06 August 2015, The Tablet

Minister claims more Sunday trading would benefit high street

The Government has appealed to the Church of England to support plans to relax Sunday trading laws.

In a letter to bishops on Wednesday, Brandon Lewis, Minister for Local Government, claimed that extending Sunday hours would help keep high streets as “the heartbeat of our communities”.

According to plans revealed in a consultation also launched on Wednesday, local authorities will be able to exclude large, out-of-town supermarkets from proposed relaxations in order to give high-street shops an advantage.

At present, shops with more than 3,000 square feet of floor space are allowed to open for no more than six hours on Sunday.

The Church of England has said it will respond to the letter and to the consultation. A spokesperson said: “The Church of England has always maintained that a common day of rest is important for family life, for community life and for personal well-being.” Trade union leaders have expressed similar concerns, saying that the proposed changes would deprive workers of family time.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said that it would be a mistake to further deregulate laws around Sunday trading.

The different atmosphere of Sunday which remains, despite partial deregulation, is good for society, families and communities. Our freedoms as consumers need to be balanced by the rights of workers, and family stability is enhanced if as many families as possible have a common day off. True prosperity is enhanced through the quality of relationships we foster, as well as by economic exchange,” she said.

Ministers have not ruled out allowing shops to open on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

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