Sunday trading laws to change for Olympics
Restrictions on Sunday trading will be relaxed for the Olympics, but there is concern that the change may become permanent.
Chancellor George Osborne will this week outline new measures to allow large shops to open for longer during the Olympics to encourage tourist spending. Currently, shops in England and Wales that exceed 3,000 square feet may only trade for 6 hours on a Sunday.
The Chancellor told the BBC: "All I'm proposing at the moment is that we do this for the Olympic Games and the Paralympics." However, when pressed, he refused to rule out a permanent extension of Sunday trading hours.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, suggested toSky News that after the Olympics had finished the Government would analyse the effects of the new policy “before coming to any wider conclusions.”
Opposition to the move is coming from the Church, trade unions and pro-family groups, as well as small businesses who will struggle to compete.
Anglican Mainstream spokesman Canon Dr Chris Sugden said:
“It’s patently obvious that this is a test bed for seeing if they can extend it. It just breaks up that regular time where people can be together. It’s a form of idolatry – it’s the idol that boosting the economy is the absolute which over-rides all other considerations.”
A Church of England spokesman said:
“We believe that for family stability and community life, as many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day off every week. The potential detrimental impact on the health of employees, and on small retailers, outweigh any potential benefits of further deregulation.”
Many are already concerned that the Government is not promoting policies which are family friendly or reflective of Britain’s Christian heritage.
The Government has failed to introduce tax breaks for married couples, despite promising to do so, and instead now plans to re-define marriage to include same-sex couples.
The Prime Minister also appeared to support Christians with conservative sexual ethics being restricted from fostering children after supporting the ruling against Eunice and Owen Johns and suggesting that they were ‘intolerant’ for not wanting to promote homosexuality to a small child.
More recently the Government intervened against four Christians who have brought their cases before the European Court of Human Rights. The Government’s submission suggested that employers should be able to ban staff from wearing a cross to work, and that freedom of conscience meant that people had the ‘freedom to resign’.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“Sunday trading restrictions, which are already very modest, should remain in place in order to protect families. A common day off benefits society as a whole and also honours the Christian heritage of the nation.”
“This Government is failing on religious freedom and failing on the family. There needs to be a serious change in direction as it is losing all credibility.