A shopworkers’ trade union has criticised Shipley MP Philip Davies over his bid to rip up Sunday trading laws.
The Conservative backbencher is leading a Commons attempt to loosen the restrictions, imposed 20 years ago in a bid to ‘keep Sunday special’ following pressure from church groups.
Mr Davies has tabled a series of amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill which were expected to be debated this week, but have now been delayed until next month.
He said: “Many consumers would, for example, like the opportunity to shop freely at a large store on a Sunday, as they already can in Scotland.
“I agree with extending the rights of consumers to spend their money in whichever shops they want, whenever they want on a Sunday.”
The call triggered a furious response from John Hannett, general secretary of the Usdaw union, who warned it would deny shopworkers a vital “breather”.
Mr Hannett said: “It would be a scandal if the Government were to do anything other than oppose these amendments.
“The Sunday Trading Act offered a fair compromise between competing views that allowed large stores some opportunity to trade, whilst largely retaining Sunday as a special day and giving shopworkers a breather in an otherwise 24-hour-a-day industry.
“Many retailers have recognised that extending the hours of opening would simply increase overheads without raising extra revenue through the tills, and that is the last thing the sector needs in what are difficult times for most.”
The amendments would: l Allow larger stores to open for eight hours on a Sunday – rather then just six – between 10am and 8pm.
l Exempt garden centres altogether from the Sunday Trading Act.
l Suspend the Act during this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games and next year’s Rugby World Cup.
At present, retail park shops usually open between 11am and 5pm, while many opt for 10am to 4pm.
However, the restrictions do not apply in Scotland, although workers have the right to refuse to work on a Sunday.
During the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, Sunday trading laws were suspended by the Government on eight successive weekends.
However, it was described as a temporary measure and the Government is not thought to be considering a further loosening of the laws.