Sunday Trading Rules March 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding Sunday trading rules.

I appreciate that a number of concerns have been raised regarding the Government's proposals to change the Sunday Trading Act 1994 in order to devolve Sunday trading rules to local areas.

In February 2016 the Government announced its plans to bring forward measures in the Enterprise Bill [HL] 2015-16 to allow local authorities to extend Sunday trading laws. This followed a public consultation, which received over 7000 responses and closed on the 16th September 2015. The Government published its response on 9th February.

Extending Sunday trading will lead to longer opening hours, which would be detrimental to shop workers, small business owners and their families.  Extended hours on Sundays could very well lead to closures of smaller stores. Shops are open long enough for people do shop, and Sunday should remain a special day.

I therefore opposed the Government's proposed changes, and voted in favour of an amendment to remove these proposals from the Bill. The Government was defeated by 317 votes to 286 and I hope that the measures will now be abandoned.

A poll conducted in February 2015 found that a large majority of the public support the existing Sunday trading rules. Indeed, before the 2015 General Election the Conservative Party claimed that it had no plans to change the current rules on Sunday trading stating that the current rules provided "a reasonable balance".

I know that a number of organisations, such as the shopworkers' union Usdaw, the Association of Convenience Stores and the 'Keep Sunday Special' campaign group have also expressed deep concern at the proposed changes to Sunday trading restrictions.

Should this issue return to Parliament, please be assured that I will continue to echo the voices of small businesses, shopworkers and their families in support of the current arrangements.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views on this important issue.