Family time on a Sunday is priceless and needs to be protected, a senior Labour MP has said, as he explained why he will oppose extending Sunday Trading hours.
Tristram Hunt, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, said the culture of the UK would be diluted if the plans were passed.
Sundays are special, Hunt wrote in his local newspaper, and said “we should use whatever powers we have to protect them”.
Hunt made the remarks in the Stoke Sentinel, ahead of a vote on the issue expected next week.
Under the plans, contained in the Enterprise Bill, local authorities would be allowed to decide on Sunday opening hours.
The MP said: “If passed by Parliament, large shops and supermarkets will be able to treat Sunday the same as any other working day.”
Even if supermarkets did “put a few extra pence in the national coffers”, he asked: “Is that really worth watering down such a distinctive aspect of our national culture?”
“For so many families, Sunday is the only day of the week when time can be enjoyed together away from the stress of work or school.
“This is the stuff you cannot measure in mere pounds and pence – there is something priceless about having one day set aside for families”.
In November the SNP declared that it would stand against the plans, saying it would not “undermine shop workers”. With the SNP’s 50-plus MPs, the Government’s proposals faced defeat.
Now the Party appears to be wavering on the issue, but Conservative, Labour and DUP MPs are expected to vote against the plans.
In August critics said it was “extremely disappointing” for the Government to seek to change the law, after the Conservatives said before the General Election that they had “no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws”.
In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, the Church of England and others said: “Keeping Sunday special is essential to the fabric of our society. Longer Sunday opening will have a dramatic effect on family life for no economic gain.”