The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Tuesday 6th June 2006 - MPs licensing questions - 'ministerial drivel'

Licensing was reported again on this morning's Radio 4 Today programme, this time as a result of Commons questions.

Malcolm Moss (North-east Cambridgeshire, Con) asked the most pertinent question:

'Will not the public think it completely barmy if typical of this incompetent Government, that a pub needs a licence for one or two musicians in the bar but does not need one to show World cup matches on big screens to hundreds of inebriated supporters? Will the Secretary of State tell us just how much taxpayers' money is being used on extra policing, under the alcohol misuse enforcement campaign, in order to massage the crime and disorder figures associated with showing World cup matches?'

Tessa Jowell replied: 'I shall certainly provide the hon. Gentleman with the figures for spending on the AMEC campaign, which is just concluding. Even he, I think, will judge that spending on past campaigns, which have seen a reduction in alcohol-related violence, has represented excellent value for money.  As for two-in-a-bar versus big screens, the hon. Gentleman knows that the arguments were well ventilated when the Act was debated. Parliament reached its conclusions, and we are getting on with implementing them in a way that reduces alcohol-related crime and disorder, keeps children safe from harm and gives responsible adults a better time than they would otherwise have.'

No doubt this answer is one reason why this morning's Independent reported these exchanges under the headline 'Culture team produces some fine "ministerial drivel"' (Simon Carr, 'The Sketch', p16).

'Well ventilated' is an apt expression from the Secretary of State: we got a lot of ministerial hot air and not much else.  It also has seasonal relevance. Only last month St Albans council made it a licence condition that pubs hosting live music would have to keep their windows shut during the summer months.

Read the full Commons licensing questions and answers here:

The written Q&A were little better, but we do at least have some dates for production of the revised licensing Guidance: 'Supplementary' Guidance is due this month; fully revised Guidance by the end of this year:  [scroll down]

Hamish Birchall