Previous Section Index Home Page

In all fairness, the PRS was concerned when I described some of the cases in which people felt that the letters and phone calls that they had received were too aggressive and said that it had already acted to soften the language in some of its letters. That is good news. The PRS has also undertaken an independent review of its calls and
12 Nov 2008 : Column 921
call centres, to ensure that calls are being handled courteously and accurately. In addition, the Federation of Small Businesses has been invited to visit the call centre to see the process for itself.

I have also heard anecdotal evidence of inspectors knocking on doors asking for money. The PRS has confirmed to me that that is not a practice that it engages in. For anyone listening to this debate or reading it, I would like to highlight my concern that there could be a scam going on. If anyone has somebody turn up on their doorstep claiming to be a PRS inspector, but not having made an appointment, that person is probably not a PRS inspector and they should either inform the police or contact the PRS directly for clarification.

There are wider concerns about how the PRS inspects and what its role is. It is not a Government agency, so what are its powers to gain entry to properties? I am advised that the PRS is able to enter already licensed premises, but would usually do so only with an appointment.

As I have said, the fee structure is complicated and most people have no idea how it works. There is a range of more than 40 licence tariffs and fees, which are calculated based on the size of the business and other factors, including how many people listen to the radio. However, when I selected a category on the website, it was almost impossible to work out what the cost would be. Again, the PRS assures me that it is already looking into the problem, particularly in some sectors where the existing charging system has been questioned, to see whether improvements can be made.

However, we need clarity in other areas, too. What happens, for example, if an employee in a company decides to bring in their radio to listen to? Is the employer liable? Do they need a licence? What happens if an employee plugs an MP3 player or an iPod into some speakers and everybody hears the music? Who has responsibility in those circumstances?

Guest house owners are also confused by the system. If music is being played in a room for the personal enjoyment of a guest, is it being played in public? Guest house owners in Plymouth have real worries about the licensing system. One is Steve Scaife, who has received threatening letters and says that the PRS had the bailiffs sent round, although there has been no court case. He says:

Clarification on that point would be useful.

The current consultation on music licensing offers an excellent opportunity to strike a healthy balance between the needs of the music copyright holders and the music users in the voluntary and community sector, but the feedback that I am getting suggests that the present options do not meet everyone’s needs. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will bear in mind the comments made in submissions to this consultation when drawing up the Government’s position. He will also understand that, with the expanding use of music in a digital and online age, the PRS has a difficult task trying to ensure that those responsible for the writing and publishing of music are fairly rewarded for their efforts. Keeping track of music usage on the internet and in other media cannot be easy.


12 Nov 2008 : Column 922

I know that my right hon. Friend will take note of the concerns that I have raised today—and of the willingness of the PRS, as expressed to me, to address the criticisms of its operation—and that he will do what he can to facilitate the process of improvement. Importantly, will he please ensure that Government do nothing to complicate the process further, thereby avoiding placing additional burdens and costs on small business and voluntary organisations?

9.1 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Mr. David Lammy): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck) on securing the debate and on the forensic, reasoned and able way in which she discussed the issues. I found that incredibly helpful. This is, indeed, an opportune moment for us to reflect on the activities of the copyright licensing bodies, and in particular of the Performing Right Society, given that a number of complaints have been received by the Intellectual Property Office and by my Department.

First, I hope that the whole House will join me in recognising the success of the members of the Performing Right Society. The society represents the songwriters, composers and publishers who make such a large contribution to the economic and cultural wealth of the UK. Of course, we are not just talking about the Beatles’ back catalogue; we are talking about the creative work that young British people—many of them from the least advantaged parts of our society—are doing today. Two million people are employed in creative jobs, and the sectors contribute £60 billion a year to the UK economy. That is 7.3 per cent. of our gross domestic product. Over the past decade, our creative sector has grown at twice the rate of the economy as a whole, and it is well placed for continued growth as demand for content grows around the world.

Intellectual property remains the lifeblood of the UK’s creative industries, and those industries are even more valuable to the UK economy in tough times than in easier ones. In the music industry, the value arises from copyright. Copyright is important because it provides the legal framework to sustain and protect creative value.

Let me now say a little more about the Performing Right Society—the PRS. It is a not-for-profit membership organisation representing 60,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. PRS members have a right to request remuneration whenever their work is broadcast on radio or TV or in public. That right is protected under international, European Union and national legislation. My hon. Friend was right to say that the PRS is responsible for collecting the payments due to its members for the use of their music. In that sense, it is entitled to collect licence fees when music is broadcast in public, but of course, the value of music is not just about the revenue that it can bring. The value also lies in the music being heard and being accessible to the public.

What do we want our copyright system to deliver? We want it to maximise the availability of creative works to the public. We want to ensure that creative endeavour is rewarded, and that users can enjoy what has been created, on fair and reasonable terms. Here in the UK, we have one of the world’s more liberal systems governing our licensing arrangements.


12 Nov 2008 : Column 923

Let us look, for example, at the process of setting the tariff, which is the cost of the licence to the end user. Our system expects the PRS to negotiate tariffs and other terms and conditions with relevant representative bodies. Usually, that would be a trade association or similar body. Our system expects those players to agree a market rate for a licence, which is settled through negotiation. If negotiations break down, the user can refer the scheme to the copyright tribunal. In other jurisdictions, they do things differently. In some, the licence terms and conditions are set by the administration; in others, the licence terms are set by an independent tribunal; and some licensing bodies are under constant administrative supervision.

The questions we must ask ourselves are, first, whether our system is working and, secondly, whether it is seen as fair and reasonable. My hon. Friend is right to suggest that we also need to ask about the very nature of the word “public”, particularly in the context where small businesses are facing harder economic times and the PRS has acknowledged that it is moving deeper into the types of businesses that it responds to. We are talking about very small cafés, very small neighbourhood hairdressers or the local chip shop, for example. My hon. Friend also raised issues about the hospital radio station and the local community centre. If the system is to work properly, it must gain the confidence of the public.

Mr. Cawsey: I welcome the Minister’s balanced approach. I entirely agree that things need to be balanced, but economic downturns and recessions also hit performers, songwriters and composers, so while it is important to ensure that unfair burdens are not placed on businesses or the voluntary sector, it is also important to ensure that the people who actually work in the creative industries in the first place receive a fair remuneration for the work that they do. I am sure that the Minister will agree.

Mr. Lammy: Speaking as a former cathedral chorister who still gets the odd royalty, I agree absolutely. There is real talent at the Dispatch Box, but the key question is balance and securing a system that commands the respect of the public. Clearly, some issues have gone awry over the recent period, so I have reflected on these issues and found scope for improvement in two areas.

First, we need to ensure that people understand the law, the PRS and what it is doing. Many small businesses are unaware that they need a licence and our inquiries suggest that not all large trade associations are fully aware of how the system works, as my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport showed. They do not always know that they can play a role in negotiating the terms and conditions of a licensing scheme, and some large associations are unaware that they can take a case to the copyright tribunal if they are unhappy with the terms and conditions.

We need to make sure that information is reaching the right people and organisations. We need them to know about the role of the PRS; we need to make sure that trade associations representing small businesses know about the system; and we need to ensure the rights of the PRS. Customers need to know what the
12 Nov 2008 : Column 924
PRS can and cannot do and they need to know their own rights as users and that avenues for redress are available for them in the copyright tribunal.

Secondly, we need to make sure that users have access to effective mechanisms for complaint and for judicial redress. As far as judicial redress is concerned, users, and particularly trade associations, need to know about the copyright tribunal, and they need to know that it has a function for them as a specialised court where they can seek adjudication on tariff schemes. The Select Committee suggested in March this year that the tribunal process had gained a reputation in some areas for being expensive and time consuming. I am pleased to announce that the Intellectual Property Office is implementing a series of reforms to change the position. However, we also need to ensure that we engage in the jurisdiction of that tribunal. Apart from the judicial process, I am anxious that individual users should have access to an effective complaints procedure.

Alison Seabeck: I welcome the direction in which the Minister seems to be moving. One of the key issues raised was the number of people who were paying up because they were not sure how much it would cost them to appeal or go to a tribunal.

Mr. Lammy: I am grateful for what my hon. Friend has said. I have met representatives of the PRS, and agreed with them that there will be a code of practice to deal with complaints from individual users. The PRS will consult publicly on the code by the end of the year. That is a start, but I believe that more needs to be done. I am well aware that there must be an independent body to review complaints in a system of this kind. It cannot be right, in 2008, for there to be only an internal adjudication process within a single body, and I hope that I have been able to demonstrate to my hon. Friend that, in that respect, action is in hand.

As the new intellectual property Minister, I am encountering many new and interesting challenges, one of which is the need to ensure that intellectual property rights are properly understood and valued by those who live by and from the system. I have heard much in the debate, from my hon. Friend and others, that gives food for thought. I want it to be understood that I do not take these issues lightly, and will reflect seriously on the points that have been made. I consider it important—indeed, essential—to the protection of intellectual property for licensing schemes to command the respect of the entire community, and for no process to undermine the effort that our musicians make because it is seen to be harsh or unfair.

I have asked the PRS to reflect on the breadth, as it were, of those whom it approaches in seeking licences. Clearly it is not great if someone understands the process for the first time only because a significant amount is being sought from them. There are issues of public education, but beyond that there are issues of proper judicial process. I shall explore those issues further over the weeks and months ahead.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at thirteen minutes past Nine o’clock.
12 Nov 2008 : Column 925

Deferred Division


Dangerous Drugs


The House divided: Ayes 430, Noes 54.
Division No. 315]




AYES


Afriyie, Adam
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkins, Charlotte
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baldry, Tony
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bone, Mr. Peter
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curry, rh Mr. David
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Engel, Natascha

Ennis, Jeff
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Mr. Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Healey, rh John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Herbert, Nick
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hillier, Meg
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howell, John
Howells, Dr. Kim
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Key, Robert
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lloyd, Tony
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Main, Anne
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim

McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Mercer, Patrick
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tami, Mark
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Ussher, Kitty
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Sir Peter
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walley, Joan
Walter, Mr. Robert
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Weir, Mr. Mike
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Phil
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Young, rh Sir George
NOES


Alexander, Danny
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Cohen, Harry
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Farron, Tim
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jones, Lynne
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
McDonnell, John
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Öpik, Lembit
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rowen, Paul
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Question accordingly agreed to.
Next Section Index Home Page