The Hawkers Department originated from the Ministry of Health, Public Health Division. On 15 April 1950, a Hawkers Inquiry Commission was formed to examine on "all aspects of hawking, with particular emphasis on the social, economic and health aspects having regard to the interests of the public and of the hawkers". Recognising that the prevalence of hawking was a social phenomenon that cannot be stop and to address the problem of the use of force by the police against hawkers who commanded "public sympathy", the Commission recommended that steps be taken to issue licenses to all those engage in hawking, provided that they complied with the regulations. The Committee also recommended that proper shelters and markets be provided for hawkers to better control their activities. With the establishment of the Ministry of Environment in September 1972, the Hawkers Department came under the purview of the Environmental Public Health Division. Steps were taken to relocate street hawkers away from the main road and in 1971, an initial sum of $5 million was provided to construct permanent hawkers centers and markets. The Hawkers Department was subsequently transferred to the purview of Environmental Health Department under the National Environment Agency (NEA) on 1 July 2002. The main legislation governing the function of the Hawkers Department is the Environmental Public Health Act (2002) which governs the licensing and management of hawkers, markets and food centres.