The Church of England has issued the following Press Release on the government’s intention to relax Sunday trading hours by means of a late amendment to the Enterprise Bill, a measure that has already been through the House of Lords.
“Statement on Government plans to extend Sunday trading
The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, has responded on behalf of the Church of England to the announcement by Business Secretary Sajid Javid that a Commons amendment will be tabled to the Enterprise Bill to devolve the extension of Sunday trading hours.
Dr Smith said: “In its submission to the Government’s consultation on extending Sunday opening hours, the Church of England voiced concern that changing the law would have a negative effect on community and family life, whilst delivering few, if any, additional benefits for the economy.
“Our current Sunday trading laws are built on a compromise, which a majority of the public still back. We have not seen any evidence that further liberalisation of Sunday trading will bring any tangible economic benefit, with the most likely outcome being the same money spent over a greater period of time. The experience of the 2012 Olympic Games is not persuasive, when the growth in business in large shops took place at the expense of smaller ones. It is estimated that 8,800 jobs will be lost from the convenience sector, which will not be fully offset by new jobs in other stores.
“We know that over half of shop workers in large stores already feel pressure to work on Sundays and an increase in opening hours will only lead to more people being pressured into spending Sunday apart from their children and families. This can only be damaging to community and family life and erode opportunities for shared time and activity, which is central to human flourishing and the common good.
“It is also disappointing that these measures will be introduced to Parliament in a Bill that has already been through the House of Lords. That means that the opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny and revision of these proposals will be severely restricted.”
Note: The Church of England’s response to the Government consultation on Sunday Trading can be seen here.
Whilst the arguments against the relaxation of Sunday trading laws have been well-rehearsed by the Church of England and by others, the new aspect to the discussion is the announcement by Business Secretary Sajid Javid that a Commons amendment will be tabled to the Enterprise Bill to devolve the extension of Sunday trading hours. The Bill has passed though the Lords and received its second reading in the Commons on 2 February; the debate relating to Sunday trading is here. It has been reported that around 20 Tory MPs may team up with the SNP and probably Labour to block the changes; the date for the Committee stage is yet to be announced.