Saturday, 1 November 2008

Peddlars Rights Threatened

The founders of M&S were pedlars who went from town to town seeking out customers. If they tried that today they would be target by some councils. This is yet another case of Liberties declining as authorities get more powerful.

Pedlars of Britain provide a range of products and novelties that research has shown that the public wants. A recent research project by Durham University commissioned by government to formulate policy found that in every instance those who purchased from pedlars in Manchester were happy with their experience and would not like to see prohibition of pedlars. From Eastbourne to Edinburgh the public response is the same – pedlars have survived for hundreds of years because the public endorse their activities.

So you might ask why it is that MP’s, Councils and powerful lobby groups represented by the Local Government Association seek to stop the public benefiting from the activities of pedlars? An LGA department headed by Hazel Harding willfully incite the media with anecdotes such as: “Their [pedlars] products are often poor in quality and even dangerous. Councils report that they operate in packs, sometimes linked to criminal gangs, obstructing passers by and using intimidating and threatening behaviour.”

Bournemouth and Manchester are just two of several cities that are persuaded to try to bring to an end the cultural identity of pedlars in their particular jurisdictions. The method sought is a draconian ‘restraint of trade’ on the activity of pedlars whose economic life then dries up. This has been achieved in the City of Westminster and other places despite the ruling from the House of Lords “not to prevent ‘genuine pedlars’ from carrying on their trade”. Take a walk through the City of Westminster to prove for yourself that this same legislation did not resolve the alleged problems caused by rogues. Rogues still operate and many lawful pedlars now openly admit the obligation to duck & dive…… survive.

MP's resumed the Second Reading debate on Wednesday 29th October in respect of six Private Bills which each look to outlaw lawful pedlars. Martin Saler MP, Ann Widdecombe and others spoke on this issue. MP's opposed to the Bills are calling on the promoters to await the findings of the Durham University research project and are emphasizing that the Bills should be directed solely against the activities of rogue street traders where the problem is lack of enforcement. A blanket law against all pedlars is an attack on free enterprise liberty and tradition.

Parliament in 1871 determined that Pedlars be a recognised British Institution enshrined in law, available to all people of voting age – shame on those who oppose the will of the people. for debate 21 Feb 2007 31 Oct 2008

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