Extending Sunday shopping hours would have a “dramatic effect on family life for no economic gain”, the Church of England has warned.
The caution follows the Government’s efforts to introduce all-day Sunday trading, despite a pre-election assurance not to change the current law.
Under the plans, local authorities would be allowed to decide on Sunday opening hours, but the idea has come under fire from a wide range of critics.
‘No current plans’
Outlining their concerns in a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, the Church of England was joined by the General Secretary of the Usdaw union, a spokesman from the Keep Sunday Special Campaign and the Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores.
They noted that it was “extremely disappointing” for the Government to seek to change the law, after the Conservatives said before the General Election that it had “no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws”.
The signatories said that the current law works effectively and allows Sunday to remain “a day of communal rest”.
“This allows shop workers to spend time with their families and it respects the views of those who want to keep Sunday special for religious reasons”, they added.
They continued: “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.”
Last month columnists spoke out against the plans, with Tim Montgomerie saying that the individual choice given to some people “to buy goods they don’t need with money they don’t have requires that another person’s Sunday visit to Gran or to church must end — or their employability might suffer”.
Chancellor George Osborne formally announced the move in the Budget last month, with Government Minister Anna Soubry saying a consultation on the issue was about choice.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Soubry said Sunday was “the most miserable day of the week”.
But The Christian Institute said that “for many people, and especially Christians, it remains a special day, a day of rest”.