Mudcat Café message #882059 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56416   Message #882059
Posted By: clansfolk
04-Feb-03 - 04:27 AM
Thread Name: PEL - A Reply From An MP.
Subject: RE: PEL - A Reply From An MP.
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms,

Re:Licensing Bill


I have received your fax via the FaxYourMP.com website, and you will be pleased to know that instead of signing the EDM, I had a meeting with the Minister to raises issues of concern and he was able to offer me many reassurances.

I attach a copy of that letter and also detailed explanatory notes.

I hope you will find the information reassuring.
If I can be of assistance to you in any other matter in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I send you my best wishes and assure you of my best attention at all times.
Yours sincerely

Joan Humble MP Blackpool North & Fleetwood Constituency

--------------------------------------------------------------


Joan Humble MP House of Commons LONDON SW1AOAA

21 January 2003


Dear Colleague

                        LICENSING BILL AND MUSIC

I know that many of your constituents - entertainers and people who like to be entertained - are very concerned about the effect that the Licensing Bill might have on live music and other forms of entertainment. This is not surprising, given some of the colourful myths that have been put about by the publicity and publicists representing the Musician's Union. Those myths are jeopardising the enormous liberalisation of the law surrounding entertainment for the public that the Bill represents. They are threatening the very interests they claim to be protecting. I am writing to dispel some of those myths and, I hope, to reassure your constituents, many of whom I know are suffering a great deal of unnecessary anxiety.

For example, it is not true that people will have to get a licence to hire a band to perform at their daughters' wedding, unless they decide to throw it open for the general public or charge for entry.

It is not true that spontaneously singing happy birthday in a restaurant will get you clapped in irons for not having a licence - it obviously will not be a licensable activity and it is inconceivable that any Government of this country would ever seek to make it so.

Music lessons, the testing of equipment in music shops, rehearsal rooms -none of these will need licences, as any rational person would expect. Broadcasting studios to which the general public are not admitted will not be licensable. Church bell ringing - which is not an organised event provided for the public - will not need a licence. We are not banning folk singing, Morris dancing or anything else.

This is just a selection of the more colourful myths. There is one, however, that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that is the position regarding the so-called two-in-a-bar rule.

Let me set out what the two-in-a-bar rule is, why we are getting rid of it, what we are putting in its place and why we believe that it will result in a vast increase in the opportunities for performers of all types - not just one or two musicians - to ply their trade.



INVESTOR IN PEOPLE

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The two-in-a-bar rule is an exemption under the Licensing Act 1964 that allows two performers - and that is two all night, not two and two and two - to perform live music in a pub without needing a public entertainment licence under the current system in addition to a justices' licence to sell alcohol. I understand why musicians and publicans are attached to the rule. Because of huge inconsistencies in the way local authorities set fees for public entertainment licences - in some areas, particularly in London, the fees can run into many thousands of pounds - many pubs are put off from applying for one. The fall back position is that they rely on the two-in-a-bar rule, which as a result, reduces the range of entertainment available in pubs.

The Bill will abolish the rule, for a number of very sound reasons, none of which are to do with a wish to restrict opportunities for performers to perform - quite the reverse.

First of all, the effect of the rule is very restrictive - it restricts drastically the forms of entertainment that may be carried out. Only entertainment consisting of one or two performers of live music is exempt. Anything beyond that - including the performers combining live music with sound recording-requires an additional public entertainment licence. The perverse effect of the rule is that many types of music and other forms of entertainment are discouraged by reliance on the existence of the rule. Furthermore, this means that the range of cultural experience available to the general public is narrowed severely.

Secondly, the rule is anachronistic. It is quite possible for a single performer using amplified equipment to give rise to considerably greater nuisance than four or even more entertainers performing acoustically. The Government simply does not accept that live music in pubs is never a source of disturbance. The Institute of Acoustics lists "amplified and non-amplified music, singing and speech sourced from inside the premises" as a principle source of noise disturbance from pubs, clubs and other similar premises. In addition, the provision of entertainment can - and does - give rise to issues of public safety and crime and disorder in certain circumstances.

So we are abolishing the two-in-a-bar rule.
What we are putting in its place is a simple, cheap and streamlined licensing system that should encourage - if industry makes full use of the reforms - a huge opening up of the opportunities for performing all sorts of regulated entertainment.

Focusing on pubs - as that is where the current exemption is most visible - pubs will need a premises licence to sell alcohol - it is a simple as that. They will have to go through the application procedure and pay the applicable fee if they want to sell alcohoL It will cost them nothing extra - nothing at all - to seek at the same time authorisation in the premises licence to put on regulated entertainment in any of its diverse forms.

Where no representations are received on the licence, it will be granted automatically. Compare this with the current system where huge fees for a public entertainment licence - as much as 20,000 in some areas - act as a considerable deterrent to pubs obtaining such licences.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The Government is very firm in its belief that the combination of the abolition of the two-in-a-bar rule with the much simpler and cheaper licensing system should open up the opportunities for entertainers to perform. But that will only happen if industry makes maximum use of the reforms. With the current level of myth, mischief and misinformation that is being generated by a small number of individuals with links to the Musician's Union, it would be quite understandable if the industry ran a mile.

I hope I have made the case that the new system should be better, freer, and provide greater opportunity for the public to be exposed to a much broader range of cultural provision.

I have set out an overview of the position in this letter. I enclose a leaflet that explains in more detail the benefits of the Licensing Bill for live music and entertainment of all forms. If you require any further information about the Bill and its effect on live music - or anything else for that matter - my officials stand ready to answer any questions you might have.


DR KIM HOWELLS MP