Sunday Trading vote a ‘wonderful victory for faith and for family’
Wednesday 09 March 2016
The Christian Institute has welcomed MPs’ “wonderful” refusal to open the door for extended Sunday shopping hours in England and Wales.
Earlier today the House of Commons voted 317 to 286 to drop proposals in the Enterprise Bill to give local councils the power to extend shopping hours on Sundays.
Institute Director Colin Hart welcomed the news and said he was “delighted” so many MPs had backed calls to derail the plans.
“This is 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.
“There is no doubt that it would have led to more pressure on people to work on Sundays, harming family life and further interfering with Sunday as a day of rest.
“I’m delighted that MPs from all the main parties have joined together to do the right thing. This is a day to remember.
“The proposed law offered no real protections for Christians who do not wish to work on a Sunday or people who simply want to keep Sunday as a family day.
“The Government has been given a clear message that the people of this country believe there is more to life than endless opportunities to shop.
“It should not be surprised. It was well aware of the strength of feeling in the country from the responses to its own consultation. But it decided to press on with the changes in the face of opposition from all quarters.”
The Government held a consultation on the plans and received more than 7,000 responses despite the limited time given to respond. It noted that trade unions, religious bodies and a number of small businesses and individuals were against the proposals but decided to press on claiming that the majority of local authorities and large and medium-sized businesses who responded were supportive.
In a legal opinion John Bowers QC, a leading authority on employment law, said the plans offered no protection from detriment or dismissal for people who object to working on Sundays during the opt-out notice period. The opinion was referenced during the debate.
Mr Bowers also noted that there was nothing to prevent employers from turning down a job applicant just because they will not, or are unlikely to, work on the Sabbath.
The Government was previously forced to abandon plans to extend Sunday trading in November last year. The proposals were to be included in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill which was debated in November but were dropped after opposition from MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, the SNP and the DUP.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational registered charity, which seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK.
It was founded in 1991 by Christian church leaders and professionals and it currently campaigns on a range of issues including marriage and the family, child protection, pro-life concerns, drugs, religious liberty and education, as well as Christianity and the constitution.