Government ‘to reflect’ on Sunday shop hours
THE Labour Party has asked the Prime Minister for
"clarification" of whether the temporary restriction on
Sunday-trading hours (
News, 3 August) will be made permanent.
Emergency legislation has allowed large shops to open all day on
Sundays, instead of for six continuous hours, during the Olympics
and Paralympics (
News, 23 March). In May, the Business Secretary, Dr Vince
Cable, gave his "absolute assurance" that the emergency legislation
would not be used as a "Trojan horse" to introduce wider
News, 4 May).
On Monday, however, a spokesman for the Prime Minister stopped
short of giving a cast-iron assurance that the Sunday-trading rules
would not be relaxed permanently after the Olympics and
Paralympics. He said: "There was a specific Act of Parliament
passed for the period of the Olympic and Paralympic games - we are
a couple of weeks into that. . . I am sure that people will want to
reflect on the experiences of those weeks. A number of people want
to look at this issue."
In a letter to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, the Shadow
Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, asked for "clarification on the
Government policy on the restriction on Sunday trading hours". He
said that a permanent change to Sunday-trading laws would break
"all the promises made to Parliament, business, and to those
working in the retail sector. This is a serious matter, not least
because many of those who agreed to support the Act [suspending
Sunday-trading rules] did so because they were told it would not
be used as a Trojan horse for further change."
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme on Monday, Mark
Wallace, a spokesman for the Institute of Directors, said that the
Sunday-trading rules should be relaxed permanently to give
retailers "the opportunity to compete as much as they can" with
Olivia Darby, a spokeswoman for Keep Sunday Special, told
Radio 4's You and Yours the same day that she hadn't "seen
any evidence at all that longer opening hours would help the
economy at this difficult time. . . If shops open for longer,
people aren't suddenly going to have additional income to spend in
those extra hours."
On Monday, the chief executive of the Association of Convenience
Stores, James Lowman, said: "Current Sunday-trading rules are the
only competitive edge that local shops have over their much larger
counterparts, and removing that advantage could be disastrous for
many convenience stores across the country."
The president of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents,
Alan Smith, said: "We will now be stepping up activity to remind
the Government that it has previously committed to helping and
supporting small shops, and to ensure that this temporary move does
not become permanent."
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Sainsbury's told the Financial
Times that the company did not believe that "people are
looking for Sunday trading to be extended on a permanent
Church House, Westminster, has said that the C of E strongly
opposes "any attempts permanently to erode the special nature of
Sunday, which legislation still reflects".