A Pedlars Certificate enables a pedestrian street trader to trade in any goods, any place, any time for £12.50.  It is to be abolished.  According to the National Pedlar's Association ...

The government is “consulting” on Street Trading and Pedlary Law to implement national legislation and end 15 years of piecemeal local legislation. The department for business BIS has considered 2 policy options – Option 1 “do nothing” and Option 2 “repeal the Pedlars Act" but has failed to present Option 3 "to amend the Pedlar Act".

For those of you who dont know what that means and cant think why on earth I or anyone else would be interested in it, let me explain...

During our research into the changes in the law regarding flyering legislation a while back... I made a study of various similar lobbying organisations with vaguely similar interests
in the hope of conning them into the idea that our interests were the same and cashing in on their membership databases and financial resources to achieve my political aims.  One such organisation who gave us a lot of helpful advise in the dark arts of upsetting local government was the "National Pedlar's Association".   For more detailed background information see this video...

My Evil Trade - A Pedlar's Life from Julian McDonnell on Vimeo.

... in which a slightly camp gentleman's attempts to express his genuine sense of persecution are somewhat undermined by a musical track so awful it sounds like it came from one of those hideous MGM musicals which Laurel and Hardy were forced to participate in in the 1930s as a punishment for making Hal Roach too rich ... making films in which they were often to be seen selling rubbish to punters on the street out of broken down motorcars because they were the bottom of the social heap.  Laurel and Hardy peddled everything from mouse traps to fresh fish - when they weren't busking in the snow...

It also includes useful information on how to pay off your student tuition fees by pedlary even if this comes at the cost of a criminal prosecution which means that you end up not being able to get a job and are forced under the government's workfare scheme to do unpaid work inside a shop rather than outside ...

I swaped some information with them about local government and now I receivemany many emails from them ... to add to my collection of pleas from over-ambitious open spots, discussions of computer code and general invitations to lose money or drive to the Shetland Islands for an open spot because the promoter will be there to see my act.

Yes, every day week on week I recive another desperate, despairing email from this - possibly Britain's most unloved and widely ignored pressure group.  To the point that I have begun to wonder more and more about them and their strange cause which seems as doomed as King Canute's attempt to turn back the tide...

...but still they helped us out so I feel we should try perhaps to help them out - even if their cause is doomed - so that's what this page is about.

It's fair to say the NPA's reputation preceded them because they were mentioned to me even before I started looking for them by a member of UKIP.  "You want to look up the National Pedlar's Association - they're viciously persecuted by councils and know exactly how to frustrate them," he said ... preceded by a long rant about the European Union that I couldn't quite fathom.  

Well, that's not quite true ... it was something about the European Services Directive (the SD) saying that the Pedlary Act was bad.  

The Pedlars insist that according to BIS the European Services Directive (the SD) is the only substantive reason for repeal of the Pedlars Act which they claim could be made to fully comply with the SD. 

"BIS is pursuing Option 2 to include restrictive regulation on pedlars within local street trading law. It is claimed that repeal fulfils the terms of the European Services Directive that aims to remove all barriers to free trade".

Note : It may be that though the Pedlars Act technically breaches the SD actually the EU dont give a toss... or that it doesn't at all and this is just a fig leaf.

When I asked the Pedlars about whether the Pedlars Act is or isn't actually compliant with the European Services Directive in actuality ... they said that the argument revolves around the phrase "chair-menders and handicraft persons" being in the Pedlars Act of 1697, 1871, 1881 and that someone had used this to state that it contradicted the SD signed in 2006 ...but that actually this is sophistry because the definition of who the SD should be applied to is clearly defined within the Act under page 17 Article 4 -

Definitions 1: "service" means any self-employed economic activity so... how difficult is that to understand?

Basically they think there has been a genuine cockup but are not sure is intentional or a mistranslation.  Fortunately striking legislation off the statute book (rather than putting it on) can be done by a Statutory Order that denies parliamentary debate or public scrutiny so .... Anyway ...Their exact explanation is quite complex so I've pasted it at the bottom of the page...

Whatever the truth the Government is determined upon repeal and says that the Pedlars Act must be abolished because allowing everyone to sell anything anywhere for the price of a £12.50 certificate is a "barrier to free trade".  Exactly how a certificate allowing people to sell things is a trade barrier I am not exactly sure....any more than I will ever understand how raiding the bank accounts of Cyprian citiizens   ...

....and telling them how much money they can and cant take out their own country squares with the concept of a single free European Common Market and freedom.  But it seems the Pedlars Act is a barrier to free trade and something must be done about this.

And so I discovered one of Britain's strangest small lobbying groups.  The National Pedlar's Association.  Yes, Pedlars or Peddlers are basically the people who flog stuff to you on the streets or door to door.  An activity which despite their ceaseless promotion of it as part of the fabric of British society the media refuses to get very nostalgic about...

District 1 reminds each resident to remain vigilant when dealing with door-to-door salespeople. While not everyone engaged in sales is plotting to burglarize your home it is imperative you keep the following in mind.   The Salida Police Department reported that they have had three cases recently in which magazine salespeople would go door to door selling subscriptions, ask to use the bathroom, and then steal items.  Colorado Springs Police Department also reported a recent case where a magazine salesperson sold a subscription to the victim and came back later entering the residence and taking a wallet.  Thank you for your time and attention to this important crime prevention notice.  The Denver Police District 1 would also appreciated it if Mr Miller would stop stealing content off their website on the pretext that it is justified for critical comment.

There's no doubt Pedlars and anyone selling anything can be annoying but in most countries Pedlary is legal.  When bans were attempted in the USA they were deemed to be unconstitutional ...or something.

Still... that this is not the most socially acceptable cross section of society was evident to me almost immediately by the fact that Surrey Police has supplied my mum with a sign to put on her door informing traveling salesmen that she does not deal with them and would be ever so pleased if they would all just go away.

It seems that there are, by historical "accident"?, and much to the chagrin of Local Authorities two conflicting systems of regulation for street trading.  If you dont want to go to the bother of buying a Street Trading Licence you can (much more cheaply) apply to become a pedlar...

...and be regularly told to get lost by councils and my mum.  An activity which, believe it or not, some people do not just financial remuneration but for fun.   According to Martin Lewis of ... who has now let me back on his website so long as I dont post as myself because the profile of London's 2nd Worst Comedy Club's Managaing Director is too high...

Recent guidance we've had from Trading Standards says ignoring a sticker may be a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. While untested in court, a QC agrees with this so we've added it to our sign. If they knock when they shouldn't, there can be no argument.

Personally I dont understand why on earth Pedlary should be fun for anybody on either side of the equation but then ...

....I dont understand why Australian comedian Jimbo should want to sleep rough on the streets of London for fun.  But he did ...... as Robert Bolt would have said "it is recognised that he has a funny sense of fun". 

So anyway it would seem that...  there's a large group of people who like being told to get lost by my mum.  Or at least her stickers.  Then again there are more absurd passtimes I suppose.  Many people in Croydon Central go "litter picking" with Gavin Barwell...?!

Still we cant expect the welfare state and the Council to supply full public services forever in the triple or double dip and less and less people have the money to go out and see comedy ... so .... How the long winter evenings must just fly by...


Pedlars as the literal physical embodiment of social mobility in business are particularly hated by the political class who (since their entire reason for being is telling people what to do and enforcing social structures) are naturally subconsciously opposed to independent business people who are social and mobile...? it is not surprising that they attract large volumes of repressive legislation... so they have their own lobby group. With 4000 certificate holders it's just big enough to be a nuisance and almost, but not quite, too small to ignore? With interesting results.


A Pedlars Certificate enables a pedestrian street trader to trade in any goods, any place, any time for £12.50.

As already stated above ... the bright among you may have already realised that having Pedlars regulated by the Police and the Market Traders being regulated by the Local Authorities creates two naturally separate but overlapping power structures in constant natural conflict? Or even 3 if you count the EU as well ...   Perhaps this explains why Local Government really seem to hate them.  The represent National Law and Government over-riding the Local? Not to mention international governmental muddle too...

The low cost entry of £12.50 enables the smallest start-up to research, develop and grow into a more prosperous potential of a high street shop or a business premises. Say the NPA.... 

Hilariously the minister responsible for the impending abolition of the Pedlars Act, (Liberal Demorat junior Minister Jo Swinson), says this £12.50...

... is such a high figure it is killing business.  Gordon Brown's government through the BIS began consultation in 2009 to amend the Pedlars Act - to "modernise it"... and the pedlars "bought in" to the idea. 

Following the 2010 election Liberal Democrat MP Ms Swinson, who formally spent most of her time in backbench opposition from 2005 to 2010 campaigning on such important issues as the excessive packaging of Easter Eggs and seasonal treats...

..., was propelled from virtual obscurity to near obscurity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs and for Women and Equalities ... whereupon the BIS decided in 2011, "without consultation", to alter what had been Gordon Brown's policy to repeal the Pedlars Act... none of this was in any Manifesto because no one's interested in the subject.

It seems a problem, doesn't it, that while many in right (and indeed left) wing parties claim to believe in the "free market" ... actually most politicians can't quite trust the market to be truly free? And even if they believe in international freedom for the trade of shares, commodities and futures ... are not quite so sure that this is such a good idea in the case of objects that are physical and people who are local...   Left to their own devices people would simply buy more and more Easter eggs in larger and larger packaging until they came in a container lorry...  Labour, of course, has never professed to believe in free markets - not even New Labour ....and is always particularly keen on changing and regulating the free market for dubious social engineering purposes. 

Portly Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott, for example, is forever complaining that something should be done about the fact that Colonel Sanders and his fried chicken emulators are taking over the high street with disastrous effects on public heath.... and that the number of chicken joints per square meter needs to be regulated... and that it's very bad that every corner shop sells booze.  No, it isn't that's why I live above an offy.  I've been to Australia and the reality of a world where you cant buy booze on every corner is truly awful.  Okay, it's not that bad but parts of it...

...look as though maybe they shouldn't be turning away any investment....

Then again we certainly would never have been to Byron Bay if it had a KFC.  "When we won a holiday why did you choose Australia?" Ava Alexis asked me only last year - to which I replied "We must go Byron Bay - it's the only place on earth without a KFC".  It was an over-riding factor in our choice of holiday destination.  Local business is much better there for the keeping out of large operators which has made it much more competitive relatively speaking

Or as Milton Freedman might have put it...

Which of course Mrs Thatcher reduced to the extremely simplistic...

Sidney Webb (the author of Clause IV and the original Fabian), of course, actually went to some lengths to try to explain how nationalisation and the free market need not be completely in contradiction ...and how natural monopolies should be nationalised because they hindered the "proper operation" of a truly free market ... whatever that means...

...but no one quite understood what he said or listened to him - particularly not H G Wells.  Does this matter?  Can't we just make it up as we go along?  Well, as we all known from the AV Referendum civilisation may end if governments start doing things that they have not written down several years before - if you dont have any political philosophy of the market you cant either control or un-control it.   Even Adam Smith ...

Adam Smith explains how once you invent private property
you can start charging people lots of money for what was once free

...noticed intrinsic problems with a completely free market.  After all why was he writing books on the free market if he didn't want to control it in some way?  Maybe he wasn't actually as right wing as the right wing would like to imagine him... when you read what he actually said.

The Pedlars Act dates back to 1871 when notably cheerful prostitute "saving" Prime Minister William E Gladstone and his Tory administration...

...decided that although in theory they believed in a lot of free trade ... possibly it would be a good idea to do something about people trading in the street and door to door as such traders were getting on everybody's nerves. As it wasn't practical to ban such trading outright the Pedlars Act was introduced in an attempt to licence and control the activity.

Despite driveling on inanely about free trade all the time Conservatives historically have a bit of a problem with the idea of trade being so free it stops them in the street or knocks at their own front door. 

A typical cross section of views on door to door salesmen can be found on websites such as elevenplusexams who's correspondents when not worrying about how to cram their offspring with the correct level of Maths, Vocabulary and Non Verbal Reasoning to get on opine that...

I find door to door callers more annoying. Jay cloths, painting / aerial photography of my house , a tray of 50 cod or fine dining to name a few. They make me feel the same as when I walk into a tiny shop with no customers and feel obliged to buy an incense stick or the like.


The worse door caller was a bunch of rough looking blokes who wanted to jetwash my drive with a special cleaner for 150 pounds  they kept on and on about how dirty it was ( we had just had a hose pipe ban lifted ) so I said I like it dirty....after a bit of sniggering they kept on so then I said that's what I have a husband for....more sniggering and then they announced its only one - fifty and having just got up from a night shift, I was a bit blanky and said what? One pound fifty pence.......oh go on then....and they all gave me a dirty look and stalked off. The people who fell for it have dirtier drives then me now!

...then having put up signs telling cold callers to go away or face prosecution find themselves instead worrying that:

The woman across the road collects christian aid. She was a bit worried about knocking the first year we had the sign, but we reassured her it was ok.

Fortunately for parsimonious atheists ...Martin Lewis's MoneyHoardingExpert site provides a special sticker allowing you tell everyone (including the Godly and Charitable) for Sod Off on pain of prosecution.

Unfortunately while there's a telephone preference service there is no doorstep preference service.  Although buying a vicious dog may help.

The result of these conflicting interests is an ongoing war between the Pedlar's Association and Local Government which, unable to ban street sales or door to door sales outright is left trying to frustrate the Pedlary community with piecemeal pieces of Private Legislation (where the Council pays Parliament for an authority specific law) or ...whatever other methods they can invent to frustrate the Pedlars.  The Pedlar Resource centre spend a lot of time petitioning Parliament to stop private legislation promoted by powerful lobby groups such as the NABMA/LGA who "seek legislation to restrict the rights of pedlars. They circulate slur and smear about pedlars in the media and are trying to achieve restraint-of-trade that forces pedlars to go only door-to-door".  

This has already been achieved in Westminster using Local Government Acts (see above).  Quite impressively they have four petitions on the go against Local Government acts at the moment.  Private legislation is where local authorities put their own bills through parliament via the use of a petition and very very deep pockets.  In short of your local authority puts private legislation through parliament to prevent you doing something then ... they really hate you.

I could make a joke about this but I'll leave it to your imaginations
to imagine what Smith's invisible hand was doing
under Mrs Thatcher

A measure of this legislative frustration can be felt in this exchange from Hansard ...

...back in June 2008 ... now retired pot loving MP Dr Brian Iddon complained about the waste of public money spent in persecuting pedlars via private legislation

Dr. Iddon MP: Is my hon. Friend as concerned as I am about the utter waste of public money involved in all this? Each of the Bills before us costs its local authority about £100,000, given the amount of their officers’ time that is taken up. The one for Newcastle is alleged to have cost nearly £200,000.

Tony Lloyd MP (now retired to become a Police and Crime Commissioner): If anyone could do the calculation faster than I, it would be my hon. Friend. An awful lot of pedlars licences would have to be sold to get back the £100,000 that it costs to promote such a Bill. It would make a lot of sense not to go through the private Bill procedure and to have national legislation instead, but at the moment we have a patchwork: some authorities have got their private Bills through the House already, and, as has been noted, many more are in the pipeline. The private Bill procedure is not a sensible way to introduce common standards of this type. A different approach would be better.

Sir Paul Beresford (ex Croydon MP and "34th most influential dentist in the country") MP: The hon. Gentleman is being very convincing. He has convinced me that we should drop these Bills here and now and look to the Government for some national legislation. The financial savings would be enormous, and we would not be puzzling over the reasoning now.

Tony Lloyd MP: I am reasonably grateful for that intervention. If the hon. Gentleman could promise me that he will persuade my hon. Friend the Minister to agree to what I am proposing before the end of today, I would cheerfully go along with him. In the short term, however, I must keep my promise to the beleaguered citizens of the city of Manchester and its good traders—whether they are shop traders, street traders or pedlars—that we will introduce proper regulation to deal with rogues by pursuing the private Bill before us.

Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Conservative ex-Wall Street trader or something born in the US) MP: The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful argument. I hope that we get an opportunity later to speak to the Bournemouth Borough Council Bill, which is very similar to the one for Manchester. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) is about to leave the Chamber, but before he does so I hope that I can convince him on the need to rely on local legislation in the absence of proposals from this Government, or from the Conservative Government who will follow after a general election. Each council that has to put up with illegal pedlars has to pay out far more than £200,000. Every prosecution costs at least £1,000, but each pedlar who is found guilty is fined only £100. Does my hon. Friend—I mean the hon. Gentleman—agree that that is absolute madness?

To which one might reply, yes - now why dont you leave the poor bastards alone?

Anyway it seems David Cameron's Coalition administration has finally tired of this eternal game of cat and mouse.  And so her Majesties Government is intending to abolish  the Pedlars Act - for the (as the pedlar's association would put it) "freedom of an honest individual to enter into a contract based on trust and good intent with another person met while going about and to substitute that law with another with a range of penalties for not obeying a series of prescribed and designated rules for going about out of doors".

Sill I suppose this is all part of the "Social Responsibility" drive that government has taken on to continue with its ever increasing need to affect who people are and how they can behave - future prospects are grim: wars have been fought to resist this type of mentality.  Or so we have heard...

According to the NPA ... The Pedlars Act is perhaps the best example of an ordinary activity carried out for personal and public good given the safety of being made a statute of the British constitution to ALLOW for a person to step out of doors and go about and meet other people in public and trade without making a nuisance ... etc

The NPA also say there is a law about not knocking on peoples' doors and it's not the Pedlars Act. If a person is a nuisance there's a "prosecution available" but pedlars need to exempt themselves from being a nuisance because their Certificate entitles them to be honest and of good intention, other than that they are not "genuine pedlars".

They state that basically people selling you dodgy rubbish on doorsteps will always exist and the consequence for street traders, enforcement officers, police, public and courts is obvious... since the criminalisation of everyone is impractical (as Gladstone pointed out) what BIS/HMG is about to introduce is "an outbreak of chaos" caused by "rogues, villains, vagabonds, rascals and criminals who do not see the need or require themselves to abide by any form of authority or identity".

One comment from a pedlar in many emails from their society read...

"God we have got an uphill task! After reading Annex A Draft Regulations we are being chased off the streets. Not being able to return to a location within 50 meters of a previous location occupied within a time of 3 hours! F***ck its exactly what the c***ntsills have been longing for. In effect you will be able to trade in an average street for 30 minutes in 3 locations and thats your lot! No way, if thats the way they are going to tie us up we might as well throw the towel in and starting dealing in crack on shady street corners. Havent read all of it [URN12/605] yet and like you need time to digest. To me that is the most onerous part of their proposals."

etc etc... it seems that Pedlars will be allowed to trade (according to the Telegraph) but "A pedlar will have to move to a new site 10 minutes after arriving at a location and attempting to sell his wares, under the proposed reforms. The new site must be at least 50 meters from the first location and he should move on again after another 10 minutes. Pedlars will not be allowed to return to a previous location for at least three hours".  So they will still be able to go door to door in theory - buy 100 doors will now involve walking 5000 meters or 3 miles in a weird zig zag.  For example...

...the Pedlar may go door to do but if the doors are close together as above he must walk from door A to door F and from door F to door B, then from door B to door E to make sure he has walked for at least 50 meters between each door ... before proceeding off the side of the picture to the right to find unseen door G where he can legally ply his trade before going back to door C, then returning to door H and then going back to do door D ...etc

For anyone who's thinking that may make milk rounds rather complicated such persons are, I believe, given exemptions on the grounds they count as "roundsmen".  But I may be wrong... not sure about rag and bone men ... or ice cream trucks... or...

Labour Cllr Mehboob Khan of the Pedlar's favourite institution the Local Government Association explained "Allowing a street trade free-for-all is likely to drive customers away from the high street and create an unlevel playing where legitimately run shops and market stalls find themselves struggling to compete. It would also make it harder for councils to tackle dishonest traders who rip-off the public.”  And seems to believe that abolishing the Pedlar's Act would just allow anyone to trade anywhere?! so it seems that actually, all in all, no one's happy with abolition ...not even the people who want it!?

Of course what is really driving the public away from the high street is the double dip recession and ebay and Amazon which may explain why the high street is starting to look more and more to me like people flogging stuff on the street anyway? 

But who cares about that when you've got a scapegoat?

We'd like to thank the following for getting close to the many scarey people portrayed on this page so that we dont have to. 
Margaret Thatcher photographed by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. 
Dianne Abbott at New Statesman Hustings by Adam Hilton
Colonel Sanders by edgy01
Laurel and Hardy Outside the Coronation Hall,
Ulverston, South Lakeland, Cumbria, England by Hilton Teper

Statue of Molly Malone on Grafton Street, Dublin by Mr Wilson.
 Particular thanks to
Mastro Biggo for the picture of his cat

SD Explanation : "HMG signed up to the  European Services Directive SD in 2006 to unite it with European Economic Community "Aims" to remove restrictions on open free trade access to the exclusive EEC zone.  Jolly good idea you may say and all were jolly jolly and more jolly with canapes and a glass of wine.  Then came implementation by nation states whose first task was to appoint civil servants to "interpret" what the Directive could possibly mean.  It is written in 27 different languages and the English version can be considered to be written in "plain english" and it is worth a read for yourself... here.

HMG appointed BIS Team SD to lunch-it-up in Strassburg and by 2009 the Team had instead cocked-it-up badly by failing to "interpret" plain english.  The exact text they found so difficult to understand and let alone all the rest was page 17 Article 4 Definitions 1: "service" means any self-employed economic activity so... how difficult is that to understand?

Team SD studied long and hard all UK Law and judiciously implemented their "interpretation" of english.  Low and behold they read the Pedlars Act of 1697, 1871, 1881 and found descriptions of some persons known as pedlar "chair-menders and handicraft persons".  Team SD alarm bells went "off" and the great weight of the British legislature applied its full force by expunging those anachronisms from the 315 year old statute.  This overwhelming discovery meant certain promotion within government for Team SD at BIS but the Private Bill Office advised that "pedlars" had not been consulted...

Once consulted pedlars requested resignations at Team SD on grounds of "inability to read simple English" but alas great wheels were already in motion.  Parliament was already ready to "rubber stamp" the plans despite pedlars warnings of great harm to simple people.  Outvoted 6:1 the lone Lord advocate for pedlars was silenced and the "mischief" was implemented into PSRA2009 Section 45 to expunge those described pedlars from our culture.

Now what did government do when confronted by their own mischief?  Team SD was dissolved and Team Deregulation was formed "to implement an agenda"... ooppps they really meant "to consult widely with the British public" through an URN.  Interesting choice of word URN (as in URN12/605 consultation)... something to do with death?

HMG / BIS double-speak spin is "for the benefit of pedlars".  The BIS intend to repeal the Pedlars Act by our minister signing a Statutory Order that denies parliamentary debate or public scrutiny.  Then BIS tried this one on pedlars... "insufficient parliamentary time"... or "for expediency"... or "other priorities"... bla bla bla.  Plausible truth... "HMG cover-up" for the mischief caused... "deny and ignore" policy was swiftly implemented.

Team Deregulation was dissolved... to remerge as Team De-Regulation-by-Regulation.  But stakeholders notified BIS that Team De-Regulation-by-Regulation infringes Article 1.5 of the SD.  Team De-Regulation-by-Regulation dissolved... to remerge as Team Compliance... rather threatening and fascist one may think.  Team Compliance dissolved... to remerge as the opaque Team BIS... you know... like other contemporary personas such as "Anonymous" the hacktivist group.  Stakeholder complaints?... met with the policy "deny and ignore"... now endorsed at ministerial level.  Out of the blue up pops BIS Complaints Officer directing stakeholders by link to the Department's Formal Complaints Procedure.  Stakeholders advise this new Complaints Officer to speak to Team BIS Complaints Officer appointed by BIS within the URN.  Team BIS disappears?

Etc etc etc...