Plans to extend Sunday trading have been put on hold by the Government, after a cross-party group of MPs said they would oppose the move.
A vote on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill was expected in the House of Commons next week, which would have devolved the issue of Sunday trading to local authorities.
But 20 Conservative MPs, the Labour Party and MPs from the SNP and the DUP have all said they oppose the plans.
According to the BBC, the Government maintains that there has been “absolutely” no U-turn on the issue.
And The Daily Telegraph has reported that the Government still hopes to extend Sunday trading using the Enterprise Bill.
The 20 Tory MPs, including David Burrowes, Fiona Bruce and Caroline Ansell, raised their concerns about the policy in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph today.
They said: “Scrapping Sunday trading restrictions will not help high streets; instead it will benefit large out-of-town business.
“The latest estimates suggest that small shops would lose £870 million in sales, resulting in 3,720 job losses in the retail sector.”
The letter also highlighted recent polling, showing that more than two-thirds of people do not want to see the law changed.
On Monday the SNP announced that it would be opposing extended Sunday trading because it would undermine shop workers.
Angus Robertson MP, the Party’s leader at Westminster, said: “This legislation will impact on workers in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and no pay safeguards have been offered by the Westminster government.”
Earlier this week, a leading employment law specialist warned that Scotland would be affected by changes in Sunday trading laws made at Westminster.
In a legal opinion commissioned by The Christian Institute, John Bowers QC said that although Scotland is not party to Sunday trading legislation, Supreme Court rulings on employment apply there, meaning that Scottish employees would also be affected.
He said: “More Christians will be forced by their employers to choose between their faith and their job – not just retail workers, but those in security, cleaning, distribution and transport.”
Mike Coupe, the Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, has argued that there is no demand from customers or employees for the rules to change.