The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 26th July 2007 - Months before government responds to MU/LMF small gigs exemption


In a speech at the Musicians' Union conference, Tuesday 24 July, new Creative Industries minister Margaret Hodge described the Live Music Forum report as 'very interesting and challenging'. However, she also suggested that it may be some months before the government formally responds to the entertainment licensing exemption recently backed by both the Musicians Union and Live Music Forum.

Ms Hodge said: '... as the report makes clear, and as we recognise, there are some areas of concern [about the Licensing Act], and we should look at these again to ensure that live music, at all levels, can continue to thrive.  So I'm looking forward to considering the findings and recommendations with Gerry Sutcliffe [DCMS licensing minister] and James Purnell [DCMS Secretary of State] before responding formally in the autumn. 

'I'm sure there will be some recommendations that we will be able to take forward quite quickly in fact there is one I'm going to mention in a moment [the rehearsal space initiative].  And some, particularly those that would require changes to the legislation, will need longer consideration before we decide what steps would be the most practical and beneficial for all those with an interest. But rest assured - we don't want to stop musicians from performing and we don't want to put unnecessary barriers in their way. Why would we?'

In fact, there is a provision within the Licensing Act that gives the Secretary of State power, by order, to change or remove descriptions of entertainment (Licensing Act 2003, Schedule 1, para 4). This offers a relatively quick way to change the law - if there is the political will.

Strangely, Ms Hodge's speech - at least as reproduced on the DCMS website - did not address the MU press release of 11 June in which the union announced its opposition to the licensing of live music under the Licensing Act, and called on the Secretary of State to implement five recommendations as soon as possible, including a small gigs exemption.

Ms Hodge also announced a Green Paper on the 'Creative Economy' due for publication in the autumn.

For the full speech see DCMS website:

More info about Ms Hodge's Parliamentary voting record at:

Former chair of the LMF, Feargal Sharkey also spoke at the MU conference. However, his speech does not appear on the DCMS website despite his continued close association with that department in promoting the rehearsal space initiative.

Hamish Birchall