The Live Music Forum



Monday 25th July 2005

Minister To Speak At Musicians Union Conference

The Department for Culture has told me that James Purnell is to speak at the Musicians' Union 31st Biennial Delegate Conference at Sparsholt, near Winchester, this Wednesday 27 July 2005.

Copies of his speech, to be 'checked against delivery', should be available from DCMS on the day. No doubt he will talk about how much money the government is putting into music education, the Miliband Music Manifesto, the government's commitment to the music industry, his commitment to live music etc etc...

If there are any MU delegates out there prepared keep entertainment licensing centre stage, here are some questions they might put to the minister:

Any broadcast entertainment in bars or anywhere else is exempt from the new Licensing Act. The government has said that, as far as big screen sport in bars is concerned, if there are crime, noise or disorder problems then the bar's licence can be reviewed. Can you explain why the same approach cannot be taken with live music in bars?
The DCMS website claims that the two in a bar rule 'fails to protect local residents from noise nuisance'. What evidence does your department have that one or two musicians have caused a significant noise problem in the 44-year history of this entertainment licensing exemption?
Do you think it reasonable that the playing of recorded music on jukeboxes and other recorded sound systems should be automatically allowed to carry forward on converting an alcohol licence, provided the equipment is already in situ, but live music by even one musician should be illegal unless licensed?
On various BBC radio interviews you have said that once the new licence is obtained, people will never need to apply for a licence again. Can you confirm that if a bar has specified solo or duos only on two or three days of the week on its premises licence application, and this has been authorised, then the licensee would have to re-apply to vary the licence in order to increase the number of performers, or days on which performances could be provided?
In your interview with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, Tuesday 19 July, you said you 'where there is evidence of real problems' for live music as a result of the new Licensing Act you were 'committed to act'. By November local authorities should be able to say what proportion of all bars, pubs and restaurants have been granted a live music authorisation on their premises licence. What proportion would you expect to have got that authorisation by then, and what would you consider an unacceptably low proportion and evidence of a real problem?
Since the Act gives the Secretary of State power, by order, to change, add or remove descriptions of entertainment, would there be any reason to delay amendment of the Act immediately if the level of live music authorisations were unacceptably low?
Was it the government's intention that performances in hospitals and care homes where relatives and friends can attend, organised for a fee by various charities, should be caught by the Act?
On You and Yours, BBC R4 01 July, you said 'under the current regime there are all sorts of anomalies'. Under the new regime one musician performing in a restaurant not licensed for live music will be potentially a criminal offence for the licensee - but music or sport broadcast on a big screen with a powerful PA is exempt; a concert in a school is likely to be illegal unless licensed, but exempt if performed in a church, royal palace or military base; unamplified musicians accompanying Morris dancers will be exempt, but without the dancers illegal unless licensed; any band can perform on the back of a moving lorry and that is exempt. Do you not consider these to be anomalies?

Hamish Birchall