Letter: EC bureaucrats and Oxfam toys

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your paper today reports that vast quantities of toys are being destroyed by charity shops because they fall foul of a European Community directive. Many of your readers will, rightly, be amazed and depressed at such bureaucratic nonsense.

The report does not make clear that the original 'toy' directive is three years old. Two years ago I spoke to the Department of Trade and Industry about the impact on charities and they seemed not to have realised that the problem existed. All that is new, therefore, is that the bureaucratic juggernaut of the EC, aided by the DTI, has not withdrawn or amended the original directive, but strengthened it as of last January.

I suspect there are many like myself who have come reluctantly to the conclusion that the EC is inherently incapable of legislating continentally on any but the broadest issues without doing more harm than good. The differences between member states, and indeed within member states, defy sensitive legislation.

The EC answer to that is, increasingly, a flat-Earth policy of outlawing the differences. Thus individuality and variety are being progressively rubbed out. In the process the colour, character and choice of many 'ordinary' people's lives is destroyed.

Blake's maxim, that he who would do good must do it in minute particulars, was never more in need of respect. But that, of course, would mean the ditching of Maastricht.

Yours faithfully,

ANDREW PHILLIPS

Sudbury, Suffolk

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