The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Monday 12 th May 2008 - Lord Clement-Jones' licensing questions answered

On Wednesday 07 May, government spokesperson Lord Davies of Oldham responded to Lord Clement-Jones' questions (see Q&A below). Hansard link:

For once, the answers are quite revealing.  The public consultation on new small gigs exemptions is to be carried out 'by the summer'.  Until now, there had been only vague commitments to a consultation this year.   The government also confirms that it is considering using a provision within the Licensing Act to create such exemptions: Schedule 1, para 4. This allows the DCMS Secretary of State to make changes 'by order', a relatively fast-track process.

It has also emerged that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has already discussed the exemption issue with the Musicians' Union in March, and that the MU is to meet DCMS Secretary of State (Andrew Burnham) on 03 June.  Apparently, the agenda has not yet been agreed, but reliable sources suggest the focus is likely to be extending copyright in sound recordings. MU members may wish to lobby their union to raise the small gigs exemption again.

On the question about entertainment licensing in schools, the government pleads ignorance: 'This information is not held centrally, and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost'.  This is not a credible position, particularly in view of the government's high profile increase in funding for music in schools last year.  Perhaps ministers are unwilling to find out how many schools can lawfully host performances.

In 2007 the government made  Howard Goodall the 'singing czar':


But without a premises licence authorising performances of live music, schools are limited to 12 performances a year that friends and family could attend (under the Temporary Event Notice scheme, at £21 a time). And even private concerts are illegal without a licence if their purpose is to raise money for good causes, such as the construction of more music facilities within the school. By contrast, in 2005 the government gave all pubs and bars automatic permission to provide canned music. They also retained the exemption for big screen broadcast entertainment, despite police warnings that big screen sport in bars was associated with disorder.

Licensing - Music - Written Answers Wednesday 07 May 2008:

Q: What progress has been made on the public consultation concerning possible new exemptions to the Licensing Act 2003 for low-risk music events. [HL3291]

A: The Government are currently drawing up options for exempting from the Act certain low-impact licensable activities, including low-impact live music events, and aim to carry out a public consultation by the summer.

Q: Whether they have considered using the power under paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Licensing Act 2003 to amend the Act's descriptions of entertainment to make clear that low-risk performances are exempt. [HL3292]

A: Yes. This is one of several options that the Government are considering.

Q: What meetings the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has held, or has scheduled, this year with representatives of musicians' organisations; and whether the department's agenda for those meetings included or will include discussion of new exemptions from the Licensing Act 2003 for low-risk performances. [HL3293]

A: Representatives of the Musicians' Union (MU) had an introductory meeting with new senior officials in the creative industries team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on 28 January 2008. There was no formal agenda for this meeting. The MU is a member of the DCMS's Advisory Group on Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing and its sub-group on minor variations. Both groups met on 13 March 2008. The question of new exemptions from the Licensing Act 2003 for low-impact activities (including low-impact musical performances) was discussed at both meetings. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will meet the MU on 3 June 2008 to discuss music-industry issues. The agenda for this meeting has not yet been agreed.

Q. What proportion of schools in England and Wales hold a premises licence authorising performances of live music. [HL3294]

A: This information is not held centrally, and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost. Information on premises licences is held at local level by the 378 local licensing authorities in England and Wales.

Hamish Birchall