Sunday Trading bill revived

In a boost for garden centres, Sunday trading extension legislation is back on the Parliamentary agenda with minister Sajid Javid telling MPs changes to Sunday trading will come forward as an amendment to the Enterprise Bill.

Image: HW
Image: HW

The garden industry has been keen on Government plans to extend Sunday trading at shops including garden centres to longer than the current six hours a day - and now the Bill is set to go through.

The issue will be debated at the Garden Retail Summit on 4 February at the Connaught Rooms.

Javid told Parliament today (2 February): "If the people of Bromsgrove or Barking say they want to see longer Sunday opening hours, who are we to stand in their way."

He said it will be up to councils to decide to extend and degregulate.

The new powers to devolve Sunday trading laws to local authorities will allow councils to "zone" any relaxation so they will be able to prioritise high streets and city centres. This will mean councils can help drive footfall to struggling high streets by allowing them to open longer.

The measures also include greater freedoms for shop workers in England, Scotland and Wales to "opt-out" of working Sundays if they choose to, for example because they object on religious grounds or for family reasons.

Shop workers will now be able to give just 1 month’s notice to large shops that they no longer want to work Sundays, down from the previous 3 months, and will have a new right to opt-out of working additional hours. The government will also strengthen the duty on employers to notify employees of their rights about working on Sundays.

Javid added: "We are a one nation government and we want to see the benefits of economic growth being felt in every corner of the country. 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. It is local people who will make the decision. Extending Sunday trading hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets across the UK better compete as our shopping habits change. The rights of shop workers are key to making these changes work in everyone’s interests. We are protecting those who do not wish to work Sundays, and those who do not want to work more than their normal Sunday working hours.

"The rise of online shopping has changed buying habits considerably, giving us the freedom to buy what we want, when we want. Online businesses have been able to adapt and thrive in this new world, accounting for 12.8 per cent of all retail spending in December 2015, up from just 2.4 per cent in 2006. However, the rules on Sunday trading for our high street stores and bigger outlets have not changed for over 20 years, meaning they cannot compete with this new online competition."

Devolving Sunday trading powers to local authorities in England and Wales could benefit British business, Javid added.

In November, Prime Minister David Cameron pulled plans for a Commons vote to relax Sunday trading laws in the face of a rebellion by 20 of his own Conservative MPs.

The Prime Minister had planned to force a vote on allowing councils to extend Sunday opening hours in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.

MPs from the Conservative, Labour, SNP and DUP parties were planning to vote down the measure, which only affects shops in England and Wales. 

The Government said then it would bring back the Bill in the Enterprise Bill at a later date, as predicted in HW last month.

Javid said he wanted the Enterprise Bill second reading to extend deregulation and strengthen and grow UK business.

However, small shops representatives were opposed to the move. The Federation of Wholesale Distributors and Association of Convenience Stores said the move was a "gross abuse of power" and was opposed by most of the public.



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