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Street Trading

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

8. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulatory framework for street trading. (198418)

No recent assessment has been undertaken of the regulatory framework on street trading. However, the Government are aware that my hon. Friend has tabled a Bill that seeks to extend local authority powers. Our Department is in the process of undertaking research to establish more firmly the evidence about the effectiveness of the current legislation. That will help us to make decisions about how to proceed in a way that balances the interests of business, consumers and, indeed, pedlars.

There have been seven local authority-promoted private Acts of Parliament to control the street trading activities of pedlars. As we have heard this morning, six almost identical Bills are before the House at present, with the possibility of up to 50 more in the queue. Will my hon. Friend consider allowing my Bill to proceed on the grounds that clause 2 would allow councils wishing to adopt it to do so? That would overcome any human rights-based objections that might apply to a blanket Bill.

I know that my colleague Baroness Vadera is prepared to discuss the matter further with my hon. Friend. He has persevered on this important matter. We are aware of a number of local authorities with an interest in it, which is why we wish to establish the evidence base. We need to understand the issue more clearly.