MPs reject changes to Sunday trading laws

MPs have rejected proposed changes to Sunday trading laws that would allow shops to open for longer than six hours.

The proposed changes, as part of the Enterprise Bill, would have given greater control to local councils to extend trading hours on Sundays.

The new powers would have given councils the ability to ‘zone’ any relaxation on trading, with the aim of driving footfall to struggling city centres and helping them to compete with online retailers.

However, the proposals lost by 31 votes, after 27 Conservative MPs teamed with Labour and the Scottish National Party to oppose the plans.

Despite government reassurances that workers would have the right to opt out of Sunday working, a large portion of the debate was centred on concerns that the changes would put added pressure on retail workers.

The amendment to scrap the changes to Sunday trading laws was led by Conservative MP David Burrows, who said: “We have a job to do in Parliament, we don’t just devolve every decision out to our constituents.

“If we listen to our constituents… I have many shopworkers, many faith groups and many others saying: why are we doing this? Why are we trying to unpick something that’s fairly settled?

“That’s me listening to my constituents. But also we have important principles as well. Those are complex arrangements for Sunday trading and it’s a duty on us to look at it carefully, to consult widely and also scrutinise it fairly.

“None of those things have happened to the regard that did happen back in the 1990s and 1980s. It shouldn’t surprise us that we are in this situation now where there is a lot of concern, a lot of cross-party concern.”