The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Monday 3rd July 2006 - Commons: possible licensing questions today

On Saturday 01 July 2006 the Daily Telegraph reported more licensing problems, this time for village halls: 'Licensing rules "may force village halls to break the law"', by Richard Savill.

The limit of 12 Temporary Event Notices a year is particularly onerous for these venues. By way of response, DCMS issued another misleading statement in the now familiar Nurse Ratched tone *: 'The cap on numbers (of TENs) ensures people are adequately protected from excessive noise, nuisance and disturbance.'  See:

Fearful of recent press interest and increased public concern about licensing and live music, Labour has planted some questions for today's Oral Questions session in the House of Commons (Mon 03 July, 2.30pm):

'What steps her Department is taking to support live music.' (Q1, Ian Wright, Hartlepool)

'What steps the Government is taking to support live music and encourage the participation of young people.' (Q13. John Robertson, Glasgow North West ) .

The questions are clearly intended to give the Secretary of State at DCMS an opportunity to divert attention from licensing. No doubt she will say how much the government values live music and how many excellent initiatives are currently underway. She probably won't say that her department was wrong when it claimed busking would not be licensable.

Once the Secretary of State has addressed these questions, other MPs and particularly opposition MPs can raise licensing issues.  If you have time, w hy not ask your MP to put a licensing question to Tessa Jowell today?   Use this website to contact your MP by email:

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* For those who have never seen the film or read the book, Nurse Ratched is one of the main characters in 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' (book by Ken Kesey, 1962; film by Milos Forman, 1975, starring Jack Nicholson as Randle P. McMurphy and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched). 

The story centres on the battle of wills between McMurphy, a 'swaggering, fun-loving' petty criminal and 'coolly monstrous' Nurse Ratched who is in charge of the mental hospital ward in which McMurphy has been detained. McMurphy has feigned mental-illness to escape prison. His resistance to Nurse Ratched eventually results in the destruction of his personality by enforced lobotomy.

Nurse Ratched notoriously protests genuine concern for her patients. But as the Penguin Modern Classics edition of the book observes: 'Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy.'

With DCMS licensing statements, comparisons with electric shock therapy are perhaps inappropriate, but they could be described as a form of mind-numbing medication.


Hamish Birchall