Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Church Commissioner Mandelson

Cranmer has covered this before, but the issue of Lord Mandelson, his music tax and confirmation that he is a Church Commissioner flared up on the floor of the House today.

And His Lordship was accused of bare-faced hypocrisy.

Representatives of the Church of England have expressed alarm at the consequences of the new regulations being imposed by Commissioner Mandelson (as he can continue to call himself).

Although divine music in churches will have a (voluntary, non-statutory) exemption, church halls will not. Hiring out church halls for community functions is a vital role of the church, both in terms of raising funds and supporting community life. The Church Commissioners (other than Lord Mandelson) have expressed alarm at the 'adverse effects' of the changes.

Recorded in Hansard:

“Mr. Hurd: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the effect of the Government's proposed changes to exemptions from public performance rights in sound recordings and performers' rights on (a) religious worship and (b) church halls.

Sir Stuart Bell: My understanding is that there is no proposal to end the current exemption from the requirement to obtain a music licence for music used in 'divine service'. I have not assessed the possible impact of charges being introduced for church halls but Christian Copyright Licensing International, which handles copyright on behalf of churches, will in due course provide updates on the Government's proposed changes (which have yet to be debated by Parliament) and their potential effect on churches. I would urge the Government to avoid adverse effects on churches given their vital contribution to the wellbeing of our communities and our nation.”

So, churches, village halls, charity shops and sports clubs across the United Kingdom face a new £20 million levy. New regulations by Lord Mandelson's Whitehall empire are to abolish charities’ and voluntary groups’ long-standing exemption from paying music licensing fees – hitting them with unexpected new bills just for holding events with recorded music or for playing a radio.

To date, voluntary groups have not had to pay for a so-called “PPL” performance rights licence in order to play recorded music. This exemption reflects the public benefit that such organisations provide, but this is now being abolished. This will affect church halls, charity discos, tea dances, youth clubs, dancing groups, sports clubs and even charity shops which have a radio in their staff room. The new levy will come into effect in April 2010 once the new regulations are ratified by Parliament. Conservatives are opposing these changes and standing up for local voluntary groups.

Lord Mandelson’s department admits that the new levies will cost voluntary groups up to £20 million a year. Some organisations will 'cease playing music' because they cannot afford a licence, and it will hit a quarter of a million organisations – 140,000 charities, 6,750 charity shops, 66,440 sports clubs, 4,000 community buildings, 5,000 rural halls and 45,000 religious buildings.

These new levies are on top of bureaucratic rules imposed by the Licensing Act 2003, which requires expensive ‘premises licences’ for church halls to hold regular small-scale social functions, and which have imposed new red tape to play unamplified live music or hold ticketed events.

Raising the issue in Parliament today, Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, later said: “This new red tape will mean higher costs for church halls wanting to hire out their venues to the local community, on top of the costs of Labour's Licensing Act... This is a hypocritical Labour assault on the fabric of British community life. Having effectively shut down post offices and local pubs, Labour Ministers now have our village halls, scout huts, charity shops and church halls in their sights. This is a heartless charge on community buildings and charities.”

And to clarify, Lord Mandelson’s full title is now:

The Right Honourable the Baron Mandelson of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the County of Durham, First Secretary of State and Lord President of the Privy Council and Secretary of State for Business and Secretary of State for Innovation and Skills, and Church Commissioner.

As established in Hansard:

“Mr. Hurd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on what date Lord Mandelson was appointed a Church Commissioner.

Mr. McFadden: Lord Mandelson was appointed a Church Commissioner on 5 June 2009, when he was appointed Lord President of the Council.”

We are all aware that Lord Mandelson is omnipotent and sweeps all before him, but could not Cabinet Office Ministers have shown a little backbone in resisting this new music tax?

Perhaps Angela Smith gives an indication of the law's provenance. She said: "...the Government have to make this change, as it is a legal imperative. We are working with all the organisations and charities involved and are having discussions in an attempt to reach agreement before any decision is taken forward."

The British Government compelled to make the change?

By whom?

A legal imperative?

On whose command?

Is it not curious that the person who is meant to be the Minister defending the Church of England is, at the same time, giving it a kick in the collection tins?

UPDATE (21.30):

Seek and ye shall find ...

The omniscient Dr Richard North has kindly confirmed that the EU is the fons et origo of this legislation. Church Commissioner Mandelson is simply honouring the higher oath he swore when he became an EU Commissioner (higher, that is, than the one he swore when he became a Privy Councillor).

Read pages 11 and 12 of the snazzily-named 'Consultation on changes to exemptions from public performance rights in sound recordings and performers’ rights'

Behind which, Dr North confirms, is SENA v NOS C-245/00 [2003] EMLR 364.

He says: "The wheels grind exceeding slow... it has taken all this time to get the process through... but the case exposed non-compliance with EU law and this change is to regularise the position."


Blogger Demetrius said...

There is something very badly wrong here. What is astonishing is that at one time facilities of this kind were part of the bedrock of ordinary, and working class, community life and effort. Not only that but they were created by those communities for future generations. Why does the Labour London Cronygarchy hate ordinary people so much?

10 March 2010 at 18:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please Gentlemen, let us remember that we are now slaves of the European Union, and we now have to defer to the 'greater good' of the unified Super State of Europe.

Nationalism, and national culture must be waived in the interests of growing a supra-national 'EU' common culture, and whilst this may be uncomfortable at first, think of the exciting and manifold benefits of being able to hold your next village bash at a chosque hall in the south of France or a YMMA hall in Berlin, but with all the rules 'harmonized' so that you won't ever know that you ever left home. Just apply online to the user friendly Europe Wide EU Village Bash Directorate in the lovely and remote city of Arad (Romania), enclosing your 500 Euro deposit (non returnable) to be allocated your guaranteed homogenized location and date for your local Chosque Fete, Gala or durbar.

10 March 2010 at 18:50  
Blogger Gnostic said...

There is no limit to the depths this disgusting government will sink to in order to squeeze the last brass farthing out of us.

Thieving scumbags!

10 March 2010 at 19:52  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

Mandleson, NewLab, and aided by their Marxist friends in the MSM, the BBC, and not least the homosexualist community, are all united in planning, organising, and then legislating Christianity out of the public square.
It is not done all at once - that would be too draconian and obvious, but by small incremental steps, each one of which is to use a variety of approaches to undermine, ridicule, inhibit, and then to systematically destroy what is left of our Christian heritage in both the UK and USA in particular.
This much must be obvious.

David Kupelian, a Christian commentator in the USA has written an excoriating expose of how these forces are working to the same ends in the USA.
I would strongly recommend a reading of his book
It fully explains the whole strategy.
He asks the question as to why the mainline 'Christian' denominations in the USA (but applicable to a degree in the UK) seem to support leftist organisations which work to undermine this heritage.
I think his answer is significant:
"Because many of the mainline churches, at least at their leadership level have virtually BECOME leftist organisations"

Do read this searing, penetrating exposure of why we are being conned out of our rights, liberties, and Christian heritage. (I recently recommended it to Melanie Phillips who is reading it)

10 March 2010 at 20:18  
Anonymous not a machine said...

This is similar to the rain tax scam , however once you are over the anger of the outrage of it , the beneficary of the licence increase is all too apparent ,in Labours game of who suffers for there finacial mismangement .

If only the daily radio playlists included hyms modern and new to raise money for churches ,via recording royalities instead of the rebellious , nhilistic bombardemnt of tunes we are no doubt to endure during the election !

10 March 2010 at 20:27  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Likely, Your Grace, Lord Mandelson's insistence that this thing must be done is in response to music copyright law and rulings in the EU. There are now layers upon layers of rights attached to every piece of music and recorded performance thereof that still live within the vale of copyright expiration. Even if a piece of music, such as composed by Montiverdi or Tallis, is clearly in the public domain, the recording of the same is not, nor is the edition used for the recording necessarily free from copyright and its associated levies.

It is a byzantine system, with variances in the law between the US and EU as well. And it is shameful to see it imposed in such a manner upon charitable groups and church halls.

OS makes some of his income from music copyright, and much of the business he works in is dependent upon the flow of royalties that provides the cash to sustain it.

That said, reason should prevail, as should a deference to the sensibilities of society. A copyright is a means of protection of the work and its author to allow him to profit from his creation. It is not, and never was meant to be, a weapon used to extort rents from the culture at large.

This clearly is over the line, over the top, and should be repudiated.

If not, a little civil disobedience is not such a bad thing. Who knows, people might begin singing and making their own music again, just to express how utterly fed up they are with their government.

Then Lord Mandelson could attempt to impose a tax on singing...good luck with that, mate!

10 March 2010 at 20:40  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Window tax. Nothing new under the sun.

10 March 2010 at 20:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know about PPL and PRS exemptions, but this

"These new levies are on top of bureaucratic rules imposed by the Licensing Act 2003, which requires expensive ‘premises licences’ for church halls to hold regular small-scale social functions, and which have imposed new red tape to play unamplified live music or hold ticketed events."

is wrong. There might be a requirement for a premises licence for a church hall, but the local authority should not charge for that license as it is a "community" premises. We don't, in my area.

That said, the PRS and PPL seem to have embarked on a campaign of raising income by whatever means available - I tell people to respond to the PRS/PPL bullies thus - "the second word is.... off!"

10 March 2010 at 21:34  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

More crimes against humanity! Those who govern seem to have lost all humanity - like dumm demons they impose dumm administrative exercises, hiding behind power of State. Would they have to put up a fysical fight, they would shit in their pants, and be blown away...or rather, they would run for fear!

How come such scumm is floating upward into such positions where they can do harm to normal, real people, that do work and give meaningfull contributions to humanity and society.

Why, oh Lord, did you not allow Your angels to root out, pluck up and burn the weeds? Then why do You not manifest Your power, Your judgment, Your wrath, and revenge all evil, especially done by scumm in power...which You ordained...I mean, You ordained that society has rulers... You did it for good, but You could have foreseen that now only devils, liars, scumm rule, committing immense crimes against humanity. Who can trust any official/ authority nowadays? Even in sports...the officials ruin the sports. The governments of the nations are the very worst criminals, committing the very worst crimes in humanity.

Is THIS what You had in mind, planned and ordained, Lord, when You instituted government? ( Read Prof. R.J. Rummel's book Death by Government ) Since You did not give Your children power to deal with criminal governments as Your Kingdom is not of this world, and since You have been given ALL power in heaven and on earth, Lord, why do You not show up and wipe that scumm off of the face of the earth? What are You waiting for?

Why did you give devils power to ruin, harm, rob, murder and destroy Your people, Lord? How can this testify of Your love?

10 March 2010 at 22:18  
Anonymous Trencherbone said...

From 'Do we already live in a Fascist State?'

(7) An immense burden of meddlesome legislation that turns ordinary people into criminals.

(13) Control freakery and micromanagement of every aspect of peoples' lives.

(14) Attempts to destroy all non-state controlled institutions where proles can meet and exchange unauthorised opinions (eg use of taxation and licensing legislation to destroy community centres such as pubs and village halls)

10 March 2010 at 22:19  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10 March 2010 at 22:36  
Blogger OurSally said...

Tosh, once again, let's just blame the EU and not do anything.

Germany is in the EU too and does not have this problem. Music tax only has to be paid if there is an entrance fee. The money goes to GEMA, the organisation representing the composers and recorders. if you compose and play your own music, you don't pay GEMA.

11 March 2010 at 06:59  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Your Grace, there is only One that may be considered Omniscient - I really had thought you might have known......

As for the Church of England, what do Bishops do in The Upper House ? can this have been such a surprise ? Have they been too involved in helping Mandelson promote gentlemen of like persuasion into the Erastian Church that they have forgotten to protect it ?

11 March 2010 at 07:27  
Blogger Nephilim Child said...

Your Grace,

When will singing hyms on a sunday morning be taxed?

11 March 2010 at 08:29  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

The Church of England is pro-EU. It has Dr Gary Wilton as a representative to the EU.

The tragedy for the Church of England and for we its members is that the EU has passed a series of Directives (homosexual rights) that threaten the freedom of association of orthodox (as opposed to heretical ‘Christians’).

Now, on the rare occasion when I bring up the issue of the EU with a priest, I get a blank look. One would think that these priests, who are armed with degrees in theology, who must read about issues in current affairs would know the vicious effects of EU Directives upon the church and individual members of their flocks.

They don’t.

When Christians are hauled before industrial tribunals for failing to comply with EU Directives: the Archbishop of Canterbury remains silent; our bishops mutter; our priests demand that we repent of global warming – they do anything and say anything just so long as they can put off facing reality for one more day.

But they too will come before the Judgment Seat. They will be asked the question: How did you look after my little lambs? Looking after His people is a tremendous responsibility: its acts of commission and omission will echo in eternity (for here we are nothing but shadows and dust – there we will be real people).

Last Sunday morning, as is my usual habit, I attended church. I expected to be fed, to receive bread. A ‘sermon’ was preached on the Temptation of Christ (the invitation to turn stones into bread). Amid the noise of children yelling as if they were in the yelling street, I strained to hear what was being preached. At the end of the sermon; each of us was given a small stone handed out by the children.

The people received no ‘bread’ but a stone!

This Sunday morning, if the priest dares to mention the music tax – may God restrain me – at the point where I merely bite my lower lip quivering with rage.

11 March 2010 at 08:41  
Anonymous Y Rhyfelwr Dewr said...

Appointing Peter Meddlesome as a church commissioner is a bit like appointing Hitler as the chief rabbi, isn't it?

11 March 2010 at 09:01  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, your Welsh communicant @ 19.01 has a point. In the interests of balance and interfaith dialogue it is surely time to appoint a Muslim Commissioner too.

11 March 2010 at 09:34  
Blogger Botogol said...

we should all care about this - and anyone who does not live in a marginal seat may like to make their vote count and vote for the Pirate Party, the only party that really understands and cares about the issues involved.

11 March 2010 at 12:29  
Anonymous Jethro said...

Tar and feather him, put him in
the stocks and throw rotten cabbages at him.There's nothing wrong with some of the old ways.

11 March 2010 at 15:00  
Anonymous Oswin said...

''...verily I say unto you...we approach the end of days...stalks upon the earth Satan's divers minions...adorned in glorious raiment...''

11 March 2010 at 16:19  
Anonymous len said...

This socialist government seems to like sucking the life blood out of communities.This is a government which wants total control of your finances,your social life,and even wants to control what you think and what you can say,this socialist government wants control of YOU.
The Orwellian nightmare is coming in by stealth, your freedoms are being stripped away and you are being herded like sheep.There is an incredible pressure being put on society to conform, to be channeled into a particular mode, a form of thinking and behavior.
In retrospect I think 1984 was prophetic.

11 March 2010 at 18:33  

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