Sunday Trading: Government may face defeat as Tory rebellion grows

A mounting rebellion is developing against Sunday trading among Tory MPs, Christian Today understands.

Sajid Javid, the business secretary, reannounced the proposals yesterday which would allow councils to extend Sunday trading hours. It comes after the government was forced to abandon the plans in the face of strong opposition from the Scottish National Party (SNP), Labour and 20 Tories, led by Christian MP David Burrowes.

Government plans to devolve decision making on Sunday Trading would mean councils could allow large stores to open all day on Sunday.Reuters

However Burrowes told Christian Today he is still hoping to "lead the rebellion" to defeat the proposals.

He also revealed "a number of other Conservative MPs have voiced their support" in addition to the 20 MPs who said they would vote against the proposals when they were first announced in November.

The growing group of rebels may force the government to reconsider again as it is difficult to see how the proposals could pass with such a large opposition.

"The position hasn't changed," another office told Christian Today.

Burrowes allayed fears the government would use English votes for English laws to discount the votes of SNP MPs, saying he did not believe they would be able to do so.

Javid unveiled the government's second attempt as a late amendment to the Enterprise Bill which would allow councils to introduce zones where large shops can open for longer on Sundays.

"These new powers are about giving local areas the choice to extend Sunday trading hours to meet the needs of their local businesses and communities," the business secretary said. "It is local people who will make the decision."

However Labour said introducing the measure after the bill had already passed through the House of Lords was an attempt to "bounce them through the House with minimum opposition and scrutiny" and was "a gross abuse of power".

Despite reports of a "religious" opt-out which would allow shop workers to give one-month's notice if they did not want to work on Sundays, the Bishop of St Albans insisted the changes would lead to increased pressure on workers.

"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," said Rt Rev Alan Smith.

"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."

The Jubilee Centre, who have long-supported the Keep Sunday Special campaign said it commended "the courage of several Conservative MPs who have dared to challenge their party in its reckless pursuit of this economically-dubious change" but said ultimately, the announcement was "disappointing to say the least".