The Live Music Forum

Open Letter from Phil Little

Thursday 14th July 2009 - The Government Rejects Itself

Open Letter

Dear Sir/Madam

In the Government Response to the House of Commons Culture, Media and
Sport Committee Report on the Licensing Act 2003, the 'Government'
says, "we are pleased to be able to accept or partially accept the
majority of the 26 recommendations". But when I counted up I had them
rejecting 15 out of 26 recommendations.

The recommendations were from a select committee of MPs, from across
the spectrum, specially brought together to examine the problems
surrounding the Licensing Act, not least, the decline in live music
gigs. And the Government is going to ignore most of the advice from
it's own committee. What, then was the point of the exercise ?

The real question seems to be who are we arguing against. Who, exactly
is, "the Government", claiming to reject the recommendations of the
select committee of elected MPs ? They say they have been unable to
reach an agreement on a small gigs exemption. What kind of salaries
are they on, not to be able to reach an agreement on something that
affects the employment of thousands of musicians and co-workers.

My local MP (Nia Griffiths, Lab.) seems sympathetic, but all she can
do is write a letter to the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media
and Sport, Ben Bradshaw. Is he responsible for saying 'No!' to a small
gigs exemption ? I doubt it somehow. His predecessor ? No.

More than likely, the "Government" that is rejecting the
recommendation for a small gig exemption, consists of a small group of
civil servants who have an agenda which is sympathetic to the position
of the Police and the LGA and they intend to make the Licensing Act
stick come what may. In all likelihood, they are the officials who
drew up the appalling legislation in the first place. The will of the
people as expressed through their members of Parliament does not come
into play.

The employment and welfare of thousands of musicians is of no
consequence to the Government employees behind this and the health and
quality of the popular culture which they exploit and tax has been
completely disregarded. This self-serving and arrogant approach has
already caused damage to live music in the same way that the bankers
have wrecked our economy and it poses the urgent question of how much
longer people will put up with it.

Phil Little
Live Music Forum