Madness takes many forms. One of the most dangerous is the charismatic,
plausible and articulate individual in authority whose mania may go unrecognised
for years. Trusting and credulous admirers often become participants in
Such is the predicament of this government where live music is concerned.
The charismatic, plausible, and articulate individual is probably a government
adviser, or senior civil servant. Whoever he or she is, they have argued
with conviction and in all seriousness that the public must be protected
from musical instruments by the criminal law, irrespective of existing
nuisance and safety legislation. The Licensing Act ensures that the mere
provision of musical instruments to the public is a potential offence
- they don't even have to be played. Incredibly, ministers have listened
and nodded in agreement.
Yesterday this position was reaffirmed in the government response to the
Culture, Media and Sport Committee's Licensing Act inquiry recommendations:
After taking evidence from the police, local authority representatives,
DCMS and musicians, the all party Committee recommended that gigs up to
200 capacity and unamplified performance by one or two performers should
be exempt. This was the government response:
'... DCMS has considered exemptions for small venues, but has not been
able to reach agreement on exemptions that will deliver an increase in
live music whilst still retaining essential protections for local residents.'
['Government Response to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport
Committee Report on the Licensing Act 2003 Session 2008-2009', excerpt
from p9, response to recommendation 18]
The government goes on to plug 'minor variations' - a process that offers
a potential fast-track route to obtaining permission to have musical instruments.
Big screen broadcast entertainment remains exempt.