Michael Fabricant, a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee
scrutinising the work of the Department of Culture Media & Sport, says that
"pubs in Lichfield and elsewhere with a strong ‘live music’ tradition face
financial ruin with a new Government music stealth tax."
Michael explains: "The Licensing Bill currently progressing through
Parliament contains measures which could lead to the loss of thousands of
live music venues. At the moment, performances by one or two musicians do
not require a licence. The Government now propose that all venues holding
more than five performances a year must be licensed, however many performers
are involved. The Musician’s Union has described this as ‘the biggest change
in licensing control of live music for over 100 years’. I agree. The
effect is bound to be increased costs and bureaucracy and the loss of many
venues for live music, with the resulting loss of jobs for musicians,
particularly in the folk and jazz fields. I will oppose these provisions
when the Bill is introduced in the House of Commons.
"Meanwhile, fears have also been expressed that carol singing, public
rehearsals, church bell ringing, and spontaneous singing may in future
require a licence. What a nonsense! While this has been strongly denied by
the Government, specialist lawyers say that the Bill as it presently stands
can certainly be interpreted in this way.
"There is some good news! Following pressure from Conservative MPs, the
Government announced a total climb-down on its proposals to require places
of religious worship to be licensed for the provision of secular
entertainment. This would have spelt the end of the Lichfield Festival.
I now hope the Government will see sense and climb down on their live music
stealth tax too" adds Michael Fabricant.