In a major win for opponents of extended Sunday trading, MPs voted 317 to 286 in March 2016 to drop the Government’s controversial plans.
The vote saw off the Government’s second attempt in just a few months to pass proposals that could have seen Sunday trading hours lengthened throughout England and Wales.
MPs from across the political spectrum spoke out against the plans contained in the Enterprise Bill, in a debate that emphasised the importance of family life.
David Burrowes (Con), who led opposition to the move, highlighted that “Sunday is still special for many people”. He also criticised the Government’s treatment of its consultation, which received over 7,000 responses. Despite opposition from trade unions, religious bodies, small businesses and individuals, it pushed ahead with the plans, claiming support from the majority of local authorities and large and medium-sized businesses.
Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds noted: “Sunday is when my family and I attend church, and the opportunity to do so should not be denied to people who have to work Sundays”.
On what he called “a day to remember”, Institute Director Colin Hart said it was a “wonderful and encouraging victory for the millions of people who would have had their family life further undermined had this blinkered legislation gone through”.
This win means the current law, however imperfect, will remain as it is and not be massively liberalised.
Although the extended opening hours were intended for England and Wales, the repercussions would have been felt across the UK.
Amending the law would have increased pressure for a similar change in Northern Ireland. And Scottish MPs opposed the plans after a legal opinion we commissioned showed how the proposals would adversely affect Scotland.