Sunday Trading Laws; Is a change ever gonna come?

This was the issue that famously beat Margaret Thatcher when she tried to liberalise the Sunday Trading laws in 1986 as James Landale reports of that time that;

72 Tory MPs felt so strongly about the issue that they were prepared to do the unthinkable and rebel against their leader. So the Shops Bill was defeated at second reading.

This is a rare event for any piece of legislation but more importantly it was the only time the former prime minister was defeated in the House of Commons.

Why do we often forget this seminal political event? Because on the night of the defeat, American warplanes bombed targets in Tripoli, many of them taking off from British airbases.

This evening her successor, David Cameron is aiming to liberalise the laws giving the powers to councils  in England and Wales the power to decide opening hours in their own areas.

However, it is understood that roughly 20 Tory MPs, along with Labour/SNP MPs are set to vote against the measures with the Liberal Democrats offering a free vote on the issue.  I understand that the DUP and SDLP will also be opposing the bill.

With the rise of online shopping and the steep climb in the number of people working on Sunday, Conservative Ministers argue that the laws need to be modernised. Whilst, critics say it will lead to an abuse of workers rights.



  • chrisjones2

    Matter for the whips

  • the rich get richer

    Does every thing/minute/hour have to be about money !

    At the moment it is 11 am–5pm. Thats probably enough.

    Certainly lets say : 10am–6pm would be plenty and if thats not enough then we might as well forget about it !

  • Paul Hagan

    Just goes to show that despite his comprehensive election victory Cameron’s majority ( currently at 17) is hardly solid and given the inevitable divisions in the governing party over the EU vote it could even get worse. So when he said he wouldn’t have to go if he lost the EU referendum he may not be on as solid ground as he thinks.

    Still this is a great result tonight for the country, a triumph for civilisation, I just wouldn’t have thought the SNP would have delivered it!

  • mac tire

    “Does every thing/minute/hour have to be about money !”

    Unfortunately, it seems. Watch them bow to their newish, uncaring god. The economic zealots are really no different to our religious ancestors except the former expects paradise in this world, the latter in the next.

    One side worships The Market, the other Jehovah.

  • AndyB

    Interesting that SNP oppose it, but Scotland already has liberal Sunday trading laws.

  • Gingray

    Good to see the Government defeated – even tho it would not apply here. 1pm to 6pm in Northern Ireland is more than enough.

    On the other hand they really need to tackle the opening hours around Easter …

  • Zorin001

    Will never happen as long as the DUP continue to have their hands on the levers of power.

    I had an enlightening chat once with a couple of high-ups in DCAL and the Tourist Board a few years ago around late night and holiday opening. No matter how many independent studies they could produce to committees on the benefit to the local economy it was, as usual, never, never, never.

  • Neil

    Oh I dunno. On the one hand it could be handy to be able to get a drink, but on the other hand it’s enjoyable watching bemused English stag parties hanging around Temple Bar at Easter, looking depressed.