Bridget Phillipson Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South
On Wednesday 9 March, the government’s proposal to give local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours was defeated in the House of Commons. I voted against the plans, because I think it is against the best interest of shop workers and small businesses.
Carefully devolved powers and funding can boost local economic growth. Sunday trading laws, however, do not fall into this category. The Sunday Trading Act has worked well for over 20 years allowing retailers to trade, customers to shop, and staff to work. The law has maintained Sunday as a special day for shopworkers to spend some time with their families. Any changes should be determined nationally and the government should not use devolution as an excuse to evade responsibility.
The way in which the government attempted to sneak in the Sunday trading changes without proper parliamentary scrutiny was undemocratic. The measures were introduced at a very late stage of the Bill. The public consultation on Sunday trading provisions closed in September last year, but the impact assessment report was not published until the day of the vote. In the report Devolving Sunday trading rules: impact assessment, it indicated that the proposed “zoning” may lead to unfair competition, and many small businesses may lose out.
This is an ill-thought-out policy that was designed to serve a political purpose rather than what is the best interests of workers and small businesses. I will continue to work to protect workers’ rights and fight for small businesses in our area.