The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Monday 8th May 2006 - Shaun Woodward is new licensing minister

DCMS has confirmed that Shaun Woodward is the new minister with responsibility for alcohol and entertainment licensing:

Interesting to note, Woodward was a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) when the Licensing Act was a Bill.

The JCHR published five reports during 2002/3 criticising the live music reforms. Their reasons included risks to people's right to freedom of expression and discrimination against secular premises (because of the exemption for places of public religious worship).

In their fifth and final report, published on 21 July 2003, the JCHR wrongly concluded that the Act covers amplified and unamplified music in the same way (para 5.6). This basic mistake seems to have been the result of DCMS representations.  The Act did not, and does not, treat live and recorded music equally.

During the licence conversion period in 2005, bars and restaurants were allowed to keep recorded sound systems automatically, but their automatic right to one or two live musicians was taken away. The exemption for broadcast entertainment (inevitably amplified), as against the potential requirement to licence even one unamplified musician, is another obvious example of unequal treatment.

Hamish Birchall