A senior Conservative MP has slammed a major supermarket for supporting the Government’s plan to liberalise Sunday Trading.
A representative from Asda emailed Sir Gerald Howarth MP to lobby for his support, saying that the company has “long campaigned for the freedom to offer a true seven-day shopping experience”.
Tomorrow MPs are expected to vote on the Government’s proposals, which would give local councils power to extend shopping hours on Sundays.
The spokesman said that there is a “clear economic benefit” to relaxing the law and highlighted that a previous exemption during the London Olympics produced a “significant sales uplift”.
Sir Gerald responded saying that he was “extremely disappointed” to read the email, which concentrated on the supermarket’s “mercantile interest”.
He wrote: “Apart from an almost token reference to families, nowhere do you mention anything about the special nature of Sunday in a Christian country, simply concentrating on your company’s mercantile interest.”
I shall be even more vigorous in my oppositionSir Gerald Howarth MP
Open to abuse
He concluded: “Thanks to your email I shall be even more vigorous in my opposition and will likely refer to Asda’s mercenary approach. Furthermore, I shall avoid shopping at Asda stores – in my constituency and elsewhere.”
The Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Mike Coupe, has warned that the proposed laws “are open to abuse”.
He told The Guardian that there is no customer or colleague demand for relaxing the law on Sunday Trading and stressed that: “The current rules work”.
MPs from across the political parties are opposing the changes, together with churches, pro-family groups, unions and small businesses. Critics warn that weakening the law would pressurise workers and undermine family life.
At the weekend it was reported that up to 50 Conservative MPs could vote against the Government, with two ministers rumoured to be considering resigning over the issue.
Labour is against weakening the laws. Its UK and Scottish party leaders have written to the SNP calling for it to reject the proposals after it was reported that the SNP were wavering in their commitment to oppose liberalisation.