The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has launched a consultation on “street trading and pedlary laws”, and their compliance with the European Services Directive.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said of the consultation:

“The Pedlars Act is an archaic law which requires those wishing to peddle to obtain a pedlar’s certificate (and pay a fee for this) at a time when small businesses are at the heart of continuing growth in the UK – this is unhelpful and restrictive bureaucracy. These proposed changes will help give a boost to those that trade on the street.”

The Pedlars Act 1871 requires “pedlars”- “any hawker, pedlar, petty chapman, tinker, caster of metals, mender of chairs, or other person who, without any horse or other beast bearing or drawing burden, travels and trades on foot and goes from town to town or to other men’s houses, carrying to sell or exposing for sale any goods, wares, or merchandise, or procuring orders for goods, wares, or merchandise immediately to be delivered, or selling or offering for sale his skill in handicraft” – to have a permanent home address and to be of “good character” before police will grant them a 12-month licence to sell their wares.

The Times reports that the Local Government Association feels scrapping the Act could jeopardise “the progress councils have made in tackling the rising tide of bogus cold-callers who prey on the elderly”, and possibly result in a “Del Boy free-for-all”. However, the consultation also aims to give more effective enforcement powers to local authorities in order to help them enforce the new street trading regime more robustly – effectively tackling illegal street trade whilst respecting the free market provisions of the Directive.