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Pedlars in your town centre


Posted At: 06 June 2008 14:15 PM
Related Categories: General, Town & Shopping Centre Management


I understand a bill is being placed before the commons to regulate the use of the Pedlars Act 1871.

Pedlars, these days, tend to stand in one place for an extended period to sell their goods or services, whereas the act defines them as “a person who, without any horse or other beast, travels and trades on foot from town to town carrying to sell or exposing for sale any goods, wares or merchandise or procuring orders for the same, or selling or offering for sale his skill and handicraft”. 

These people, having morphed the original definition to protect themselves, therefore escape the clutches of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, which allows local authorities to designate streets for the purpose of street trading.  Believe it or not, street trading is different from peddling and therefore regulation of pedlars is exempted from those provisions. 

Brian Iddon (Labour, Bolton South East), championing the bill, states that “19th-century legislation can no longer cope with changes in the way that goods are marketed and sold today”.  Too right!  Unfortunately for him, Chris Chope MP (Conservative Christchurch) intends to attempt to 'talk the Bill out' in order to frustrate the legislation.  Talking the bill out must be even more antiquated than the Pedlars Act.  Mr Chope believes that "Pedlars are hard-working, entrepreneurial, market-driven, self-employed and law-abiding traders who provide services much appreciated by the public at competitive prices.”  A similar set of adjectives could be applied to MPs of course. 

In looking into this a little further, I came across an Americanism for such antics – filibuster.  Neat.

Mr Chope, please do not filibuster, allow the bill’s assent and let those legally operating in town and city centres get on with their jobs unencumbered by “pedlars”.

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