Church of England attacks government plans to liberalise Sunday trading

Current laws mean large stores and supermarkets over 280 square metres cannot open for more than six hours on a SundayReuters

The Church of England has come out fighting in the battle over Sunday trading. Earlier this week the Government again said it was going to allow for longer trading hours for big shops – that's despite dropping the proposal previously, in the face of widespread opposition.

Now the Church of England has released a statement strongly advising the Government to leave the law alone. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, said: "Changing the law would have a negative effect on community and family life, while delivering few, if any, additional benefits for the economy."

The Church of England is just one part of the coalition campaigning to keep Sunday special – including Trade Unions, small shopkeepers, many Labour MPs and a growing band of Tory rebels – as we reported earlier this week.

Various church groups have joined the campaign to keep the current legislation, which means large shops can open for six hours every Sunday. "Our current Sunday trading laws are built on a compromise, which a majority of the public still back" said Dr Wilson.

"We know that over half of shop workers in large stores already feel pressure to work on Sundays and an increase in opening hours will only lead to more people being pressured into spending Sunday apart from their children and families" he continued.

"This can only be damaging to community and family life and erode opportunities for shared time and activity, which is central to human flourishing and the common good."