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Kim Howells (PEL)

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Mugwump 15 Jan 03 - 08:45 AM
fiddler 15 Jan 03 - 08:55 AM
The Shambles 15 Jan 03 - 09:16 AM
The Admiral 15 Jan 03 - 10:51 AM
sian, west wales 15 Jan 03 - 10:57 AM
The Shambles 15 Jan 03 - 12:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 03 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Len Ashworth 15 Jan 03 - 02:11 PM
The Shambles 15 Jan 03 - 02:27 PM
Mugwump 16 Jan 03 - 05:07 AM
Mugwump 16 Jan 03 - 10:52 AM
Mr Happy 16 Jan 03 - 11:04 AM
The Shambles 17 Jan 03 - 12:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Jan 03 - 12:38 PM
Alice 17 Jan 03 - 12:41 PM
Mugwump 17 Jan 03 - 01:01 PM
The Shambles 17 Jan 03 - 01:03 PM
The Shambles 17 Jan 03 - 01:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Jan 03 - 01:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jan 03 - 05:06 AM
The Shambles 18 Jan 03 - 05:14 AM
nutty 18 Jan 03 - 10:22 AM
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nutty 18 Jan 03 - 12:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jan 03 - 01:09 PM
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Subject: Kim Howells
From: Mugwump
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:45 AM

I have just listened to this Kim Howells character on radio. What an arrogant, ignorant pig


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: fiddler
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:55 AM

Now tell us something new!

He epitomises the attitude of the previous political adminstration of this country. Even if he is from teh other side he still does - pure arrogance all the way!


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 09:16 AM

This from Molly Barratt

I've phoned the show to ask about the possibility of it being included in their "on demand" section where you can hear choice pieces again. I pointed out there's people outside the Smoke who'd like to hear it when they get home from work...

I don't think that Dr Howells did himself any favours. Hamish knew more about what his Bill actually contained, and it showed.

Howells just set out to waffle the time away and attempt to discredit the MU. he did a good job of the former but not so good on the latter.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Admiral
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 10:51 AM

What show was that then?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: sian, west wales
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 10:57 AM

I've e-mailed BBC Radio London and asked them to include the intervies on "On Demand" (archive) as well. I want to hear what The Twit has to say. There was a letter from him via my MP in my post today but I didn't have time to read it - it looks like one of the 'stock' answers.

sian


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 12:32 PM

Thanks to Molly Barratt for the following

I think I've got it about right, but no guarantees. There were gremlins in their recording, and bits were not easy to hear.

Transcript of BBC Radio London interview: Robert Elms with Hamish Birchall &
Kim Howells


RE: [the future of live music,] that's what we're about to discuss, and we're going to discuss that with Hamish Birchall, who's an adviser to the Musicians' Union, and to Kim Howells, who's the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State responsible for changing the licensing laws.

Welcome to both of you to BBC London, gentlemen.
Hamish, first of all, let's begin with you; I think most people are very happy that the licensing laws are going to change, we'll be able to drink for longer hours, we're being treated as adults in pubs, what's the problem?

HB: Yeah, that aspect of the Bill is something we also have broadly
welcomed, but the live music provisions are a problem for us, they seem to go very far in the direction of regulation of live music, they abolish a number of important exemptions that have applied for a long time.
We don't really see there's been any justification for abolishing these exemptions, and we don't think there's going to be a really significant increase in the number of venues providing local live music...
RE: So you actually think this a threat to live music? I mean, I've
particularly heard that it's a threat to folk music and jazz music and the more traditional forms.
HB: Yeah, forms that rely on more informal gatherings of musicians without a fixed number in small premises like pubs and bars I do think are under threat, yes, they are.
RE: Mr Howells, do you accept this? I'm sure it's not the aim of the Bill, is it?
KH: No, I certainly don't, and Hamish knows far better than this, I don't know why he's been spreading this misinformation around the place. What we're going to do is ensure that any licensee who is going to have live music, as an attraction if you like, for customers to come in, will be able to apply for an entertainments part of his new licence as part of his normal application for an alcohol licence. It won't cost him a penny more, and it'll do away with the absurd rule that we have now at the moment called the 'two in a bar' rule. Now if Hamish and the Musicians' Union want to continue over the next century as we have for so very, very long with only being allowed to have two musicians playing in a restaurant or a pub or any other
licensed premises, well, I think he's mad, and I think we've taken a big step forward and it's going to create many more music venues and give much more freedom of expression to musicians right around the country.
RE: Hamish, you're mad!
HB: [laughter] Yes, well, if I am, then so are all the 38,000 people who have signed the on-line petition opposing the live music elements of this Bill, and a [attempted interruption by KH] team of lawyers who operate independently of the Musicians' Union as well. Now I'm sure the Minister intends to improve matters, but I think perhaps that these provisions were not given adequate consideration. We think that smaller premises will think very hard before seeking this permission which will now apply even to one unamplified musician and yet on the other hand there is an exemption for broadcast entertainment no matter how powerful the amplification used.
That's what most people find strange about this Bill.
RE: So, Mr Howells, it seems to me that televisions as loud as you like and yet if someone's singing along with a guitar, you've got to have a licence?
KH: No, it's absolutely not true, and Hamish knows it isn't, and I wish he wouldn't persist with this myth. What's going to happen is this: when somebody applies for a modification to their licence, let's say they want to under the new law be able to stay open until - serve alcohol until two o'clock in the morning. When they make that application they'll be able to put - simply fill in a part of the form which says, I would like also please to be able to put on live music in my pub. It won't cost that person a penny more. What Hamish doesn't tell you is that at the moment if you apply, especially in big cities, as a licensee for an entertainments licence, the
local authority, we've heard in some areas, charge you £15,000 a year for it. Now that's an extreme example, but very often it seems, it's been a nice little earner for local authorities. What we're going to do is set absolute charges. A lifetime premises licence will cost between £100 and £500 depending on the size and location of the premises, and there'll be a £50 to £150 annual charge for that alcohol premises licence. It'll not cost a single penny more to tick the box or fill in the form that says, I would like to have music in my pub. Now how that could be seen as a retrograde step is completely beyond me unless of course you wish to distort it for your own trades union's ends.
RE: It does seem there's a degree of rationalisation here, I mean, the old system was all over the place, wasn't it, and the two in a bar rule was a bit odd, alright, it did enable one man and his dog to have a singalong, but if you wanted a band, you had to have a licence anyway.
HB: Yeah, but this is a none-in-a-bar rule, and contrary to what the
minister claimed, of course, there is an exemption in the schedule - it's Paragraph 8 - for the provision of broadcast entertainment. And this Bill applies to any place, it's not just pubs. We've welcomed the (proposal?) and we accept that on the point of application, later on this year, if the Bill is enacted, it will be no additional cost in applying for permission we know the way local authorities operate, they've already said to us that they'd like to stipulate the maximum number of musicians, where in the premises, when they're to perform, and making - treating all live music in that special way when you've created an exemption for a pub to be crammed with people watching a big match just seems disproportionate to us.
RE: Disproportionate, Minister?
KH: No, it isn't disproportionate, and I think Hamish ought to - really ought to be a little less churlish about the way in which he's just accepted - what he's saying is, yes, it might be good, but we know local authorities. He doesn't know local authorities, I believe that most local authorities will be very responsible about it, they'll want in the same way as I do, to see music venues proliferating, and the silly rules, which currently determine how many there are going to be, and the crazy charges which
licensees have to pay for music licences and entertainment licences will decrease and make it much easier for musicians to play properly in bands larger than one or two, and by the way, may I say this: I was recently in a pub, with my wife, and we were sitting there having a chat, and some guy came in with a karaoke machine, two massive amplifiers and nearly blew us out of the premises. That is an absurd situation and makes a mockery of the existing law. That's why we want to change it and that's why we want to make the whole of the system accountable. There will not be exemptions for local authorities to charge the earth for musicians to play in licensed premises and I'm absolutely certain we'll see more music venues, and not fewer.
RE: How much of it though is down to the discretion of the local authority, if you get a local authority who stubbornly says, we don't want music which they probably perceive as loud teenage gatherings in their area -
KH: Well,
RE: - do they have the right to stop it?
KH: Look, the thing is, Robert, the current law enables them to do that now. They can tell a landlord he's not allowed, or she's not allowed to an entertainments licence, or not allowed to put music on, or whatever. The new regime will mean that frivolous objections will not be entertained. And that local authorities will have to have a very, very sound reason for not granting an entertainments licence in the same way as it happens at the moment. We think that that'll be - that landlords, licensees of all sorts will see the value of having good live music of all sorts as a pull for customers in their pubs and other licensed premises.
RE: Does this just apply to pubs and licensed premises? 'Cos I've heard lots of stories about weddings and private parties and all sorts of -
KH: No, those are other total fibs that have been put about by Hamish and his colleagues. We've even heard - one guy wrote to us saying that postmen whistling on their rounds [laughter, presumably RE] would need a licence. You know, this is total nonsense and it does the Musicians' Union by the way no good at all to be seen to be spreading these kinds of things. They ought to be adult about it, enter into a proper discussion and help us to get it right.
RE: Hamish, do you think that's what you're doing?
HB: "Total fibs" indeed? That's interesting. Well, it's absolutely clear from the wording of the Bill that any performance of live music that's performed with any intention to entertain in public is licensable and that's it.
KH: What, a whistling p-
RE: No, no, alright - maybe not whistling postman, but
HB Will you let me
RE: For example Klesmer bands, Jewish events, whatever it is?
HB: Yes, the bill says that if you charge a fee and that fee is paid on behalf of the people being entertained that triggers the licensing
requirement and I should add that this is again also the opinion of the QC advising the Musicians' Union and the independent group of lawyers who have taken a close look at this particular section of the Bill. Now again, I fully accept the Minister's wish that this should not be the case If that were reflected in the wording of the Bill, we'd be very happy. But it's not, the Bill needs clarification. These exemptions should be clearly put, for educational purposes, for private events, etc. But as worded, I'm afraid it's a catch-all Bill.
RE: Kim, could this be an example of unforeseen consequences?
KH: No, certainly not, and we've talked to the licensed trade, we've talked to everyone about this Bill, and I'm very confident that it'll be seen as a civilising measure. Do remember this, by the way, Hamish might not care about it, but there are millions and millions of residents who feel very often that their lives are being made a misery because there is no consideration given to the noise that comes out and so on. [cough] excuse me and we wanna make sure that those considerations are properly taken into account, properly reflected in the same way as we want the demands and needs
of musicians to be reflected and enshrined in legislation.
RE: Can I put a question to both of you, and, sort of in different ways: if once the Bill does go through and it becomes law - a: to the Minister, if it is stopping live music, if people are getting licences rejected, or if there's a reduction in live venues, then would you redress that, and equally: to the Musicians' Union if, unlike your worst fears, it works rather well and means that live music can grow and take its rightful place in the entertainment in this country will you say we were wrong?
KH: Right, yes, can I answer first?
RE: Yeah, go ahead
KH: Yes, absolutely, I give an undertaking to everybody listening to this now, to Hamish and everyone else, that if [cough] for whatever reason - sorry about this cough -
RE: No, worry not
KH: - if, for whatever reason, the effect is to reduce the opportunities for musicians to play, then we will review that legislation.
HB: Can I just come back, just to return to the example he gave about the karaoke machine, well, of course under this Bill, any premises will be able to install a powerful sound system coupled to a juke box. That's not licensable if it's incidental to eating or drinking and he can be blasted out of his chair by that juke box, no licence required under this Bill. And local residents have redress if only local authorities would use it. Under existing noise legislation they can slap a £20,000 noise abatement notice, they can even serve an anticipatory noise abatement notice if they think a nuisance is likely to occur. And I don't think local residents would think
very highly local authorities who have spent out on under-cover licensing officers merely to count numbers of performers when they could be better used actually monitoring noise nuisance break-out. And I honestly don't think that a regime that could give rise to thousands of premises where having one musician is a criminal offence and yet you can have amplified broadcast entertainment, no problem, I don't think the general public will think that is a good idea, especially coupled with 24-hour opening.
RE: Finally, Mr Howells, I'll let you have the last word here
KH: Sorry, Robert. If I could say, this is a typical example of the
googly-gook [laughter from RE/HB] - those absurdities - we're going to stop the two-in-a-bar rule, we're going to make sure that there isn't a limit in the way that Hamish has described and we're gonna free up those venues so that we can have proper bands, not limited to one or two people in a pub, that there can be a proper expression of all kind of music. We won't be able to do it without this legislation and I would only wish that the Musicians' Union would see that it's a real step forward, not a step backwards.
HB: Well, they've got to convince more than us, I believe.
RE: Well, what we've got is a two-step in two directions going on here. All I hope of course, is that we can keep music live using the old slogan of the Musicians' Union, and that live music can proliferate under the new licensing rules. I think, gentlemen, this is one that we'll be returning to at a later date. Thank you. Kim Howells and Hamish Birchall, thank you very
much.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM

It can be quite useful to have a cough sometimes.

I noted that "promise to review", a woolly verbal which is worth the paper it's written on. And I noticed he completely sidestepped the point about the restriction not just applying to licensed premises.

Here's a piece from Guardian Columnist Rod Liddle - I'll print it rather than relying on this link, because it is fairly short:

Kim's cultural revolution

Rod Liddle
Tuesday January 14, 2003
The Guardian

When our culture minister, Dora Kim Howells, hears the word "culture" prefixed with the adjective "modern", he reaches for his big, fat mouth. So far, since ascending to office, he has attacked the contenders for the Turner prize, vilified rap music and taken it upon himself to castigate all manner of "anti-social" video games. Clearly, he is a man who would prefer to gaze at a nice watercolour, listen to Simon and Garfunkel and perhaps, late in the evening, partake of a game of Cluedo or Scrabble.

Which is fine by me. Just don't try to impose those choices on the rest of us, Dora Howells, through your government office. I don't mind the evident fact that you are a vapid and conservative philistine, so long as you confine yourself, professionally, to matters of administration. Just leave my choice of entertainment alone.


He seems to have the measure of the man fairly well. However he never gets round to the Licensing Bill issues which concern us more - perhaps someone should send Rod Liddle a message alerting him to these, and suggesting he might use this in a follow-up attack (or defence, if for example Kim Howells tries to object to the attack, or attempts to lean on Liddle's editor).


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:08 PM

That should have been Dr Kim Howells - my spell checker was playing up. It wasn't Rod Liddle adjusted his name like that.

Though I don't know - it rather suits him. Right, Dora Kim Howells it is...


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: GUEST,Len Ashworth
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:11 PM

McGrath,

My wife is called Dora. Do you have a problem with the name?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 02:27 PM

No, I certainly don't, and Hamish knows far better than this, I don't know why he's been spreading this misinformation around the place.

This is about the only thing I have seen Dr Howells admit that he does not know.

My experience locally leads me to be convinced that when the opposition is reduced to accusing you of 'spreading misinformation', it is usually because you have caught them out attempting to do this.

This experience politician used, and was allowed to use by the interviewer, every evasive trick in the book (including the voice trick), as he knew Hamish had the knowledge, but Hamish still managed to get the last word, even when the interviewer actually gave it to Dr Howells.

Hamish should be congratulated for rendering Dr 'Howler' speechless, no one else has managed this............


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: Mugwump
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 05:07 AM

Yes it's great to have hamish as our spokesman. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak on this subject at Union Chapel Islington.

Another strong voice wass David Heath MP, author of last years
EDM 1182.

Three Cheers for Hamish.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: Mugwump
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 10:52 AM

Hip hip ...


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 11:04 AM

hooray!,

Hip, hip,


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 12:16 PM

Hooray!

Does anyone know what Googley-Gook is, apart from evertything Dr howells does and says?

Perhaps you would care to ask him?

There is an article due in the Daily Telegraph, tomorrow Saturday, in the arts section.

The following from Mark Austin

The Guardian has an interview with/portrait of Kim Howells today. See here
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,876440,00.html
For transcript.

Might I suggest that this weekend would be an opportune time to bury the Guardian in letters.

Mark Austin.

Hip hip


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Subject: RE: PEL: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 12:38 PM

You'll note though, if you read that transcript, that the whole issue of the inmpact of the Bill on live music is hardly mentioned - one passing reference to it as a side issue to a passing mention of the fact that there is criticism of the plans to extend the freedom of pubs to open longer. No indication that tens thousands of people have already signed the petition agains twhat he is proposing.

And he got off remarkably lightly from a journalst who had clearly either skipped doing his homework prior to the interview, or was in Howells' pocket all along.

Quick, get your letters in to: letters@guardian.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: Alice
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 12:41 PM

He probably meant to say gobbledy-gook but it didn't come out right. Seems to have a problem with saying the wrong or inappropriate thing.... politician syndrome.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: Mugwump
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 01:01 PM

I am always suspicious of people who call themselves "DR" when not working in a medical or scientific capacity. Probably bought the title from the same place Ian Paisley got his!

Yes I am getting personal - I hate this jerk!


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 01:03 PM

Dr Howells appears to only have one approach, it is both his strength, when
he wants to publicise himself or his novel, and now when he has to defend
what the words of his Bill actually say, his weakness.

He makes an appeal to the popular voter, usually in the form of a general
statement or attack that most of us would go along with. The 'bullshit'
comment on the Turner prize, is a good example.

If you examining the transcript, in his attempts to maintain this tactic, he
manages to claim the Bill will encourage and free all live music from
complaints , however loud the music may be and at the same time will also
enable local residents to prevent it?

That drinking can go on all through the night and at the same time all the
local resident's concerns will be met?

That local authorities wrongly make money out of entertainment licensing but
can still be trusted, with even more power over us under the Bill, not to be
over-zealous?

If we can encourage him to carry on long enough like this, he will sooner or
later have put everyone's backs up and worried the life out of us all. For a
mindless and unsupported attack on someone else's concern from a powerless
opponent can be overlooked, but the strength of an attack by the Government
supported Dr Howells on your corner, is quite another.

He will have to try and sell this Bill as being all things to all people and
he and his limited tactical range, is just the wrong person to make the
attempt. If the Government are still seriously intending to inflict this
Bill on us, and it looks as if they are, I fear they will be placing Dr Howells on
the sidelines very shortly.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 01:19 PM

This quote from Segovia, used in 1992 for an advert for Spanish tourism.

[Playing music must be like life itself: an explosion of liberty........]

The Guitar had a long and difficult birth. From its Baroque beginnings, the
instrument passed into Spanish hands. And its passionate nature emerged with
a Spanish style of playing, the 'Rasguado', a rhythmic and simultaneous
beating of all the strings. From this point, the instrument took on a
feeling for life which is peculiarly Spanish.

The vitality of 'Flamenco', laid bare the emotions like no other music. And
to this day, it remains the true tone of Spanish passion. later still, in
the hands of Segovia, the guitar took on a more controlled beauty.

Stawinski opined, "Segovia's guitar doesn't sound loud, but it travels far".
But through recognised as a fully fledged concert instrument, it retained
its freedom of spirit. As the Maestro himself observed, "playing music must
be like life itself: an explosion of liberty."

Today in Spain, the visitor can drink deep from the cup of the country's
guitar playing tradition, in the concert halls or local bar. Either way, the
experience can be magical. For when Spanish hands caress the strings of a
guitar, it takes on human form.

This went out under the slogan Espana, passion for life!

Our slogan...England and Wales, passion for bureaucracy?


The following from Hamish Birchall.
The new licensing criterion 'Entertainment Facilities', paragraph 3 of
Schedule 1, would even render the provision of a piano in a bar a criminal
offence without a licence. That is because it would be a facility for
enabling persons to take part in music-making for purposes which include the
purpose of being entertained. There is no requirement for anyone actually to
be playing the piano, nor for the presence of an audience. The maximum
penalty for unlicensed performance, or music-making facilities, is a £20,000
fine and six months in prison. This is clearly an all-embracing regime in
respect of live music.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 01:51 PM

Here's the letter I've just emailed to letters@guardian.co.uk:

What a remarkably easy ride Stuart Jeffries gave Kim Howells in that profile in G2 on Friday.

A passing mention given to the fear that his Licensing Bill will do irreparable damage to music-making in England and Wales, with the implication that this is just a side issue brought up by killjoys who want to stop the pubs staying open later.

You'd never think that up and down the country tens of thousands of people have already signed a petition against the restrictions in the Bill, and are writing angry letters to MPs. Or that, even before the Bill had become an Act many prospective tourists from America and elsewhere who love music have indicated that they don't expect to be coming here too much in future.

Unless the law is amended it will technically be illegal to sing a song or play a tune in any public place unless there is a licence in place which covers this. Not just pubs, any public place. And the record shows that there are councils up and down the country who are happy too interpret the law in an arbitrary and repressive way.

It looks as though there may an amendment to allow some music in churches to escape the restriction may be permitted, in face of vigorous protests by the churches. But that's the limit so far as the government is concerned. It appears that there is no question of Dr Howells seeking to introduce the simple amendments that would remove the dangers inherent in the current drafting of the Bill. All Kim Howells appears to do does is shoot his mouth off at random, sneering at people, such as the Musicians Union, who have drawn attention to the flaws in the drafting of this legislation which promise to make it a nightmare.

He called Rid Liddle "a pillock" I note. If he goes on this way it can't be long before his own name becomes a synonym for pillock. "That man's making a right Howell of himself..."


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 05:06 AM

"Culture Minister" Kim Howells is going to be live on the net on Monday 20th January at 1pm English time. Go get him (but politely, that's more effective)...

Here is the link to the Guardian that tells about it, and is where to post questions and so forth.http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?50@@.3ba7abed


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 05:14 AM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2003/01/18/bmbill18.xml&sSheet=/arts/2003/01/18/ixartleft.html

Battle over 'last orders' for music
(Filed: 18/01/2003)
Musicians and publicans fear that the new Licensing Bill will impose a tax on music-making that many will be unable to pay. By Colin Randall


It is matchday and 100 football fans, many drunk or getting drunk, sing or shout at the pub's wide screen. Powerful equipment captures every sound, from the thud of boot on ball (or opponent) to the din of the crowd. A few streets away, three or more musicians gather in another pub. Unamplified instruments - a fiddle and guitar, and maybe an accordion, bazouki and tin whistle - are produced and a traditional music session begins.

Guess which activity is at present licensable, with the full might of the law - fines and imprisonment included - held in reserve for transgressors? And guess which will remain so if, as planned, Labour's reform of licensing law secures its royal assent this summer?

In the typically forthright view of Kim Howells, Culture Minister and scourge of modern art, Somerset folk singers and rap, this state of affairs is "bonkers".

He used the word when assuring Mike Harding, BBC radio presenter and session musician, that the Licensing Bill would end such nonsense. So why, with the bill now in its Lords committee stage, are many musicians and music organisers so sure that it does no such thing?

As well as extending drinking hours, the bill ends a licensee's need to apply separately for liquor and entertainment licences. But it also scraps the so-called "two-in-a-bar" exemption, which allows fewer than three people to perform in premises without a public entertainment licence (known as PELs and costing as little as £50 but, for some big city centre venues, £20,000 a year).

Publicans will have to license their premises for virtually any live music, if performed in public or "for consideration and with a view to profit".

Ministers believe the simplicity of a new all-in licensing system will increase rather than restrict access to music. But in the furious debate provoked by their declared route to common sense, they have been accused of lazy, money-grubbing opportunism and downright illiberalism.

For their part, Howells - and loyal backbenchers - accuse objectors led by the Musicians' Union of scaremongering and, as the minister put it to me this week, running "a pernicious lying campaign".
Howells famously speaks his mind. Even as we shook hands at Westminster after meeting earlier this week, he offered one of those disarmingly honest thoughts that seem to appeal and appal in equal measure. "Maybe it won't work," he said. "But no one has come up with a better way of doing it."

That was almost certainly not how the minister meant it to sound. But critics of the bill will seize on his words as they portray the proposals - not unlike the remark - as the flawed product of good intentions.
Many people welcome the attempt to haul into the 21st century a chaotic regime dating from "temporary" measures to curb the drinking of munitions workers during the Great War. A more flexible approach to opening hours, it is said, will discourage binge drinking and please tourists.

But Eliza Carthy, the fiddler, singer and songwriter whose parents - Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson - head Britain's pre-eminent folk dynasty, asks mischievously if the bill is intended to fund another war.
She may be wrong about the war, but wonders what the Government is trying to achieve by putting a tax on music-making, "one of the few free things left in these miserable and frightening times".

Under Labour, Carthy's parents have both been awarded MBEs for services to music. Neither they, she suspects, nor the likes of Billy Connolly, Jasper Carrott or Barbara Dickson - who all started out as folk singers - would have done so well had their early performances in modest venues been the subject of such formal control.

The proposals extend far beyond folk music. Jazz, pub theatre, carol singing, skittles and battle re-enactment are among other pursuits that will be licensable under the new regime.

"Comedy is not affected," says Hamish Birchall, a jazz drummer who is advising the Musicians' Union on its campaign. "But someone reciting Shakespeare in a pub - indeed anything that involves playing a role - would be illegal if the premises were not licensed for public entertainment."
The key battleground, however, is live music. Howells believes passionately that the system will be hugely simplified as pubs, restaurants and other premises seek licences for entertainment at the same time as they obtain permission to sell alcohol.

Licensees will make a single payment of £100-£500 depending on size of premises, plus annual inspection charges of £50-£150. At present, those not applying for a PEL pay £30, plus legal costs, every three years for their drinks licences.

The minister resents the strength and focus of his opponents' campaign. "The bill does not catch church bellringing," he says over coffee at the Commons.
"Nor does it license the testing of equipment in a music shop; studio recording sessions; school concerts or nativity plays where the wider general public is not admitted; music lessons; singing Happy Birthday to granny in a restaurant; hiring a band for a wedding or the whistling postman."

He regards as a slur the notion that he is "in cahoots with Murdoch" because televised sport is also exempted. Surprisingly, he contends that pubs screening live sport never attract complaints from residents or neighbouring business people, while pubs staging live music attract many (he later concedes that he has never known of a jazz or folk club generating such neighbourhood disapproval, either, but argues that venue-by-venue distinctions would be impractical).

The minister also thinks it is insulting to councils to doubt their ability to process, quickly and fairly, applications for the new licences. And he scoffs at the suggestion that licensees might be put off by a procedure that could "hardly be simpler".

In fairness, Howells also deplores local authorities that may have latched on to the debate and, exploiting existing legislation, demanded licence fees from pubs with the most informal of sessions. Musicians claim dozens of events have been closed as a result.

One council, Weymouth and Portland, ignored a harmless weekly singaround at the New Star, a small Portland pub run by Alan Radford and his wife, for five years before warning just before Christmas that they needed a PEL costing £220.

Unable to meet the expense from meagre takings, the Radfords offered the folkies use of their skittle alley as a private club exempt from current law. The singers declined and have departed to a Weymouth pub with a PEL.

"They were like part of the family," says Christine Radford, who says she has been driven by red tape and diminishing income to consider quitting the licensed trade. "I was in tears on their last night."
Tom Grainger, the council's chief executive, points out that 30 per cent of licensed premises in the area have PELs and would protest if a blind eye were turned to others. He denies that the council approach has changed and says it is "most unfortunate" that Eliza Carthy and other musicians are urging a boycott of the council-sponsored folk festival in May.

Another cause celebre is the remarkable carol singing tradition of South Yorkshire. From the mid-19th century, people have met in a series of pubs each Christmas to sing their versions of seasonal songs. Someone has counted at least 30 local variations of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.
David Lambert, owner of the Royal Hotel at Dungworth, near Sheffield, pays an organist to accompany the singers at the Sunday lunchtime sessions at his pub. He also runs a monthly live music night, but says his increased takings are nowhere near enough to justify a PEL. "It's another loss for the countryside," he says. "We all feel strongly about it."

Howells accepts that both the New Star singalongs, and the Dungworth carols, would be caught by the new legislation. As regular events, both sessions would have to be licensed.

He holds out no hope of concessions beyond the decision, signalled in a letter to this newspaper, to make church music a special case. But he claims "guidance" to be issued by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, will make it clear that councils must not impose draconian conditions. The new system will be closely monitored, Howells vows, for signs of "frivolous" objections to licences being approved.

Yet Eliza Carthy fears there is nothing in the bill as published to stop officials acting "out of malice or thickness or as jobsworths" to make it so hard for non-mainstream music to occur that unfashionable but important cultural traditions may just die out.

Some performance lawyers agree, talking of an "extraordinary intrusion on freedom of speech and expression".

"If it were as simple as Howells claims, we would grumble but not object so strongly," says Hamish Birchall. "But councils will be under enormous pressure to be seen to be doing preventative things, with huge cost implications that will force many small businesses to drop their right to have live music at all."

Howells does receive support from some areas of entertainment and the licensed trade. The British Beer and Pub Association, representing brewers and pub chains, broadly welcomes the changes; so does Equity, which believes they could improve working conditions for actors playing in smaller licensed venues.
At grass roots, however, many remain unconvinced. "I voted Labour," says Annie Bright, a jazz singer and former Equity vice-president. "But I certainly won't next time if this goes through without substantial amendment."


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: nutty
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 10:22 AM

Shambles ....surely the link would have surficed .....while I have ever sympathy with your cause, I believe you are doing it no favours by posting such huge article in full.

I and others are quite capable of clicking on a link to get to the information.

As Mudcat is running on limited resources ....please be brief.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 12:14 PM

Nutty I have linked to the article but as one does not know how long the newspapers will keep the information on their sites it is a good idea to at least have a one full account in a thread. This is a rather important article and a little more important than your post which could and should have been contained in a personal message.

The following from Hamish Birchall

Licensing Minister Kim Howells is reported in today's Daily Telegraph as saying that the Musicians' Union has led objectors to the Licensing Bill in a 'pernicious lying campaign'.

In 'Battle over "last orders" for music' [by Colin Randall, p11, Arts & Books section, Saturday, January 18, 2003], Randall writes: '... Howells - and loyal backbenchers - accuse objectors led by the Musicians' Union of scaremongering and, as the minister put it to me this week, running "a pernicious lying campaign".'

Howells is also quoted on the new regime: 'Maybe it won't work...but no one has come up with a better way of doing it.' Truly an extraordinary comment for a culture Minister considering the damage already done by the existing licensing regime. As Randall puts it, the Minister's remarks 'seem to appeal and appal in equal measure'. Indeed they do, considering that many other countries, including Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Germany, Denmark and France seem to have far better ways of 'doing it'.

Howells offers no justification for the 'lying' accusation, merely dismissing out of hand some of the claims made by the MU and others: 'The Bill does not catch church bell-ringing... nor does it license the testing of equipment in a music shop; studio recording sessions; school concerts or nativity plays where the wider public is not admitted; music lessons; singing Happy Birthday to granny in a restaurant; hiring a band for a wedding or the whistling postman.'

The MU does not claim that private music teaching, per se, is licensable, although the government has already stated publicly that master classes where the public can attend would be licensable.

The legal consensus (outside the Department for Culture), including the opinion of the QC advising the MU, flatly contradicts the Minister where private functions are concerned: if musicians charge a fee, the event becomes licensable (see Licensing Bill, Schedule 1, paras 1(4) and 1(5)). On 12 December, during the first Committee debate in the Lords, a clarifying amendment which would have exempted such events was rejected by the government (Amendment 8).

The Minister's other rebuttals concerning church bells, music shops, recording studios, singing Happy Birthday and the whistling postman, are also disputed by the lawyers. This is partly because of the unhappily worded 'entertainment facilities' section (Schedule 1, para 3) or because there are no definitions or exemptions in the Bill for educational, spontaneous or impromptu music-making. As for school concerts or nativity plays, these are licensable, even if private, if the intention is to raise money for charity, or those attending are charged a fee, however small.

Although a Minister's statement may be useful (if made in Parliamentary debate they can be used in court cases), I understand that the provisions of a Bill cannot be disapplied by such a statement, or by published guidance, even if published by the Government. The MU will be responding to the 'pernicious lying campaign' allegation, but I hope others will consider writing to the DT or the Minister. Email letters to the Daily Telegraph, including full name, address and telephone number:
dtletters@telegraph.co.uk
kim.howells@culture.gsi.gov.uk


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: nutty
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 12:18 PM


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: nutty
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 12:21 PM

I will take on board what you said if you will take on board what I did.

But I would still maintain that HERE on this site ... nothing is more important than Mudcat itself.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 01:09 PM

Generally speakig I'd agree with nutty. But while the Guardian seems to keep its archive permanently, and appears committed to it staying free access. I'd be less sure about the Telegraph, which I suppose is what Shambles was thinking of.

Anyway, here is what I have just posted to the Guardian's liveonline ready for Kim Howells on Monday. No doubt they'll leave out the questions about live music so that can concentrate on his prejudices about Modern Art and Rap Music and such, but you can but try:

I'm worried that the new Licensing Act will make it a crime for me to sit down in a pub or cafe with my friends and play a bit of music or sing a few songs. I know Dr Howells keeps on saying it isn't intended to have that kind of effect, but I've looked at the Bill, and unless it's amended it is likely to have all kinds of nasty, and no doubt unintended implications. People running cafés or pubs will be scared to say "yes" when we ask if we can play a bit of music off in a corner.

So instead of accusing people who are concerned about this of "scaremongering" and "telling lies" why doesn't he take some advice from people such as the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the Musicians Union, and get the act amended so that there is no risk of it having these nasty effects he says are not intended?

After all, he's accepted that the Bill as presented is going to have to be amended to avoid interfering with Church activities, so why is he so sure that the rest of the Bill hasn't got it wrong as well?

Glib verbal promises about there being no need to worry aren't good enough. I want my rights confirmed by the new law, not threatened.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 04:24 PM

MIKE HARDING INTERVIEWS DR KIM HOWELLS MP AND HAMISH BIRCHALL, ADVISER TO THE MUSICIANS' UNION, ON THE ISSUE OF PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT LICENCES (PELs)
Originally broadcast 17.07.02


MH "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?"

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

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

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

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

KH 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...........

Daily Telegraph
Battle over 'last orders' for music
(Filed: 18/01/2003)
Musicians and publicans fear that the new Licensing Bill will impose a tax on music-making that many will be unable to pay. By Colin Randall.


[snip]Howells accepts that both the New Star singalongs, and the Dungworth carols, would be caught by the new legislation. As regular events, both sessions would have to be licensed.[snip]

[snip]For their part, Howells - and loyal backbenchers - accuse objectors led by the Musicians' Union of scaremongering and, as the minister put it to me this week, running "a pernicious lying campaign".[snip]

I wonder who exactly is operating a pernicious lying campaign?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 08:08 PM

I just checked with that Guardian website for Kim Hoiwells lunchtime web-session in Minday - and of the 31 posts, only four of them are about the music licensing restrictions. Most of the others are about rap music and so forth.

I think it'd be a good idea to get a few more in, or it'll make it too easy for him to avoid the whole issue, especially if the Guardian gives him as easy a ride as they did in that interview.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 03:56 AM

I have tried to post a question, but I have a 'provisional status' which does not allow me to post. I've sent the question on via the helpdesk link but it has not yet appeared. For the record my question was:

Mr Howells usually defends the need to licence all live music on the grounds that one amplified musician can make more noise than three without amplification.
The obvious approach is to licence noise levels from any source, including wide screen television, rather than licence specific activities that may or may not make noise. Why is Mr Howells unwilling to address the noise levels directly and uniformly for all sources, rather than including some and excluding others? For my part, it is the noise that wakes me up at 3am that I am bothered by, not whether it came from a TV or a fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 03:57 AM

Kevin I have tried to work out how exactly to send a message on that site, but it has beaten me. Perhaps it has beaten others?

I have logged-in got the userame and subscribed for the online bit with Dr Howells but I can't see any where to send a message for the show.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 06:40 AM

They could make their website a bit clearer on this, I agree. But I found my way through it without too many prblems.

If you click on the link I gave, you get a headline about Kim Howell's Monday "visit", and if you click on that you get this page.

A few lines down from the top you get a bit where it says "Post a message", next to "Subscribe". If you click on "Post" and you aren't already logged in they ask you to log in. (And that's free, it just means having a username and a password). "Subscribe" just means register so that you have a shortcut to the discussion or something like that. (I can't see why they us these jargon words instead of plain English.)


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 08:46 AM

That is the problem, when I get the page Subscibe or Unsubscribe is there but there is no 'POST' to click.

Can we PM our questions to you for you to pass on?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: nutty
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 10:21 AM

Shambles ....in very small print it says you have to 'log in' in order to post a message .....could that be the problem????


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 11:42 AM

Well, it had "post" for me, and I hadn't logged in, and when I pushed it, it reminded me to do so, and then made no problems. But I was already registered with them, so maybe that made the difference.

But I'll be happy to forward on any messages to then, and make clear where they come from too. (Always assuming the Mudcat doesn't go down again, and the Guardian site doesn't play silly buggers. Right now I'll send on yours DMCG as requested.)


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 11:51 AM

And if you check on the Guardian site you should see it now.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 01:15 PM

Many thanks, McGrath.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 05:12 PM

And now your message is up there, Shambles.   

All the way from the West Country to New England, back to Esses, and on to The Guardian in London. Ain't the net amazing?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: vectis
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 06:53 PM

Don't underestimate the power of the Mudcat to raise awareness of this, and other, issues. Most people I work with had no idea that any change in the licencing legislation was proposed much less the implications of it.
Once explained they ALL signed the petition.
They could not understand why there had been no media coverage of the issue. What little coverage there has been has obviously gone straight over the head of Joe Average Public.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 08:58 AM

I'm trying to follow the "debate" on the Guardian website.

It's a total shambles (sorry about that Shambles) - it really makes you appreciate how well organised the Mudcat is.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: DMcG
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:02 AM

And what an informative debate that was. KH must have attempted to answer less than 10% of the questions and he picked the really hard ones, like "what do you think of Robbie Williams comments?"

I don't suppose anyone knows if Guardian Online tries to get answers to the rest of the questions, do they? (I assume they don't.)


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:05 AM

"That's me, over and out" - Kim Howells signing off just now, at 1.53, seven minutes early. Couldn't even last out his hour.

I do think even his dearest freindand sycophant would have difficulty in saying he did well...


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: clansfolk
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:08 AM

hear hear - a total waste of space......   had trouble logging on then unable to post - not that it would have made a difference as most of the questions were not replied to - he must type v    e    r   y       s    l o    w   l   y !!!!!!!!1

and clocks off early - must be off to a quiet pub?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:12 AM

Sod's Law indeed I finally got my validation through, rushed to log on, wrote my question, only to see Kim Howells sign off!!!

The question must have been far too good.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:15 AM

and clocks off early - must be off to a quiet pub?

One man and that amp, get to that pub quick!

Was it no good at all then?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: clansfolk
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:19 AM

Great now I can post as well might let them know what I got for Christmas!!!!!!!!!


Doh!


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:41 AM

Chipping away. At least we made our presence felt in the questions, and prompted Kim Howells into another publoc bit of misinformation, when in one of the few posts he responded to he asserted that the maximum penalty was "reserved" for managers who block fire exits and so forth. And of course the Bill says nothing of the sort.

Do you think he has actually got round to reading the Bill? He shows no sign of having done so. I did so last night - it's a really soggy bit of drafting.

One thing I hadn't realised - ot says you can't be a club under this Bill if you have fewer than 25 members. There are a few folk clubs around who'd have difficulty meeting that requirement.


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: nickp
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 09:42 AM

So Hamish is being accused in print of lying... something in the back of my mind mutters 'libel' ... or perhaps I'm not that well versed in legalese.

I know who I believe and it's MU not MP


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 11:07 AM

From today's two-minute Guardian:

"Live online...Culture minister Kim Howells answers your questions at 2pm."

No he wasn't. It was from 1pm until (as it turned out) 1.53pm that Kim Howells was on the Guardian website. Talk about "misinformation"...

Not that he did much in the way of answering questions, but that's another matter.

Was that a cock-up, or was it the Guardian being over protective of its guest?


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Subject: RE: Kim Howells
From: vectis
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 06:10 PM

It seems to me that the result was

Music 1       Howells Nil


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