The Government is facing a chorus of opposition over a plan to weaken Sunday trading laws for the Olympics, with Labour MPs and a leading trade union among the critics.
Chancellor George Osborne says the change is only for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics, but there is concern that it may become permanent.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warned against the plan saying it would break up “centuries of tradition”. He said the ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign is important.
Usdaw, the main shopworkers’ union, also strongly criticised the move saying its members are “vehemently opposed to any further deregulation of Sunday trading hours”.
It warned that any change “would fly totally in the face of the Government’s commitment to be family-friendly”.
Former Home Office minister, and Labour MP, Hazel Blears said: “I think people’s time is precious enough. I think families are under a great deal of stress and I would want to see the situation maintained as it is.”
The Daily Telegraph warned in an editorial that the move “looks suspiciously like a renewed effort to achieve the complete deregulation that was voted down in 1986”.
The Dean of Southwark cautioned: “Whenever anything like this happens, there’s always a suspicion that this could be a way of getting a change in on a permanent basis.”
And the Revd Sally Hitchiner commented: “We’re concerned it could become a precedent, that we could lose some of the specialness of Sunday.
“Sunday should be a time for relationships, there should be a time when we put some boundaries on consumerism, so you can go to the park and play football with the kids, and take your mum breakfast in bed.”
Under the Sunday Trading Act of 1994, large shops in England and Wales can trade for six continuous hours between 10am to 6pm on Sundays.