Government plans to extend Sunday Trading are unwanted and will damage the place that Sunday has in British culture, a member of the House of Lords has suggested.
Lord Mendelsohn, a Labour Shadow Spokesman, said neither shopworkers nor customers are calling for the change.
“Whether you’re religious or not, Sunday has always been an important part of British culture”, Lord Mendelsohn wrote in The Huffington Post.
The Government wants to use the Enterprise Bill to devolve the issue of Sunday Trading to local areas and has also proposed changes to the rights of employees.
But a new legal opinion on the issue, commissioned by The Christian Institute, has highlighted serious flaws in the plans.
MPs will have a chance to oppose the move early next month when the Bill reaches Report Stage in the House of Commons.
Lord Mendelsohn, who speaks on Business, Innovation and Skills for Labour, said ministers were “railroading” the plans through Parliament.
He said the Government was ‘ignoring the needs of small businesses, shopworkers, faith groups and families’.
The Peer also highlighted the “fallacy” that increased trading hours on a Sunday will lead to new jobs.
Ministers are wasting time trying to solve a problem that doesn’t existLord Mendelsohn
“However you approach the debate on Sunday trading, the government’s arguments fall flat.
“It is unclear how many retailers actually want to make use of extended hours, shopworkers don’t want it, and consumers aren’t exactly marching down Whitehall to fight for more ways to part with their cash.
“You have to wonder why Ministers are wasting time trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”
A new legal opinion on the issue, from a leading authority on employment law, warned that amendments to employee Sunday Trading rights are “inordinately complex”.
John Bowers QC cautioned that the Government’s plans offer no protection from detriment or dismissal for people who object to working on Sundays during the opt-out notice period.
In October last year, Mr Bowers warned that liberalising Sunday Trading in England and Wales could also affect the way discrimination law is applied in Scotland.
Although Scotland is not party to Sunday Trading legislation, Supreme Court rulings on employment apply there, meaning that Scottish employees would also be affected.