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Churches now exempt from PELs

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cockney 03 Feb 03 - 12:10 PM
The Shambles 03 Feb 03 - 12:23 PM
The Shambles 03 Feb 03 - 02:03 PM
John Routledge 03 Feb 03 - 02:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Feb 03 - 06:41 PM
clansfolk 03 Feb 03 - 06:54 PM
clansfolk 03 Feb 03 - 06:58 PM
vectis 03 Feb 03 - 06:59 PM
The Shambles 03 Feb 03 - 07:11 PM
The Shambles 03 Feb 03 - 07:18 PM
The Shambles 03 Feb 03 - 07:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Feb 03 - 07:27 PM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 02:42 AM
mouldy 04 Feb 03 - 02:54 AM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 05:07 AM
clansfolk 04 Feb 03 - 05:15 AM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 05:21 AM
IanC 04 Feb 03 - 05:25 AM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 05:30 AM
clansfolk 04 Feb 03 - 05:54 AM
clansfolk 04 Feb 03 - 06:11 AM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 07:29 AM
DMcG 04 Feb 03 - 07:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 08:10 AM
greg stephens 04 Feb 03 - 08:20 AM
IanC 04 Feb 03 - 08:46 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 09:30 AM
DMcG 04 Feb 03 - 09:36 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 09:58 AM
Wolfgang 04 Feb 03 - 10:24 AM
IanC 04 Feb 03 - 11:48 AM
DMcG 04 Feb 03 - 11:53 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 12:08 PM
IanC 04 Feb 03 - 12:11 PM
clansfolk 04 Feb 03 - 12:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 12:25 PM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 12:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 12:36 PM
IanC 04 Feb 03 - 12:46 PM
The Shambles 04 Feb 03 - 01:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Feb 03 - 01:22 PM
DMcG 04 Feb 03 - 05:04 PM
Snuffy 05 Feb 03 - 09:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Feb 03 - 02:24 PM
Wolfgang 05 Feb 03 - 02:49 PM
The Shambles 08 Feb 03 - 09:40 AM
Mr Happy 08 Feb 03 - 01:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Feb 03 - 02:11 PM
The Shambles 08 Feb 03 - 02:27 PM
Mr Happy 08 Feb 03 - 03:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Feb 03 - 04:29 PM
The Shambles 08 Feb 03 - 05:16 PM
vindelis 09 Feb 03 - 10:56 AM
The Shambles 09 Feb 03 - 11:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Feb 03 - 11:50 AM
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Subject: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: cockney
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 12:10 PM

14/03 3 February 2003

Government announces licence exemption for entertainment in
churches

The Government today announced it will amend its Licensing Bill
so that places of public worship across the country will not need a
licence to put on entertainment performances of any kind.

The announcement follows concerns that the Government's
original proposal - to make performance of secular music in
places of public worship licensable throughout the country -
would threaten the future of church music.

Kim Howells said:

"The exemption I am announcing today will enable religious
institutions and music societies to flourish.

"It will bolster the measures already contained in the Bill that are
designed to foster live music, by opening up greater opportunities
for
musicians to perform.

"Concerns were raised about our original proposals for licensing
regulated entertainment in places of worship by a range of groups.
We have listened to their concerns and taken them on board. I
would like to thank them for their input which has helped make
this a better Bill."

Kim Howells also announced that the Government intends to
exempt village and community halls from fees associated with the
provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities under the
licensing regime.

He said: "I recognise that church and community halls are integral
to community life and provide a social hub in a great many rural
and urban areas. I am determined to enable them to continue to
play this essential role."

Notes to editors

1 Under current public entertainment licensing law, outside
London, music (only) in "a place of public religious worship or
performed as an incident of a religious meeting or service" is
exempt from needing a licence. "A place of public worship"
means only a place of public religious worship which belongs to
the Church of England or to the Church of Wales or which is for
the time being certified as required by law as a place of religious
worship. Inside Greater London, churches enjoy no exemption.

2 Under current public entertainment licensing law, any premises
in a London Borough or the City of London putting on public
dancing or music and any other public entertainment of the like
kind, needs a licence. There are no exemptions for community or
church halls. Outside London, community or church halls need a
licence, but are exempted from having to pay for it.

3 The exemptions were announced through Parliamentary
statement. The text is as follows: Licensing Bill: Exemption for
secular music in places of worship

Following further consideration and consultation with faith
groups, the Government has tabled an amendment to the
Licensing Bill that would exempt secular entertainment provided
in places of public religious worship and the provision of
entertainment facilities in such places from the need to obtain a
licence under the Bill when it is enacted. Music for the purposes
of or incidental to a religious service or meeting is already
exempt.

The exemption reflects the current position outside Greater
London. Within Greater London, the provision of secular
entertainment at places of public worship has for many years been
licensable. The amendment the Government has tabled will add
further to the deregulatory measures already contained in the Bill.

The Government also wishes to make plain its intention to exempt
church halls, chapel halls or other similar buildings occupied in
connection with a place of public religious worship, and village
halls, parish or community halls or other similar buildings from
the fees associated with the provision of entertainment or
entertainment facilities under the licensing regime.

Use of such premises to put on entertainment will still require a
licence as such provision can and does give rise to issues of
nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder. However, the Bill
provides for a streamlined and straightforward licensing scheme
with minimum bureaucracy.

In addition, the Guidance to be issued by my Right Honourable
Friend, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, under
the Bill will make it clear that conditions attached to any licences
for such premises must be proportionate to the risks involved,
which are likely to be minimal in most cases.

Where a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol in
premises of this nature, however, the normal licence fee will be
payable. This is entirely in line with existing arrangements.

In addition, those wishing to use village, church and parish halls,
and other community buildings will all be able to take advantage
of the simple and easy notification procedure that the Bill
provides for temporary events.

The precise details of the fee structure will be the subject of
consultation with interested parties.


The Government hopes that religious institutions, music societies
and other community groups will derive great benefit from the
exemptions and that the initiative will further strengthen our drive
to increase the diversity of cultural experience available to people
and communities throughout England and Wales.

Furthermore, the exemptions will bolster the measures already
contained in the Bill that are designed to foster live music by
opening up even further the opportunities for musicians to
perform.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 12:23 PM

One simple question for our MPs to answer.

How can the exemption from the licensing requirement for commercial concerts in churches be justified given the stated objectives of the Bill?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 02:03 PM

You can see a photo of Howells's nice smiling face on the BBC news site.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/2721077.stm


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: John Routledge
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 02:20 PM

We need God on our side.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 06:41 PM

Village Halls too I see - "village halls, parish or community halls or other similar buildings."

But I also note they aren't free from the requirement to be licensed, just that the licence will be free. They'll still be subject to inspections and requirements for public safety and so forth.

In principle that's fair enough - though it could be tricky with some old churches if the inspectors go in with too insensitive demands for alterations.

"Where a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol in premises of this nature, however, the normal licence fee will be payable."

So apparently Holy Communion won't count, since there's no charge. They'd better be careful writing this bit or they could be stirring up trouble. None of this stuff about "money not changing hands", what with church collections...

(But it puts the kybosh on suggestions that we coudl get round the law by saying a prayer or singing a hymn at the start of a session, in a pub anyway.)

One good thing with this is it gets the issues back in the papers, and that should mean a chance for more letters to the press and the MPs about the other changes that are needed in the Bill as it stands. Get ready to write them now, I suggest.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 06:54 PM

and if looks if anyone hires/loans the venue - normal licence and fees still apply....


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 06:58 PM

...In addition, those wishing to use village, church and parish halls, and other community buildings will all be able to take advantage of the simple and easy notification procedure that the Bill provides for temporary events.

The precise details of the fee structure will be the subject of consultation with interested parties.



and if you want a drink at you charity ceilidh......

....Where a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol in premises of this nature, however, the normal licence fee will be payable. This is entirely in line with existing arrangements


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: vectis
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 06:59 PM

Declare "Folking" a new religion. Redesignate pubs as Folking churches and insist that quaffing huge quantities of ale are a religious requirement. Then the music becomes part of a religious service.
Et Voila!!
No PEL needed.

This only sounds totally bonkers if you ignore the fact that Jedi is officially a religion after the last census.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 07:11 PM

The mere provision of a piano in fully inspected pub, already controlled for any problems arising from alcohol, will be classed as an entertainment facilty, making the premises automatically unsafe without an additional licence and leaving the licensee open to a £20,000 fine or 6 months in prison, if a customer should be able to play it. And the pub must pay a annual inspection charge

The same in any church, will not be classed as an entertainment facility and can be played all day and night for conventional commercial public entertainment with no additional licence or controls or penalties.

The same in a village hall will be classed as an entertainment facility, making the premises automatically unsafe without an additional licence and leaving the owner/organiser open to a £20,000 fine or 6 months in prison, if a member of the public should play it, although the fee for the additional licence will not be charged and presumably will not pay the annual inspection charge.

How can this be justified, given the stated objectives of the Bill?

Are they mad, or is it me?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 07:18 PM

I have forgotten that charity fund raisers will be licensable and subject to the fee and annual inspection charges...........

Except now, if held in a church.

Or in village hall, where they will be licesable but not be subject to a fee and annual inspection charges - or will they?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 07:24 PM

The reason for making charity events licesable was that they presented the same issues of nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder as commercial entertainment. As it is now stated, do village halls etc.

But these issues do not apply in churches, or music played from the back of a moving road vehicle or crowds for broadcast TV or music in pubs?????


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 07:27 PM

Thew noirmal way village halls are used is that people wanting to oput on an event will hire it - ie the vikllage hall committee as such don't run activities. So how that bit about people using the villegae hall havig to "take advantage of the simple and easy notification procedure that the Bill provides for temporary events" is going to tie in with the hall having a free licence in any case defeats me.

The thing is, I don't think Kim Howells and the people advising him, have a clue about anything thta happens outside the normal commercial world in which his New Labour mentality is fixated.

I imagine they'll try to use this concession to undermine the petition - now standing at 65277. After all, it mentions the impoact on places of worship as one of the damaging aspects of the Bill, and therefore it is no longer relevant...


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 02:42 AM

Daily Telegraph 04/02/03

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/02/04/nlicen04.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/02/04/ixhome.html


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: mouldy
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 02:54 AM

There's a succinct little piece in the editorial (page 16) of today's Independent. Here it is:

"Praise Be! The most bizarre provision in the Government's Licensing Bill has been dropped. Musical performances in churches and other places of worship will not need to be licensed after all. Kim Howells, the Culture minister, may be a powerful and charismatic man, but he is still a smaller figure than the Almighty.
That still leaves a deeply flawed piece of legislation, possibly the most ill fated since the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991. As the Musicians Union argues, the exemption of churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and chapels does not address the main concern about the extension of licensing to cover small-scale performances in pubs and bars. It is an absurdly statist and crudely bureaucratic intrusion into our creative human rights. We suspect someone high up in the Culture Department just doesn't like folk music in pubs."

Andrea


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:07 AM

The following press coverage will provide us with some openings for our letters to the newspapers concerned.

The Independent
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=375364

The Daily Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/02/04/nlicen04.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/02/04/ixhome.html

The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,888289,00.html


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:15 AM

snip.....As the Musicians Union argues, the exemption of churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and chapels does not address the main concern about the extension of licensing to cover small-scale performances in pubs and bars. It is an absurdly statist and crudely bureaucratic intrusion into our creative human rights. We suspect someone high up in the Culture Department just doesn't like folk music in pubs."


snip....Under current public entertainment licensing law, outside
London, music (only) in "a place of public religious worship or
performed as an incident of a religious meeting or service" is
exempt from needing a licence. "A place of public worship"
means only a place of public religious worship which belongs to
the Church of England or to the Church of Wales or which is for
the time being certified as required by law as a place of religious
worship.
Inside Greater London, churches enjoy no exemption...


?????????


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:21 AM

Sorry Pete

What exactly is your question?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: IanC
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:25 AM

Since the Church of England managed, via the bishops, to persuade Kim Howells to put in this exemption for them, wouldn't it be sensible to work on them now. They've obviously got a persuasive voice.

I'm about to write to The Archbishop of Canterbury, the basis of my letter being essentially the same as my letter to the Church of England Newspaper here. I'll include a list of other activities (like Street Corner Carol Singing and Morris Dancing) not previously caught by legislation and others which were possibly caught, the definition of what constitutes a "performance" in the present legislation not having been tested in the courts (these include Mummers Plays, Music Sessions and Dancing in pubs). I'll also point out that even if they were caught by previous legislation, none of these activities were previously illegal (even if caught, it wasn't a legal matter but a civil licensing issue between pubs and local authorities) and that they will be under the new act (it will now be a criminal offence to perform without a license).

Her's the main burden, though:

In the cause of natural justice, I am very surprised that the church has not shown more solidarity with other groups, also affected. Has the church given up on justice, or is it simply seeking special treatment for itself these days?

:-(


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:30 AM

PRAISE BE!

even if caught, it wasn't a legal matter but a civil licensing issue between pubs and local authorities Not too sure about that bit, perhaps our legal brains can advise?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:54 AM

"A place of public worship"

means only a place of public religious worship which belongs to

the Church of England or to the Church of Wales or which is for the time being certified as required by law as a place of religious worship.


Do we know what this covers - I understand the first two....

;-)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 06:11 AM

Re- Not illegal before -

Pub sessions (over 2 people) in unlicensed premises - would be an illegal event - The Landlord could be charged with a fine of up to £20,000 plus a custodial sentence of six months (this exist at present and is not new to the proposals) - If musicians, singers etc. were aware no license existed - they could be charged with aiding and abetting.

Busking et al are locally normally dealt with by the Police using bylaws, obstruction, public nuisance etc - an arrestable offence - would think illegal...


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 07:29 AM

It certainly means that commercial entertainment that will require all sorts of extra bells and whistles in perfectly safe pubs can take place all of our old C of E churches, many if not most of them, which do not even have adequate public toilet facilites.

With no restrictions needed on the type, volume of music or when it can start or finish or how many can attend. And no concern for issues of nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder, which are a concern in pubs and village halls etc, all of which at least have adequate public toilet facities and much more besides.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 07:40 AM

I think a more subtle question - which we won't get answered! - is why the government thinks it appropriate to distinguish between unlicenced churches and licenced-at-zero-charge village halls. Weren't the objections raised by the churches to do with the cost of licencing? And doesn't the Minster insist that the councils will not impose unreasonable costs for the inspections, etc?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 08:10 AM

The paragraph about "current public entertainment licensing law" and the Church of England is bringing out the point that the present law (ie before the Bill going through Parliament becomes law) is highly discriminatory against most places of worship, which of course are not C of E. The new law will not make this distinction, they say, it'll apply on the same basis to churches of all denominations, chapels, meeting houses, mosques, synagogues and temples. (Would Stonehenge count?)

I suspect it'll end up on the same basis as council tax - if it's a place of worship for council tax purposes, it'll be a place of worship for licensing purposes.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 08:20 AM

These minimal changes don't address any of the basic objections to these ludicrous proposals, and merely create more absurdities. It is difficult to see why it's safe for me to sing Dirty Old Town in a church, but not in a pub.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: IanC
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 08:46 AM

re: "not a lwegal matter" ... what i meant was "not a CRIMINAL matter". This is, I think, correct.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 09:30 AM

Right, three letters (basically the same letter rejigged each time) sent off to:

The Guardian - letters@guardian.co.uk
The Daily Telegraph - dtletters@telegraph.co.uk
The Independent - letters@independent.co.uk

Here's the Guardian version:

The news that Kim Howells is backing away from hammering music in churches and other places of worship is good news.

But his Licensing Bill is still going to hammer music-making in all other public places which don't have the designated licence, in clear breach of a promise by Kim Howells last summer on BBC2 that it would not affect music sessions and singarounds "As long as money isn't changing hands".(BBC 2 July 17th, Mike Harding)

The assumption throughout the Bill is that making music is always a matter of proprietors "putting on events" - completely missing the fact that very often its the matter of proprietors allowing people to make music for their own pleasure. That's what happens when people get together for folk sessions, or singarounds. Even the pub piano is now going to have to be locked up to prevent anyone playing it, in any pubs that haven't gone for the entertainment extension on its licence application. (And that has been clearly stated in a Departmental press release - it is not a "myth" put out by the Musicians' Union.)

Moreover the licensing requirement doesn't just apply to pubs - it applies to any public place. Why is there no music in coffee bars in England these days? Because the two-in-a-bar extension didn't apply to them. And the ban on music in the very places that fifty years ago gave us the whole musical explosion of skiffle that led on to the Beatles and their successors on one hand, and people like Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy on the other - it is going to continue.

And this is the Minister of Culture? I get the impression he has somewhat the same approach as that indicated in the words generally attributed to Hermann Goering "When I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver."

Bottom line - if you don't want the law to threaten some kinds of musical activities, Kim Howells, put a specifc exemption in the Act that will ensure it isn't used in ways you do not intend. Don't just issue statements accusing other people of lies - stop telling them yourself.


Whether any of them get in is questionable. But the important thing is thta tehy get a bunch of letters from other people as well, to prod them into seeing this as a story that shoudl be covered in the news columns.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 09:36 AM

McGrath: I don't know if you want to try to recover from this one, but Kim Howells can assert he made no such statement - because it was on Radio 2, not BBC2. A small error, but I don't trust DCMS to treat this error sensibly.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 09:58 AM

You're right there - though any such comment would just draw more attention to it. I've just sent them a correction anyway, which might have the effect of getting someone to look at the letter twice anyway. (And if anyone is moved to chase up a story it'll mean they aren't sent in the wrong direction.)

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: Wolfgang
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 10:24 AM

As a minor aside to McGrath's letter (and not as an error correction, for the wording is careful enough in that sentence):

The citation often attributed to Goering (you may also find attributions to Goebbels) originally comes from a book by Hanns Johst, a Nazi writer. Goebbels or Goering or both may have cited it more or less approvingly. As far as I know the original wording is (in translation): "When I hear the word culture, I release the safety catch of my pistol".

As I said, a minor aside remark not meant to detract you from your your fight.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: IanC
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 11:48 AM

Clansfolk

... which is for the time being certified as required by law as a place of religious worship.

Places of worship in the UK have a certificate. All this means is other churches than the established church. This would include Mosques, Temples, Gudwaras, riends Meeting Houses etc. etc. etc. The "from time to time" indicates hat these buildings are not always permanent (i.e. a building may be hired etc.).

:-)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 11:53 AM

And is getting a certificate easier than getting a licence-and-inspection? :-)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:08 PM

Yes, and the book where I checked that quote said it wasn't actually Goering. But if I'd said "in the words of Hanns Joechst", no one here has ever heard of him, so I'd have had to get into explanations about who he was. I imagine that is the reason why quotes from obscure people get reallocated to famous ones.

So I wrote my way round it, as Wolfgang noticed, avoiding actually ascribing it to Goering.

That quote about "I never heard a horse sing" was very likely actually said by some bloke noone has ever heard of, but people like to have a name and a face and an image to attach to a remark like that, which isn't quite a proverb.

And even where the quotes are correctly ascribed, the chances are more often and not that they'd picked them up from someone talking on the bus or whatever. And when they are wrongly ascribed, it' only too likely that the one who is said to have come up with them did actually say them at some later time.

As they say: "I wish I'd said that" "You will, Oscar, you will."


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: IanC
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:11 PM

Copy of my letter to The Archbish. I think it may be worth targetting him and other bishops as they have managed to get away with it and are likely to have a conscience. Also, Bishops have a vote in the House of Lords!

Rowan Williams
The Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
LONDON
SE1 7JU

4th February 2003

Dear Rowan Williams

I read with interest the government's recent announcement that it is to exempt entertainment in churches from its recent Licensing Bill.

"Government announces licence exemption for entertainment in churches

The Government today announced it will amend its Licensing Bill so that places of public worship across the country will not need a licence to put on entertainment performances of any kind.

The announcement follows concerns that the Government's original proposal - to make performance of secular music in places of public worship licensable throughout the country - would threaten the future of church music."

I would like to say that, whilst I am pleased that churches have been made exempt from the bill, I am puzzled by what seems to be the attitude shown by the Church of England in working to make itself exempt from the licensing restrictions without apparently seeking to gain exemption for other activities which are similarly affected.

You are probably aware that there are many other perfectly innocent activities which the bill, as it is currently worded, would make licensable – with punishments of up to a £20,000 fine and 6 months imprisonment for doing them without a license. Things which are newly covered by the bill would include outside activities as well as others not previously included such as:

 Morris Dancing
 Carol Singing
 Playing a piano in a pub

Other activities where the legality was ambiguous will also be made unambiguously illegal, with greatly increased penalties. These include:

 Singarounds in a pub
 Mummers plays
 Dancing in pubs

Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive.

As far as I am aware, the exemption for churches was gained by the fact that one or more Anglican bishops have the ear of the minister and that he was sympathetic to their suggestions. Whilst I applaud the fact that something has been done to lessen the effect of this bill, I am sure that you will be aware that this lobbying activity will lay the Church open to possible accusations that it is only really interested in acting on its own behalf rather than trying to seek justice for all.

In the cause of natural justice, could I urge you most strongly to support the other groups of people who will be unjustly penalised by this bill. If it is not possible to gain the ear of the minister in this matter, could you at least urge your bishops to support the amendment to be moved on report by Lord Beaumont of Whitley, which at least alleviates most of the worst injustices.

Please accept my thanks for your kind attention in this matter.

Yours sincerely
Ian Chandler


:-)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:18 PM

IanC - cheers - basically what I had presumed but couldn't find a reference - and one has to be careful presuming anything where the proposals are concerned...

Pete


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:25 PM

That's good Ian. It hit's the right note. An implied criticism, but not actually stated, which I suspect makes it more effective.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:29 PM

... which is for the time being certified as required by law as a place of religious worship.

This would rule out the use of redundent churche buildings of course.

Does anyone know how many of our churches even have public toilets etc?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:36 PM

I note the exemption for religious servives does not appear to be limited to buildings - I imagine if it had been the Salkvation Army would have been making a noise about it.

That might be a way of getting round the restrictions for carol singers, and maybe some other things. Not that "getting round the law" is the right way to go about getting it changed.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: IanC
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 12:46 PM

Kevin

Actually, it would affect Sally Army street corner bands as well as pub performances (which they do around Christmas time). Neither of these are religious services as such.

My contacts with them suggest that they are concerned but are keeping a watching brief. Quite a few of them may well have signed up to the petition, but they are fairly quietist in general and may just do what they think is allowed.

They could be quite sound allies in the case of the bill outlawing certain acivities, as they might well get militant if pushed too far. I'm in touch with them and will liaise as appropriate.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 01:00 PM

A little ammunition?

Dr Kim Howells on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme 26 November 2002.
KH The churches in London, for example have been subject to a licensing regime for 40 years. There are big churches that hold very big concerts for profit. And if something was to go wrong inside one of those churches, there was a fire or something else happened, the Local Authorities that have to inspect those premises would really be in trouble and they have to be paid for those functions. .That's why there has to be a licence - its to do with public safety.

Dr Kim Howells on BBC Radio 3 Money Matters 26 January 2003
KH It certainly is a lot of money and that is why I want to make sure that churches are exempted from having to pay it.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 01:22 PM

There's no definition in the act for "religious services". From Sally Army street corner meetings I've listened to, I'm pretty they'd qualify as religious services - and in any case the term used in present law is "a religious meeting or service."


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:04 PM

I imagine they'll try to use this concession to undermine the petition - now standing at 65277. After all, it mentions the impoact on places of worship as one of the damaging aspects of the Bill, and therefore it is no longer relevant...

For that reason, its going to be important whether or not people continue to sign and at what rate. If, over the next week or so, it still keeps being signed as now, it would be quite difficuly to argue that it is primarily church licencing people objected to.

On the other hand, it would be a good idea if Graham Dixon could somehow add a rider to the site - but not the petition text itself as that would invalidate the petition - that the government has conceeded churches and, to a lessor extent, village halls etc and that people should only sign if they are concerned about other issues. Can anyone contact him and find out if this is possible?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: Snuffy
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 09:44 AM

Wolfgang & McGrath, I have heard that the Goering/Goebbels remark was actually a double entendre:

When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning!

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 02:24 PM

That appears to be true: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning."

And here is Alan Bennett's twist on it: "She was talking of her contemporaries, how she had spoken last week with Hemingway and how Ernest had said, When I reach for my gun, I hear the word culture" (from Forty Years on)


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: Wolfgang
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 02:49 PM

There have been many parodies on this line.

In a film (Godard?) an American producer says the sentence: "When I hear the word culture, I take out my cheque-book". To which someone replies: "The Nazis said, my revolver".

Or Muggeridge: "When I hear the word gun I reach for my culture"

'Browning' seems to be correct, but there is no double entendre in the German as cited by McGrath.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 09:40 AM

Dorset Evening Echo February 5
By Naomi Wright


Communities across Dorset are celebrating today as licensing fees for village halls are set to be scrapped.

Concerns were raised by South Dorset MP Jim Knight and community leaders about the effects the Government's new Licensing Bill could have on local venues including places of worship.

Many people feared the new rules would increase the cost of these venues holding local events but now the Government has moved to exempt village halls and community groups from licensing fees when the new Bill come into force later this year.

Mr Knight said: "I took the message directly to the Government and the minister gave me his assurance that the Government will amend the Bill to make places of worship effectively exempt." This has now been done and they have gone further in extending this exemption to village halls, parish or community halls and similar buildings."
He said the exemption will be a huge relief to local communities. "It will mean these groups will not have to pay the fees associated with the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities." The Government will also make it easier for village and community halls to host events at short notice by making use of the easy notification procedure the Bill provides for temporary events." He added.

Mr Knight said he hopes the new moves will help clarify the Bill's aims, which is to provide a straightforward scheme with less bureaucracy and more accountability for local people.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 01:56 PM

'The Government will also make it easier for village and community halls to host events at short notice by making use of the easy notification procedure the Bill provides for temporary events." He added.'


But they'll still need to pay to get some kind of licence to hold these events, but without having to make structural alterations.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 02:11 PM

And in spite of this concession, it is still going to be the law that it will be a legal requirement that any public place in England and Wales will have to have a licence covering the activity is used by anyone to make music, or it will be a crimninal offence. It's just that in some cases, such as churches, the licences won't cost money.

True enough, it won't be consistently enforced, it'll just be enforced as and when the authorities decide to do so - and that makes resisting it with mass civil disobedience difficult, because they'll just ignore it. That's how they do things in England, permissive repression. The position is summed up perfectly in the verse from the Magna Carta monologue:

And on account of that Great Magna Carta
What was signed by the barons of old
In England today you d]can do what you like
So long as you do what you're told.


In other words, you might be allowed to get away with all kind of things - but never forget, that because the people in charge are being tolerant, it doesn't mean you've got any right to do them. Which is essentially like being a slave with a benevolent owner.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 02:27 PM

More correctly any place in England and Wales EXCEPT places of religious worship. All of which will be now exempt from any entertainment licensing controls as they are not considered to present any "issues of nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder".

Village Halls etc do present these concens, will have be licensed but will not have to pay.

'The Government will also make it easier for village and community halls to host events at short notice by making use of the easy notification procedure the Bill provides for temporary events." He added.'

I think this is a reference to alcohol as they would not need a temporary licence if they did nor serve alcohol, or would they?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 03:50 PM

indeed! or would they?


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 04:29 PM

Isn't it that religious services in any place don't need a licence, even where they have music, but that places of worship will need a licence for things that aren't religious services which involve music and so forth? But they won't have to pay for it. (Just for the adaptations that are required...)

And I was puzzled by that business about village halls hosting events. I took it that it was about where the event isn't being put on by the village hall committee as such, but they have lent or hired it to some other organisation. But you could well be right - they are as incapable of saying what they mean as they are of meaning what they say.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Feb 03 - 05:16 PM

DCMS 03/02/03

Following further consideration and consultation with faith
groups, the Government has tabled an amendment to the
Licensing Bill that would exempt secular entertainment provided
in places of public religious worship and the provision of
entertainment facilities in such places from the need to obtain a
licence under the Bill when it is enacted.

Music for the purposes of or incidental to a religious service or meeting is already exempt.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: vindelis
Date: 09 Feb 03 - 10:56 AM

What would be the situation for Church Halls? they are not, by definition, places of worship, therefore one would assume that they would require a licence.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Feb 03 - 11:01 AM

Just what has this Government got against acoustic folk music?

Howells in The Stage.

I realise that some people believe a licence should not be required for unamplified music as existing legislation provides sufficient safeguards. However, I do not accept that certain types of music, such as acoustic folk music, are never noisy and should therefore be excluded from the new regime.

If a concert of this "acoustic folk music" is not to be excluded from the new licensing regime, how is is this to be possible, If this concert should be held in a place of public religious worship?

Where the Government now consider there to be no "issues of nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder" and which exempts "secular entertainment provided in places of public religious worship and the provision of entertainment facilities in such places from the need to obtain a licence under the Bill when it is enacted.


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Subject: RE: Churches now exempt from PELs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 03 - 11:50 AM

Those words seem unambiguous enough, Shambles, but I don't trust press releases about this, I'd need to see the actual words of the amendment.


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