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PELs Government v MU & lawyers

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The Shambles 22 Jan 03 - 07:14 PM
The Shambles 22 Jan 03 - 07:26 PM
The Shambles 23 Jan 03 - 05:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 05:52 AM
The Shambles 23 Jan 03 - 05:54 AM
GUEST,Dave Eyre 23 Jan 03 - 06:09 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 06:17 AM
The Shambles 23 Jan 03 - 09:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 11:13 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 12:26 PM
The Shambles 23 Jan 03 - 02:08 PM
DMcG 23 Jan 03 - 02:28 PM
DMcG 23 Jan 03 - 03:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 04:20 PM
DMcG 23 Jan 03 - 04:44 PM
The Shambles 23 Jan 03 - 07:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 07:25 PM
pavane 24 Jan 03 - 02:48 AM
Nigel Parsons 24 Jan 03 - 04:02 AM
DMcG 24 Jan 03 - 04:46 AM
Mr Happy 24 Jan 03 - 05:20 AM
smallpiper 24 Jan 03 - 05:20 AM
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Subject: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 07:14 PM

http://pub22.bravenet.com/forum/fetch.php?id=9982048&usernum=1824620545

The above is where you can read both sides of the story, it is very long but here is the MU's bit, the DCMS does not appear to be on their site, but I have posted it on Graham Dixon's petition site.

The following from Hamish Birchall


The MU today held a press conference to address accusations by Kim Howells that the Union is leading objectors to the Bill in a 'pernicious lying campaign'.

Two independent lawyers were present, neither representing the Union. Both have studied the Bill closely. Both share MU concerns about the scope of the Bill's definitions and the implications for live music, particularly folk and jazz.

They were invited as representatives of the legal profession with particular concerns about the Licensing Bill: Chris Hepher, an expert in licensing law, with 20 years experience working in the PEL and liquor licensing field; and Robin Bynoe, a music business solicitor and amateur musician who assisted in drafting some of the amendments during the Bill's Committee stage (which is now over - the next 'Report Stage' should take place within the next 3-4 weeks).

Journalists from The Times, Daily Telegraph and The Stage attended. Interestingly, the Department for Culture sent along an 'observer' who took copious notes. She also provided us with a statement from Howells who maintained the Party line: the MU are scaremongers, and their claims about the Bill are 'fantasy'. Both the lawyers, on the other hand, completely endorsed our claims.

The DCMS have now provided a comprehensive commentary in response to MU concerns, and the concerns of other groups (see below). As a statement of intent, some of it is welcome (i.e. no wish to licence private events where musicians charge a fee etc). However, this intent is not - yet - reflected in the words of the Bill. You may also notice some rather slippery justifications.

I apologise for the amount of information, but I think it is better that you have the complete document rather than edited sections. If you can find time to read it all, please keep a few points in mind, particularly in relation to the safety and noise justifications for licensing:

This Bill criminalises almost any public music-making - unless licensed - however small in scale.

Many categories of currently exempt private performance are also caught - again, however small in scale.

No licensing regime that criminalises an activity will be 'light touch', however cheap the fees.

The exemption for broadcast entertainment means that premises (any place, not just pubs) can install multiple widescreens and powerful sound systems without a licence under this Bill.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) objected to this exemption on crime and disorder grounds. Tackling crime was the government's main selling point of the Bill.

Under the entertainment facilities section of Schedule 1 (para 3) there is no requirement for an audience to be present (READ SCHEDULE 1) - this applies to bell ringing, music shops, rehearsal rooms and music studios. They are all facilities for music making, provided for the public 'for the purpose, or purposes that include the purpose, of being entertained.'

The Joint Committee on Human Rights report on the Bill said the government had provided no justification for criminalising all musicians who perform without first checking that a premises is licensed. They commented that the explanation offered was an attempt 'to pull the Bill up by its own bootstraps'.

In England, as in Scotland, there is nothing stopping licensing justices imposing noise or safety conditions on the grant of liquor licences. Licensing justices continue to use this power in spite of the fact that there is guidance (without statutory force) advising against the practice. Setting a 'safe capacity' in this manner is relatively common in London and Birmingham. Otherwise, all health and safety and noise legislation in Scotland is exactly the same as in England - it is shared legislation, unlike licensing which is separate.

The case law precedent from 1899 determined that where two (or possibly more) pub customers made music for their own amusement on a pub piano, on a weekly basis, unpaid - this was exempt from licensing as public entertainment.

The Licensing Bill would not only render this activity illegal unless licensed, but also the provision the piano is itself a criminal offence without a licence!


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 07:26 PM

This snippet is very interesting and goes to the heart of the fight to exempt folk sessions under current legislation........There have wriggled out of one trick postition into another one. It is difficult to see from the following how local authorities can continue to dismiss this case as not relevant to including unpaid customers making music as 'performers'.

3. Entertainment in places where alcohol is sold
3.1 It has been claimed that "110,000 on-licensed premises in England and Wales would lose their automatic right to allow one or two musicians to work. A form of this limited exemption from licensing control dates back to at least 1899."

3.2 This point is disingenuous. In 1899, the courts held that impromptu performances by customers were not licensable, but performances given by a customer or any musician "for a consideration" were licensable. The Report of the Royal Commission on Licensing (England and Wales) 1929 – 1931 (paragraph 249) confirmed this interpretation of the law. Working musicians were therefore not exempted as claimed. The "two in a bar rule" was introduced by the Licensing Act 1964. The Bill does abolish the "two in a bar rule" but introduces new arrangements whereby any pub may obtain permission to stage live musical events at no extra cost when obtaining permission to sell alcohol.

3.3 Under existing legislation all public performances of music in licensed premises are licensable. The only exemption is provided by the "two in a bar" rule, which allows two musicians or less to perform without a public entertainment licence when a Justices' Licence is held.

3.4 We are abolishing the two in a bar rule for two very good reasons. 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 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.

3.5 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. It is equally the case that the public safety issues that the Bill addresses can arise where there are one or only two performers. It is therefore important that the likely risks are considered and proportionate steps taken to address them if necessary.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:45 AM

Some good support in The Times leader today 21 Jan 2003 At last we appear to be getting through. Please circulate this influential opinion, which will make people sit up and take notice all over the world.........

Howells of anguish
The Culture Minister is mistaken about music in pubs


When the Culture Minister Kim Howells visited last year's Turner Prize exhibition he was confronted with rubbish masquerading as the product of deep thinking. To his credit, Mr Howells derided the petit dejeuners a chien served up by Nicholas Serota as "cold, mechanised, conceptual bullshit".

It is, therefore, a great shame that Mr Howells is now pandering to a closed elite who hold the public in almost as much contempt as the preening peacocks of BritArt — new Labour's nannying tendency. How else can we interpret the minister's desire to push ahead with legislation which would curtail the ability of licensed premises to provide the type of entertainment they have offered for more than a century?

Since the days of Queen Victoria, pubs have been able to provide live music, without having to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops, as long as the number of musicians performing is less than three. Now that rule is to be changed by the Licensing Bill which Mr Howells has introduced. The Bill is supposed to be a liberalising measure. So it might be expected that a Government which supports the arts and hopes to foster a cafe society would relax old rules and promote live performance.

Mr Howells, however, is insisting that the current anomaly be removed by making the regulations more restrictive. He wants to make it a criminal offence for even one musician to pick up a penny whistle in a pub, unless they have gone to the trouble of acquiring an entertainment licence. A single folk singer with a badly tuned guitar is thus treated as a noisesome threat on a par with the Monsters of Rock festival, requiring bureaucratic approval before he or she can hum a few bars in the local.

Mr Howells argues that amplification can allow a single musician with an electric guitar to put on a rowdier show than a string quartet and so he is only acting equitably. But his is the equity of the wet blanket. And an illogical wet blanket at that. For the Licensing Bill will not restrict the ability of pubs to show television, amplified by powerful speakers, which could produce a great deal more noise than any pair of balladeers.

Excessive noise from pubs and clubs can blight the lives of those who live near by. But most complaints have nothing to do with live music and everything to do with those who are dead drunk. If Mr Howells ploughs ahead with his plans then he will be bracketed with every puritan who has tried to bind the human spirit with fetters made of red tape. He will be up there with Cromwell, the banner of theatres, and Patricia Hewitt, the nannying crusader against idiosyncracy. Surely he cannot want to sing from their song sheet?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:52 AM

That's good. The Guardian, of course, had nothing. Since that is probably the paper read by more folkies than any other - going by the piles of papers at folk festivals - I think we should be entitled to feel pissed off at them, and say so. (I suspect there are reportes on te Guardian who also feel pretty pissed off at this.)

I've written and told them so; I thinkit would do no harm at all for others to do the same. Constant dripping wears away a stone. Drip on.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:54 AM

Also in The Times.

Music Bill attack 'pure fantasy'
By Jack Malvern, Arts Reporter


A ROW between the Government and musicians escalated yesterday when Kim Howells, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, accused critics of his Licensing Bill of indulging in fantasy.

The Musicians' Union, which is proposing to sever its 80-year-old ties with the Labour Party, claims that Dr Howells's Bill will prevent live performers from playing at any event from weddings to carol singing on the street. A spokesman has accused the minister of incompetence in drafting the Bill.

Dr Howells stood by earlier comments that the union was spreading "a pernicious lying campaign". He said: "The problem with the union is that it is good at dishing it out, but no good at taking it. What it is saying is nonsense. It thinks that a postman walking down a street and whistling will need a licence."

But the union cited work by Robin Allen, QC, which claims that a literal interpretation of the law would prevent customers in a music shop testing an instrument before purchase.

A spokesman added that while the law would not be enforced in the most extreme cases, it was open to abuse by malicious parties.

Gill Alexander, a music teacher from Needham, Norfolk, said that she would leave the country if the new law prevented her from holding informal charity jazz concerts in her barn. A literal reading of the Bill suggests that she would have to apply for a "premises licence" because the concerts raise money.

Dr Howells, who described last year's Turner Prize entries as "conceptual ********", added: "Claims that activities such as rehearsing in a rehearsal studio, carol singing on someone's door step, or trying out a guitar in a music shop will be licensable are pure fantasy. I hope that the Musicians' Union will acknowledge this."


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: GUEST,Dave Eyre
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:09 AM

~I am not sure if this point has been made before but "vehicles" are specifically exempt. (schedule 2 para 10 page 110).

This means that 200 lorries with large sound systems can go past my door making one hell of a racket - let's call it the Notting Hill Carnival - and do so perfectly legally - and one fiddle player can be fined £20,000 and/or get six months.

Ludicrous.

Dave Eyre
Holmfirth Festival
www.holmfirthfestival.co.uk
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:17 AM

Actually, the DCMS spiel heartens me quite a bit.

First, it's clear that they know they're losing the media battle and have to come up with something a bit more definite (and this is much more definite thatn anything we've had so far.

Second, it it obvious we've got them on the run and, if this statement is taken as underlying guidance in conjunction with the bill, there are already a number of useful concessions.

Finally, it provides a basis on which to argue specific points. For example, it says that bellringing is not licensable, but fails to include Peals, Quarter Peals and other sundry performances (registered as peerformances, by the way) which would undoubtedly be "caught".

I'll try and go through the document for specific things which people may want to query via their MPs etc. as I think we very much need to do the work and get much more specific now.

Bravo, Kimmie!
;-)


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 09:50 AM

So the same instrument can be played to entertain. Licensable

For education                                    - Not ""
For sale/demonstration                           - Not ""

So all our instruments are for sale and we are playing them for demonstration, not to emtertain - Not Licensable. Simple?

I think we must insist that the DCMS listen and are are guided by the by the MU. For these people have no idea of what they are talking about, for enforcing this madness is totally impossible.

Trailing bare wires through an audience indeed. This a hazard caused by and and only applicable to MUSIC?????? This is just simply not good enough........

But we must remember that the words that matter are those in the Bill.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 11:13 AM

The one encouraging thing about that bumf from the Department of Silly Walks is that it completely fails to address the possibility of people wishing to play for their own enjoyment, either in pubs or in other public places.

That means that it would not involve any formal climbdown on the part of the Department if it were to accept an amendment to the exemption part of the bill, saying for example : "The provision of any entertainment or entertainment facilities or participation in such activities where the primary purpose is for the mutual enjoyment of performers is not to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment for the purposes of this Act".

All that it would mean would be that the promises made by Kim Howells on that Mike Harding show would be incorporated into the Act. Which of course is what he intended all along...

I think that is what we should be asking our MPs to ensure happens.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 12:26 PM

Here's my take on the DCMS document. We may also need to provide some case studies and query how these would be dealt with.

Regulation of Entertainment Under the Licensing Bill
(a response)

2.4 "All performances will be licensable if the public are admitted"

This is an enormous increase in regulation, and is the essence of what people are protesting about. In pubs, it is clearly far more restrictive than the old "two in a bar rule". Outside of pubs it regulates a whole swathe of things, from Morris Dancing to Carol Singing, which have never been previously regulated.

It is, perhaps, worth remembering that the "two in a bar" exemption was introduced because previous bad regulation in pubs meant that the law as it stood was untenable. This bill is simply going back to that state of affairs, and it's almost inevitable that a similar exemption will eventually be needed.

Impromptu perfomances are quite clearly caught by this, and there is nowhere in the bill, at present, where these are exempted.

2.6 The second condition ...

Perhaps I'm being completely thick, but what does his actually mean? If entertainment is provided in a premises, surely the premises are being made available for the purpose. Is it trying to suggest that this must be the prime purpose? If so, perhaps the Plain English people should get involved.

2.7 The Description of Entertainment ...

Here, I may just be misreading it but does the "where the entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience ..." bit refer to the whole list or just the last item?

2.8 An antique piano in a pub that was only provided for decorative effect would not give rise to the need for a license. And a license would not be required if the pub operator did not allow the public to play it. A license would only be required if it was used to entertain people at the premises or by people on the premises to entertain themselves.

Again this is a new restriction. There is an age-old tradition of a single pianist leading a sing-song (often a customer) or being hired to provide entertainment in pubs. Even if they were otherwise not licensable, impromptu performances on a piano would be licensable, according to this, because the piano is itself licensable.

3.4 We are abolishing the two in a bar rule ...

3.5 Secondly, the rule is anachronistic ...

These paragraphs define the essentially restrictive nature of the bill as regards entertainment in pubs. This is not a deregulatory bill as far as entertainment is concerned. Quite the contrary.

(as 2.4 above) It is, perhaps, worth remembering that the "two in a bar" exemption was introduced because previous bad regulation in pubs meant that the law as it stood was untenable. This bill is simply going back to that state of affairs, and it's almost inevitable that a similar exemption will eventually be needed.

3.6 What we are putting in place ...

Since the great majority of opportunities for music making (both numerically and in terms of variety) are presently free, this is simply not true.

11.1 The Government requires certain types of entertainment ...

Since item 2.4 has already stated that "All performances will be licensable if the public are admitted", it is clear that what we are talking about here is essentially all forms of entertainment. The approach is a scattergun one, with one or two exemption (e.g. for a performance which is part of a religious sevice).

12 Folk music and traditional activities such as ...

12.1 There is no reason why ...

Many of these traditional acivities have been carried out in ignorance of an existing rule which can be interpreted as making them illegal. The bill interprets them so that they will be clearly illegal under the same circumstances. If they are not affected, it will be because people will continue to carry them out but, now clealy in breach of the law.

As it states that a venue is any place, the bill will now require entertainment outside to be licensed. This was not a requirement previously. It is actually difficlut to see how people dancing outside can actually obtain a license, so that it will not be possible to carry out these acivities legally.

12.2 In addition, spontaneous singing and dancing would not be caught.

As the bill is currently worded, this is simply untrue.

14.1 Carol singers ...

As the bill is currently worded, this is simply untrue.

15.1 Church bell ringing would not be licensable.

This may be true of service ringing and practises but, as the bill is currently worded, this is untrue of all church bell ringing. Peals, quarter peals and other miscellaneous performances are, in fact, recorded by the ringing fraternity as perfomances and have, in general, no relationship to a religious service. They are quite clearly musical and have a public audience (it would be difficult to se how members of the public could fail to be an audience), so they would be licensable within the act as it is now written.

16 Spontaneous singing.

16.1 Section 2 above ...

Section 2.4 above states "All performances will be licensable if the public are admitted". In circumstance where members of the public are admitted, therefore, spontaneous singing would be licensable according to the bill as at present written.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 02:08 PM

Interesting stuff, I would just add that the words 'impromptu' and 'spontaneous' do not appear and are not defined in the Bill. The DCMS by keep digging them up, is just confusing things even more. If that was possible.

It is quite obvious from this document, that they do know why they are licensing entertainment.

Or why a piano needs to be treated as if it were a dangerous weapon.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 02:28 PM

The DCMS response says, in a couple of places, that a charge can be made without the need for a licence, providing it is "to cover costs". For example, Performances at places such as hospitals and old people's homes would also not be licensable unless the public were able to attend, or a charge was made to those inhabitants or patients who attended with a view to do more than cover costs.


Apart from the fact that I can't see anywhere that this is included in the bill, it implies some sort of complicated accounting. For example, if a club makes a profit one week and a loss the next so that overall no profit is made, is a licence required? Are we allowed to charge £5 on the door until the costs are covered and then everyone is free?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 03:06 PM

... and adding to that, what are the costs? Does it included a payment for the musician? If not, old people's homes will NOT have sessions, apart from musicians prepared to work for nothing. On the other hand, if it does include the salary, few folk clubs aim to make a profit, as such, even in pubs and clubs.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 04:20 PM

As Shambles points out, what really matters is the wording of the Bill when it becomes an Act, not the PR exercises like that.

But there is one other important thing which seems to have been generally overlooked - the Secretary of State has the authority to amend the definitions and the exemptions and so forth, once the Act is in place.

Section 1, Part 1, 4:

Power to amend Schedule
4)The Secretary of State may by order amend this Schedule for the purpose of modifying—
(a) the descriptions of entertainment specified in paragraph 2, or
(b) the descriptions of entertainment specified in paragraph 3, and for this purpose "modify" includes adding, varying or removing any
description.


This could be crucial. While obviously it would be far better if the Act itself contained something which enshrined our rights, on the assumption that this does not happen, it's likely to be a very long time before a reformed Act can be achieved. But we don't have to wait for that - all that is needed is a Secretary of State who is willing to use a bit of common sense, and potentially get himself or herself some favourable publicity.

And remember, there will undoubtedly be an effort to get the whole thing taken to the courts at the highest level, on the grounds that it offends against over-riding Human Rights legislation in a way that cannot be justified. That "modifying" power of the Secretary of State could be a way of avoiding political embarrassment.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 04:44 PM

I agree that what is in the Bill is all that counts once it is passed. But I also think that demonstrating inconsistancies in their other statements explaining the bill - like this one - gives us additional ways to convince people that the proposed Act is unworkable, as well as oppressive. So the idea that some things may be charged for but do not need a licence opens several completely new cans of worms.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:01 PM

I think these are a good points. This document is how they hope it will work.

It is obvious to us that is will not work like this, because we and the MU know all the aspects of music making. It is obvious to them that they will make it work, whatever the effect may be on music making and they know all the reason why they need to licence everything.

Howells (the whistling postman) is doing his best to portray to the middle ground, that musicians don't know what they are talking about and have some hidden agenda. He hasn't fooled The Times so there is still hope. I suspect that this document will help as it is so poor.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:25 PM

One thing I haven't seen emphasised is that, so far as I can see, any live music on protest marches or a picket would need a music licence and would be illegal without it. Unless the musicians were sitting on a moving vehicle.

This could be interesting, because I somehow feel there are going to be quite a lot of angry protests and pickets over the next few months over other issues than this perishing Bill.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: pavane
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 02:48 AM

Is an organ installed in a church enough to make the church itself require a licence, like the piano in the pub? If not, why not? It is only church SERVICES which are exempt.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 04:02 AM

Pavane: having helped in the complete dismantling of a church organ, it is not something that should be undertaken on a weekly basis; apart from the harm it does the tuning

Nigel


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 04:46 AM

Here's another extract from the DCMS response:

Their use for entertainment often gives rise to particular issues, for example:

Temporary cabling and staging
Blocking of fire exits
Unusual distribution of people in the premises
Certain aspects of crowd behaviour
Unusual noise disturbance
It is to address these and similar issues that public entertainment has been and continues to be a licensable activity.


Let's pause and think about this. Suppose I intend to hold a session every Friday night and apply for a licence. I am inspected, the licence is granted, all is well.

Now how exactly does the piece of paper on the wall ensure I lay the cables properly every week?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 05:20 AM

'Unusual distribution of people in the premises?'

Is a seating/standing plan required as well?

Or is a folk night really a distribution of 'Unusual people'
in the premises?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: smallpiper
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 05:20 AM

And you'd be laying cables for an accoustic session of course because everyone knows that you can't play accoustically without a 5000 wat PA system which will be tuned into the local rap/football station and turned up to full volume in a pub the size of a peanut!


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 09:51 AM

Another thing I hadn't realised until the DCMS briefing if that if I am this mad musician who "puts lives at risk by trailing bare cables through an audience" there is no way I can be prosecuted under laws that exist today.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: nickp
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 10:28 AM

I wouldn't like to put that to the test!


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 02:20 PM

I have written to my MP and included the following points:

1.        The Licensing Bill

1.1        The Government believes that the Licensing Bill will provide a new licensing regime that increases the opportunities for musicians and other performers. We believe that these reforms will give the arts in England a new lease of life rather than sounding its death knell as some are suggesting. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is of course also responsible for the arts and we continue to have both performers and their audiences at the forefront of our minds as we take the Licensing Bill through Parliament.



I cannot state enough that it is the potential for local authorities to over-regulate that is the root cause of people's worries. The "Walkley Cottage" is a prime example. The landlord applied for a licence to allow folk music in his pub under the current legislation. The local authority demanded

·        Double-glazing to all downstairs windows
·        Triple-glazing to all windows facing houses
·        Sound baffles on extractor fans.

Because his satellite TV is not regulated he can make as much noise as he likes from that with no alterations.

The cost of this - £13,000 was sufficient for him not to apply for the licence.
He does not have a jukebox but that would not have needed regulation either.

11.3        Nor does the Government accept that existing health and safety and noise legislation provides sufficient safeguards where premises are used for entertainment. Health and safety assessments relate to premises in normal use. Their use for entertainment often gives rise to particular issues, for example:

·        Temporary cabling and staging

Not if the music is not amplified. That doesn't give rise to cabling

·        Blocking of fire exits
·        Unusual distribution of people in the premises
·        Certain aspects of crowd behaviour
·        Unusual noise disturbance

All of which are to be exempt as far as Satellite TV (think "World Cup") are concerned


Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk
www.holmfirthfestival.com


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 02:25 PM

A thing to be attempted the next time Dr Howells is in the audience?

I can't help thinking of the dangerous musical instrument. This piano that is OK as long as it is locked or cannot be played by a passing customer. In case this kills all those in the premises?

Rather like we consider an ancient fire-arm. Ok to be put in a locked display case as long as the firing pin is removed.

As can be seen from the comments here, I think the DCMS have provided in this document, plenty more fine ammunition for letters to the media and MPs.

Given the stated objectives of the Bill, Why does it matter if your music making is educational, for sales demonstration purposes or entertainment? That your event is religous, free, to break even or to make a profit?      

As long as the music making is safe, do these things matter. In one part the Government say no (as in charity events) and in others they make these distinctions that have relevance to the stated objectives of their own Bill.

Can these measures be faily enforced? Who is qualified to judge these fine distinctions? Are we expected to continue just to trust the common sense of Council officers better trained to inspect kitchens and drains?

Please......We have this one chance to bring some sanity to all this!


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 03:52 PM

Am I missing something here. In the houses of parliament, parliamentary privilege means that one can say what one wishes without fear of prosecution. Although, calling someone a liar is considered unparliamentary language (hence "economical with the truth" and other such euphamisms)
If Kim Howells is really holding a press conference to say the MU is lying, then surely that is slander. (If said to a TV camera then it's Libel)
Thoughts?

Nigel


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 03:54 PM

My letter printed in the Telegraph did indeed make the point that the Aldermarston marches would have been deprived of "We shall Overcome". I suppose there's a silver lining in every cloud, but I did sing it (amplified) at one of the Cliffe Airport Marches,.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: pavane
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 06:31 PM

I never realised that mike & guitar cables carried mains voltage! I will be more careful next time I plug one in.

(or can millivolts kill?)


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 06:44 PM

I wonder if all this is Tony Blair's way of getting back at musicians and music lovers, because his dreams of stardom as lead singer of Ugly Rumours came to nothing, and he had to settle for a shabby life as a politician?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 12:05 AM

Hmmm. I've ignored these PELs threads, because as someone in the U.S. I didn't know what they were about. After taking a brief tour of this one, I can see that while there are a few complaints about the number of PEL threads from the general Mudcat populace outside the UK, that this is the perfect venue to hash out these issues. I'll come back and read quietly again some more later. Good luck, all of you!

SRS


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:16 AM

I've been thinking again about this justification that a £20,000 fine and six months imprisonment are necessary in case, for example, the musician trails a bare wire through the audience.

Why stop there? A guitarist might see someone in the audience who ran off with his wife and, in fury, garotte him with his E-string. Surely we must make the maximum penalty life imprisonment in case this happens?

There is a fairly serious point here, believe it or not. Suppose some non-musician lays the bare wire of DCMS fame. Can they be prosecuted under the bill? Clearly not. Can they be prosecuted at all? Obviously. So the question is why does the mere fact the person responsible is a musician alter the penalty? And if it doesn't alter the penalty, it cannot logically be used as a jusification of the bill.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:26 AM

Thank you for your support SRS. Perhaps you could spread the word?

Not having a licence, under current legislation or under Bill only means you do not have a licence.

By having these penalties, it makes enforcing the licence easier, although with the 'two in a bar' exemption and the PEL being necessary for any late night liquor licence extensions this has only resulted in a 5% PEL take-up figure. Hence the sham pretence of a combined premises licence where the increased fee must be paid.

But the mere threat of these penalties is responsible for stopping many sessions and preventing many more from starting, with absoultly no case-law legal support, as the DCMS own document clearly shows.

But it is an injustice that mearly not having a valid entertainment licence can subject you to the serious charge and penalties for placing the public at risk.

The HRA makes it clear that Aticle 10 the public's right to freedom of expression can only be prevented on certain conditions, one of these being public safety.

But do three people singing make a pub unsafe now, and will one person singing, or heaven forbid, an unlocked pianio make the pub unsafe and subjet to these penalties? The Government are saying that they do......The worrying thing is that they are even receiving some credibilty for this claim, in the form of support for this 'Silly Bill'. Even from people who have directly suffered from the current injustice!!!

Strange but true. It would appear that if you tell some people a measure is a bad one, they almost go out of their way to find reasons why it may not really be all that bad. But the point is this 'Silly Bill' is claimed to be a deregulatory improvement.

In some cases in the Lords, it was even defended of the grounds that certain aspects causing concern under the Bill, were the same as now so it was OK not to address them in this so-called Licensing 'reform' Bill.

The 'Silly Bill' indeed.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 12:27 PM

Dr Howells in The Stage 23 Jan 2003http://www.thestage.co.uk/paper/0304/0302.shtml


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 08:11 AM

In principle the Bill is totally unjust and damaging. In practice?

Some of the MPs are persuaded that it will work, - will it - can it?

All local authority licensing depts are fully occupied at the moment. They deal with taxi licenses and PELs. Nationally there is only a 5% take-up figure of PELs.

After the 'tick-box' application for the new entertainment licence, the process is exactly the same as now. With LAs dealing only with 5% of all premises, it still takes a miniumum of 2 months to grant an even one uncontested PEL.

If the application is contested, (and we could always make sure that every application was), there has to be a public hearing, which takes considerably longer.

It is really possible that local authorites can deal with an extra 95% of entertainment licence applications, on top of their added duty to issue all premises licenses, which is the old liquor licence the courts are now dealing with, and the personal licenses?

How?


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: fiddler
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 02:52 PM

There is a lot here starting to come together,!
Lets not get lost in the bar(e)cable is a side issue and may be a smoke screen, existing HSE legislation cover that, we do not need another act to enshrine this in further legistlation which could later be repealed and then musicians could by default gain an exemption to HSE regs

Alright I'll be serious.

I like the suggestions as to the drafts, we ought to come up with a series of proposals with the MU, explain their meaning and put them to MPs, silly walks ministries and the Newspapers.

A


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:28 PM

Hamish Birchall has responded to the Commentary from the DCMS. It is very long but it is very easy to read on this website. Careful reading of the words of both sides, will go a long way to inform those that are still unsure and many provide points and concerns to ask your MP to clafify.

http://www.does4you.co.uk/REPLY.htm


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 08:58 PM

Here's an email I've just sent to Dr Howells. (I thought I'd posted thsihere, but it doesn't seem to be here. So if it turns up inb anther thread, that's not intentional double posting):

Dear Dr Howells,
I am very puzzled by the apparent contradiction between a very clear and unequivocal pledge you made in a broadcast on 17th July 2002 and subsequent events.

In the broadcast, in conversation with Mike Harding, you promised that "as long as money isn't changing hands" sessions and singarounds in pubs without licenses which include an entertainment provision would be perfectly free to continue. "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."

When Mike Harding asked if you would make sure that under the new act English law would no longer criminalise such activities you said "Yes absolutely".

However the Bill at present seems to contains nothing that provides any such exception. It appears that musicians or singers enjoying a few tunes or songs in a corner of a bar open to other customers will be breaking the law, if there is no licence covering these activities, and so will the landlord who allows this to take place.

Would I be correct in assuming that you will ensure that the final version of the Bill does in fact guarantee the freedom of people in England and Wales to sing and make music in pubs - and for that matter other public places, such as coffee bars - even those which do not carry any licence specifically for entertainment purposes? If so I would urge you to consider including an amendment specifically stating this, rather than leave it to the brewers, landlords and courts to divine that this is the unstated intention of the Act. Otherwise this activity, which you so clearly stated you valued so highly, will be very much at risk.

Kevin McGrath


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Mr Happy
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 09:23 PM

kevin,

you posted your email to Dr Howler on http://pub22.bravenet.com/forum/show.php?usernum=1824620545&cpv=1


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 04:56 PM

Yes Howells remark probably was libellous (it wsa broadcast) of Hamish.

But it the MU flung a libel writ, the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (I think, from memory) could very easily make a discussion of whether Hamish or Howells was lying a contempt of court, as being potentially likely to prejudice pending proceedings. Well, that's my guess why they didn't.

More currently, I have just written to the Joint Commitee on Human Rights again as follows: -

THE PERFORMER-LAWYER GROUP
care of: - MacDonald Bridge, Solicitors
Forge House, High Street, Lower Stoke,
Nr. Rochester, Kent ME3 9RD
Tel: 01634 27 27 20 Fax: 01634 27 27 21
Email: McLaw @btinternet.com

        Date: 29th January 2003
Jean Corston, MP,
Chair, Joint Committee on Human Rights.,
Committee Office,
House of Commons,
London
SW1A 0AA

Dear Madam
Licensing Bill

I understand that you wish to see any further input on Human Rights aspects of the Licensing Bill by the weekend. In this respect it is rather disappointing that, although the Government knows of the existence of this group and our concerns as to the Human Rights aspects of this Bill, it did not see fit to provide, much less timely provide, us with a copy of its letter to you dated the 10th January, which I saw for the first time yesterday.

Consequently, this is my letter rather than the letter of the group, and other members of the group may write to you separately to associate themselves with some or all of this letter. So too may others, since I am circulating this letter. This letter is not to restrict any additional points that may be made by other members of this group or circulees of this letter.

Article 8: Respect for private homes and lives

The government argues that applications must be advertised so that local residents may object. Thus, it says, their rights for respect for homes and lives are recognised. This is illusory and not good compliance, in my view, with the convention: -

Present advertising practice in relation to PEL applications is for local authorities to make regulations specifying the extent of publicity required. Medway, at least, according to a letter of theirs in my possession, requires only one advertisement on one occasion in one local paper circulating in the vicinity, and exhibition on the premises (apparently in any part of the premises even if not a part open to the public, although perhaps that is a lack of specificity in the letter) setting out the intention to apply for a PEL. Plainly many local residents will not become actually aware of advertisements so published.

The government was defeated in the Lords on one point of relevance here. An amendment was passed to enable some local councillors to object as "interested parties". It is rumoured that the government intends to reverse this defeat in the Commons. It has also resisted pressure to permit those from the general area to be interested parties, despite the fact that for example in London the concentration of PEL licences in limited areas causes considerable disturbance to those throughout a much larger area than the immediate vicinity.

These two point augur badly for the general ability for those adversely affected in relation to their homes or lives to be able to protect them.

The right to object is limited to the licensing objectives. Thus those who suffer from public nuisance may object, but not necessarily those suffering from private nuisance or any disturbance with their homes or private lives that does not amount to public nuisance.

The government argues that an application must specify the steps proposed to be taken to promote the licensing objectives – therefore (it says) including the steps to be taken to prevent public nuisance. First the same point as above prevails. Second, even if the government's argument were otherwise perfect, an application could simply specify that no steps were to be taken to control public nuisance, or it could specify well intended but futile steps. If so (which I intend linguistically to contrast to the government's choice of wording "In the event that") the application would still prima facie comply with clauses 17 and 18(1)(a) so the duty to issue the licence would bite.

But that is not the only objection. According to the convention, there is a right to respect as stated. It is not a right intended enjoyed only by those who are prepared to exercise diligence and possibly face risk (if their objections to applications by, say, some night club owners become known).

The placement of the onus as the government does is no respect at all for the rights of those who may not know of the application, or may be of limited capability to prepare representations, or may be fearful of consequences of making objections. These classes, and perhaps others, overlap with those who may legitimately need to be protected by local councillors or others, but the government may intend to block even this avenue for these less advantaged sectors, since it appears to intend to continue to restrict the classes of "responsible authorities" to exclude councillors etc generally.

If, then, an application specifying an absence of protective measures is made, the government admits is must issue, and the government further admits that it must issue with only the specified protective measures (in casu, none) attached.

Plainly therefore the required matters are not adequately safeguarded. Provisions limiting the acceptable sound level outside premises licensed for this purpose, using one of the more sophisticated modern measures, might very well assist in this respect, but other disorder aspects are likely to require to be addressed, and to be seen to be required to be addressed, in many cases.

Article 10: Freedom of Expression

The first and most important point is that the bill will not merely remove the "2-in-a-bar" exemption. The government's letter is quite misleading in this respect. The bill will remove ALL exemptions and exceptions except as re-enacted. This is plainly a much wider set of restrictions, and a much wider interference with freedom of expression, than is necessary in a democratic society.

The second and perhaps almost equally important point is that the government's safety and noise arguments set out in its closing paragraphs are entirely based upon the assumption that all musical performance involves the use of electrical amplification. This assumption is false. The government has been widely addressed about the use of unamplified instruments and the unamplified human voice. It has so far refused even to consider exempting them, but it cannot honestly say or imply that it is unaware of them. As a corollary, it may be relevant to observe that the government has consistently said (and it has put it this way round) that that it does not accept that there is any type of music that is never noisy. It is, frankly, so unrealistic for the government to imply that unamplified music, in the real world, requires just as much restriction as amplified music in order to prevent noise nuisance that one wonders how such an absurdity can be attempted to be justified.

Thirdly, it is inherent in the government's argument under Article 8 that the bill will increase restrictions on possible interference with private lives and homes, and it is inherent in the government's arguments under Article 10 that the licensing regime will place restrictions (albeit the government wishes to argue they are necessary an proportional restrictions) on freedom of expression. Yet this is wholly incompatible with the government's recent publicity materials that seek to present the bill as "deregulatory" (if that is intended to have any precise meaning, rather than merely to present a favourable impression). This may give rise to some suspicion about the extent that any government explanation can be relied upon.

This leads directly to the second entire paragraph on the third page of the government's letter to you. The government argues that the new regime will not "in any practical way, involve more by way of regulation". This calls nothing to mind so much as the words of Lewis Carrol "When I use a word, it means exactly what I intend it to mean. It is merely a matter of which of us is to be the master". In practical terms, local authorities will be able to require things to be done as a condition of granting licences. Experience teaches that they will be cautious, spurred on by their insurers. We know that there is a risk that they will be over-cautious. We know this because: -
1.        It is common sense, and we have seen it happen under the existing law;
2.        The government accepts that it is so, because it has accepted the need for the minister to be able to seek to influence local authorities by supplying guidelines (not, or not meaningfully scrutinised by Parliament);
3.        The government accepts that it is so, for it has written that it would expect those in the business of supplying big-screen TVs to pubs robustly to resist the extension of the bill's regulation to them;
4.        The government accepts that it is so, for it has written that it would expect those in the business of supplying juke boxes and DJs and equipment to pubs for "incidental music" robustly to resist the extension of the bill's regulation to them;
5.        The government accepts that it is so, for it has finally promised to exempt church music from the burdens that would arise from the extension of the bill's regulation to that type of music (ironic, since the government does not accept that there is any sort of music that is never a noise nuisance); and
6.        The government accepts that it is so for the bill includes the (limited, expensive, risky and therefore an illusory protection) right of legal challenge to council requirements.

Therefore the bill will in a practical way, subject all the musicians who currently play in reliance (or purported reliance, for until recently there has been much tacit permission) on the "2-in-a-bar rule" in approximately 100,000 venues, or any other current exemption (apart from the recorded and church exemptions preserved), to additional regulation.

The government has at no time produced any evidence of any kind of unamplified music leading to noise disturbance or disorder or crime. Therefore the continuation and indeed extension of regulation with respect to unamplified music cannot be justified as necessary in a democratic society.

The government argues that the regulation under this bill is necessary for noise and safety reasons.

If that were so, then big-screen TV and jukeboxes and DJ's with equipment to provide "incidental music" would need regulation under this bill. Since the government provides exemptions for these things, it surely cannot argue that noise and safety reasons prevent exemptions for other incidental music, unless there were evidence of such a need. There may or may not be such evidence, but it has not been provided.

Moreover, there may be an argument that existing health and safety law, and law on public disturbance, adequately controls electric music at least in premises already licensed (and therefore subject to inspection) for the sale of alcohol. There may or may not be countervailing arguments but they have not been assessed or addressed, and in this sense there is no basis to say that the proposed restrictions are necessary in a democratic society. The existence of such other safety and protective laws must surely lead one to question whether the proposed extension of regulation, and draconian penalties (the same potential prison term as summary convictions for arson, violent disorder or affray) are justifiable.

It is accordingly at least arguable that the proposed measures are disproportionate in the case of electric music, and beyond doubt they are plainly disproportionate in the case of unamplified music.

It is accordingly respectfully submitted that it is impossible for the bill to meet article 10 unless at the least: -
(a)        unamplified music in premises licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises is wholly exempted; and
(b)        there is automatic granting of a licence for incidental amplified live music with penalties for noise outside the premises exceeding certain levels, albeit such licences should be capable of being withdrawn in the usual way.

This note does not deal with the problems of folk (including Morris) dance. These carry no history of disorder or noise nuisance, and indeed in some European countries they and/or their equivalents are constitutionally protected. If they are not protected in some way here, that would be a serious abuse of human rights.





Finally, I would add that the minister appears to have overlooked that he was sent an open letter from this group, signed by a number of other lawyers more eminent than myself, specifically referring to the human rights issues, and it is at least odd of him to write as if this were not so.


Yours, etc



Richard McD. Bridge, B.A. B.Sc.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Jan 03 - 02:24 PM

MU Campaign freedom of expression

JCHR agrees


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Jan 03 - 02:34 PM

Licensing Bill and Article 10

Dear Madam

Can I request that your Committee consider the following, for their information?

Rather than making hypothetical projections about 'whistling postmen', I hope this actual situation, will demonstrate how some of the undoubted good intentions of this Bill are placed at risk by the need of the Schedule 1 definitions, to 'catch all'. These risks are presented by the words of the Bill, failing to address one of the main failings of current legislation. This is the conflict of entertainment licensing with HR legislation and the refusal of local authorities to be governed or even guided by the latter.

I am aware that the committee is considering the Bill here. The only difference of the Bill to current legislation, as far as this aspect goes, is that even one pub customer making music, will be illegal. But also by this act, to have made these perfectly safe and inspected public premises, automatically unsafe, without the additional and optional entertainment element of the new Premises licence. Transgressors will be subject to the unchanged maximum penalties.

I have for over two years been struggling with my local authority over the interpretation of current licensing legislation and their failure to recognise that enforcement of this, must be compatible with Article 10. I consider that they have not proved that the customer's right, with the licensee's permission to make unpaid music in the pub, presents a safety hazard that cannot and is not adequately dealt with by the subsisting legislation.

For in this case, no additional safety measures were required in order to issue the Public Entertainment Licence, but the customer's unpaid musical activities, for their own pleasure, were prevented until this document was paid for and in place. These activities were non-amplified and had received no complaints, noise or any other, from the public.

Another identical weekly pub session that had been running for over 5 years has also recently been permanently stopped by the actions of this council. As on receipt of a letter from them, the licensee did not choose to apply for the PEL, and that ended a beneficial musical activity, but more importantly, a perfectly safe activity. Again one where there were no public complaints and where the public's right of freedom of expression has been completely ignored and been sacrificed to unnecessary bureaucracy.[See Attached]

Dr Howells first wrote to me via my local MP Jim Knight on 15/08/01. He has been in contact Dr Howells has assisted me in this, but the problem remains unsolved and the Bill does not address this. In fact it is made worse in this Bill, produced by Dr Howells. I have also made a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about the way my concerns have been dealt with by my local authority. The LGO found that there was no evidence of maladministration and have made no criticism of the local authority concerned.

I think it would be fair to say that the overall consensus is that the only way forward is for me to take the issue to the courts. This of course is made in the safe knowledge that this is unlikely to happen, for reasons only of finance. I am neither rich nor poor enough to consider legal action, like most of the population, I suspect? Licensees are also unlikely to take the course of pleading not guilty, when accused of providing unlicensed entertainment, for the additional reason of the penalties facing them if they should lose.

Any future disputes, about what is and is not licensable and therefore what is safe or not, and given the wording of the Bill, there will be many, will have to be settled in the court. Given the above circumstances, and the threat of these heavy penalties, this is not the way things should be, on introduction of new legislation. Especially when this presents so many risks to beneficial musical activities and the rights of people to take part in them.   

In fact under the Bill, even a piano that has not been rendered unplayable, or a floor that could be danced on will be considered as an entertainment facility, and to make the premises automatically unsafe, if the officers of a local authority so decide. And local authorities do, and will decide such things. [See attached]

The following is the only HR advice given to the elected members of my local authority, in the report to the Social and Community Committee 05/06/01.

 Human Rights Considerations
5.1 Mr Gall has argued that by requiring the premises at which sessions take place to obtain a PEL Council officers are interfering unlawfully with his right to freedom of expression contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As has been explained to Mr Gall, the right to freedom of expression is not an absolute right under the Convention. By applying the relevant licensing the Council has imposed conditions and restrictions on Mr Gall's rights which are legal, necessary and proportionate in the in the interests of public safety, control of nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.

 5.2 In any event the requirement for a PEL does not represent an absolute ban on informal music sessions. Where two or fewer performers provide musical entertainment the exemption referred to in paragraph 4.4 of this report would apply. Alternatively if musicians chose to make music together on premises operated as a private club a PEL would not be required although other legislation may apply.


Given the stated objectives of the Bill, many people find it inconceivable that the mere act of singing on a regular basis in a pub will make, these inspected public premises automatically unsafe, without an additional licence. Especially as singing as part of religious service is exempt from this requirement, no matter what the safety considerations of the (church) premises may be, or the volume of the music. And that crowds attracted to live football matches or loud music on TV, are now and will under this Bill, also be exempt from this requirement.

I feel your committee must question very deeply the implications for ordinary people, and whole basis on which the Bill is supposed to be founded. Failure to do this NOW will have serious ramifications for both music and Human Rights. Local Authorities are not taking this responsibility seriously, if they are just content to 'stonewall' until they are taken to court. We either consider the right of freedom of expression as important, or vital, or we do not. If your committee does not totally reject this aspect of the Bill, then I must consider it and this nation's commitment to Human Rights legislation, to be as much of a sham as the pretexts that underlie this 'Silly Bill'.

I would like to finish with this quote from Segovia, used in 1992 for an advert for Spanish tourism.

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


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 14 Feb 03 - 04:38 PM

For circulation

The growing body of legal opinion in support of the MU analysis of the Bill's implications includes a specialist licensing QC.

In additions, the Performer-Lawyer group, which also shares MU concerns, has published a 19-page dissection of the 24-point DCMS document published last month, concluding that much of the DCMS analysis is either inaccurate or misleading. It is available on: www.does4you.co.uk


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 10:23 AM

http://www.culture.gov.uk/new_responsibilities/guidance_section177_licensing.pdf

The DCMS Guidance.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: DMcG
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 10:43 AM

From those guidelines:

Live music, dancing and theatre
4.45 .......Licensing authorities should be aware that the views of
vocal minorities should not be allowed to predominate over the general interests of the community that the committee represents.


That wouldn't be us, would it? *GRIN*


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 04:57 PM

No it refers to vocal minorities like Howells and Jowell! *smiles*


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 07:45 PM

Since most people never seem to sing, and even believe they can't sing, singers are in a minority. And by definition, vocal.


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Subject: RE: PELs Government v MU & lawyers
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 08:49 AM

Again the 'guidance' may be well intentioned but it is he words of the Bill that matter.

A complaint by a 'vocal' single resident is to be ignored then? Given that the whole concept of noise complaints works like this in practice, I can see no reason why this 'guidance' will make any difference. Just stating that a balance should be made is hardly ensuring that one is.

Councils will argue that even a plainly malicious complaint about unlicensed entertainment, places a statutory duty on them to follow up, one which would place them in conflict with this statutory duty and leave them open to complaint, if they did not. Does this 'guidance' overide this?

Present Home Office 'guidance' tells LAs not to overcharge for PEL fees, but these are ignored.


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