Written Answers. - Casual Trading Act.

Michael McDowell

Question:

200 Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment whether his attention has been drawn to the serious implications of the commencement of the Casual Trading Act, 1995 on certain businesses which operate mobile catering units at large public events throughout the country; his views on whether the obligation to apply to local authorities in advance of such events at least 30 days prior to the events is practical, expensive and sometimes impossible; the plans, if any, he has to make provision for such enterprises by exercising his powers under section 2 (3) of the Casual Trading Act, 1995; whether he will review the situation as promised to representatives of businesses consisting of mobile catering units at a meeting with officials from his Department on 14 March 1996; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8769/96]

The primary purpose of the Casual Trading Act, 1995, is to achieve greater decentralisation, efficiency and flexibility in the regulation of casual trading by the local authorities than was possible under the less flexible regime provided by the Casual Trading Act, 1980.

The Causal Trading Act, 1980, required that an application for a casual trading licence be made at least 30 days before the first day on which the applicant intends to start trading. This is not, therefore, a new requirement and there is no evidence that it proved expensive or impossible to comply with in the past. The only change in this regard is that in future applicants will have to apply to the relevant local authorities rather than the Minister for Enterprise and Employment for a licence.
As the Casual Trading Act, 1995, will only come into force on 1 May, I do not intend to exercise my powers under section 2 (3) of the Act at this stage. However I should point out that under section 2 (4) of the Act local authorities are empowered to exempt categories of trading previously exempted under the Casual Trading Act, 1980, or to exempt any new categories of trading they may decide are appropriate for their own areas.
My colleague, the Minister for Commerce, Science and Technology, together with officials from my Department met with representatives of the mobile catering business, on 14 March, to discuss their concerns. The representatives were advised of the provisions and requirements of the Casual Trading Act, 1995, and the options open to them. It was suggested to them that as the local authorities are at present in the process of preparing by-laws under section 6 of the Act, they could make representations to the relevant local authorities in relation to special events at which they are interested in trading.