The Government is behaving disgracefully by trying to change Sunday trading by the back door

Date: 02 February 2016 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has condemned the Government for today announcing a Sunday trading amendment to the Enterprise Bill because this controversial issue will now not get proper parliamentary scrutiny.

This afternoon in the House of Commons, the Business Secretary announced that they intend to introduce an amendment at committee stage, yet wasn’t able to explain the terms of that amendment or provide any detail.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The Government consultation on Sunday trading closed nearly five months ago and they still haven’t published the responses, yet today they have announced plans to introduce legislation. Surely MPs should be able to see in full and have time to properly consider the responses of retailers, shopworkers, community leaders and all those who take an interest in Sunday trading. MPs must take full account of the consequences of future decisions on Sunday trading, particularly the impact on the retail trade and on their constituents.

“This is a disgraceful way to conduct government business. They propose devolving Sunday trading, but ducked inserting the changes into the Devolution Bill. Instead the Enterprise Bill is being used, yet there was no indication of this from ministers when the Bill went through the House of Lords.

“When the Government temporarily suspended Sunday trading laws for the 2012 Olympics, Ministers gave categorical assurances that any attempt to permanently change the law would be subject to a full public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny. Tabling an amendment at this stage breaks that promise and the consultation is not complete until it has been published in full.

“Just before the election the Prime Minister wrote to the Keep Sunday Special Campaign saying: ‘I can assure you that we have no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws. We believe that the current system provides a reasonable balance between those who wish to see more opportunities to shop in large stores on a Sunday, and those who would like to see further restrictions.’ Neither was there any mention of Sunday Trading in the Conservative manifesto at the General Election last May.

“Today’s shoddy treatment of both houses of parliament amounts to broken promises and a betrayal of shopworkers and all those who regard Sunday as a special day, different from any other. Some elements of the Conservative Party appear to have an endless obsession with deregulating Sunday trading no matter what the consequences are.

“The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw survey of retail staff: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=e401039e-75f9-4675-8216-56fa579b65b0

The BIS Consultation closed on 16 September and applies to England and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/devolving-sunday-trading-rules

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers