Shop workers will be undermined by longer Sunday trading hours, the SNP has said, as it announced that it would oppose the Government’s proposals.
With the SNP’s 55 seats at Westminster adding weight to Conservative and Labour opposition to the proposals, the Government is likely to be defeated if it presses ahead as planned.
At the weekend, a legal opinion commissioned by The Christian Institute revealed that family life in Scotland could be harmed by the plans.
Although Scotland is not covered by the current law, and the proposals only extend to England and Wales, the SNP has raised concerns about the knock-on effect.
Angus Robertson MP, the Party’s leader at Westminster, said: “SNP MPs could hold the balance of power in the House of Commons on Sunday shopping and we will not undermine shop workers.
“This legislation will impact on workers in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and no pay safeguards have been offered by the Westminster government.
“The SNP will continue to work with the representatives of shop workers and we will oppose the Tory proposals.”
Currently Scottish shop employees are guaranteed more pay for Sundays, and the SNP is reportedly concerned that this wage difference would disappear if large retailers set a standard wage across the UK.
The Government’s plans have been criticised by MPs, the Keep Sunday Special campaign, unions and the Church of England.
MP David Burrowes, one of the leading opponents from within Conservative ranks, has said: “A shared day of rest has long been central to our life together as a nation, and is valued by our many diverse communities.”
The proposals could be scrutinised as part of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which is set to be debated in the House of Commons next week.
However, if the Government puts the plans in a future Bill, the SNP may be unable to vote on them due to new English Votes for English Laws rules.
In the legal opinion, John Bowers QC, a deputy High Court judge and employment law specialist, warned of the “unintended consequences” for Scotland if the new legislation comes in.
The Christian Institute’s Director Colin Hart said the opinion is “a powerful warning that Scotland will not escape the harmful effects of Westminster’s plan to turn Sundays into a free-for-all”.