Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The law on "charity" collections - and on non charity-collections. Stewart writes:
Many years in Local Authority "Enforcement" have led me to the conclusion that people just make assumptions about what the legislation they enforce actually says.

House to house collections have to be licensed because charity collections have to be licensed because the "law says so".

Assuming that the legislation on this web site is up to date, then as Lunetex are NOT purporting to collect for charitable purposes but for private profit they seem to fall outwith the licensing provisions of the Act. (See the preamble to the Act, Section 1 and the definition of "charitable purposes" in section 6).

South Cambridgeshire actually state: "LUNETEX are collecting in Sawston Village Tomorrow (Thursday) - This company are a commercial organisation, not a charity, and they alone profit from any monies made from the sale of goods they collect" so why do they think the collection is "illegal"?

Good question. In fact, if ever this provision should become widely known, it might become commonplace for organisations that were actually charities to pretend to be profit-making. If they could get over the anti-profit prejudice, that is.

I do not want to give the impression that I am a believer in "charity bad, profit good." I believe it is blessed to give - but that does not make it cursed to make a profit. Nor does it mean that the giver should turn off his or her brain: there are situations where a profit relationship has greater long term stability and equality of status than a charity relationship. (Few people would want to go to work every day just for love of their employers, for instance.) It's beyond my knowlege to say whether getting old clothes to the Third World for re-use is one of those situations, but then again I don't have to know. Let those who wish try both approaches.

The advantages of a charity over a commercial organisation for sheer, concentrated doing-of-good are well known. But sometimes it might go the other way. It could be that for-profit clothes re-sellers might concentrate more on what their customers want rather than what is deemed to be good for them by people far away. They also might disrupt local clothes merchants less.

Stewart makes another good point about how many who enforce the law have a cavalier attitude to what the law actually says. Often they seek to enforce a climate of opinion.