Criminalising Generosity

Despite being an atheist I was inspired to proclaim aloud the name of a revered religious prophet this evening, upon reading this proposed bill to Parliament, by London’s Councils   In particular the section near the bottom headed ‘Distribution of Free Refreshments’, which states –


Free refreshments and food are regularly distributed on public land, particularly by organisations wishing to assist the homeless. The unfettered distribution of free food and refreshments causes nuisance to occupiers of premises, often residential premises, in the vicinity of such land.


It is proposed to prohibit the distribution of free refreshments on land designated by a London borough council.  It would also be an offence to cause another person to distribute such refreshments.  To be designated, land would have to be in the open air, and open to public access.

Unlawful distribution of free food would be an offence, and would be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

Exemptions would be included, for example, the distribution of refreshments to people taking part in sporting events or giving out free samples outside retail premises.

“Jesus Christ!”

After the initial shock wore off I got round to wondering what exactly is a “fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.”  Wikipedia informs us that a level 4 fine for wilful generosity could be anything up to £2500.  Two thousand and five hundred pounds!  For feeding the hungry!?  Jesus would be burlin’ on his cross.  And of course, refusal to pay becomes a criminal offence which can land you in prison.  In my opinion legislation like this proves one thing, that the people of this country do not protest or complain enough, to the point where our not-very-democratic governments and local authorities think they can get away with more or less anything. 

The man behind all this is, ooh get this,    Lord Patten.    The Independent on Sunday reports that –  

In January, he asked whether the soup runs had led to more people sleeping rough.”

I don’t think it’s overly cynical of me to suspect his own answer to that would be yes, he believes that “soup runs lead to more people sleeping rough“.    You’ve also got to suspect John Patten and company of wanting to, in effect, starve the hungry and homeless off the streets.   The logic must go “if soup runs = more rough sleepers, then obviously no soup runs = less rough sleepers”.   Never mind finding the homeless a home, or getting them a job, or helping them with their myriad problems, no, let’s just starve them to death and be done with it.   How disgusting, and how typically Tory and aristocratic.  Mean-spirited nimby-ism at it’s worst. 

 It’s been a wee while since I offered a Mendacity Award, so to make up for it I am offering one to all of those involved in putting forward this heinous proposal to criminalise “unfettered” generosity, and to label free distribution as a “nuisance.”   Step forward and claim your prizes.   And of course, as I am prohibited from distributing freely, to remain within the law I shall have to charge for each Mendacity Award.  Hmm, how does £2,500 grab you? 

Shame on you all, and I bet most claim to be Christian too!     

~ by blacksheepdiarist on November 9, 2007.

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