
The Shambles 19 Apr 02 - 01:58 PM
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McGrath of Harlow 24 Apr 02 - 01:49 PM
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Subject: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 02 - 11:45 AM

04/04/02

Dear Mr Knight MP

Despite all this proposed major reform we still seem to be stuck with the definition of public entertainment, for purposes of licensing, as music and dancing. The proposed changes will not be a reform without a new and more sensible definition of what is or is not public entertainment.

That one form of art or expression should alone be singled out as only permissible after a fee is paid by a third party to a local authority is an unfair disincentive to music making, and not specifically addressing the stated goal of the licensing.

Ensuring the public's interests and making premises safe for whatever activity is to take place, or whatever future form this may take, can probably best be done with a general statement of that requirement, rather than attempting to specify exactly the nature of every activity.

If (some) music related activities are seen to present a specific problem, not presented by other forms of public entertainment, such as noise this is the area that needs to be (and is), addressed by other legislation.

The standard conditions applied to the current licences, and which I assume will still apply to the premises licence, apply to non-musical entertainment like hypnotism or pyrotechnics.

Many forms of musical activity do not in fact present any appreciable noise concern, but the current and proposed law makes no distinction. A licence refused or conditions made on the grounds of noise, will also prevent or affect music not presenting this.

Many forms of musical activity taking place in pubs, many of them provided by and for customers, not only do not present any additional safety concerns or appreciable noise concerns, but should not even be considered as conventional public entertainment. The current and proposed law makes no distinction.

Other non-musical forms of entertainment provided in pubs by licensees or by and for fellow customers are not subject to any unfair disincentive or to a third party obtaining an additional licence. Examples are quiz nights, darts and so on. Satellite TV, is also currently exempt from this requirement. As it is not music or dancing, will it remain so?

The current public entertainment licence is a tax or a music licence. If one art form or expression is to continue to be considered differently to others under reform, then this element should be honestly referred to as a music and dancing element (or tax). For that is what it is to be in effect.

Many of the 95% of licensed premises that do not hold PELs, are also currently providing safe premises, on a regular and on a casual basis, for small-scale musical activities. It will act as a disincentive for these premises to continue proving this, if they have to submit specific operating plans, make additional payments to enable music making to continue and are also subject to more official inspections and are then subject to pay for any alterations required. Many of which relating to noise, may not be necessary or applicable, as not all music presents noise concerns.

It could well prove to be that musical entertainment will still take place, unadvertised and on a casual basis, being driven underground and presenting more problems for the public and enforcement officers. A situation that will not be in anybody's interests, for making music is not a criminal activity, musical expression is a right.

It must be recognised that other existing legislation has made these musical activities safe and ensured the interests of the public. And that as in Scotland, no additional licence is required in pubs and bars.

Musical expression should not continued to be singled out and placed at risk by being used as a scapegoat, when the issues and concerns are noise, crime and other social problems.

The actions taken by many local authorities, to the detriment of musical expression, in strictly interpreting and enforcing current legislation, does not fill one with much confidence, when the whole responsibility for licensing is to be handed over to them. For the present Government has made it clear that the current rule should no be used to prevent ordinary people from singing and dancing in pubs but the Government is just watching while many councils, including mine, are doing just that.

The Government's intention can be overridden currently and also under the proposed legislation by councils declaring such music making to be public entertainment.

The DCMS's Ronnie Bridgett made the follow reply to Weymouth and Portland Borough Council on 04/02/02.

It is not planned that the new system will give an exemption to any forms of entertainment. The proposal is that all activities to be held on a Premises Licence (including non-amplified music) would need to be revealed in the operating plan put for approval to the licensing authority. The authority could only impose conditions on the Premises Licence which protect public safety and prevent disorder, crime and public nuisance.

The following question from is from Hamish Birchall and the more recent (03/04/02) reply from Mr Bridgett is of interest.

But the Government now proposes that, in addition to the risk assessments employers have a statutory duty to undertake (taking into account all activities in the workplace), 'all activities to be held on a Premises Licence including non-amplified music would need to be revealed in the operating plan put for approval to the local authority'. Do you envisage licensees being required to declare whether or not customers will sing - unamplified - for their own amusement?

We do not anticipate that premises licences would have to include such an element.

This does seem to contradict Mr Bridgett's earlier reply given to my council. If it is the latest thinking it should be welcomed but needs to appear and be set in the Government's proposals. The problem being that without the principle, of the right to make music being established in the legislation, it still only needs one of our officials to claim the activity is public entertainment, for us to have go to court to fight it, exactly the same as now.

I accept that this Government is sincere in its wish to reform and improve the current system and its current failures and excesses. I would be most grateful if you could comment on and pass on this letter to Dr Howells for his comments.

Yours sincerely

Roger Gall


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 02 - 11:59 AM

Received the following reply dated 15 April 2002.

Thank you for your furher letter about PELs. I do support your points regarding the definition of Public Entertainment. We do need the Government to provide us with clarity on this and I have written to Dr Howells asking for comment.

I will of course write again when I receive a reply. Please keep me informed of your work on this matter.

Jim Knight MP

More details can be found on HELP CHANGE MUSIC IN MY COUNTRY

Addresses
Kim Howells – kim.howells@culture.gsi.gov.uk - or The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Ronnie Bridgett – Ronnie.Bridgett@culture.gsi.gov.uk - DCMS, 2/4 Cockspur St, London SW1Y 5DH

Your MP – www.faxyourmp.com - or [name/constituency], House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

EFDSS - www.efdss.org - Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 7AY

MU - www.musiciansunion.org.uk - 60/62 Clapham Rd London SW9 0JJ FOR HAMISH BIRCHALL

MODAL - www.modal.co.uk - Centre for Popular Music, 6 Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2QQ


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 02 - 12:06 PM

The following is Richard Bridge's suggestion, which resulted in this thread. PLEASE HELP!

How about everyone writing to both their MP AND the minister, and all posting to a copy to another thread first to see who is supporting the folk music we all write about here, and second to see whether anyone has some good ideas we can all adopt?

How about everyone sending my post above with the draft letter to the whole of their addressbook, and asking them all to pass it on to the whole of their addressbook, and so on.

His draft letter can be found in the other tread.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 01:03 PM

Here's a fax I've just sent my MP, via www.faxyourmp.com/

To: Mr Bill Rammell
MP for Harlow
House Of Commons
London
SW1A 1AA

Friday 19 April 2002

Dear Bill Rammell,

Thank you for responding to my letter about Public Entertainment Licences. I am encouraged that you again confirm that you wish to see the present absurd and damaging legal situation reformed.

I was also encouraged by the general tone of Richard Caborn's reply to David Heath in the adjournment debate on this subject. And I was pleased to see that in a recent speech Kim Howells said 'I am firmly committed to the reform and modernisation of our archaic and at times, wholly stupid, licensing laws. I do not need persuasion that the 'two musicians rule' is outdated and pointless.'

However I am worried that the reforms proposed will not address some of the existing problems and in some respect could even make things worse. The fact that the House was virtually deserted for that adjournment debate does not in itself perhaps matter too much - however it raises alarm bells that very few MPs are likely to give these matters the kind of informed attention that is going to be needed if mistakes are not to be made.

So far as I can see there is nothing in the proposed legislation that would get rid of the current position, based on a 1793 law case, which says that members of the public are counted as performers. This is the heart of the trouble. It has the effect of outlawing impromptu sessions and singalongs. Where for example people wish to meet regularly in a place open to the public, such as a pub, and or make music or sing for their own enjoyment and with no payment involved, unless specific permission for this has been included in a licence application, a proprietor who allows this to happen is still going to risk a penalty which could amount in theory to as much as a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.

I know that Kim Howells has said that the intention is that informal singing and dancing by members of the public will be allowed. But in a communication to Weymouth and Portland Borough Council on 04/02/0, Ronnie Bridgett of the DCMS,specifically said:

'It is not planned that the new system will give an exemption to any forms of entertainment. The proposal is that all activities to be held on a Premises Licence (including non-amplified music) would need to be revealed in the operating plan put for approval to the licensing authority. '

Moreover there does not seem to be any allowance made for the possibility that non-licensed premises might wish to allow informal music sessions.

The whole situation appears to be very confused, with contradictory statements being put out by a range of people on behalf of the relevant Government department. I know of a great deal of concern being expressed, by people with a great deal of experience in this field, that we could well end up even more restricted in some ways than we are now, in spite of what appears to be, on the face of it, a clear wish on the part of the Government to improve matters.

At least at present it is possible, for example, for a publican who has never had music in his pub to allow a couple of friends to sing a few songs or play a few tunes, and he can agree to them coming back on a regular basis without further ado. But even this very limited freedom will no longer be available, even where no payment is involved, unless the proposed reforms are carefully modified.

I am sure that there are plenty of good intentions around. But good intentions are not enough. If the reforms, when they come, get it wrong, that is likely to be it for another generation. We will be stuck with an absurd restrictive set of rules that will needlessly set us apart from other countries in Europe which manage perfectly well without penalising people who wish to make music.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin McGrath


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 01:58 PM

This from Richard Bridge.

I am trying to get a write-in campaign going.

I set out below first my explanation for folk club audiences and thent he letter that I am suggetsing be written, and finally some contact details.

GOVERNMENT BAN ON FOLK MUSIC THIS IS NOT A JOKE

The Threat The government plans a major change in liquor licences, gaming licences, and public entertainment licences. People assumed it would replace the "2-in-a-bar" rule* (which has been used to close down folk music) with something sensible. But it won't. It will replace it with something far worse. Spin doctors mislead by quoting approving comments that had not realised this.

The new law will make it a crime for even one folk musician to perform in a pub without a local authority entertainment licence. No exemptions at all. The only public singing in a pub that will not need a licence will be "spontaneous" outbursts such as "Happy Birthday to You".

Every pub with a folk club or session will need a local authority licence for public entertainment. The rule will apply to private members clubs like working mens' clubs, and so will probably apply even to private folk clubs (where you have to be a member for 48 hours to get in) held in pubs. The government has refused to meet the EFDSS to discuss an exemption.

The government says that the licences will be very cheap and benefit everyone. Yeah, right! The public entertainment licence will only be a part of the premises (liquor) licence. These will be controlled by local authorities. The pub will have to apply in advance (when it applies for its liquor licence) to the local authority with a full business plan for the entire pub operation including showing how often it intends to have public entertainment and of what kind ( so it will have to specify folk music) and what measures it is taking to prevent a public nuisance and to ensure public safety, and so on. We all know how helpful local authorities are, and how low they are likely to set their licence fees, don't we?

These licences are planned to last for the life of the business running the pub, and changes are planned to need an entirely fresh application.

If your club's pub (or club) does not get a licence permitting public entertainment including folk music your club will be illegal. Now imagine trying to start a new session or club or move your present one to a new pub.

What Can You Do? Write fax or email to your MP, write or email the minister Kim Howells, write or email Ronnie Bridgett the civil servant in charge (addresses and a sample letter on the back). Support the EFDSS. Support the Musicians' Union. Support Modal (a non-mainstream music organisation) DO IT NOW AND KEEP AT IT UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT BACKS OFF

*. The 2-in-a-bar rule says that all premises (licensed for liquor or not) need a licence for all music and dancing – but not for live music with only 2 performers (and a recent case says this means 2 throughout the entire evening, so one now and two later, or two now and one punter joining in the chorus is illegal).

Richard Bridge, Forge House, High Street, Lower Stoke, Rochester, Kent, ME3 9RD mclaw@btinternet.com

Dear MP/Minister

I write to point out the damage that the government's plans to reform licensing law will do to folk music and dance. In effect, the present plans will ban all folk music or dance without a licence. This was not expected.

What was expected were sensible rules and exemptions, prepared with more thought than the current "2-in-a-bar" rule, that would not penalise or regulate what did not need regulating. But the government has now made it very clear that ALL "entertainment" in pubs and clubs will need a licence and that it plans NO exemptions, not even for acoustic music (even sessions where players come to take part, rather than to stand out in front and entertain others), or for traditional dance like morris. It just plans (press release 12th April) "to simplify…the licensing regimes".

Licensing is never cheap quick and easy. The whole idea that folk music should need a licence is ridiculous. The "reform" will vandalise an important part of England's cultural heritage, close off the route for amateur folk musicians to become professionals in the music industry of such importance to the UK economy, and reduce the attractiveness of the UK as a venue for tourism.

This philistinism is completely unnecessary. Folk music and dance do not pose noise nuisances or health or public order hazards. Only an extreme control freak could ever have dreamed that they might. The fact that in February the government refused to meet the EFDSS to discuss the problem is almost unbelievable. An exemption of a suitable type is absolutely vital, and I suggest that one for music is easy. All it needs to say is that music provided by (say) up to 100 performers without amplification does not need a licence. Keyboards without external amplifiers or speakers should count as acoustic for this purpose. The general law about excessive noise can deal with extraordinary situations like 76 trombones.

Please confirm that you agree.

Yours faithfully

Addresses Kim Howells – kim.howells@culture.gsi.gov.uk - or The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Ronnie Bridgett – Ronnie.Bridgett@culture.gsi.gov.uk - DCMS, 2/4 Cockspur St, London SW1Y 5DH

Your MP – www.faxyourmp.com - or [name/constituency], House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

EFDSS - www.efdss.org - Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 7AY

MU - www.musiciansunion.org.uk - 60/62 Clapham Rd London SW9 0JJ FOR HAMISH BIRCHALL

MODAL - www.modal.co.uk - Centre for Popular Music, 6 Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2QQ


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 07:50 AM

Subject: RE: UK catters be useful TODAY
From: Les Jones
Date: 20-Apr-02 - 02:38 AM

I e-mailed my MP, Tony Lloyd, Labour, Manchester Central. This is his reply:

Thank you for your e-mail about singing in pubs.

Apparently it already is an offence. If more than two people are singing the venue is required to obtain a public entertainments licence.

In mid-February, in the court case of the London borough of Southwark v. Sean Toye, it was demonstrated that it was not only an offence for a performance to include more than two people singing or playing at the same time, but for people to perform sequentially. The liability rests with the managers and not the singers concerned. The British Institute of Innkeeping's "Handbook for the Entertainment Licensee's National Certificate" states:

"Where community style singing to music is encouraged to take place, the entertainment will be licensable. If, however, the singing is spontaneous the council is unlikely to take action, although technically there is a breach of the law."

I know the Government are trying to reform these archaic and plain daft licensing laws. The Queen's Speech promised new legislation but no date has yet been given. I have also written to Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. As soon as she replies I will let you know.

Tony clearly understands the problem and is in favour of a change in the law.

I am sorry, I have not followed this thread. Does an organised National campaign exist? Why has it become more of a problem recently?


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 07:54 AM

UK catters can be useful TODAY


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Apr 02 - 04:56 PM

Kevin said

I am sure that there are plenty of good intentions around. But good intentions are not enough. If the reforms, when they come, get it wrong, that is likely to be it for another generation. We will be stuck with an absurd restrictive set of rules that will needlessly set us apart from other countries in Europe which manage perfectly well without penalising people who wish to make music


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 01:42 PM

David Heath MP, who led the debate in the House of Commons about two in bar, has put down an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for reform of this 'outdated and just plain daft' legislation in the next Queen's Speech.

The purpose of an EDM is to air an issue that a group of MPs feel strongly about. Interested MPs add their names in support. If a large number do this, it sends a strong message to the Government. This in turn can be very effective in gaining media coverage.

PLEASE WRITE OR FAX YOUR MP ASKING THEM TO SUPPORT THIS MOTION (see below for fax service):

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.

PLEASE FAX (AND GET ALL YOUR FRIENDS) TO FAX YOUR MP DIRECT on: www.faxyourmp.com Or write: House of Commons London SW1A OAA


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 01:49 PM

It's important to try to get across to MPs or anyone who will listen the points that have been made in our various ketters - and that Early Day motion doesn't incorporate some of them.

The heart of it is that the law needs to recognise that people making music for their own mutual entertaimment should not be treated as performers needing to be licensed, but as people engaged in doing something which is a basic human right, like talking to each other.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 02:46 PM

Well said Kevin, you are not alone, but it is not too often we could agree with our judges.

Here is the interesting comment by Justice Munby, made during his judicial review of emergency contraception (in case you have not already seen it):

"There would in my judgment be something very seriously wrong, indeed grievously wrong with our system - by which I mean not just our legal system but the entire system by which our policy is governed - if a judge in 2002 were to be compelled by a statute 141 years old to hold that what thousands, hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of ordinary honest, decent, law abiding citizens have been doing day in day out for so many years is and always has been criminal.'

Like making folk music?

For the full context go to: http://www.doh.gov.uk/ehc/judicialreview.htm


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:39 PM

The wording of the EDM is really not too crucial at this stage. The way it works is that it needs MPs to add their names to support movement on the issue. If enough do, there will be debates and a chance to ammend the proposals. So a generallly worded motion will hopefully attract more names.

I would imagine that opposition MPs would add their names, if only to emmbarrass the Government. The motion will be up for the whole of this session of Parliament, so there really is no reason why we should not be able to get our MPs to add their names.

Whilst writing to specifically asked them to add their name, there is every chance to bring up the details that concern you and request that they bring these into the debates.

Message By: Mick Woods

Once again the "Two in a bar law" rears it'e ugly head. I help run a small folk club once a fortnight, in a pub in Greenwich, SE London. Last year the landlord received a letter from the council telling him that, they had visited his premises and witnessed three musicians playing.

The letter warned him that he could face up to 6 months in jail and a £20.000 fine for allowing this sort of thing to take place in his bar. We have since tried to ensure that there are only one or two musicians playing at any given time during our session. Last week the landlord received a letter from the council saying, that they had again visited his pub and witnessed several musicians playing. This time they stated a time - 8.50pm. As our session does not start until 9pm what they witnessed were various musicians "tuning up".

The landlord phoned the council, but was told that even if the musicians did not actually play at the same time the Law was still being broken, as there were more than two during the course of the evening. They are now prosecuting. This is a tiny back street pub, the music we play is all acoustic. Has anybody else had any experience of this antiquated legislation?

The answer is unfortunately, yes....... Can we all please get together and make sure that no one else has to?


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 07:23 PM

I've faxed this message from Mike Woods to my MP as a horrible example, and I suggest that other people do that as well.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 May 02 - 06:37 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 May 02 - 07:36 AM

The following is a reply to the first letter in this thread.

From Kim Howells 02/05/02

I share your constituent's concern about the current restrictions relating to the provision of entertainment in public places and can assure him that the Government's far-reaching licensing reform 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. As Mr Gall has rightly remarked, the main purpose of licensing legislation is to ensure public safety on premises, whatever the nature of the event may be, and to prevent undue disturbance to local residents. It is the statutory duty of local councils to take these factors into consideration when determining applications for public entertainment licenses. The current exemption from the normal requirement for a public entertainment licence, I'e. the "two in a bar rule" has widely been recognized as ineffective in preventing noise nuisance.

The Government would not accept that it is the case that certain types of music, for example acoustic, are never "noisy" and should be excluded from the new licensing regime. We would also expect other factors, such as public safety and the time of day or night that a musical performance takes place, to influence the decisions of local authorities on licence conditions. We believe that, under a truly fair system of licensing, local councils must take individual circumstances into consideration when determining public entertainment licence applications. However, to ensure consistency across the country, there will be clear and transparent procedures which regulate the licensing authorities activities, and licensing fees will be set centrally to prevent the excesses which have occurred in some local authority areas.

I can confirm that my Department has consistently stated that our intention is to properly regulate public performances put on by licensed premises to entertain the public. We do not anticipate that spontaneous singing which does not constitute a "performance" under the terms of a licensing bill, or is not undertaken or organised for "reward" as defined in the Bill, will be within the range of the licensing regime. The Government is aware of the importance of properly defining what constitutes a public performance and will ensure clarity on this point.

Finally, you may wish to know what the Association of British Jazz had to say about the Government's proposals:-

"Remarkably, these reforms could benefit everyone: the brewers and landlords, as well as the present and future employees in the industry; and of course there will be increased opportunities for entertainers, particularly musicians. The reduction in legislation, with consequent savings to brewers and individual licensees, should also mean that there will be more money in the system for the payment of entertainers at a proper level."

As you know, it is my intention to bring forward a licensing reform Bill as soon as Parliamentary time is available.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 May 02 - 02:07 PM

A few comments on Kim Howell's reply 02/05/02

I share your constituent's concern about the current restrictions relating to the provision of entertainment in public places and can assure him that the Government's far-reaching licensing reform 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. As Mr Gall has rightly remarked, the main purpose of licensing legislation is to ensure public safety on premises, whatever the nature of the event may be, and to prevent undue disturbance to local residents. It is the statutory duty of local councils to take these factors into consideration when determining applications for public entertainment licenses. The current exemption from the normal requirement for a public entertainment licence, i.e. the "two in a bar rule" has widely been recognized as ineffective in preventing noise nuisance.

Local authorities may consider that the "two in a bar rule" has made the collection of PEL revenue more difficult, and their eagerness to be rid of any exemptions is plain, but dealing with excess noise has never been dependent on premises holding a PEL. Other legislation can and must deal with this, as all noise does not emanate from entertainment or music. Excess noise is not an automatic problem in the many places where exempted music is played, in the 95% of premises that do not currently hold PELs.
Even under current legislation maximum capacity and noise restrictions, can be placed on premises by the courts, when applications for liquor licenses are made.

The Government would not accept that it is the case that certain types of music, for example acoustic, are never "noisy" and should be excluded from the new licensing regime. We would also expect other factors, such as public safety and the time of day or night that a musical performance takes place, to influence the decisions of local authorities on licence conditions. We believe that, under a truly fair system of licensing, local councils must take individual circumstances into consideration when determining public entertainment licence applications.
As the Government's main concern would appear to be noise, they rather strangely consider it to be "fair" to first, place at risk and prevent any music (even that clearly presenting no real noise concern), unless the licensee pays for and specifically describes the exact nature of any musical activity ever likely to take place. Any subsequent licensing conditions, no matter how fair these are intended, can only be placed where application (and payment) first takes place. Without an application being made, any music will be prevented, without a specific safety concern ever being identified.
The right freedom of expression, including musical expression, can only be prevented where there is a specific safety concern. The present 'scattergun' approach, where innocent casualties are acceptable in order to address the few premises that are presenting a noise hazard, is to be continued under this reform. Excess noise IS a crime and legislation exists to deal with this and other crimes, efforts should be concentrated where and when this occurs, and the assumption not made that all music automatically presents this concern. Music making is not a crime and musicians are not criminals. I cannot accept that payment can ever be made to enable a crime (excess noise) to be committed, even conditionally. Noise does not only arise from some musical activities, it is a measurable product and as such it should be dealt with, without risking any valuable cultural events or restricting freedom of expression.
However, to ensure consistency across the country, there will be clear and transparent procedures which regulate the licensing authorities activities, and licensing fees will be set centrally to prevent the excesses which have occurred in some local authority areas.
This to be set in bands (presumably based on the size of the premises), from £100 to £500. This will last for the life of the business, but annual charges of £50 to £100 will be made. This to "maintain a revenue stream". Why? How can this payment be justified? Would the premises be unsafe without this? Do the premises get a reduced fee if they do not tick the 'entertainment' box? What fee will be charged for non-liquor licensed premises? Especially clubs and coffee bars for those too young to drink. Should music without drinking be encouraged or will this reform permanently link the two elements, to the detriment of music?

I can confirm that my Department has consistently stated that our intention is to properly regulate public performances put on by licensed premises to entertain the public. We do not anticipate that spontaneous singing which does not constitute a "performance" under the terms of a licensing bill, or is not undertaken or organised for "reward" as defined in the Bill, will be within the range of the licensing regime. The Government is aware of the importance of properly defining what constitutes a public performance and will ensure clarity on this point.

It would of course be far easier not to have to try and define "performance" or "spontaneous" but just to accept the fact that all music making and entertainment in pubs is safe, until there are specific concerns expressed that a particular activity, at that time or place may not be. Then conditions can be imposed to protect the public' interests. Which as it would only apply to places where there was a problem, and it would of course be far cheaper.

Finally, you may wish to know what the Association of British Jazz had to say about the Government's proposals:-

Frankly,no. It is not an opinion that many informed people would share.

"Remarkably, these reforms could benefit everyone: the brewers and landlords, as well as the present and future employees in the industry; and of course there will be increased opportunities for entertainers, particularly musicians. The reduction in legislation, with consequent savings to brewers and individual licensees, should also mean that there will be more money in the system for the payment of entertainers at a proper level."

As you know, it is my intention to bring forward a licensing reform Bill as soon as Parliamentary time is available.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 May 02 - 04:45 PM

The following is from The English Folk Dance and Song Society and is addressed to all MPs.

Please support the Early Day Motion - 1182

Could you sing a traditional English song? Thousands exist - but many people who live in England have little exposure to them.

Traditional singers and musicians throughout the country wish to meet informally in their community to share and keep alive the stories, songs and tunes which are our heritage. This may be at a sing around in a folk club or can be a spontaneous occasion, such as at the end of a Morris tour. The Public Entertainment License laws have turned our traditional music making into a criminal activity.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society recognises that the Government is trying to reform these licensing laws and that consultation has been ongoing for some time. We feel strongly that developments in the legislation covering public performance need to take into account the social nature of our traditional music.

Much of this musical heritage is intended to be sung with people rather than performed at people. The Society is speaking on behalf of folk and traditional enthusiasts who follow this cultural pursuit outside of their daily professions.

Singing together is almost the equivalent of conversation - an exchange and a celebration of culture and ideas. It is passed on from one to another in a spirit which suggests that the music and songs are everybody's and not to be performed by a favoured few to the assembled masses.

We urge the Government to introduce a Licensing Law Reform Bill in the next Queen's Speech and actively encourage your support for the Early Day Motion (1182). Under the current two in a bar system it is illegal to allow three folk singers to perform in a pub. Because of the spontaneous nature of this activity, we would welcome a section of the Bill which addresses non-amplified music.

Please contact the English Folk Dance and Song Society for further details on 020 7485 2206.

Yours sincerely,
Rachel Taylor
Chair, National Council


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Jun 02 - 06:56 PM

Following is the the reply to the following letter.

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. 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.

07/06/02

Dear Mr Gall

Thank you for your letter of 3 May to Dr Howells about the proposed licensing reforms. Am replying on his behalf.

It may be helpful if I explain the current law affecting churches. In London, where Schedule 12 to the London Government Act 1963 is the applicable legislation, there is no exemption for churches, which require a public entertainment licence if they are to used for public dancing or music, and any other public entertainment of a like kind. Outside London, where Schedule 1 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1982 applies, there is a limited exemption from the need for a public entertainment licence in the case of music in a place of public religious worship. Therefore, for example, a concert in a provincial church would not require a public entertainment licence whereas a discotheque, which involved dancing, would need this permission.

It is currently the Government's intention to make all places of public religious worship exempt from the requirement for permission to stage a public entertainment in so far as it is possible.

Rather than answer your individual questions, I feel it would be more helpful for me to explain how the new licensing regime would work. Under the new system, 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 11.00pm and 5.00am) would be integrated into a single licence – the "premises licence". This integrates six existing licensing regimes 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 simultaneous for permission to put on music or dancing or similar entertainment whenever desired. The fee for such a premises licence will 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. The position now is that many pubs are wary of obtaining a separate public entertainment licence because the costs can be prohibitive in some local authority 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 fees will also be set centrally by the Secretary of State order to eradicate the wide and sometimes unjustified inconsistencies that presently exist.

The premises licence will 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 will 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, would be defined as music or dancing, or entertainment of a like kind, which is presented publicly for commercial purposes or for gain. Public singing which is not undertaken for profit or gain will not be affected.

We do not accept that it is the case that certain types of music, for example acoustic folk music, are never "noisy" or that they should be excluded from the new licensing regime. If public music is to be performed at premises, then the licensing authority will have the power to impose necessary and proportionate conditions in order to protect residents and customers. The conditions will not be standardised. The licensing authority will be required to tailor them to the style of venue. Major venues staging rock bands would be likely to be the subject of more restrictive conditions than a small pub or club which puts on unamplified live music.

Although the "two in a bar" exemption will be abolished for the perfectly sound reason hat one musician with modern amplification or simply microphones can make as much noise as three without, Dr Howells is confident that the proposed reforms will provide a licensing framework within which musical performance can thrive and develop, while providing adequate protection for local people in the community.

A Bill which will be presented as soon as Parliamentary time permits. It will then be for Parliament to consider the merits of our approach.

Ronnie Bridgett

The answers to my questions were:

Yes religious music, as part of worship will still be public entertainment.

No the current exemption for it, to the licensing will not be scrapped.

Given the Government's concern for safety, they do appear to be going further in strangely exempting from the licensing requirement, any commercial performance of public entertainment, specifically taking place in churches.
"In so far as it is possible", which means it is probably not possible.

1 Yes

2 Yes
3 Yes "Public entertainment, which would be covered by the premises licence, would be defined as music or dancing, or entertainment of a like kind, which is presented publicly for commercial purposes or for gain. Public singing which is not undertaken for profit or gain will not be affected."
This sounds reassuring but as in other correspondence Mr Bridgett further defined 'public singing' as needing to be spontaneous and the 'gain' element can just be indirect benefit to the licensee, like increased takings, all music making in pubs will be prevented without the 'entertainment ' element of the premises licence. See below.

From: ronnie.bridgett@Culture.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Mr Bridge -

You ask me to explain how the two responses can be reconciled. In response to the question - will criminal offences be committed by customers who spontaneously break into song, our advice is that we do not anticipate that spontaneous singing which does not constitute a "performance" under the terms of the Bill or is not undertaken or organised for "reward" as defined in the Bill, will be within the range of the licensing regime. Whereas a musical "performance" as defined in the Bill by a single musician undertaken for "reward" (either his own or the organiser's) will be subject to the licensing regime. It is for Parliamentary Counsel to decide how in terms of draft clauses to give effect to that policy.

4 Yes


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Tig
Date: 16 Jun 02 - 06:46 PM

The Badger just got a letter back from our MP telling him that he does not, as a rule, sign EDMs. He also quotes Kim Howell :-

"Our plans for the modernisation of the licensing regimes were set out clearly in the White Paper "Time for Reform" (Cm. 4696). We proposed that the current exemption from public entertainment licensing that allows two musicians to perform live in premises licensed for the sale of alcohol should end. This is because one or two live musicians using powerful microphone and amplifiers can make more noise and so generate more nuisance for local residents that three without. Alcohol and public entertainment licensing will be integrated into a single scheme. This would remove at a stroke a considerable amout of existing red tape and reduce the licensing cost which currently deter many venues from providing live music and dancing. The reforms will be implemented by means a primary legislation to be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time permits"

It sounds to me like a load of gobbledegook to try and put off the reforms as long as possible! Our MP also says "I will of course continue to monitor developments with this matter carefully". (Have a sweetie little boy and keep off my back!!!!!).


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jun 02 - 08:59 PM

a load of gobbledegook to try and put off the reforms as long as possible!

"Reform" is a weasel word. It just means "changes", but it's got loaded with the implication that it means "changes for the better". The trouble is the changes which are likely to be brought in is that theybare in fact going to be changew for the worse in a situation where changes for mtyhe better are badly needed.

"From the frying pan into the fire" is the traditional way of describing the reforms which appear likely to be unleashed on us.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 16 Jun 02 - 09:08 PM

McGrath, visitShepherd Neame and see what Stuart Neame thinks of the "reforms".

Jon


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 03:06 AM

Tig ( and others), Thanks for your efforts. can I suggest that you write again, with your detailed concerns for folk music activities now and under the proposed, asking your MP to forward these to Dr Howells.

I have sent the following to mine.

http://greentrad.org.uk/

A click on the above link will enable you to read this council's position in their own words, in the letter to the pub. A position that is held in complete opposition to the one stated by Dr Howells as the Government's.

Where the "two in a bar" rule should not be used to prevent ordinary people making music in pubs (or indeed tapping their feet).

Can you please urgently advise what Dr Howells is going to do under the current legislation to protect valuable cultural activities from this stupidity, which is making this nation a laughing stock?

His department have done nothing, despite this problem being brought to his attention by yourself in early 2001, over the actions of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and detailed in the Commons debate on 27 February 2002.

140 MP's have now signed EDM 1182.

How many more traditional activities are this Government's Culture Department just going to sit back an allow the nation to lose? Urgent action is now required, can you please contact Dr Howells again and advise what form this action will take, to ensure that local authorities will now follow the Minister's wishes and free the public from this unjustified oppression?

Mr Caborn, on behailf of the Government, in the 27 February 2002 Commons debate stated.

>The hon. Gentleman asks whether we can give guidance to local authorities. I do not think that we can, but I take on board the point that he makes, and I shall speak to officials tomorrow to find out whether we can produce some guidance. If that can be done, I will ensure that it is. I shall also consider the issue that he raised about the website.<

As this was over 3 months ago, I can only assume that 'we' couldn't produce some guidance, could you please establish exactly why not?

Who is in charge here?

Is it not more a question that the DCMS must give guidance?

Or despite their public statements, do this government really not care about the current ongoing local authority harrassment of cultural activities?

Roger


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 03:13 AM

Had such guidance been issued after the February debate, perhaps the following letter (and others) would not have been sent?

From jane.blade@greenwich.gov.uk
12 April 2002

I write further to my letter dated 31 July 2000.

Council officers visited your premises on Tuesday 23 April at 9.23pm and observed twelve musicians performing folk music. You are already aware that to have more than two performers at your premises on any day is a criminal offence. The definition of "performers" has never been tested in Court, but even if this was a jam session the Council's view is that these people were "performers". They were being watched by at least a dozen customers, who were tapping their feet to the music and thus being entertained by the performance.

I am sure you appreciate that a great majority of publicans pay licence fees and comply with licence conditions so they may provide this sort of entertainment to their customers. It is a constant source of dismay to these law abiding licensees to find certain other establishments in the borough providing public entertainment freely. The Council is always expedient in dealing with such matters and those licensees who repeatedly break the law are prosecuted.

I have enclosed an application pack for a Restricted Use Licence for your use. In my previous warnings you state the lease on the pub was shortly due to expire which is why you could not apply for a licence. Presumably this issue is now resolved so there is no further bar to you making an application. This licence will allow you to hold two events a week at your premises until 11.00pm and cost £320 for a year.

As you have been previously warned, the next step is for the Council to apply to the Magistrates Court to issue a summons against you. I sincerely hope this action will not be necessary. Your premises will be visited again and if further offences are found, legal proceedings may be instigated you without further notice.

Jane Blade Licensing Officer.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 10:42 AM

The following from the BBC Folk and acoustic website.

re: Dr Howells on Mike Harding show?

Mel McClellan - HOST - 268th post - 17 Jun 2002 11:53 Yep, Dr H has indeed agreed to speak out on the MH Show, though 25th June is the date of the interview, and it'll be aired sometime after that - I'll publish the date here when it's set and probably put an item on the website's news page.

Any questions you would like our Mike to ask Dr Howells?

Not much time to get them to him, if there is.

Mike Harding
E-mail Address(es):
mike.harding@bbc.co.uk


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Grab
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 07:31 AM

Having emailed Anne Campbell about EDM 1182, she sent a letter to Kim Howells about it. Dr Howells has sent me back a letter last week (with an envelope marked "House of Commons" which is very cool since you don't often get that, and they get a bonus point for using recycled paper too :-).

It's a bit boilerplate from previous letters, but it's a reply at least. I'll post it on here when I get time.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Hecate
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 09:04 AM

I've already had a go at my MP (Jackie Smith) she forarded my concerns to Kim Howells, and the feedback I received indicated that we were to get something along the same lines as the Scottish legislation. However, the information above does not look encouraging. How many pubs willw ant to bother? Many will probably prefer to get rid of spontanious music rather than face additional hassel. It anoys me no end - TV, juke boxes and the like are so much louder yet require nothing like the legislation.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Noreen
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 08:50 PM

My son tells me that Mick Hucknall (of Simply Red) has entered the debate- apparently there was a report on Virgin radio, quoting him as saying how unfair the 'two in a bar' rule is.

And from simplyred.com:

The All Party Music Group (APMG) have invited Mick to address Members of Parliament tomorrow when they`ll be discussing the health of live music and venues at their second House of Commons debate on the music industry. More details of what Mick had to say after the event.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Noreen
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 08:58 PM

Forgot to include that the above report was dated Monday, 01 July 2002, so Mick will have said his piece to the committee last week.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 02:41 AM

We will take it as 'Red'.*Smiles*

I will try to post the details of this event here. If any one gets this info first can they please post it here?


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 05:16 AM

This is a bit about the Commons All Party Music Group.

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/newsMainTemplate.asp?storyID=1002&newssectionID=6.

You may note that PELs are not listed there as a concern.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 03:28 PM

This in The Independent.

Mick Hucknall of Simply Red addressed the first briefing of the All-Party Music Group at the Houses of Paliament last night. The group is pressing the Government to reform public entertainment licensing to make it easier for pub, bar and restaurant owners to employ live musicians. "A healthy music industry depends upon there being, not hundreds, or thousands but tens of thousands of active, gigging musicians," he told the meeting.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 05:35 PM

Excellent! Better than I'd hoped for after reading that the APMG was set up for the benefit of the Music Industry (rather than musicians).


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 03:06 AM

The BBC coverage.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/music/newsid_2085000/2085130.stm


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jul 02 - 05:28 AM

http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/ref=1182

Link to the House of Commons Ealy Day Motion 1182. To see how many MPs have now signed this.

Is your MP's name there?


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Noreen
Date: 10 Jul 02 - 09:48 PM

Yes! David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, signed the EDM after my correspondence with him (he knew nothing about it previously).


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 04:16 AM

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.

Yours sincerely

Claire Vickers
Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Branch
Tourism Division


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 04:35 AM

22/06/02

Dear Mr Knight

As in earlier replies, Dr Howells will want to maintain the proposed reforms as the answer to all our prayers. As this has been ready for some time and we do not yet have this legislation now, and will still not have it for some time to come, I feel the questions should concentrate on the current situation. The folk activities that in particular that have been affected during Dr Howells's stewardship of them, the ones that remain at risk and what Dr Howells intends to do now to protect them.

I feel he must be made to face, comment on and take action now to stop the 'silly' local authority enforcement now, before it is too late, whatever the proposed reforms may eventually do. It does not feel 'silly' to have your activities affected by these enforcement's. The nation cannot afford to lose even one more such event.

On 16/07/01 you have supplied details to Dr Howells, of the particular local authority enforcement of our unpaid participatory traditional tune session and their interpretation that we were more than two 'performers' in a public entertainment. This to be prevented without the premises obtaining a Public Entertainment Licence.

The officers were not aware, and when they were made aware in April 2001,of case law precedent in the licensee's favour, did not produce this to the members when receiving their retrospective endorsement for their actions. Brearley –v- Moreley was the case, where a licensee was found not guilty of providing unlicensed entertainment because customers were providing unpaid, their own music on a regular basis.

The officers (wrongly) stated to the members, in the report to the Social and Community Committee meeting 06/05/01.
"4.5 Historically the Courts have determined that a Licence is required not just where music is provided by paid performers to entertain the public but where members of the public themselves participate in music making. -

7.1 Having witnessed a folk music session involving at least four musicians at the premises Licensing Officers were satisfied that public entertainment was being provided in that the music was performed in a public area of the premises. The exemption for entertainment provided by two or fewer performers did not apply."

Dr Howells in a letter to The Rt Hon Michael Portillo MP dated 14/03/02 included the following, referring to the "two in a bar rule" he stated. "The rule is intended to apply to public performances put on by a public house to entertain the public and should not prevent ordinary people singing together or dancing in a public house."

The following question has still to be answered by Dr Howells, despite being asked by you in a letter dated 16/07/01. "In the absence of any new legislation to deal with this, what measures under current legislation will the Minister now be taking, to ensure that local authority's officers will not view their responsibilities under licensing legislation to be more important than their responsibilities under cultural or other legislation?"

In his reply 14/08/01 he did include the following. "I appreciate Mr Gall's concern about the actions of his local council. However, it would not be appropriate for Ministers to comment on or intervene in individual cases as the methods used to enforce the relevant law is an operational matter for local councils and the police. It might be helpful if I explain the current law and the measures we propose in the licensing reform White Paper which affects entertainment on licensed premises."

It is clear that the White Paper proposals will not free these activities from the new licensing requirement. Even if this were to be the case, Dr Howells has been aware of the problems since early 2001 (if not before) and the proposed legislation is still not available, in late 2002, to deal with the local authority harassment of the valuable cultural activities.

The details of our session's enforcement were again presented, and details of the Belper folk club, to Mr Richard Caborn (for Dr Howells), in the Commons debate on the 27/02/02 (this was before the letter to Michael Portillo on 14/03/02).
Mr Caborn, on behalf of the Government, in the 27 February 2002 Commons debate stated. The hon. Gentleman asks whether we can give guidance to local authorities. I do not think that we can, but I take on board the point that he makes, and I shall speak to officials tomorrow to find out whether we can produce some guidance. If that can be done, I will ensure that it is. I shall also consider the issue that he raised about the website.

1. If no such guidance has been produced, why can this not be done?

2. Why are the DCMS just watching while these enforcement's continue to prevent ordinary people from making music together in pubs? Against Dr Howells statement that the rule should not prevent ordinary people making music together in pubs?

3. I think it would be safe to say that on this matter, local authorities have lost the trust of the public. As the Government are unable or unwilling to prevent the many examples of reckless actions of local authorities under current legislation, what constraints will be introduced to ensure that these will be proportionate under the proposed reforms, as the White Paper is rather short on the detail of how this is to be achieved?

4. What is the Government going to do now, to protect these folk activities, or do they agree with local authorities that these unpaid participatory activities are public entertainment, their participants are performers and that they should be prevented in all premises without PELs?

5. If guidance had been given to local authorities after the Commons debate on 27/02/02, would letters like this one from Greenwich Council, containing the following have been sent?

"Council officers visited your premises on Tuesday 23 April at 9.23pm and observed twelve musicians performing folk music. You are already aware that to have more than two performers at your premises on any day is a criminal offence. The definition of "performers" has never been tested in Court, but even if this was a jam session the Council's view is that these people were "performers". They were being watched by at least a dozen customers, who were tapping their feet to the music and thus being entertained by the performance."

Yours sincerely


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: nickp
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 05:18 AM

Claire Vickers' letter states:

"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."

Maybe I'm misreading it but does that second sentence imply that sessions which don't generate profit or gain (for whom!) are OK?

*Grin*

Nick


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 06:32 AM

Yes it does imply that doesen't it?

However, further info provided from the DCMS will establish that the reward can be indirect to the licensee in the form of increased takings for drinks.

This means that the only live music that will not require the entertainment element of the new premises licence, will have be proved to be both spontaneous and unrewarded. Anything else (except live TV events)will and have to be exactly specified well in advance, in a council approved operating plan.


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: nickp
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 06:49 AM

Drat - over a barrel!


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Jul 02 - 02:11 PM

It is currently the Government's intention to make all places of public religious worship exempt from the requirement for permission to stage a public entertainment in so far as it is possible.

This from Claire Vicker's letter, sounds good too as far as it goes but, 'in so far as it is possible' means (in this Sir Humphreyspeak), that it is not possible at all..............

Is this 'open door', that we are appear to be pushing at, leading to anywhere we would really wish to go?


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 27 Jul 02 - 05:44 PM

Letter to my MP from Dr Howells 17/07/02.

Thank you for your letter of 24 June, enclosing a letter from your constituent Roger Gall..........., in connection with our proposals for public entertainment licensing reform.

Your constituent has asked if live satellite screening of sporting events will remain uncovered by the entertainment element of the proposed premises licence. I can confirm that we do not currently intend to provide for the licensing (and therefore inclusion in the operating plan) of any public entertainment which is not already covered in the existing public entertainment licensing laws. In the context of alcohol and public entertainment, we are proposing a deregulatory and not a regulatory Bill. If it is the considered position of the Musician's Union nationally that the definition of public entertainment should be expanded, we will certainly consider it.

Mr Gall believes that existing legislation dealing with noise nuisance makes redundant the need to license music, dancing and entertainment of a like kind. So far as I am aware there is no law in this country which addresses public nuisance generally, although there are some by-laws which can be made by local authorities, but in many parts of the country they have not been created.

The powers under Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Noise Act 1996 are relatively limited. While a local resident who is disturbed by excessive noise from commercial or private premises can ask the local authority to serve a Noise Abatement Notice, the act limits the enforcement powers of the authority. Premises must be given time in which to comply, which is not ideal for the local resident. Although there are some powers to seize equipment that is generating unacceptable noise levels, there is no immediate power to stop the people who are making the noise unless it can be said in law that they are causing a breach of the peace.

However, the Licensing Act 1964 provides powers for the police to close down licensed premises instantly which are excessively noisy for up to twenty four hours if that is necessary to prevent disturbance to the public. Furthermore, under current public entertainment licensing law, there is no requirement for a warning to be given when any conditions attached to the licence are breached. The local authority is entitled to prosecute the operator of the premises without further ado. This places a significant pressure on the holder of the licence to ensure its conditions are complied with. In both cases, whether under the 1964 Act or under public entertainment licensing law, both the liquor and public entertainment licence could be forfeited.

It should be noted that public safety is an equally important consideration under public entertainment licensing law. At present, there is no provision under health and safety legislation which obliges premises just selling alcohol to which the public are admitted to have a safe capacity. There is therefore no capacity limit for the vast majority of public houses in England and Wales. Similarly, there is nothing in health and safety and safety law which requires most venues (other than stadia in certain contexts) providing music and dancing to have safety capacities. Accordingly, it is only through public entertainment licensing that a safe capacity limit can be imposed on venues or places at which music or dancing is taking place.

No health and safety legislation can require that free water should be available at a discotheque where there are fears that drug use and prolonged dancing could result in serious dehydration, nor is there a provision for clubs to provide a 'chill out" room for hyperactive dancers to allow them to calm down when they may be injuring their bodies while under the influence of drugs. Licensing law conditions provide the mechanism for these requirements. These types of condition cannot be imposed by magistrates in connection with a liquor licence as they would be deemed unreasonable and therefore unlawful.

In brief, there is no complete duplication between the requirements of health and safety legislation and noise legislation and existing licensing law. Where there is duplication, we intend to eliminate it under the new regime.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain that the alcohol and entertainment licensing reforms would require local authorities to follow rules and procedures. They would have no discretion to refuse a licence or impose any condition unless a reasonable objection to the operating plan based on valid evidence had been raised by the police, an environmental health officer, the fire authority or local residents.

This would give the professional officers greater influence than they currently have. In granting or refusing licenses, or imposing any conditions, which would be proportionate and tailored to the venue, the local council would also be legally bound to take into account guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Departure from this guidance, without a good or valid reason, would provide grounds for an appeal to the courts.

In response to Me Gall's concern that a premises licence might somehow prevent music which is not considered a noise nuisance from being performed in licensed premises I must point out that the new system will allow for variation. Also, as I have pointed out in previous correspondence the fee for a premises licence would be no different whether the public house sought permission solely to sell alcohol or decided to go for multiple permissions, including the provision of public entertainment.

Finally, to address the human rights issue, I must reiterate that licensing legislation must take into consideration the rights of local residents as well as musicians. It is essential that the greater freedom and opportunities which would be available to licensees and performers under the new regime are balanced with powers to deal with the small minority who might abuse such freedom, damage communities and bring the industry into disrepute.

Dr Kim Howells


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 06:12 AM

To the DCMS from Hamish Birchall.

Dear Ronnie

I am sorry to have to draw your attention again to inaccuracies and misleading statements made in recent letters to MPs signed by Kim Howells relating to PELs, live television, safe capacities in pubs, noise and public safety. The cumulative effect is to imply, wrongly, that in respect of any live music in pubs bars etc, existing public safety and noise legislation is inadequate to regulate the attendant risks. This in turn creates the impression that problems associated with live music in this context are driving the Government's PEL reforms, which is, of course, complete nonsense.

Firstly, as Andrew Cunningham acknowledged in an email to me dated 15 May 2002, the Musicians Union had already made representations to the Government about live television and their view that its exemption from licensing as public entertainment was an anomaly (response to Licensing White Paper, July 2000). It is therefore entirely wrong for the Minister to imply that the Union has not yet made such representations (Howells to Jim Knight MP, 17 July 2002, ref: CO2/07524/02434/pa).

Secondly, it is not the case that 'only through public entertainment licensing that a safe capacity limit can be imposed on venues or places at which music or dancing is taking place'. Licensing justices can and regularly do impose a capacity limit on the grant of liquor on licences. The Magistrates Courts, and John Murphy of the Magistrates Association confirmed that this is common in London. Licensing lawyer Jeremy Phillips, co-editor of Pattersons, confirmed that it is also common practice in Birmingham. Such premises may not have dancing without a PEL but they can have music (the reproduction of recorded sound or performed by one or two live musicians).

Thirdly, it is untrue to suggest that local authorities cannot enforce Noise Abatement Notices quickly (ref: as above). The noise policy unit at DEFRA confirmed to me on the phone that local authorities can suspend rights of appeal and enforce these Notices almost immediately, and that all local authorities have the power to seize noisy equipment. Incidentally, you may also have read in last week's Times the comment by Val Weedon of the UK Noise Association: 'It's rare that we receive complaints about live music in pubs and bars. In fact, it's fair to say that more complaints arrive about the noise levels of amplified pre-recorded music'(Billy Bragg leads lament for grassroots music, Dalya Alberge and Richard Ford, 25 July 2002)

I asked those I spoke to at DEFRA and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health whether, in their view, the present legislation was inadequate to deal with noise emanating from premises. Their answer was 'no'. This is reinforced by the DEFRA review of the 1996 Noise Act which found that the majority of local authorities did not feel there was a need to change that legislation, although there may be a need for more resources to underwrite enforcement.
Yours sincerely Hamish Birchall


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 06:57 AM

Live music making should be encouraged for people of all ages, culture and religion and no single musician should ever in the future be considered to be involved in criminal activity, just for making live music.

Dear Mr Knight

Thank you for the letter from Dr Howells 17/06/01. I would be grateful if you would consider, advise and pass on to Dr Howells the following serious concerns about the accuracy of that letter and the subsequent weakness of the argument contained in that letter, for future legislation? A badly flawed argument that has more holes in it than my old gig bag, one based entirely on these inaccuracies and misinformation, that will continue with legislation that discriminates against and makes criminals of all musicians, for just making live music.

What is required from the Government, is for it to simply ensure that there are safe public premises to enable and encourage as many people as possible to participate in, be exposed to and enjoy the magic and proven benefits of live music making.

Live music making that is a vital element of this nation's culture and identity but has for far too long been subject to interference from unsympathetic, antiquated and unnecessary bureaucratic controls, which are currently making this nation an international laughing stock. For this to be continued under a Government department with a major remit to encourage and protect this culture, and a wonderful opportunity to do so, is totally inexcusable. But of course the Home Office roots of these so-called cultural 'reforms', are still showing. Perhaps if these roots can be grown out, more sensible and forward-looking thinking can yet be demonstrated by the DCMS?

Deregulatory or a regulatory Bill?
Dr Howells makes an incorrect and misleading statement. "I can confirm that we do not currently intend to provide for the licensing (and therefore inclusion in the operating plan) of any public entertainment which is not already covered in the existing public entertainment licensing laws."

As he well knows, there is much public entertainment that is currently exempt from this licensing requirement taking place (quite safely), in some of the 95% of licensed premises that do not have Public Entertainment Licenses. Under the proposals, this live music making is now to be exposed to the current definition of public entertainment. All of this live music making will now be illegal without the premises applying for the entertainment element of the proposed premises licence, specifying the exact nature of this live music making, in an operating plan well in advance. Then this will be subject to local authority approval and conditions being placed on this previously exempt public entertainment. Under this so-called deregulatory Bill, any single musician making music on premises without this entertainment element will be taking part in, what local authorities refer to now, as a criminal offence. This is simply not good enough and does not deserve support.

As the "two in a bar rule" was introduced as a liberalising deregulatory measure, how can the scrapping of this exemption and the exposure of all live music making to the unchanged definition of public entertainment in the proposed Bill, be described by Dr Howells as a deregulatory Bill? Justification given for exposing all live music to the new licensing requirement is - noise. [Ronnie Bridgett on behalf of Dr Howells 07/06/02."The "two in a bar" exemption will be abolished for the perfectly sound reason that one musician with modern amplification or simply microphones can make as much noise as three without, -"]. Does all music making present this concern?

Live TV screening of sports events in pubs.
"If it is the considered position of the Musician's Union nationally that the definition of public entertainment should be expanded, we will certainly consider it."
Why does Dr Howells wrongly imply that the Musicians Union has not already questioned the Government's view that live television should not require licensing as public entertainment in the context of the Government's proposed reforms? Is he really uninformed and unaware that they have? Are written responses to the White Paper, as I have also made, not worth making?

Could he confirm that the Musicians Union raised precisely this point as long ago as July 2000 with the Home Office when that department had PEL responsibility? The MU position was set out in its written response to the licensing White Paper 'It seems from the White Paper that the provision of terrestrial and satellite TV sport in licensed premises will not come under the definition of 'entertainment'. The Union believes that it should, particularly as large, and often rowdy, crowds are involved. We consider it an anomaly that an entertainment licence is not currently required for this type of entertainment'. In the light of this perhaps Dr Howells could explain his statement, and why he has not considered the MU's point, in over 2 years?

The definition of Public Entertainment.

Whatever the views of the Musicians Union may be, it is a matter for them. My view is that to proceed with a long overdue, so-called reform of licensing legislation, without mention of the problems incurred to unpaid traditional folk activities, by the present unsatisfactory definition of public entertainment is unacceptable. To make no attempt in the White Paper to address this definition, demonstrates the unsatisfactory lack of attention given to public entertainment licensing in these proposals. Only made worse by Ministers and Civil Servants making additional and conflicting proposals and statements that do not appear in the White Paper (and being unaware of written responses made to the White Paper). Giving the impression that these statements are an afterthought made up by them as they go along, and adding to the confusion about what exactly is proposed.

"As long as money isn't changing hands, then there's no reason why they should have to have a licence". Following this reassurance given 17/07/02 on BBC Radio 2. Can Dr Howells explain exactly how, without any proposals in the White Paper about changing the current definition of public entertainment, traditional folk sessions, dancing and singarounds (referred to above), are to be considered as not requiring the entertainment element of the premises licence?

Perhaps he could clarify conflicting statements from Ronnie Bridgett of the DCMS? 04/02/02 "It is not planned that the new system will give an exemption to any forms of entertainment. The proposal is that all activities to be held on a Premises Licence (including non-amplified music) would need to be revealed in the operating plan put for approval to the licensing authority." And 08/04/02 "we do not anticipate that spontaneous singing which does not constitute a "performance" under the terms of the Bill or is not undertaken or organised for "reward" as defined in the Bill, will be within the range of the licensing regime. Whereas a musical "performance" as defined in the Bill by a single musician undertaken for "reward" (either his own or the organiser's) will be subject to the licensing regime."

Could Dr Howells confirm that if ordinary people take part in a totally spontaneous outburst of live music making in a pub where "money isn't changing hands", this will not be considered as public entertainment and licensable? What is the situation, if everyone has a great time and with the permission of the licensee, they decide to meet again and repeat it every week? As presumably the element of spontaneity will not apply, will this then become public entertainment, and illegal in premises without the optional entertainment element of the premises licence? Could Dr Howells please explain the additional risk to the public' interest and safety (which necessitates an additional licence), presented to such a non rewarded, live music making activity, with say only four participants - when a reward is made? Or indeed when payment is made to a four-piece folk band making live music in a pub?

Current noise legislation and Noise Abatement Notices.
It is also untrue for Dr Howells to suggest that local authorities cannot enforce Noise Abatement Notices quickly and that these powers "are relatively limited". The noise policy unit at DEFRA has confirmed that local authorities can suspend rights of appeal and enforce these Notices almost immediately, and that all local authorities have the power to seize noisy equipment.
Could Dr Howells confirm that DEFRA and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, when asked recently whether, in their view the present legislation was inadequate to deal with noise emanating from premises, that their answer was 'no'? This is reinforced by the DEFRA review of the 1996 Noise Act which found that the majority of local authorities did not feel there was a need to change that legislation, although there may be a need for more resources to underwrite enforcement.

Can Dr Howell please confirm that where some music may sometimes present a noise concern, all noise concerns do not emanate from music, or indeed exclusively from live music making?

Other existing legislation.
. Why does Dr Howells make the absurd claim that blanket entertainment licensing and the optional entertainment element, covering of all live music making, and live music making only, should be stretched to cover, and must be relied on, to deal with general public nuisance? Reform or introduction of that legislation, surely best addresses any shortfalls in legislation designed to deal with the public's safety in general or with criminal activities in particular?

The present public entertainment licensing legislation already favours the same few residents who always seem to complain about activities that benefit the majority. If health and safety legislation and measures to make premises safe, and to deal with public nuisance generally is considered by the Government to be limited or deficient then surely it is this legislation that should be reformed?

I can't help but think the DCMS is getting desperate here in their attempts to try and justify the continuing of unjustifiable blanket licensing of all but only live music making. Because you may always have tried to paint the Forth Bridge by applying the paint with a toothbrush, does it mean that you have to continue to do this, when other more efficient means become available?

Safe capacity and overcrowding.
Will Dr Howells accept that he is quite wrong to claim that a capacity limit can only be set in pubs via a PEL? Will he accept that imposing safe capacity is a regular occurrence where the fire service, who must attend these Court sessions, make a recommendation that a safe capacity should be fixed? The justices use s 4 (1) of the Licensing Act 1964, allowing them to impose conditions that are 'in the public interest'. Such premises may not have dancing without a PEL but they can have music (the reproduction of recorded sound or performed by one or two live musicians).

Is Dr Howells aware that recently, the Magistrates Courts, and John Murphy of the Magistrates Association confirmed that this is common in London, and that licensing lawyer Jeremy Phillips, co-editor of Pattersons, has confirmed that it is also common practice in Birmingham.

Is Dr Howells really saying here that the 95% of liquor licensed premises where a PEL is not present are currently unsafe?
And those premises where no live music or dancing is takes place cannot be made safe now?

Is Dr Howells saying (in a fine example of Catch 22), that there is now no means of placing a safe capacity on them - without music or dancing taking place, and thus creating a need for a blanket public entertainment licence or optional entertainment element.

Ensuring the public's safety in this regard does not seem to have been of pressing concern for this Government as the safe capacity issue has been identified by them for well over two years!

Should it be of some more urgent concern to Dr Howells, if he really believes that the public's safety, in the matter of overcrowding at live TV sports events in pubs cannot currently be dealt with by ensuring a safe capacity?

Can he confirm if a safe capacity is to be imposed on all premises, as an automatic condition of the new premises licence?

Or is a safe capacity only to be imposed if the premises apply for the optional entertainment element?

If the issue is really safety, can overcrowding in licensed and other premises ever be considered by this Government as an optional concern?

Duplication and purpose of entertainment licensing legislation.
The introduction to the White Paper demonstrates the doubt and clear duplication inherent in proposals intended to reform legislation - the purposes for which for which, it is admitted, are not expressly stated in the legislation!
So the people drafting the proposals make them up, despite the considerable duplication involved, in particular for the entertainment aspect and never question if there is actually still a real need for blanket entertainment licensing legislation, on liquor licensed premises especially.

There is very little thought given to premises that just want to provide live music making and do not wish to serve alcohol. Understandably, as this is clearly a reform of liquor licensing arrangements, with entertainment licensing only being tagged-on as an afterthought. The rather strange point made for assuring public safety under Public Entertainment Licensing, is that (because events can attract large numbers of people). Is overcrowding a concern only limited to all, but only live music making events?

4. The purposes of the current arrangements for licensing leisure and entertainment outlets are not expressly stated in the legislation: this itself is a drawback. They should, we think, be judged against the following main objectives:
Alcohol protecting the public from crime and disorder
protecting children from too early an exposure to alcohol
preventing nuisance and disturbance to the public

Public Entertainment Licensing (including theatres and cinemas)
protecting the public and minimising nuisance as above
assuring public safety (because events can attract large numbers of people)

Night Cafe/Late Night Refreshment Houses
protecting the public and minimising nuisance as above
health and safety relating to night-time operation


Cultural effects of permanently linking alcohol consumption and live music making.
It is the unnecessary and permanent linking together of two quite separate elements, alcohol consumption and live music making, for no positive reason, that make these proposals so counter-productive. Live music making should be encouraged for people of all ages, culture and religion. Alcohol consumption on the other hand, is illegal for the young and not encouraged by many cultures and religions and presents many health and social concerns.

Scottish public entertainment licensing legislation.
The unnecessary combination of quite distinct issues also makes it difficult to follow the sensible approach shown in Scotland, where other existing legislation (the same as in England and Wales), is thought sufficient to ensure the interests and safety of the public.
Where during normal opening hours, liquor licensed premises in Scotland do not need additional licenses or permission for any live music making. By linking together alcohol consumption and live music making in these proposals and effectively doing away with 'permitted opening hours'. The sensible approach shown by our fellow EEC neighbour cannot easily be followed. It is not too late surely, to seriously look at this approach? Perhaps Dr Howells could finally detail the reasons why this excellent example for encouraging all live music making cannot, be adopted in England and Wales?

Government control of the power of local authorities.
As for the past two years, the Government has been unable to control or even issue guidance to local authorities when these indulge in enforcement actions that are criticised by the Government. It is difficult to see, without some concrete measures being detailed, how for example local authority employed, environmental health officers who are to be given even 'greater influence', will be constrained to any degree of proportionality. Why, if local authorities do not show this, is it necessary for those affected to have to take expensive legal action? For at present it is enough for a council employee to claim that a live music making event is a public entertainment. Thus its participants are involved in criminal activity and the onus is then on the participants to go to Court to try and prove that they are not, a situation that is set to continue under the proposals. The presumption of innocence does not appear to be a factor in entertainment licensing.

Preventing music making that is not presenting a noise nuisance.

Has Dr Howells seen in last week's Times, the comment by Val Weedon of the UK Noise Association? 'It's rare that we receive complaints about live music in pubs and bars. In fact, it's fair to say that more complaints arrive about the noise levels of amplified pre-recorded music' [Billy Bragg leads lament for grassroots music, Dalya Alberge and Richard Ford, 25 July 2002]

Does Dr Howells accept that many complaints to noise levels of late night establishments using only amplified pre-recorded sound and strangely absolutely no live music, will perversely already have the Public Entertainment Licence. A measure that he claims to be the answer to noise from all live music making! [A PEL is required now for these premises operating out of 'permitted hours".]

I would be grateful if Dr Howells could detail the extent to which the 'variation' he refers to, can be enabled without re-definition of what is licensable, and for its effect on the following?
Can Dr Howells confirm that no current live music making (presenting a noise concern or not), will be prevented on introduction of this proposed legislation? I refer to the live music making taking place in the 95% of liquor licensed premises currently without PELs, if the licensees of these premises do not choose to, with the additional red tape, apply for the optional entertainment element of the compulsory premises licence?

Even if live music making is prevented in only one place, for this reason, it is not acceptable to many. Is this risk acceptable for Dr Howells?

Alternative suggestions.
All premises should be made safe for whatever activity is to take place. As they will be paying the same fee, whether the optional entertainment element is applied for or not, why not make all premises safe initially, in the premises licence, for whatever activity may take place, including live music making? The licensee would then have the flexibility to operate this or not and would not have to obtain permission, if they later decided to operate some form of live music making. For example when approached by a folk club looking for a home. The local authority would only need to specifically address any resulting and specific noise or public safety problems, if or when these occurred.

Premises where the main function was dancing, could have any existing legislation and conditions, thought necessary to these particular concerns, imposed on their premises licence. This would not result in other premises where live music making was just additional to their main purpose (and having to choose the entertainment element to enable some live music making), then having standard conditions imposed that did not apply. This would prevent small country pubs continuing to have conditions imposed on them, like having to provide free drinking water for prolonged dancing or 'chill-out' rooms for non existent drug use and hyperactive dancers.

Non-liquor licensed premises.
Is it safe to assume under these proposals that premises which do not wish to serve alcohol but do wish to provide any form of live music making, will still have to specify the exact nature of this in an operating plan? Will have to gain local authority permission for this, but will not have to pay any fee to make their premises safe for live music making?

Human rights.
Licensing legislation should first take into consideration the Human Rights legislation. If there is a real and specific public safety issue, the right to free musical expression can quite correctly be prevented. If there is no such issue, no music making can or should be prevented. That is the current law.

What industry?

It is difficult for many to see the 'greater freedoms and opportunities' or indeed much 'balance' in measures proposed by a department set up to look after culture. I have no idea exactly what 'industry' Dr Howells is referring to. Is it the selling of drink industry or the music industry? Either way it does not seem to have much relevance to ordinary people who just wish to continue, with the licensee's permission, the tradition of making some music together in a country pub. [Evidence of this long tradition can be supplied.]

Summary.
I am reminded of the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes. On discovery, which option is the sillier? To continue to strut about naked, or to try and recover some dignity, put some clothes on and try to really improve an unfortunate situation for everyone? Dr Howells may find that if he stopped dismissing every genuine concern and sensible suggestion that is made to him, or stopped using these as an excuse for a light hearted comment, he may find some support, rather than continued to be attacked on all fronts. Many supporters of this Government, who trusted that this reform would address the many difficulties presented by the outdated concept and enforcement of blanket licensing of all but, only live music making, feel their trust was misplaced. THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE OPTIONAL ENTERTAINMENT ELEMENT FOR ALL, BUT ONLY LIVE MUSIC.

Whatever the law is now, about noise, and effective measures to control it, the new law can perfectly well apply, whatever rules the Government requires about noise for all licensed premises (whether or not they provide live music making). It is a complete non-sequitur (or worse) for Dr Howells to try and maintain a reform of entertainment licensing legislation on the basis that a licence for all but only live music making is needed to control noise.

 Whatever the law is now, about capacity limits, the new law can perfectly well apply whatever rules the Government requires about capacity for all licensed premises (whether or not they provide live music making). It is a complete non-sequitur (or worse) for Dr Howells to try and maintain a reform of entertainment licensing legislation on the basis that a licence for all but only live music making is needed to control overcrowding.

 Whatever requirements in entertainment licensing there might be to control noise (or public safety), they simply do not apply to all live music making, taking place in all premises. On introduction of this legislation, even if only one licensee providing currently exempt live music making, not presenting a noise concern, did not apply for the optional entertainment element, this legislation, and its spurious basis for justification, would have been directly responsible for preventing live music making. Thus the right of freedom of cultural expression would have been prevented, where there were no specific grounds to do so, by the department of this Government set up to promote culture,

Yours sincerely


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Aug 02 - 08:28 AM

This from earlier in the thread.

Here is the interesting comment by Justice Munby, made during his judicial review of emergency contraception (in case you have not already seen it):

"There would in my judgment be something very seriously wrong, indeed grievously wrong with our system - by which I mean not just our legal system but the entire system by which our policy is governed - if a judge in 2002 were to be compelled by a statute 141 years old to hold that what thousands, hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of ordinary honest, decent, law abiding citizens have been doing day in day out for so many years is and always has been criminal.'

Like making folk music together in pub?

For the full context go to: http://www.doh.gov.uk/ehc/judicialreview.htm


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 02:42 AM

This from uk.muisc.folk

OK - here's Howell's answer. I was probably a bit premature to say the English system will be adopted in Scotland, but my reading of the answer indicates that this must be a strong possibility in the interests of uniformity - it makes little sense to operate two separate systems to (supposedly) achieve the same end. Does the comment about abolishing "permitted hours" apply to England and Wales only?

Letter dated 31/07/02 to Rob Marris MP.

"Thank you for your letter of 15 July in which you asked why the proposed licensing system for England and Wales could not be the same as that currently operating in Scotland.

In general terms the system of licensing in Scotland provides that public entertainment is covered by a licence permitting the sale of alcohol but only within formally permitted hours. A public entertainment license is required for public entertainment which takes place on premises with extended hours. Many licensed properties in Scotland do have extended licensing hours because of the more flexible system operating there. Pubs in Edinburgh generally open later than those in London. However, there is nothing in the licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 which denies the licensing Board the power to restrict or forbid entertainment activities by conditions, either specified in byelaws or attached to licenses. Accordingly the Scottish system does not simply rely on existing health and safety and noise legislation as the Musician's Union has suggested. Indeed, licenses may be refused or revoked on the grounds that a pub has caused undue nuisance of disturbance to local residents.

We intend to abolish permitted hours and the new hours, up to twenty-four hours a day, will be tailored to specific premises. The norm would be that most premises would be open later than now. It would therefore be inappropriate to adopt the Scottish system which is based on national permitted hours. We think our approach is more flexible.

All public houses will need permission to sell alcohol. When an application for a premises license is made the applicant will be able to obtain permission for public entertainment on his premises and the sale of alcohol simultaneously. It would cost no more to obtain both permissions than to obtain one. There would be no deterrent in the system to providing live music at the venue but because it would be necessary to disclose details of the activities to take place at the premises, the licensing authority would be able to make sensible decisions about the necessary and proportionate conditions to be attached to the licence to protect local residents and the wider community.

Dr. Kim Howells MP"
Tim Willets


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 08:03 AM

Roger
On the Scottish question, here is my reply to Howells' letter to Rob Marris MP (sent to Mr Marris on 8 August). You might want to circulate this:

Dear Rob
I have been passed a copy of Kim Howells' letter to you concerning the question of whether the Scottish licensing regime, as it applies to live music in pubs and bars, could not be adopted in England and Wales (letter dated 31 July 2002, ref CO2/09176/02941/DC). I am sorry to say that on a number of important points the Minister's reply is misleading:

1) He wrongly implies that the Musicians' Union believes the Scottish licensing regime relies simply on existing health, safety and noise legislation where live music is provided. This is not the case: the Union recognises that in Scotland, PELs, and therefore additional safety/noise controls, apply in premises where music or music and dancing is the main business, and in bars or restaurants after 11pm.

2) Regardless of the notional powers available to licensing Boards, it remains the case that a typical pub or restaurant in Scotland can host live bands up to 11pm without a PEL, and that the safety or noise risks arising from the entertainment are regulated by UK-wide health, safety and noise legislation. The licensee is not usually required to notify the licensing authority about the provision of live music on the point of his/her liquor licence application or at any other time.
Jack Cummins, one of Scotland's leading licensing lawyers and editor of Scottish Licensing Law and Practice, has helpfully provided clarification: Jack Cummins email to Hamish Birchall, 03 August 2002
"Where application is made for an entertainment licence (eg a nightclub) then the various forms of entertainment, including types of musical entertainment, will form part of the application. But yes - for other premises I think there's an assumption that there will often (but not always of course) be some sort of music… some Boards operate a byelaw system requiring their consent for music and other entertainment (the byelaw consent is a conditon of the licence). This has been held in a landmark case to be unlawful, but there are - I think - 2 out of the 56 Boards which persist. Technically, it would be lawful for a Board to insert a condition prohibiting music, but in practice this never happens."

3) The Minister says that in Scotland 'licences may be refused or revoked on the grounds that a pub has caused undue nuisance or disturbance to local residents'. This tends to imply that this power does not exist in England and Wales which, of course, would be untrue.

Since the Licensing Act came into force in 1964, under s 20 (a) 'any person' may apply for revocation of a liquor licence in England and Wales on the same grounds, i.e. that the liquor-licensed premises causes nuisance problems for local residents. The police generally use this power, but it is also frequently used by residents' associations and even individuals.
Since December 2001 the police in England and Wales have also acquired the power to close noisy pubs immediately for up to 24 hours (Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, amended the Licensing Act 1964).

4) It does not follow that simply because the Government is proposing to abolish permitted hours this renders the Scottish comparison inappropriate. Under the proposed new regime for England and Wales local residents' views will be taken into account when the local authority determines the operating conditions of licence applications (which include opening times). Then, as now, premises staying open late are likely to be subject to additional controls - as they are in Scotland. But up to the point where the additional controls apply the Scottish example suggests that local authorities do not need additional powers to regulate noise nuisance.

5) The fact the licence fees are to be set centrally, and there will be no premium for live music, may help encourage its provision in bars, pubs etc – but only if fees are low. The Government rather naively imagine this alone removes the deterrent. Unfortunately, it is the abysmal record of excessive local authority PEL conditions where live music is being considered that will continue to deter applicants. One of my agents told me today that in order to put on two bands in a shopping centre recently the local council produced a 15-page risk assessment to be complied with which included such gems as 'when loading/unloading the bands will take care not to run over pedestrians'.

The Government says it will address the tendency to over-regulate through 'guidance' provided by the Secretary of State.

6) Irrespective of the entertainment licensing process, it is already the case that employers have a statutory duty to make risk assessments of all activities in the workplace, and that local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure public safety in workplaces (like pubs) where activities include 'entertainment', 'practice or presentation of the arts'.
Furthermore, environmental health officers (EHOs) have the power to order activities to stop immediately if there is an imminent public safety risk, and/or to require improvements to be made to remove the risk. A trained EHO could readily tell whether an amplified sound system, whether for CDs or bands, is likely to cause problems for local residents. The cost of EHO inspections is, supposedly, covered by business rates. In short, local authorities do not need a licensing regime to make sensible decisions about 'necessary and proportionate conditions' that might apply to incidental live music in a pub or restaurant.

On the question of safety risks, apparently it is the Government's view that live televised sport in pubs is less of a risk of overcrowding and noise than, say, a professional guitarist performing unamplified in a restaurant. That alone explains Kim Howells' recent statement in the Commons (22 July, in response to Siobhain McDonagh) that live television in pubs will remain exempt from licensing as public entertainment
. Personally I find it hard to understand a Government that believes the English and Welsh public will rebel en masse against allowing live music in pubs that finishes at a reasonable hour, subject to proportionate controls already available irrespective of PELs, but will embrace without demur the proposal for pubs to open 24/7. For the moment, however, this seems to be Government's position.

Many thanks for taking the trouble to write to the Minister, and please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions on this issue.
Yours sincerely
Hamish Birchall
MU adviser – PEL reform


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 03:15 PM

The apparently forlorn battle for common sense to prevail on this matter continues. The following is a letter from Dr Howells to Chris Smith, who once held the poison chalice in this Government.

4 September 2002
Dear Chris
Thank you for your letter of 13 August to Tessa Jowell enclosing one from Hamish Birchall who remains unconvinced of the merits of our proposed reforms in relation to the licensing of live music. I am replying on behalf of the Secretary of State as she is overseas.

I should firstly allay your concerns that our proposals for licensing reform would result in a more restrictive regime than the current one. I can assure you that the policies we will be implementing through the Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Billl represent the position agreed by Cabinet prior to the last General Election campaign and that they will make it easier, not harder, for live music to be performed in licensed venues.

I am sorry that Mr Birchall feels that the Musicians' Union (MU) view was misrepresented in Tessa Jowell's letter to you of 26 July. It represented the Department's understanding of what was said at the MU's meeting with me on 10 July. My officials have held further discussions with Mr Birchall to clarify that position and are continuing to discuss the clauses of the reform Bill at regular meetings with the Musicians' Union and other stakeholder groups.

I can confirm that at the 10 July meeting the Musicians' Union queried why the licensing regime in Scotland could not be adopted for England and Wales. The answer is that, in general terms, the licensing system in Scotland provides that public entertainment is covered by a licence permitting the sale of alcohol but only within formal permitted hours. A public entertainment licence is required for public entertainment which takes place on premises with extended hours. Many licensed premises in Scotland do have extended licensing hours because of the more flexible system operating there. Pubs in Edinburgh generally open later than those in London. There is, however, nothing in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 which denies the Licensing Board the power to restrict or forbid entertainment activities by conditions, either specified in byelaws or attached to licences. Although byelaws prohibiting live music in Scotland are rare, the law provides Boards with these powers should they be necessary.

This is similar to the system we propose whereby conditions would be attached to licences only where they prove necessary. The Scottish system does not simply rely on existing health and safety and noise legislation as the Musicians' Union has suggested. Indeed, entertainment licences may be refused or revoked on the grounds that a pub has caused undue nuisance or disturbance to local residents.

We intend to abolish permitted hours and the new hours, up to twenty-four hours a day, will be tailored to specific premises. The norm would be that most premises would be open later than now. It would therefore be inappropriate to adopt the Scottish system which is based on national permitted hours. We think our approach is more flexible. All public houses will need permission to sell alcohol. When an application for a premises licence is made the applicant will be able to apply for permission to sell alcohol and put on public entertainment at the premises simultaneously. It would cost no more to obtain both permissions than to obtain one. There would be no deterrent in the system to providing live music at the venue but because it would be necessary to disclose details of the activities to take place at the premises, the licensing authority would be able to make sensible decisions about the necessary and proportionate conditions to be attached to the licence to protect local residents and the wider community.

Mr Birchall is concerned that the local authorities who will be administering and enforcing the new system will ignore any guidance that is issued and that previous guidance, in the form of Home Office Circular 13/2000, has not had an appreciable effect on the way in they administer the current public entertainment licensing system. 13/2000 advised local authorities that their conditions should be relevant to venues and that the replication of regulations which may contribute towards higher fees being charged should be avoided. It specifically acknowledged that the guidance was to be considered pending implementation of the wider reforms set out in the White Paper. Under the old regime such guidance has no statutory force.

If some local authorities have not taken this guidance into consideration it is, of course, regrettable. We fully appreciate the inconsistencies that currently exist across England and Wales. Our acknowledgement of this problem is reflected in our proposal to place licensing authorities under a statutory obligation to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. The local authorities would not have the discretion they currently enjoy to refuse a licence or impose any condition unless a reasonable objection to the licensee's operating plan had been raised by the police, an environmental health officer, the fire authority or local residents.

In granting or refusing licences, or imposing any conditions, the local councils would be legally bound to take into account the guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Departure from this guidance, without a good and justifiable reason, would provide grounds for an appeal to the courts. The new system would ensure a consistent approach to the handling of applications and any unreasonable decision would be easily identified owing to the transparent nature of the procedures. The new regime would result in local councils being more accountable than they currently are.

Mr Birchall has referred in his letter to a 19th century precedent, but as Tessa Jowell has stated in a previous letter to you, what we are proposing is a licensing regime fit for the 21st century, not the 19th.

We recognise the importance of having a reliable definition of what constitutes a public performance and it is clear that if a musician or other performer is accepting money for a performance then it would be regarded as a public performance.

Similarly, it can be argued that any performance by unpaid performers, which was publicised with the expectation of bringing in extra customers and consequently extra revenue to the licensee would meet the definition of public performance.

If a member of the public engaged in a spontaneous rendition of a song on the piano, inviting a sing-a-long [sic], it would not be considered public entertainment.

I must reiterate, however, that even where a performance is regarded as public, the main current deterrent of an exorbitantly set licensing fee would no longer be available and there should therefore be greater freedom for all musicians and singers.

Mr Birchall also refers to my comments in the House on 22 July. The difference between our positions is simply that the Musicians' Union has not requested that live television events be licensed but rather has stated that it is anomalous that they are not and that live music should be. I will repeat that I would be happy to consider such a representation from the MU if one is made. However, I would expect such a proposal to be resisted robustly by the hospitality and leisure industry which many musicians depend on for their income.

NOTE [The MU's position at the moment is not to lobby for live broadcasts to be licensable as public entertainment but to lobby for a regime along the lines of that operating in Scotland where live music, if ancillary to the main business of a premises, is automatically allowed up to 11pm. The live broadcast exemption, in this case, is being used in support of the MU argument (i.e. much live music in this context is no greater risk to public safety or residential amenity than live TV/radio/satellite broadcasts).]

With respect to the Human Rights Act, which was incorporated into British law in 1998, the Government's position is that it is the responsibility of an individual or organisation to take action if they believe that they have a case under the human rights legislation.

The Department is of course obliged to ensure that the Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Bill complies with the Act and it is for the Musicians' Union to challenge that position if they see fit. As you know, the Government takes its advice on matters relating to the European Convention on Human Rights from the Law Officers, and not from unsolicited opinions expressed by counsel on behalf of various organisations on the basis of limited information and without sight of a final version of the Bill itself.

I am sorry if the Musicians' Union has gone to any unnecessary expense in seeking counsel's views, but such views will always be of only limited value until the Bill is published. As you are aware, the advice provided by the law Officers to the Government is confidential and cannot be disclosed. Although we are doing all we can to address the concerns of the Musicians' Union, it must be remembered that this is one of many stakeholder groups with whom we are currently liaising. Despite many detailed responses to his letters on licensing reform, and our replies to MP's who have contacted us on his behalf, Mr Birchall remains unconvinced that our policy will produce the outcomes that we have indicated. Ultimately, however, it is for Parliament to decide on the merits of our proposals.

Dr Kim Howells MP


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 12:53 AM

here,is,a,copy,of,a,letter
i,sent,to,tony,blair=
"To,tony,blair,londun....fronm
john,evans[john,from,hull]
35,chants,ave,hull.
.Dear,Tony
You,are,a,big,load,of,shit
I,cant,stand,yoo,and,i,hope,your,balls,drop,off,
you,arre.,crap
;
[probly,werst,prime,minyster,mee,eber,had]
you,like,to,controlllingg,flok,musiv.
and,yoim,are,shit
always,making,trubble,etcm
you,are,rubbissh,pime,minster
ps,youre,wife,is,ugly,as,well,[cherry]
i,wouldent,marry,her,even,if,you,paid,me,100,quid!
i,expect,a,good,reply,of,you
[if,you,dont,reply,you,are,noyt.,
a,proper,prime,minster]

yours,sinceryley,john
john,evans
ps,-imlooks,forwards,to,hearing,fronm,you
you,aresehole.

another,ps=
next,tinme
im,iwill,voting,for,thenm,vconserbatives
b[bexcaause,you,aremshit].john


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Subject: RE: PELs - Letters to important folk.
From: GUEST,T-boy
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 07:56 AM

Yeah, that should do the trick.


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