The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Tuesday 6th March 2007 - Petition: more than 40,000 signatures - Commons exchange


More than 40,000 have signed the live music/licensing petition which currently stands at no.4 in the list of over 4,200 petitions on the Number 10 site:  (to view petitions in order of signatures)  (to sign)

The petition was mentioned yesterday in the Commons during a short exchange between the licensing minister, Shaun Woodward, and MPs Malcolm Moss and Anne Milton (shadow culture minister). See Hansard extract below.

Note that Mr Woodward did not answer Malcolm Moss's question about the validity of the '60% of smaller venues licensed for live music' claim recently made by DCMS. Woodward also rather misleadingly suggests that getting a licence for live music is a simple one-off process. It is a one-off process only for new applications seeking a permanent authorisation. Whether this is simple or not largely depends on whether there are any objections. For those venues with a premises licence without a live music authorisation (at least 40%), another application ('variation') is required, plus the full premises licence fee, public advertisement costs and possible knock-on costs if objections lead to a public hearing. Annual 'inspection' fees remain, of course, albeit at a reduced level.

Places without a premises licence, but still requiring a live music authorisation, must apply for a Temporary Events Notice (up to 12 permitted per premises per year), £21 a time.

Note also that despite the latest MORI research, the minister is careful to refer to the evidence of the Act's impact as 'anecdotal'.  Could he be refering to the latest Musician's Union survey?

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House of Commons Monday 05 March 2007 - Oral Questions: Licensing Act

8. Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): What assessment she [Tessa Jowell] has made of the effect of the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 on the performance of live music. [124568]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Shaun Woodward): The live music forum will produce its analysis in the next few weeks. Current evidence is anecdotal, but it none the less suggests a broadly neutral impact.

Mr. Moss: According to the MORI research commissioned by the Minister's Department, only 60 per cent. of smaller venues that previously offered live music were given licences under the LicensingAct 2003, many of which have expensive conditions attached. Will the Minister tell the House what proportion of that group implemented the conditions? If he cannot do so, does that not render the statistics worthless, and what is the value of the Department's boast that the Act is good for live music?

Mr. Woodward: As the hon. Gentleman knows—he takes a keen interest in this area, which we welcome—the research published in December looked at 2,000 small establishments. It discovered that in only 3 per cent. of cases the new licensing requirements were a deterrent. From the anecdotal evidence, however, the impact appears to be broadly neutral, although it may be better than that. The hon. Gentleman will know that we are conducting a detailed analysis, which we will publish later. He should remember that the new process means that there is only one application, one fee and no renewals. The additional bonus is that local residents, who were seriously affected in the past by live music, now have a say, which is important.

Anne Milton (Guildford) (Con): I wonder whether the Minister is aware that over 38,000 people have signed the Downing street petition on live music. What comfort can he give that ever-growing body of people? Does he agree with the person who was recently reported in the press as saying that whoever dreamtup Downing street petitions was—and I quote with apologies, Mr. Speaker—“a prat”?

Mr. Woodward: We absolutely agree with the 30,000 people who rightly do not want music and dance to be restricted by burdensome licensing regulations. If the hon. Lady looks at the changes, she will see that there is one application process and one fee, with no renewals. Inconsistent fees, which were often excessive, and the standard book of conditions have been removed, and the fact that 63 per cent. of venues have either obtained a music licence or put on live music via other means shows that the Act is working. In a survey, 55 per cent. of people said that they found the process easy, although I admit that 25 per cent. found it hard. We will work to improve the system—we believe that it has already been improved—and we will take very seriously the evidence submitted in the next few weeks to see whether there are more improvements to be made.

Hamish Birchall