THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, signed a letter to The Sunday
Telegraph this week expressing "alarm" at reports that the
Government is considering the permanent extension of Sunday trading
News, 17 August).
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).
The letter to The Sunday Telegraph, which was also
signed by the General Secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive
and Allied workers, John Hannett, and the Chief Executive of the
Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, said that, during
the passage of the Sunday Trading Act 2012, the Business Secretary,
Vince Cable, gave "an absolute assurance that this is not a
News, 4 May).
"Many parliamentarians who oppose any relaxation of the Sunday
trading laws allowed this emergency legislation through on the
basis of these assurances made on the record in both Houses. Yet,
just halfway through the eight-week temporary suspension, those
assurances have been called into question."
The letter went on to say that there was "no evidence" that
longer opening hours on a Sunday "would boost jobs or growth. . .
It would, however, have a detrimental impact on small shops, family
life, and the special nature that Sundays still have - a day when
the nation can take a collective breather."
A letter from the chief executive of Sainsbury's, Justin King,
published alongside the other letter in the newspaper, backs this
up. Mr King writes that "a great British compromise is in danger of
being lost". Sainsbury's has "never viewed this [extension of
Sunday-trading hours] as permanent. Maintaining Sunday's special
status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues, and
relaxing Sunday trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to
"The current trading rules play to common sense. Those calling
for a permanent change will need to demonstrate a strong economic
case for any change to be justified."