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PEL: Licensing Reform?

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ET 23 Sep 02 - 05:52 AM
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Subject: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST,ET
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 04:54 AM

Tedious though it is I think we should be concerned at Government plans for pubs. In the queens speach in November it is proposed to change licensing to local authorities. Pubs would have to set out a plan to deal with health and safety rules, and the local environment. A public entertainment license is part of this and needed even for a single pub pianist. This will replace the pathetic 2 in a bar rule but if the publican gets it wrong and has a "session" without a Public Enterainment Licence the file can be £5000 and loss of license. Culture department tell me that this will be an improvement, will encourage the folk music culture and attract tourists. I wonder what planet they live on. Local authorities can order no smoking, pub number limits, refuse entertainment etc.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: smallpiper
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 04:57 AM

Then we must all go into local politics and make sure that things go our way - ban all horrible music and only grant licenses to pubs that encourage sessions! Jeezzz that would be awful! Our session pubs would be full of oiks!


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 05:04 AM

I thought the PEL was being done away with - and was to be replaced by a general licence covering all activities the pub states its intention of holding.
Wouldn't that just mean that any sensible pub would get the coverage for public performance when getting their licence - and then isn't that all ok???


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 05:15 AM

There are many threads alredy on this subject, available atPEL Threads list. Maybe this conversation would be better (and more informed) there

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: ET
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 05:52 AM

Perhaps this should be in other threads. Nonetheless I work in the law and have had extensive correspondence with the Culture Department and the advisory body that overseas local authority policy. PEL's are being abolished but replaced by approvals to the general pub operating plan. The culture department say the reforms will make pub music easier and I hope this is so but CAMERA think the license costs will increase and many small pubs may close. The depatments view is that paperwork and costs will reduce. There are no conclusions that can be drawn now - just watch the legislation and how it works.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 06:01 AM

The rule is going to be that a publican be able to have the drinks licence to cover entertainment which will have to be specified in advance. Any "performance" that isn't included in that will be illegal, even a single person.

It's all been talked back and forth in the PEL threads. The trouble is most people shrug it off and think it won't affect them, because they've got by in the past, and the authorities aren't stupid are they?

It will affect them, and the freedom for the authorities to turn a blind eye is in effect going to be knocked on the head - unless the legislation gets modified by MPs who have been put properly in the picture by us.FaxYourMP today please.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST,noddy
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 06:21 AM

yeah just wait and let them pass a law .Then it is too late to change it and music in pubs had been killed off. Thats Progress.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 08:16 AM

noddy - are you the noddy with a Doberman?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: ET
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 11:39 AM

I understand that a draft reform act as now been published and that brewers, the trade etc are not going to oppose it because of government determination to see it through.

It is very important that licensees understand that they need a plan that includes PEL provisions.

What if a drunk starts to sing? Is this in breach. There was an early day motion on the subject of 2 in a bar recently signed by many MPs but some refused because early day motions are regards as a waste of time by many


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 12:37 PM

As usual, we have been stuffed by the government, nothing anyone has said will make any difference, and by the time they realise the harm it has done, it will be too late. Think how many times this has been done in the past.

I have faxed and written to my MP (Peter Hain), who just passed the letter on the the culture mob, and I received a standard reply stating that the issue of licencing was under review - as I knew when I first wrote.

Nor did he sign the EDM, as far as I can tell.

(Perhaps the Countryside Alliance should turn into a political party and fight the next election on a wide range of such issues - many sessions and clubs are located in rural areas?.)


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: ET
Date: 23 Sep 02 - 01:11 PM

I have had some respons from the culture department. Vist their web site at www.culture.gov.uk and new responsibilities licensing reform and you will find that the two in a bar rule is to be abolished and included in effect in the "Basic Licence", to which the nearby public can object. Theoretically a premise licence can be allowed for music in pubs but the person amking the application needs to understand what he wants and include it in the plan. All this stuff is now in draft and will be in the Queens Speach in November. ALl musicians need to be aware -


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 03:10 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: Licensing Reform?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 04:05 PM

"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."

"It can be argued" - what kind of rubbish is that from soemone who is supposed to be drafting legislation that is supposed to settle argy=uments one way and another?

And of course it implies that the stuff about "money changing hands" on the Mike Harding programme as being necessary to define it as a public performance was ointemntionally misleading and untrue.

The trouble is that with all that's going on in the world its going to be virtually impossible to get people to treat it as in any way significant. In a way it's analogous to the way the licensing hours system that have distorted so mmnany things over the decades was slipped through almost inadvertantly in the middle of the Great War.

"Ultimately, however, it is for Parliament to decide on the merits of our proposals." Now that should mean that it will be a free vote. Like hell it will.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 08:28 PM

This was sent to me (from Big Al) from Christopher Booker's Notebook in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph. Obviously copyrighted :--)

"Licentious premises

Stuart Neame, the vice-chairman of England's oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame in Faversham, Kent, has caught out civil servants in a quite shameless piece of figure-fiddling, calculated to promote the Government's plan to transfer pub licensing from magistrates to local councils.

The Home Office knew when it published a White Paper on its proposals in 2000 that they might not be popular. So the central argument it deployed was that, over 10 years, the new scheme would save pubs £1.9 billion.

These figures - as Mr Neame pointed out last month in a letter sent to Kim Howells, a minister at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which has now taken over pub licensing - are based on an outrageous sleight of hand.

The White Paper claims that current licensing costs to the pubs equate to £4 billion over 10 years, as opposed to £2.1 billion under the new scheme.

This is based on the assumption that licensing costs average between £1,000 and £7,000 a year for each pub. On checking actual costs for the 360 pubs his brewery owns, Mr Neame found that the average figure is actually £100 a year.

The Government's case for the new scheme is thus based on exaggerating the figures by between 10 and 70 times, and a system supposed to save the pubs £1.9 billion will in fact add more than £1 billion to their costs. Hardly surprisingly, more than two-thirds of pubs now oppose the scheme.

Mr Neame is still awaiting an explanation from Mr Howell. And his Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, owes Parliament an apology for a White Paper that rests its case on such dishonesty."

The URL for it is: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2002%2F09%2F29%2Fnbook29.x ml


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Sep 02 - 09:03 PM

And Shepherd Neame make good beer and have a good website - "Britains's Oldest Brewer"


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 05:14 AM

"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."

Indeed who is making this 'argument' and for what possible reason?

I am reminded of this from Geoffery Robinson QC when talking of s3 (1) of the Human Right Act 1998, which states - So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.

"...if it is possible to give statutory language an interpretation which accords with the Convention, that interpretation must prevail. Now this is not a power to be underrated. When your barrister tells you that your case is 'arguable', that decodes as meaning that he's inviting you to pay him a lot of money so he can have the pleasure of making an argument which is bound to fail. But s 3 turns that which is mearly arguable into an argument which must succeed, if it is the only plausable argument which can make a statute conform to the Convention."

Locally and under current legislation, my council's officers have adopted their interpretation of S 182, ('two in a bar'). This automatically makes sessions (with more two customers), in pubs a criminal offence. Officers must threaten licensees unless they pay a fee. But unless the council can demonstrate that the public safety or noise risks were greater than satellite TV, which does not require a PEL, it is endorsing a policy that is manifestly incompatible with Article 10 of the European Convention, and unlawful under s 3 of the HRA 1998.

Not that anyone seems to care.............


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Sooz
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 05:41 AM

Musicians Union are building a petition - anyone who wants a copy can PM me (or perhaps look at their website)


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: treewind
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 06:55 AM

I still don't undertand why any licensing at all is required for any kind of public performance if it isn't required for TV in pubs. There is no legislation or licensing (other than the existing alcohol licence) to regulate the filling of pubs to overflowing with lager swilling football supporters who come to watch a match on the big screen. All health and saftey excuses for needing a licences for 'public entertainment' are apparently waived in such cases. No minister has yet explained this discrepancy. They might claim that such gatherings are in fact safe and well behaved. I don't know if they yet seen Doc Rowe's video of fighting in a pub TV football crowd yet.

As for the earlier question in the thread, about a drunk getting up and singing (presumably to the general dispproval of other customers) don't forget that a pub landlord already has the right to exclude anyone with having to give a reason.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 12:15 PM

I don't know if they yet seen Doc Rowe's video of fighting in a pub TV football crowd yet.

Is there such a video?

The MP's names on the EDM have now reached 208. Is your MP's name there?

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


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 12:24 PM

Live music v TV in pubs


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Oct 02 - 02:08 PM

Dr. Howells: We will certainly look at getting rid of the absurd two in a bar rule. I have looked long and hard at the evidence, but we have never received any to suggest that watching television in a pub causes the kinds of scenes that have sometimes occurred in pubs with live music. Nor, indeed, have we had any reports of disturbances caused by watching television in a pub—we have certainly received some reports of incidents following the playing of live music in pubs.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 05:34 PM

This is the wording of the MU's petition that Sooz referred to above and has kindly supplied.

The petitioners therefore request that The House of Commons urge the Government to include a Licensing reform Bill in the next Queen's speech, and that this Bill ensures parity with Scotland where live music, both amateur and professional, is automatically allowed in pubs during permitted hours and where public safety and noise issues are regulated by existing UK-wide legislation.

Printed and published by Musicians' Union. Please return by 31st October 2002 to: Musicians' Union, PEL, 60/62 Clapham Road, London, SW19 OJJ.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 12:48 PM

This from Hamish Birchall

Please circulate this to other musicians on your email address lists

The Government is putting the final touches to a 'none in a bar' licensing reform Bill.

It is likely that this will be in the Queen's Speech on 13 November. The Government has two or three weeks in which they could change the wording of the Bill. However, if the current proposals are enacted, the provision of almost any live music in bars, pubs, restaurants etc, will be a criminal offence unless licensed: no more automatic permission for one or two live performers, amateur or professional, amplified or unamplified. Only entertainment via satellite or terrestrial tv or radio broadcasts and 'spontaneous singing not for reward or gain' will remain exempt.

The Government has promised that future licence fees will be set centrally, and will be no different whether or not live music is provided. It believes this alone removes the deterrent to entertainment licence applications. But hosting one live performer will trigger the same PEL process as now. The application will be circulated to the police, environmental health officers, the fire service and local residents.

And, as now, live music applications will flush out the nay-sayers in the community. Local authorities will be under intense pressure to be seen to be addressing concerns about noise, even if the risk is minimal or non-existent, and even though there is already plenty of legislation to pre-empt or reactively control noise. Conditions are bound to follow, and the cost implications will remain a significant deterrent, particularly for smaller businesses.

Interestingly, Culture Minister Kim Howells has recently said that the hospitality and leisure industry would 'robustly resist' any suggestion that live televised entertainment should be subject to this licensing process (which purports to address public safety, noise and crime and disorder). I wonder why?

The Government is making musicians the scapegoat for a much larger problem that is nothing to with live music
The Government's justification for the draconian increase in regulation of live musicians is that 'one musician with modern amplification can make more noise than three without'. This has been the case for decades, of course, and was even true at the time the PEL exemption was introduced in 1961. The question is: how big a noise problem are live gigs? Answer: they barely feature in the noise complaint statistics. Over 80% of noise complaints are caused by noisy people in the streets. Noisy machinery or loud recorded music accounts the remaining percentage. Abolishing the two in a bar 'rule' will have no effect on people outside premises.

The Musicians' Union continues to lobby for an automatic permission for live music, if secondary to the main business of premises, up to a certain time. This is the position in Scotland where live music in this context is allowed up to 11pm - without a PEL. All such premises are regulated by UK-wide safety and noise legislation.

As the reforms currently stand it is the licensed trade that will obviously benefit: bars should find it easier to stay open late and thus increase profits. Alcohol interests are very well represented in Parliament: the All Party Beer Group is the second largest all Party group. The Government may be hoping that, when it comes to a vote, this particular lobby will ensure that deregulation of opening hours is given vastly more attention than public participation in music-making. Odd really, when you consider that this Bill is emerging from the Department for Culture whose policy statement includes a commitment to increasing public access to the performing arts.

You can do something
MPs' level of interest in alcohol and music may not be as far apart as the Government thinks. Evidence for this can be found in the Early Day Motion database (EDM website: http://edm.ais.co.uk). EDM 464, called 'full pints', currently has 251 MPs in support, placing it at number 14 in the list of 2063 EDMs. It urges the Government to ensure drinkers receive fair measures. David Heath's 'two in a bar' Early Day Motion 1182, which urges the Government to reform 'outdated and just plain daft' public entertainment licensing legislation, is not far behind: it has 213 MPs signatures and stands at number 29.

MPs can continue to add their names to EDMs on the current list right up to the State Opening of Parliament (on Wednesday 13 November).

Over 100 MPs (see list below) appear on full pints EDM 464 but not on public entertainment licensing EDM 1182. I am sure many can be persuaded to sign EDM 1182. If they did, the gap would close, and this might just encourage the Government to rethink its none in a bar proposal.

Check the list below, and if you are a constituent of an MP listed please consider using the excellent online faxing service to MPs to write a short note suggesting they add their name in support of EDM 1182 promoting more live music, stressing that we don't want two in a bar to become none in a bar (you might refer to the data about noise complaints). Here's the link: www.faxyourmp.com The site can identify your MP automatically from your post code.

www.faxyourmp.com

LIST OF MPs who want full pints but who have not signed two in a bar EDM 1182 http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/ref=1182(at 19/10/02):

Candy Atherton (Lab, Falmouth and Cambourn)
David Atkinson (Cons, Bournemouth East)
Adrian Bailey (Lab/Co-op, West Bromwich West)
Vera Baird QC (Lab, Redcar)
Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury)
Harry Barnes (Lab, North East Derbyshire)
John Baron (Con, Billericay)
John Battle (Lab, Leeds West)
Anne Begg (Lab, Aberdeen South)
Joe Benton (Lab, Bootle)
David Borrow (Lab, South Ribble)
Peter Bradley (Lab, The Wrekin)
Annette L Brooke (Lib Dem, Mid Dorset & North Poole)
Patsy Calton (Lib Dem, Cheadle)
Tony Clarke (Lab, Northampton South)
David Clelland (Lab, Tyne Bridge)
Ann Clwyd (Lab, Cynon Valley)
Derek Conway (Con, Old Bexley & Sidcup)
Ross Cranston QC (Lab, Dudley North)
Tom Cox (Lab, Tooting)
John Cryer (Lab, Hornchurch)
Tony Cunningham (Lab, Workington)
Ian Davidson (Lab/Co-op, Glasgow Pollok)
Denzil Davies (Lab, Llanelli)
Terry Davis (Lab, Birmingham, Hodge Hill)
Brian H Donohoe (Lab, Cunninghame South)
Peter Duncan (Con, Galloway & Upper Nithsdale)
Clive Efford (Lab, Monmouth)
Annabelle Ewing (SNP, Perth)
Mark Field (Con, Cities of London & Westminster)
Barbara Follett (Lab, Stevenage)
Mark Francois (Con, Rayleigh)
George Galloway (Lab, Glasgow Kelvin)
Neil Gerrard (Lab, Walthamstow)
Sandra Gidley (Lib Dem, Romsey)
Roger Godsiff (Lab, Birmingham, Sparkbrook & Small Heath)
Jane Griffiths (Lab, Reading East)
Win Griffiths (Lab, Bridgend)
Patrick Hall (Lab, Bedford)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Stephen Hesford (Lab, Wirral West)
John Horam (Con, Luton North)
George Howarth (Lab, Knowsley North & Sefton East)
Eric Illsley (Lab, Barnsley Central)
Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab, Ogmore)
Glenda Jackson (Lab, Hampstead & Highgate)
Helen Jackson (Lab, Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Helen Jones (Lab, Warrington North)
Jon Owen Jones (Lab/Co-op, Cardiff Central)
Gerald Kaufman (Lab, Manchester Gorton)
Andy King (Lab, Rugby & Kenilworth)
Norman Lamb (Lib Dem, North Norfolk)
Jackie Lawrence (Lab, Preseli Pembrokeshire)
Mark Lazarowicz (Lab/Co-op, Edinburgh North & Leith)
Fiona Mactaggart (Lab, Slough)
Judy Mallaber (Lab, Amber Valley)
Chris McAfferty (Lab, Calder Valley)
John McDonnell (Lab, Hayes & Harlington)
John McFall (Lab/Co-op, Dumbarton)
Ann McKechin (Lab, Glasgow Maryhill)
Tony McWalter (Lab/Co-op, Hemel Hempstead)
Michael Moore (Lib Dem, Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale)
Malcolm Moss (Con, North East Cambridgeshire)
George Mudie (Lab, Leeds East)
Chris Mullin (Lab, Sunderland South)
Denis Murphy (Lab, Wansbeck)
Edward O'Hara (Lab, Knowsley South)
Bill Olner (Lab, Nuneaton)
Dr Nick Palmer (Lab, Broxtowe)
Linda Perham (Lab, Ilford North)
Colin Pickthall (Lab, West Lancashire)
Chris Pond (Lab, Gravesham)
Mark Prisk (Con, Hertford & Stortford)
Dr John Pugh (Lib Dem, Southport)
Joyce Quin (Lab, Gateshead East & Washington West)
John Redwood (Con, Wokingham)
David Rendel (Lib Dem, Newbury)
Frank Roy (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw)
Christine Russell (Lab, City of Chester)
Alex Salmond (SNP, Banff & Buchan)
Martin Salter (Lab, Reading West)
Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay)
Malcolm Savidge (Lab, Aberdeen North)
Jim Sheridan (Lab, West Renfrewshire)
Marsha Singh (Lab, Bradford West)
Debra Shipley (Lab, Stourbridge)
Sir Robert Smith (Lib Dem, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine)
George Stevenson (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Gary Streeter (Con, South West Devon)
Mark Tami (Lab, Alyn & Deeside)
John Taylor (Con, Solihull)
Dr Richard Taylor (Ind, Wyre Forest)
Sir Teddy Taylor (Con, Rochford & Southend East)
Dr Jenny Tonge (Lib Dem, Richmond Park)
Jon Trickett (Lab, Hemsworth)
Paul Truswell (Lab, Pudsey)
Dennis Turner (Lab/Co-op, Wolverhampton South East)
Robert N Wareing (Lab, Liverpool, West Derby)
Tom Watson (Lab, West Bromwich East)
Dave Watts (Lab, St Helens North)
Michael Weir (SNP, Angus)
John Wilkinson (Con, Ruislip - Northwood)
Alan Williams (Lab, Swansea West)
Hywel Williams (PC, Caernarfon)
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Con, Macclesfield)
Pete Wishart (SNP, North Tayside)
Tony Wright (Lab, Cannock Chase)


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Oct 02 - 01:43 PM

To sum up. The whole ridiculous premise, which our Government expects us to accept, and on which the entertainment aspect of the proposed reform is based, is the following.

That the mere act of singing or making any live music, on already licensed premises, will make these premises unsafe for the public, without an advanced application for official permission being applied for, the public's agreement sought, and the local authorities conditional permission being given.

Our Government have accepted that it is 'silly' that under current legislation the addition of one more 'performer' to a duo, will automatically make these licensed premises unsafe but propose to replace this 'two in a bar rule', with legislation where even one musician will make these premises unsafe.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 09:13 AM

I have posted this invitation before but in case you missed it, I will place it again. If you intend to travel any distance, it may be as well to call the No supplied and check that everything is going ahead.

You are invited to attend a gathering of like-minded souls to advance

THE FUTURE FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCE IN LICENSED PREMISES

On Wednesday 23rd October 2002- from 2 pm.

THE TRAFALGAR TAVERN, PARK ROW GREENWICH LONDON SE10

Positive forward-looking statements will be encouraged from a wide range of contributors including:-

Hamish Birchall (Musicians Union)

Louise Denny    (Eloquent Activist)

Chris Wroe         (Greenwich Council)

and representatives from the licensed trade and the media.

THERE WILL BE MUSIC FROM RIVERFRONT JAZZ AND A LICENSED BAR AFTER THE BREAK.

The business should conclude around 5.30pm. The revelry may continue.

David Silk 01689 875683

More details on this and other 'two in a bar' activity to be found on www.jazznights.co.uk (music issues)


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Oct 02 - 10:58 AM

The following, in their own words, is the how the Governments (clear) position re sessions and singarounds has evolved (and is still evolving).

This towards a position where the only live musical activity that will not be considered to be a licensable public entertainment and a criminal offence, without advanced official permission, is a totally spontaneous and one-off burst of singing or music making. The type that has never been threatened by any entertainment licensing regime.

I place these facts here for people to use to enable them to contact their MP's to request from the Government that common sense will yet prevail even at this late hour.

The DCMS's Ronnie Bridgett made the following 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.

Dr Howells in a letter to Michael Portillo 14/03/02
However, under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 1964 a public entertainment licence is not required if music or dancing is performed by less than three performers on licensed premises i.e. the 'two in a bar rule'. 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 public houses.

The following question from is from Hamish Birchall.
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?

And the (03/04/02) reply from Ronnie Bridgett of the DCMS.
We do not anticipate that premises licences would have to include such an element.

From Mr Bridgett to Richard Bridge 08/04/02

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.
And
Accordingly, whenever a group of people in a bar break into spontaneous song, the licensee would have to
decide the point (noise level) at which he is at risk of being closed by the police because of "excessive noise" which might be disturbing the public. This is an important point for context and explains why it would not be necessary to bring spontaneous singing (music making) within the licensing regime as adequate public protection would already exist


Dr Howells on Radio 2's Mike Harding Show. Broadcast 17/07/02.
Kim, if I can just go on to some questions we've had sent in from listeners, very quickly, because I do realise you've got to get off to the house and various other things … Roger Gall has emailed us to say, and I quote, "When you introduce this new licensing system, if pubs don't have an entertainment licence, will sessions and singarounds be banned?"

Yes, I suppose they would be. The landlord would need to get an entertainments licence to cover himself or herself …

But this is not for gain, is it, you were talking about …

Oh, I see, I am sorry, I'm sorry, I thought that you meant it would be professional musicians being paid …

No, just sessions and singarounds, people just playing for their own fun.

No, they certainly wouldn't and I'm very keen that we should make sure that that facility is there. There shouldn't be a problem. As long as money isn't changing hands, then there's no reason why they should have to have a licence.
The Secretary of State has later written to Hamish Birchall, to say that the Government intends to regulate: - "commercial performances of music or those for private gain, but not those involving performers singing together for private (sic) amusement.

Are we now back to this music making having to exclude the public, in order for it not to be licensable -
in addition to it also being required to be spontaneous and non-rewarded?

Is it not bad enough that the Government are going to scrap legislation that maintains that the act of three people singing in a pub, automatically makes the premises unsafe, only to replace it with so-called deregulatory proposals that now maintain that the act of one person singing in a pub, automatically makes the premises unsafe?
I suggest that if any of the folk community were somewhat reassured by the clear statement made by Dr Howells on Mike Harding's programme, that they contact their MP and ask them to try and establish exactly what is now proposed and if their MP is supporting this.
faxyourmp.com

STOP PRESS

In addition to the above, the advisors to Dr Howells have finally managed to get him to sign his name to the following, which contradicts the reassurances made by him on the Mike Harding Show (above).

From a letter of 04/09/02 from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chris Smith MP.

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.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 02:00 AM

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

216 MP's names are now on EDM 1182.

Please keep it up? If you know your post code just.......

http://www.faxyourmp.com/


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 10:57 AM

Now 218 MP's names.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 12:10 PM

Bunch of bored politicians to be worrying about someone making a few bucks off the sweat of their brow. Kripes - they need to get a life and let others live theirs.

Best of luck to those of you fighting this absurdity. In Idaho we'd probably just run the turkeys out of town on a rail for even thinking something so idiotic.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:07 AM

Thank you Steve. Any chance of you bringing our 'absurdities' to the attention of your (music) media?

The following quote from our Civil Servants does seem to highlight the absurdity of the position and contradiction, on which their proposed legislation is based

Accordingly, whenever a group of people in a bar break into spontaneous song, the licensee would have to
decide the point (noise level) at which he is at risk of being closed by the police because of "excessive noise" which might be disturbing the public. This is an important point for context and explains why it would not be necessary to bring spontaneous singing (music making) within the licensing regime as adequate public protection would already exist.


Why does this "adequate public protection" (for noise concerns) only exist for this mysterious and totally 'spontaneous' music making? It is the same noise concern paid, spontaneous or not (in the case of non amplified folk music - none).

Under the propsals, if the folk decided to break into this every week, it would not then be 'spontaneous' and so even unpaid, would then be considered a public entertainment and a criminal offence without advanced official permission.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:24 AM

during discussion on pels in a local session last night, prior to starting musicmaking [waiting for pub quiz to finish- btw is this entertainment?]a number of issues were raised:

do these other pub activities need pel?

karaoke singers.

poets reciting in pubs- no singing, just speaking.

a performance of john cage's 4+ mins of silence.

would other silences require PRS?

only live music.

regular wide screen tv football & other sporting events, if the fans started 'spontaneously' chanting/singing 'ing-ger-land' or 'you'll never walk aloo-one'


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:26 AM

& pub quizzes, darts, bagatelle, etc matches with audience applause?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:42 AM

a bunch of patriarchs singing 'god save the q' in your local pub?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:47 AM

will carol singers &/or sally army type bands need a pel to perform on the streets or in shop foyers in uk?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 07:12 AM

Please circulate and free to use the following.

Spontaneous: Acting or occurring without external cause, automatic, instinctive, natural, unconstrained.

Are sessions, as they are not to be considered as spontaneous, then considered by our Government to be, acting or occurring with internal cause, not automatic (or even manual), non instinctive, unnatural and constrained?

Sessions (and most folk clubs) in my view are about as valuable a spontaneous a show of public musical and cultural expression that in reality there is ever likely to take place in our licensed premises.

Even if they are accused of happening on a regular basis, all that is usually known for sure (or can even be publicised), is that some form of music making may occur in a particular place on a particular occasion. This may or not be made, on every occasion by a different combination of individuals or customers.

But there can be no guarantee, for if no one turns up, or decides not to play when they do, there may not be any music making at all.

Is this not a rather an unreliable and unprofitable form entertainment for a licensee to attempt to provide for the public? As they can provide no guarantee that it will take place at all, the difficulty presented would be the very spontaneous nature of the activity.

It all sounds pretty spontaneous to me. Perhaps that is exactly why our bureaucrats and politicians continue to consider the concept with such suspicion?

Spontaneity appears to be a necessary requirement under the new licensing proposals for unpaid participatory music making to be exempt from being considered as a licensable public entertainment and automatically making already controlled and licensed premises unsafe for the public.

Surely then these sessions (and most folk clubs) should be sensibly considered as being spontaneous?

That is not the way our Government and Civil Servants currently view the situation.

From a letter of 04/09/02 from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chris Smith MP.

>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.<

Please make your views know to and request help from your MP. On the following site, all you need is your post code.

http://www.faxyourmp.com/


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 07:21 AM

Mr Happy

I do appreciate your concern and I am not being funny but would you ask all those involved in the discussion to write and ask their MP's those questions? For it is getting rather late.

If you can this will serve to purpose of alerting the MP's to the current sillyness and uncertainty, and also show them that there are votes in it.

They can find out and provide you with the answers and perhaps then you would be kind enough to post them here when those answers are received?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 02:39 PM

The following contains a few observations and a few questions, feel free to ask your MP to provide some answers
to these.
From a letter of 04/09/02 from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chris Smith MP.

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.

Why? To what possible end? This is a sad old argument used when local authorities had a cut, per head of public performances. They do not have to justify this now, they just have to make all public premises safe for the public, music or not.

Why does the Government still not accept that all public music making does not always take the form of a performance and that the issue is one of them making all public premises safe for what ever activities take place there, however the activities may be defined?

Why does all rewarded public music making present more concern to the public than an advertised live TV sports event, taking place on the same premises, which does not require the advanced local authority permission, if the issue is really one of protecting the public?

Why, just because the activity is rewarded, is it presenting more risk than if it was not, if the issue is really one of protecting the public?

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.

Why would the Government wish to argue such an abstract point if the issue is really one of protecting the public? Surely the whole point of the Bill is to finally settle such arguments.

Why enter in to such complicated and unnecessary matters at all, if the issue is really one of protecting the public?

How would it be established that the music making was not rewarded, or of what expectation was being made and what would ever satisfy the local authority of that fact?

Would it be the same dubious methods that are used under current legislation? That of the local authority putting aside the long established legal principle of the presumption of innocence by stating the activity is a (paid) public performance and then placing the onus on the licensee to go to Court to try and prove that it was no such thing? I suspect that it will.

For local authorities will (wrongly) argue that any music on commercial premises is for the sole reason of bringing extra revenue to the premises. But why should that be thought a surprising or a bad thing? They just can't give up on an old and a redundant argument, for the reward simply does not matter now. If the only issue here is really supposed to be protecting the public. The risks presented to the public by public music making must be the same, rewarded or not.

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.

This type of activity is not in any danger from public entertainment licensing. For as it is not planned, no one will know it is happening and as it is a one-off activity, after it is over it would be too late and totally pointless to try and insist on a licence for it.

However, if it were repeated the following week and on a regular basis, it would lose the element of being spontaneous and by some strange logic, this piano sing-a-long would then become a public performance. It would become a public entertainment, which would automatically make the (licensed and controlled) premises unsafe for the public and be a criminal offence for the licensee to permit without the entertainment element of the new premises licence.

Why then, just because the same activity is not planned or rewarded, is it not considered to be public music making or considered as being public entertainment? As presumably it would be presenting exactly the same risks as if it were both planned and rewarded, why does the activity then not require the advanced local authority permission, if the issue is really one of protecting the public?

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.

These proposals have done away with the choice of the licensee to pay or not pay an additional fee to enable public entertainment. This by combining and increasing the overall fee for the mandatory liquor (premises) licence.

However, although the licensee will pay the same increased fee, they still have the option of providing or not providing entertainment. If they do not chose the entertainment option, as 95% have not done under the current PEL system, no live music will be able to take place on these premises, which may well have been perfectly suited and safe to stage this, without any conditions or additional alterations ever being required. Of course we will never know this, but will have just lost a perfectly suitable venue.

With all the resulting revenue from this increase in the combined fee level, do not the public have the right to expect that the Government have made all licensed premises safe for the public activities required, (including live music)?

Licensees should have the option whether to provide this or not, but should not have the option, as they will under these proposals, of having public premises that the local authority can later declare are automatically unsafe for the public. Obtained by the sheer nonsense of just by having one person making music and claiming that this is a public performance or a public entertainment.


href=http://www.faxyourmp.com/


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge (cookie and format C)
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 05:05 PM

I am quite happy to demonstrate by argument the dissuasive effect on providing music or dancing that the need to apply safeguards determined by the local authority may have.

Indeed I am draftinga rather long piece with this in view.

But it seems to me that the real crux of this matter is as follows.

Electric music needs to be regulated because of noise, disturbance and public safety. I live between two pubs. I used to roadie my daughter's electric rock band. I stil sometimes roadie a local heavy metal band. I know.

Acoustic music (often folk music but that is so hard to define (beware thread drift)) does not. It NEVER produces as much noise as a typical jukebox. Its aficionados NEVER cause public disturbance, and so far as I know (after enquiry) there is NO record of ANY public disorder EVER associated with acoustic folk music. There is therefore NO safety issue save for normal pub capacity issues - and these would aply anyway.

There is therefore NO legitimate reason to require licensing of acoustic music on premises having an alcohol licence.

Margaret Thatcher's refusal to listen made me a vote Labour.

This government's refusal to listen will...?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 05:09 AM

From a letter of 04/09/02 from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chris Smith MP.

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.

Why? To what possible end? This is a sad old argument used when local authorities had a cut, per head of public performances. They do not have to justify this now, they just have to make all public premises safe for the public, music or not.

The sad reason for this wording is that the intention is, I fear, to enable extend licensing control to performances on PRIVATE or non-public premises. Like Schools, Hospitals, Day Centres and private homes (if the performance was paid)!

So much for any future growth of house concerts in the UK.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 08:17 AM

Now 220 MP's names.

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

Is your MP's name there yet?

http://www.faxyourmp.com/


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: Micca
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 11:43 AM

Thanks for the links Shambles I noticed MY MP wasnt on it so I have prompted him...


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 01:26 PM

The devil, they say is in the detail.

Many of our MP's will take a brief look at these proposals (or at least the 'spin') and may honestly think that they are a sensible solution.

In truth, generally there is some merit in a simpler system. Not clogging up the Courts with routine applications, is sensible, but that is about as far as the positive aspects go.

Our only hope is our MPs. And that we can inform them, keep them informed of the particular problems that are presented in the detail.
And that their political futures (in the form of votes) may depend on how they treat this issue.

Many who will have signed the EDM will not necesarily be aware of the problems in the detail, that we know only too well. We must make them work for us.

Ask them to find out the detailed answers to your questions. That way they will find out exactly how poor this Bill really is and we may then be on the way to ammendments to the proposals that may improve them.

There will be places on the various committees that will have input at these stages of the Bill. See if you can get your MP to sit on these. We just have to try to make the system work.


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: DMcG
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 01:54 PM

Carols singers again - if we give a couple of neighbour's children a few pence at the door, does that make it a public performance?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 02 - 04:33 PM

The answer appears to be contained in the following..........

From a letter of 04/09/02 from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chris Smith MP.

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.

By these words, paying carol singers at the door is unquestionably a public performance. It is a jolly question for us to ask our MPs to clarify.

By asking our MPs, it will show them that it is not at all clear, after all the time taken, what exactly is licensable and why.

This is surely a demonstration of how poor the proposals are?


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 26 Oct 02 - 10:02 AM

Some comments and questions on the latest 'thinking', on the letter from Dr Howells to Rt Hon Chis Smith MP 04/09/02.

>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 sounds a perfectly acceptable, flexible and a far cheaper system with a good level of control, to ensure the safety and interests of the public, so what do our civil servants consider is wrong with it, that it cannot provide a starting point for reforms in England and Wales? Are public in Scotland unsafe?

>This is similar to the system we propose whereby conditions would be attached to licences only where they prove necessary.<

Err no, it is not at all similar and not what is proposed. First every licensee in England and Wales will have to apply and pay for a new, additional personal licence, to first enable them to run liquor-licensed premises.

Under the current proposals, any conditions regarding public entertainment, will only and can only be attached if the licensee has applied, well in advance, for the optional entertainment element of the premises licence and specified its nature in an operating plan. If this application is not made, no such conditions pertaining to entertainment will be necessary, as no public entertainment (as defined by this Bill) can take place.

Under the proposals, all licensees will have to pay the same (increased) fee, as if they were proving entertainment, even if they have not applied for the necessary permission. Which is largely the same as the current and problematical PEL process, in all but name, what ever the intended opening times of the premises were to be.

Only 5% of liquor-licensed premises have currently applied for the additional PEL. A similar take-up rate under the proposals, would be a disaster for live music, as our Government will have scrapped the 'two in bar' exemption from the PEL requirement that at least enables live music, when there are two or less 'performers'.

>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.<

Again this sounds like more good news to ensure the public's interests. However, in order to be revoked, this Scottish PEL that Dr Howells refers to (one issued presumably for entertainment outside of permitted hours), would first have to be necessary, applied for and issued. Without the premises holding a PEL, the existing health and safety legislation, the same as in England and Wales, must, can and does (in Scotland), more than adequately deal with this concern.

>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.<

So the reason the people of England and Wales lose the basic freedom of being able to make any (and only) live music in perfectly safe, licensed premises, is because our civil servant think the freedom to serve and consume alcohol for 24 hours, is more important and for some inexplicable reason their 'more flexible' proposals will not enable the people of England and Wales to have them both!

It would surely not stretch either principle or practice very much to specify that all liquor licensed premises, no matter what hours they were open to serve drink, could stage small scale public entertainment? Providing this entertainment was not the main purpose of the premises, between certain hours, without any advanced local authority permission having to be applied for and obtained?





>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.<

That is one way of doing this. A way that also ensures that all licensed premises will be paying for what only 5% are currently paying, even though many may not wish to provide entertainment. But one that still apparently leaves licensees with the option of not bringing their premises up to the required standard for activities like regular public music making, long-established in the pubs on England and Wales. As this will bring a huge increase in revenue, even leaving aside the fees for the additional personal licence, do not the public have every right to expect that their interests and safety will be ensured in these public premises?

But under these proposals, should a local authority officer witness even one person making music, on these premises. Where advanced local authority permission has not first obtained for this specific activity, this person would be declared to be taking part in a public entertainment, a criminal offence and one that will automatically make the premises unsafe for the public.

This, on premises that are currently subject to regular fire and safety inspections and are already controlled and licensed for the public. Additionally under the proposals, the licensee would have paid to be judged personally capable of running and controlling the public in such an establishment. They would need to have paid for the personal licence and the premises also would have to be judged fit for the public and payment made, to hold the premises licence.

The following is the DCMS's reasoning why a totally 'spontaneous ' activity would not be considered a public entertainment and would not make the premises automatically unsafe for the public.

From Ronnie Bridgett of the DCMS to Richard Bridge 08/04/02

>Accordingly, whenever a group of people in a bar break into spontaneous song, the licensee would have to
decide the point (noise level) at which he is at risk of being closed by the police because of "excessive noise" which might be disturbing the public. This is an important point for context and explains why it would not be necessary to bring spontaneous singing (music making) within the licensing regime as adequate public protection would already exist.<

So that is perfectly clear then. A licensee can now be trusted to control the premises (including noise concerns), for a 'spontaneous' musical activity, 'as adequate public protection would already exist' but mysteriously not for any identical regular or advertised event.

I have suspected for a long time that ensuring the public's interest and safety on licensed premises could not possibly be the real reason for these proposals. I think that these latest comments have only confirmed this suspicion.

To claim that there is no deterrent to premises providing live music, because all premise will be forced to pay (in theory) the same increased fee, is to ignore the many factors that are and will still be acting as a big deterrent.

The power vested now in non-elected local authority officers is effectively unchallenged and this power stands to be increased, rather than limited under the proposals, even though many local authorities have a history of ignoring Government PEL guidelines. They do have a very effective lobby.

Now and under the proposals, if a local authority should impose conditions or demand certain alterations before they will permit entertainment to take place, they merely have to insist (as indeed they do now), that these measures are required to ensure the public's safety. That will be a matter for the council's judgement and effectively, the end of the matter.

A licensee will have to first comply, and then if they are not satisfied will have to take legal action against the local authority to try and prove (somehow) that the local authority was wrong. There are many reasons why this would not be a wise course for a licensee to attempt.

http://www.faxyourmp.com/


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Subject: RE: Licensing Reform?
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 03:01 PM

222 MP's names are now on EDM 1182. Is your MP's name there?

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


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