Christian campaigners hail 'victory' as government defeated on Sunday trading
The government was defeated on Wednesday night over its proposals to liberalise Sunday trading rules.
The controversial changes were defeated by an alliance of 25 Tory rebels led by Christian MP David Burrowes who formed an "unholy alliance" with SNP and Labour MPs.
The government lost by 317 votes to 286 after a succession of failed bids to appease the rebels who declined a compromise offer ahead of the debate. Ministers made a last minute offer to Burrowes and his colleagues to introduce the changes as a pilot scheme over a one year period.
However the rebels declined the offer saying it would "chip away" at the changes, and the last minute change was not debated after the Commons' Speaker John Burcos said it was tabled too late.
In his speech to the House of Commons today Burrowes cited a number of failures of transparency on behalf of the government. He criticised ministers for not allowing longer to debate the changes which were introduced as a last minute amendment to the Enterprise Bill meaning there has been minimal scrutiny.
However he focused his argument on protecting Sunday as a day off for time with family.
"We may have a choice about whether to go to church, shop or spend time with our families," he told MPs. "We need to be a voice for people who do not have such a choice, perhaps because of caring or work responsibilities. We need to be very careful about imposing further requirements or obligations on them."
Burrowes' rebellion was backed by a number of Christian organisations including the Church of England, CARE and a coalition of unions under the Keep Sunday Special campaign.
After the defeat, CARE's CEO Nola Leach joined Burrowes in highlighting the government's approach to this issue which she described as "lamentable".
"You cannot put a price on the importance of family life and so we are delighted MPs have kicked the government's pointless Sunday trading plans into the long grass," she said.
She hailed the result as a "victory for families, workers, small businesses and all the other groups who opposed these wholly unnecessary and unpopular plans".
However in the immediate aftermath of the debate, the business secretary Sajid Javid hinted the government would bring back the proposals for a third time, having faced an embarrassing climbdown when they were first suggested in November.
He said: "England and Wales MPs voted for this motion and it was denied to them by the SNP."
Javid criticised the SNP's intervention as "childish and hypocritical" after they announced they would oppose the change, even though it would only affect England and Wales.
The SNP said it was opposing the measure because they feared it would affect the pay of Scottish workers.