Green light for Sunday trading reforms

The Government announced today (February 3) that it would be going ahead with plans to deregulate Sunday trading laws, writes Adam Bernstein.

It will do so by inserting clauses into the Enterprise Bill currently being examined by Parliament.

ERT ran a story in its January issue (pages 60-61) on possible changes to the Sunday trading regime. It highlighted the announcement of a Government consultation in the 2015 Summer Budget. This faced intense lobbying from the SNP, shop workers unions and a number of Christian MPs, which resulted in the proposed changes to the legislation being suspended – until now.

If passed, the new rules would allow local authorities to decide if stores over 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) can open for more than six hours on a Sunday. Employees would also be given the right to refuse Sunday working.

While Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the move would allow local authorities to “help struggling high streets”, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, Angela Eagle, accused Mr Javid of a “gross abuse of power” and asked why the plans were being added “at this late stage” rather than being in the bill from the start.

Shop workers union Usdaw wasn’t happy either, and said ministers were “behaving disgracefully by trying to change Sunday trading by the back door”.

The Government’s plans can be read here.