SUNDAY trading laws will be suspended for eight Sundays from 22
July, to coincide with the Olympic Games, the Chancellor, George
Osborne, announced during his Budget speech on Wednesday.
Currently, large shops can open for a maximum of six continuous
hours on Sundays, but the Government is keen to profit from the one
million people expected to visit the Olympic Stadium this
"We've got the whole world coming to London and the rest of the
country for the Olympics, and it would be a great shame . . . if
the country had a 'Closed for business' sign on it," Mr Osborne
said on BBC1's Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
Emergency legislation, which is expected to be passed by Easter,
will relax existing Sunday-trading laws temporarily, but the
Chancellor said that the Government would "learn lessons" from the
A spokesman for the Church of England said that it would
"strongly oppose" any attempts to erode permanently the "special
nature of Sunday".
"We believe that, for family stability and community life, as
many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day
off every week," he said. "The potential detrimental impact on the
health of employees, and on small retailers, outweigh any potential
benefits of further deregulation."
The shopworkers' union USDAW is "vehemently opposed" to changes
to the legislation. The general secretary, John Hannett, said: "Any
change would fly totally in the face of the Government's commitment
to be family-friendly." There was suspicion that the Government was
trying to use the Olympics as "cover for its wider deregulation
agenda", he said.
"The proposed changes will not do anything to increase economic
growth, as all the evidence suggests that existing spending would
not increase but simply be spread over a longer period," the
research director of the Keep Sunday Special campaign, John
The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, described Keep Sunday Special
as "an important campaign". He told Andrew Marr: "I actually think
that we should be very careful about just breaking the
Sunday-trading thing just like that."
Eighty per cent of respondents to a government consultation on
regulation last year were opposed to the extension of Sunday