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The Kent County Council Bill and the parallel Medway Council Bill will now have to be debated in the House before they can proceed as a result of blocking motions signed by Kent MP Derek Wyatt (Lab, Sittingbourne and Sheppey) and Fiona Jones MP (Lab, Newark), whose constituency is home to the Newark International Antiques Fair.

Mrs Jones expressed her concern at the precedent set by the proposed legislation which seeks to prevent the flow of stolen goods by regulating dealers in most secondhand goods in Kent and imposing criminal penalties for contravention.

“Whilst this piece of legislation would only affect Kent and Medway Councils, the precedent set would have made it very easy for the legislation to spread nationally,” she said. “It is my view that the Bill is flawed in a number of ways. Some parts of it have some merit, but for the most part it would be cumbersome, difficult to police and in some cases dangerous to the buyer,” she added.

Objections to the Bills were also raised by Ronnie Campbell (Lab, Blyth Valley), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab, Luton North), Lindsay Hoyle (Lab, Chorley), Andrew MacKinlay (Lab, Thurrock), Brian Sedgemore (Lab, Hackney South and Shoreditch) and Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover).

Kent County Council must now petition for the Bills to be debated. Their earliest opportunity would be on February 10, but the debate and any subsequent committee stages are now likely to be seriously delayed.

LAPADA, who have been campaigning on behalf of members and Kent dealers, and DMG Antiques Fairs, organisers of the Newark, Detling and other major fairs, will continue to brief MPs at Westminster.

Fiona Jones was due at the Newark Fair this Monday to discuss the implications of the proposed legislation to discuss traders' views on the Bills.