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Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs

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Subject: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:17 PM

The following rather important infomation from Hamish Birchall.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded there is a potential
violation of musicians' right to freedom of expression (Article 10 of the
European Convention) within the Licensing Bill.

Interestingly, it has also concluded that the Bill inadequately protects
residents' right to a quiet night's sleep (Article 8 of the European
Convention). Under the Human Rights Act 1998, all new legislation must be
compatible with certain European Convention rights, including Articles 8 and
10.

The Committee makes particular reference to Clause 134, under which
musicians would be guilty of a criminal offence if they performed in a
premises that does not hold a licence for live music without first checking
that the premises held the appropriate authorisation.

In its report on the Licensing Bill

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200203/jtselect/jtrights/24/2405

the Committee stated:

"The inflexibility of the provision makes it difficult to be confident that
it could be applied in a proportionate way and only in response to a
pressing social need.

We consider that there is a significant risk that the provision would amount
to an unjustifiable interference with, and hence a violation of, rights
under Article 10.

Nor does it appear to us that the Government has so far provided an adequate
justification for the provision so far as it interferes with the right of
owners and occupiers of premises to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions
under ECHR P1/1.

We have therefore written to the Minister seeking a fuller justification for
the provisions of clause 134 of the Licensing Bill in relation to the
criteria set out in ECHR Article 10.2."


I understand that the Department for Culture has until 10 January to respond, and it has not yet done so.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:20 PM

For the background to this.

MUs campaign - freedom of expression


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: GUEST,ET
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:23 PM

Some movement at last. Hamish from Musiciains Union also writes. If any musiciains have a labour MP and an e-Mail or fax try this!!!!!
I think their may be chinks in Kim Ill Sum Howells iron curtain?





With hundreds of letters now pouring into Parliament objecting to the live music provisions of the Licensing Bill, Labour backbenchers are becoming increasingly worried. At very short notice, they have arranged a meeting with licensing Minister Kim Howells. This meeting will be held tomorrow, Thursday 9 January, at noon.

I only learned of this yesterday evening when Martin Linton (Lab, Battersea) contacted me to ask for the names of other Labour MPs who have shown an interest. He wants as many as possible to attend the meeting with Howells.

If your MP is Labour please contact them immediately (the House of Commons switchboard is 020 7219 3000) and urge them to attend this meeting and to register their intention to attend with Martin Linton on 020 7219 1181. If you don't know who your MP is, www.faxyourmp.com will them automatically from your postcode.

A footnote: government Ministers continue dismiss out of hand the legal advice that private events where performers are paid are caught by the Bill. In fact, on the day the Bill was published, the Arts Council received a legal opinion from one of the UK's leading licensing lawyers confirming that corporate hospitality events where performers are paid were licensable under the Bill as published. This contradicted the government's own statement published in the Explanatory Notes that accompany the Bill.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:31 PM

That link http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200203/jtselect/jtrights/24/2405

didn't work for me. I can get to http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa

Have you a suitable search term or another address?


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:37 PM

This seems to work for me now.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200203/jtselect/jtrights/24/2405.htm#a22


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM

LICENSING BILL


69. The Licensing Bill is the product of a long period of consideration and consultation about the modernisation of licensing law. The Bill covers entertainment licensing as well as liquor licensing. Explanatory Notes have been published.[71] Our predecessors expressed views about certain aspects of licensing law when it reported on the Criminal Justice and Police Bill in the 2000-01 session.[72] In particular, they considered provisions which now form Chapter 2 of Part 1 (sections 12 to 32) of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, and sections 169I, 172A and 179A-179K of the Licensing Act 1964, and advocated improvements to the language in which certain criminal offences were expressed.[73]

70. The present Bill would repeal the 1964 Act in its entirety, and make certain amendments to other legislation, including Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. The provisions governing licensing and various offences (including those considered by the Committee in the 2000-01 session) would be comprehensively revised.

71. In considering the offence of allowing 'any violent, quarrelsome or riotous conduct' on licensed premises,[74] our predecessors recommended that the definition of offences committed by people who permit certain types of behaviour on licensed premises should be amended 'to ensure that adequate legal certainty and proportionality can be achieved in the definition of criminal offences.'[75] The equivalent provision proposed in the present Bill is to be found in clause 138(1): 'A person to whom subsection (2) applies commits an offence if he knowingly allows disorderly conduct on relevant premises.' It seems to us that this wording meets the previous Committee's concerns. We are pleased that the Government has been able to draft a satisfactory replacement for the previous provisions.

72. Any regime for regulating the supply of alcohol, and for licensing premises for the sale of alcohol,[76] interferes with the freedom of owners of premises to use them for the sale of liquor, and with the freedom of owners of intoxicating liquor to sell it. As the freedom to dispose of property or to use property for one's own chosen purposes is an aspect of the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the ECHR (hereafter 'ECHR P1/1'), the whole of the Bill interferes with that right.

73. The Explanatory Notes outline the Government's reasoning leading to the conclusion that the provisions are compatible with rights under P1/1 and ECHR Article 6.1.[77] Essentially, it is argued that the restrictions pursue a legitimate aim under and are proportionate to that aim for the purposes of P1/1, and provide for a fair procedure complying with Article 6. In view of the potentially damaging effects of alcohol on individual health and safety and on public order, there is a clear public interest in regulating the sale and public consumption of alcohol. We accept the Government's view, and do not propose to comment further here on this aspect of the Bill.

74. The Explanatory Notes address the applicability of the right to freedom of expression to the provisions of the Bill in relation to the offence of carrying out licensable activities without due authorisation under clause 134 of the Bill.[78] Several submissions to us[79] have argued that criminalising all 'regulated entertainment' unless it is licensed would violate the rights of performers under ECHR Article 10. Under Schedule 1 to the Bill, regulated entertainment includes the following—

(a) The performance of a play; exhibition of a film; an indoor sporting event; a boxing or wrestling entertainment; a performance of live music; any playing of recorded music; a performance of dance; certain entertainments similar to live or recorded music or dance; if in each case it is provided in the presence of an audience for the purpose of entertaining the audience.[80]

(b) Providing facilities to enable people to make music, to dance, or take part in entertainment of a similar description.[81]

Entertainment or facilities under (a) and (b) are regulated entertainments only if they are provided for members of the public or a section of the public, or members of a qualifying club with or without guests, or for consideration and with a view to profit.[82]

(c) Any entertainment at all, if it takes place on premises made available for the purpose, or partly for the purpose, of enabling the entertainment in question to take place.[83]

75. The effect of this would be to remove the current exemption from the regulation regime for live performances by no more than two performers. As such, the Bill would interfere with the rights of performers, and those who make facilities or premises available, under ECHR Article 10.1. The question is whether the Government is right to say that the interference is justifiable under Article 10.2.

76. The Government's view is as follows.

The offence in clause 134 of carrying out licensable activities without due authorisation may amount to an interference with rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression) since it could indirectly have the effect of imposing restrictions on performances by artists and musicians. However any such interference would be justified under Article 10(2) as being necessary in a democratic society on grounds of public safety, the prevention of crime and disorder and the protection of the rights of others, since it is central to the regime for the regulation of licensable activities that the activities may be carried out only under authorisation.[84]

77. This does not explain why the measure is thought to be a proportionate response to a pressing social need so as to fall within the justification under Article 10.2. The inflexibility of the provision makes it difficult to be confident that it could be applied in a proportionate way and only in response to a pressing social need. We consider that there is a significant risk that the provision would amount to an unjustifiable interference with, and hence a violation of, rights under Article 10. Nor does it appear to us that the Government has so far provided an adequate justification for the provision so far as it interferes with the right of owners and occupiers of premises to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions under ECHR P1/1. We have therefore written to the Minister seeking a fuller justification for the provisions of clause 134 of the Licensing Bill in relation to the criteria set out in ECHR Article 10.2.[85]

78. Clause 18(2) of the Bill provides that the licensing authority 'must grant' a licence (subject to any conditions authorised by that sub-clause) in the absence of relevant representation made under clause 18(3). Relevant representations are representations about the likely effect of granting the licence on the promotion of the licensing objectives, which do not include respect for or protection of Convention rights: clause 4(2). The representations must be made by an interested party or responsible authority (fairly narrowly defined by clause 13(3), (4)) must not be vexatious or frivolous, and must satisfy certain other criteria: clause 18(6)-(9).

79. It has been submitted to us that the duty to grant a licence under clause 18(2) would prevent a licensing authority taking account of the effect of the licence on residents' rights to respect for their private lives and their homes, unless someone had made a relevant representation. The right includes a certain level of protection against noise pollution at night: ECHR Article 8, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights in Hatton v. United Kingdom (the case relating to noise at night around Heathrow Airport). In our view the express terms of clause 18(2) would be impossible to interpret away using section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It seems to be capable of forcing the licensing authority to act in a manner incompatible with Convention rights in certain circumstances. We have therefore written to the Minister asking why the Government considers that these provisions adequately safeguard Convention rights.[86]


80. Clause 167 would exempt the police from liability for damages in proceedings for judicial review, the tort of negligence or misfeasance in public office arising out of any act of omissions in the performance or purported performance of his functions in relation to a closure order on licensed premises. This exemption would not prevent liability arising where an act or omission were done in bad faith or where the unlawfulness arose from incompatibility with a Convention right. It has been suggested that the provision might lead to a violation of Article 6 or Article 13 of the Convention. The former is, but the latter is not, one of the Convention rights for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998. However, it seems to us that the limitation of the exemption, by clause 167(3)(b), so that it does not apply where damages would be available for unlawfulness arising under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, would be effective to protect against violation of Convention rights, particularly as remedies other than damages would still be available.

81. Clause 180 could prevent a licensing authority or responsible authority from passing on information about alcohol-related disorder and similar matters to people other than a licensing authority or responsible authority. It has been said that it would make possible a violation of the right to information about environmental threats under ECHR Article 8 as interpreted by the Strasbourg court in, e.g., Guerra v. Italy. In view of the type of information involved, we do not consider that this is a sufficiently serious threat to amount to a violation of Article 8.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:21 PM

Refresh, as it is rather important and appears to be in danger of falling off the forum.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:31 PM

I am hoping to have time to try to get the full report tomorrow ans to consider it.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: vectis
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:36 PM

Good. I look forward to the report with interest.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 06:40 PM

It's now nearly 11th, what news, how went the day??

LTS


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 07:29 AM

This from Jim Lawton on uk.music.folk.

Some few days ago the Joint Committee on Human Rights brought out its first report on parliamentary bills. This report refers in part to "our" bill. I have taken that part and pulled some of the cross-references back to make it a bit more readable. (or maybe not :0).

I might do a bit more on it, if I have time. On the same page you will find the relevant bits of the Human Rights Act.

It's at
www.folkwebs.com

as usual

Jim


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 06:06 PM

The following from Hamish Birchall.

Please circulate:

On 10 January the government submitted its response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights concerning the Licensing Bill. The Committee had criticised clause 134 of the Bill arguing that there was a potential violation of performers' rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression). The Committee also cited inadequate protection of residents' rights to a quiet night's sleep (right to private and family life: Article 8).

In respect of Article 10, the Committee complained that no 'pressing social need' had been provided, as the law now requires, to justify the potential interference with the right to freedom of expression caused by the abolition of the two performer exemption and the criminalisation of musicians who perform without first checking that premises are licensed. The Committee said of the meagre explanation provided in para 230 of the Explanatory Notes: 'It is not a justification; indeed, it seems to be an attempt to pull the Bill up by its own bootstraps'.

See below for a text copy of the government's response, signed off by Kim Howells.

The MU did not gain sight of this until 28 January, leaving us just two days in which to provide comment for the Committee. In spite of the tight deadline we were able to provide a 3-page commentary faxed over to the Committee office at close of business on Friday 31 Jan. The Committee yesterday considered the government's response, and comment by the MU and the Performer-Lawyer group among others. The Committee will publish its conclusions in due course.

The Minister's arguments are not persuasive. While there are genuine reasons for limited restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, crucially the Minister provides no evidence at all that subsisting legislation is insufficient to provide such restrictions. A 'pressing social need' in this context might be, for example, evidence of an increased public safety risk arising from live music, or evidence that live music has become a major source of noise complaint or indeed a greater source of complaint than recorded music. No such evidence is provided. Nor is there any mention of any weakness in subsisting safety, noise or crime and disorder legislation, which might justify an increase in licensing control.

Knowledge of the government's lacklustre justification may prove useful in future correspondence with MPs. When reading it, please keep in mind that:

It is not just the two performer exemption that is at issue - the Bill criminalises virtually all public performance, amplified or acoustic, in 'any place' unless licensed (except churches, as of yesterday).

Amplification equipment has been in use in pubs and bars for over 50 years.

Safety legislation already requires employers to make risk assessments of all activities on their premises. If a new activity, such as a performance of live music is to take place, a new risk assessment must be made. If amplification is to be used, the risk assessment must deal with any added burden placed on any electrical systems.   

Health and safety legislation already lists activities including 'entertainment', 'practice or presentation of the arts' as among the activities local authorities are empowered to regulate in workplaces (like pubs or churches).

The Bill exempts big screen entertainment and jukebox music, no matter how powerfully amplified.

The DCMS did not receive many representations about Article 10 - but the JCHR office did.

Excerpt from letter dated 10 January 2003 from Kim Howells to Jean Corston MP, Chair, Joint Committee on Human Rights:

"... The second matter is a concern of the Committee that clause 134 removes the exemption from the licensing regime in respect of live performance by no more than two performers. Under clause 134 of the Bill, it would become an offence for such a live performance to be conducted otherwise than in accordance with an authorisation. The Committee has raised two questions on this matter. However, before turning to those points, we felt it may be helpful to the Committee if we set out two general matters by way of background, which are relevant to the Committee's concerns.

"The first of these relates to the indication given by the Committee regarding the insufficiency of paragraph 230 of the Explanatory Notes, in justifying the interference that clause 134 presents to rights under Article 10 of the Convention and Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention. The Department had prepared, for the purposes of LP Committee, a separate and detailed memorandum relating to ECHR considerations. However, in accordance with the latest guidelines to departments, the Department incorporated brief observations on such considerations into the Explanatory Notes that accompanied the Bill on Introduction. Unfortunately, this resulted in some detail of the Department's consideration of Convention rights and its assessment not finding its way into the latter document. The Committee will note that paragraphs 228 and 229 of the Notes relate in their entirety to Part 7 of the Bill, including clause 134.

"The second matter by way of background that the Committee may find useful is clarification of the current position in relation to two live performers and an indication of how this operates within the present licensing regime. Presently, where persons want to have musicians performing at premises, a public entertainment licence is required. A narrow disapplication from this requirement is provided in s. 182 of the Licensing Act 1964. In relation to live music, the disapplication from the need to have a separate public entertainment licence only applies where a justices' licence under the 1964 Act is in existence in relation to the premises and where the performance is by no more than two performers. However, this does not apply if there are more than two performers or if the performance of live music by up to two performers is combined in any way with recorded music. Thus, for example, the performance of a single musician accompanied by recorded music would require a public entertainment licence in addition to the justices' licence and the disapplication would not obtain.

"It is clear from the above that, for the disapplication to apply, an authorisation currently needs to be in existence in any event, namely a justices' licence in relation to the premises. Under the system to be established in the Bill, only one licence need be obtained for premises by those wishing to use their premises for such performances, regardless of the number of performers, and the combination of music to be performed. Accordingly, the system to be introduced will not, in any practical way, involve more by way of regulation for musicians to perform and, it is hoped, this could benefit musicians by removing the need for two separate authorisations which would be the current position in the vast majority of cases, from difference licensing bodies.

"It should be noted that clause 134 represents the successor offence provision for section 160 of the 1964 Act and similar offence provision in relation to public entertainment (e.g. paragraph 12 of Schedule 1 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

"It was from the outset conceded by the Department that the removal of this disapplication may interfere with Convention rights in two ways. First, to the extent that their performance would fall within the disapplication, it interferes with the right of musicians to freedom of expression under Article 10 and secondly, it involves a control of use of property under Article 1 of the First Protocol, in respect of those wishing to allow on their premises performances by no more than two live performers.

"The Committee raises two specific questions in relation to the existing position. The first question is how the interference which clause 134 poses to rights under Article 10 of the Convention can be justified under Article 10.2 of the Convention. In order for any interference to be justified under Article 10.2, there must be a pressing social need for the interference in pursuance of a legitimate aim. Of course, the offence provisions in Part 7, including clause 134, are included to ensure that the licensing regime is adhered to for the promotion of the licensing objectives (including the protections those objectives afford to both general and specific interests).

The legitimate aims pursued by clause 134 are one or both of the following, namely the interests of public safety and protection of the rights of others (and the prevention of crime and disorder). In relation to performers, public safety issues arise because amplification equipment is now commonly used in relation to such live musical performances and it is important that the fire authorities are empowered to examine premises using such equipment, in order to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place at the premises. In the case of the protection of the rights of others, in this context this is specifically referring to protecting the rights of local residents not be subjected to excessive noise nuisance created by such performances. Because, as stated above, amplification equipment is commonly used, a performance even by a sole singer can create noise of a level sufficient to disturb local residents.

The pressing social need for the interference arises owing to the importance of the protection of the rights of these local residents and the importance of public safety when balanced against the rights of musicians to perform on premises without the need for an authorisation (this balance is reflected in the current system as a justices' licence is required).

"The second question posed by the Committee is how the interference which clause 134 poses to the right of peaceful enjoyment of possessions can be justified under Article 1 of the First Protocol. In order for this control of use of property to be justified, it must represent a fair balance between the rights of individuals and the public interest. We are of the view that the offence provisions in clause 134 represent such a fair balance, when the rights of owners to use their property for such live performances are balanced against the importance of the general interest of ensuring the public safety and the prevention of public nuisance for local residents.

"The Department has received little by way of representation in connection with the Bill in relation to human rights issues. However, representations have been received from the Musicians' Union in relation to Article 10 rights and from one Resident's Association about Article 8.

Dr Kim Howells MP"


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 08:10 PM

Is there any hope that the Human Rights Committee might require Kim Howells to appear before them to explain what all that was about? And to respond to questions?


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 06:15 AM

Scrutiny of Bills: Further Progress Report

The Fourth Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Scrutiny of Bills: Further Progress Report, will be published on Monday 10 February 2003, at 10.00 am, as House of Lords Paper 50/House of Commons Paper 397, of Session 2002-03. This Report draws special attention to the following Bills:

the Licensing Bill

the Courts Bill

the Communications Bill

the Hereford Markets Bill

the Nottingham City Council Bill

The Report also lists those Bills which the Committee considers do not raise any significant human rights issues.

The Report is part of the ongoing series of reports from the Committee which examines all Bills introduced to Parliament in respect of their compliance with Convention rights and other human rights instruments.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 10:44 AM

To read this Report.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200203/jtselect/jtrights/50/5004.htm


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 10:47 AM

Conclusion on the Licensing Bill

21. In the light of the above, we consider that—

the provisions for allowing people to make representations about licensing applications in order to protect their rights under ECHR Article 8 would be likely to offer adequate protection as long as appropriate regulations are made under clause 17(5) of the Bill; but

there is a significant risk that the blanket licensing regime proposed in the Bill would give rise to an incompatibility with people's right to freedom of expression under ECHR Article 10, even in the light of the Government's announcement on 3 February mentioned in paragraph 18, above. We draw this to the attention of each House.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 10:54 AM

Not bad - especially the conclusion:

"There is a significant risk that the blanket licensing regime proposed in the Bill would give rise to an incompatibility with people's right to freedom of expression under ECHR Article 10, even in the light of the Government's announcement on 3 February mentioned in paragraph 18, above. We draw this to the attention of each House."

I would hope that if the Givernment does push through without accepting amendments, this is a good indication that they are likely to come unstuck in the courts. (The abbouncement of February 3rd is of course the u-turn oin places of worship - on which the committee commented:

This apparently random exemption for places of religious worship might tend to undermine the argument for the rationality of the blanket licensing scheme as a whole, and could engage other human rights issues by appearing to discriminate against occupiers and users of non-religious premises.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 10:59 AM

The following from Hamish Birchall

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has today published a report on the Licensing Bill which concludes:

'... there is a significant risk that the blanket licensing regime proposed in the Bill would give rise to an incompatibility with people's right to freedom of expression under ECHR Article 10, even in the light of the Government's announcement on 3 February...'
[p11, Scrutiny of Bills: Further Progress Report, Fourth Report of Session 2002-03, HL Paper 50, HC 397, published Monday 10 February 2003. For further info contact the office of the Committee: 020 7219 2797.
[NB: ECHR means European Convention on Human Rights; the announcement on 3 February was the Government's u-turn on the licensing of secular entertainment in churches]

The Committee considered Culture Minister Kim Howell's justification for the increase in licensing controls (provided in a letter to the Committee on 10 January). The Committee further commented:

'... we consider that the proposed blanket requirement for all premises to be licensed before any live performance takes place in them, regardless of whether there is a real risk of noise or nuisance, the nature of the performance, the nature of the premises, or the number of performers and spectators, is somewhat heavy-handed. We note that the licensing regime under the Bill would not cover the use of amplification for recorded music, which would seem to present health and safety risks similar to those caused by electronic amplification of live performers.' [the exemptions in Schedule 1, paragraphs 7 and 8, apply respectively to 1) the playing of recorded music that is incidental to other activities that are not licensable entertainments or facilities, and 2) to broadcast entertainment]

Significantly, the Committee also commented in relation to the recently announced churches exemption:

'This apparently random exemption for places of religious worship might tend to undermine the argument for the rationality of the blanket licensing regime as a whole, and could engage other human rights issues by appearing to discriminate against occupiers and users of non-religious premises.'

As you know, the government's argument for abolition of the two-performer PEL exemption in pubs/bars etc, has relied almost exclusively on the need to regulate the potential for noise nuisance caused even by unamplified live music ('we do not accept that acoustic music is never noisy'). But no evidence of any significant problem arising from live music has been put forward by the government to justify its position. In its recent 24-point rebuttal of MU and others' claims about the Bill, distributed to MPs and the public, one unreferenced quote from the Institute of Acoustics is cited:

'The Institute of Acoustics lists "amplified and non-amplified music, singing and speech sourced from inside the premises" as a principle source of noise disturbance from pubs, clubs and other similar premises.' [para 3.5, Regulation of Entertainment Under the Licensing Bill, DCMS January 2003]

However, the use of this quote is beginning to look unwise:

The IoA was unaware that that the government was relying on the IoA in this way, or indeed quoting them.

The IoA could not readily identify the document referred to, but think it might be from an as yet unpublished report.

The IoA has confirmed that their source of noise complaint data is the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

The CIEH has confirmed that their noise complaint data cannot discriminate between pubs and any other commercial premises, let alone between noise complaints arising from live music, recorded music, or noisy people.

If the IoA has a view about noisy live music it could only be based on the subjective opinion of environmental health officers, and not on any specific data.


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 12:18 PM

I just emailed my MP again, drawing his attention to 'clause 21' (quoted in full) and asking him to acknowledge he has read it. It concentrates their minds when they know they are being watched!


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Subject: RE: Human Rights Committee AGREES! PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 03:03 PM

Licensing Bill: Best Practice Guidance - 10 February 2003

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds03/text/30210-03.htm

2.51 p.m.
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
What were the value and the terms of reference of the contract awarded to MCM Research by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the problems of noise and disorder arising out of the Licensing Bill; and whether there are any links between the company and the alcohol industry.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, the cost of the contract will not exceed £50,000. The aims are to provide best practice guidance to address potential noise from pubs and clubs and to support local authorities and the licensed trade both under the current licensing rules and those proposed in the Licensing Bill. MCM Research Ltd has had clients from drinks and entertainment organisations and was appointed by competitive tendering, partly as a result of its knowledge in this area.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, can MCM Research be seen as fully independent by the residents who will be affected by the Licensing Bill in view of the fact that the vast majority of its clients are from the alcohol industry? The company has appeared frequently at licensing applications, defending the proposition that ambient noise should not be taken into consideration in deciding those applications.

Further, when will the report be published? Surely, its findings will be relevant to the Licensing Bill. Will there be opportunities for challenging the findings in view of the fact that many local communities will be seriously affected by all-night noise that is not up to the threshold in the tests for the licensing considerations?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as to the independence of the organisation, it has a great range of clients, by no means all of whom are in any way related to food or entertainment. It achieved the award of the contract in competition with several others. As with any independent research organisation, it will have clients that people will query, but nevertheless I believe that it will produce an independent report.

The report is not yet complete, but it will be completed in time to deal with the operation rather than the principles of the Licensing Bill.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, was the contract awarded because the department expected the Licensing Bill to give rise to noise and disorder, as the wording of the Question suggests? If so, is this the only known case of a government legislating to condone inebriation?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I hesitate to say that the Government in any context condone inebriation. However, we recognise the realities of life. Even under current licensing laws, excessive noise occasionally emerges from licensed premises. Therefore, we want to consider the current situation and whether the Licensing Bill, and the way in which it is operated, will make any significant difference. That is why we awarded the contract.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, does the Minister agree that disorder is already rife in country market towns every Friday and Saturday evening? Can he expect an objective report from MCM? It is a big problem. With the Courts Bill reducing the number of magistrates' courts, the Government are cooking up a big problem for themselves in the countryside.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, your Lordships debated the terms of the Licensing Bill at some length in Committee. Clearly, there is disorder in several parts of the country under existing rules. It is generally concentrated round about chucking out time. Part of the operation of the Licensing Bill will be to ensure that there is not a concentration of people coming out of licensed premises. Part of the effect of the transfer of responsibility will be to ensure that local authorities take account of the views of residents in areas where there are licensed premises.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, given what the Minister has just said, would it not have made sense for the research to be carried out before we set about scrutinising the Licensing Bill?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we are at the stage with the Licensing Bill where we have established the principles, which are still before Parliament. The way in which they are operated, and the guidance that individual local authorities will need, should be informed by the research that is coming out. That is why the focus of the research is best practice guidance to the trade and to local authority enforcers.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, as the Government have given an assurance that the guidance will be available by Report stage, can we be certain that the research will have been completed by Report stage as well?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the best practice guidance will not be available until we have considered the outcome of the report. It is at that stage that the research becomes appropriate. I shall not give further commitment as to what further information will be available on Report, over and above what my colleagues have given in the process of the Licensing Bill.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, will the research being undertaken include taking views from magistrates? It is currently the magistrates who give licences, but in the new Bill it will be taken away from them. I would like clarification on that point.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the conduct of the research will include talking to local authorities, magistrates and police, as well as the trade and residents organisations.

Viscount Falkland: My Lords, will the report be focused entirely on the late night drinking that we are seeing, or will it take into account that we are moving into a 24-hour economy of which it is simply the vanguard? Noise will be a problem, regardless of drinking, because everything will be going on for 24 hours a day.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the remit of the £50,000 research contract is unlikely to go quite as wide as the change in social mores to which the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, refers. However, it will consider all aspects relating to changes in licensing laws, including liquor and entertainment licensing.


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