Sunday Trading

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West 12:00, 11 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he is giving to the discretionary powers given to local authorities in registering shops for Sunday opening in the preparation of his legislation; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Peter Lloyd Sir Peter Lloyd , Fareham

We will bring to the House a Bill containing the three main options for reform of Sunday trading. One of those, the option put forward by the Keep Sunday Special Campaign, may give some limited discretion to local authorities to decide which of those shops meeting specified criteria should be allowed to trade on Sundays. We are discussing this with the KSSC.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West

Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be no service to customers at large and, indeed, would seriously inhibit trade if as much discretion were given to local authorities as provided for in the Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell)? Does he also accept that, while we wait for the precise drafting of the Government's Bill, there is a risk of a serious and unhealthy vacuum being created, so will he publish the various options as soon as possible, in advance of the Bill itself, to inform public debate?

Photo of Sir Peter Lloyd Sir Peter Lloyd , Fareham

That is a good suggestion and we intend to do just that.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South

Does the Minister accept that it is not good guidance to give to other lawbreakers that if they break the law often enough, the Home Office might become lenient?

Photo of Sir Peter Lloyd Sir Peter Lloyd , Fareham

No, it is not good guidance. We change the law in the House on the merits of the case, not according to whether the law is obeyed or otherwise. I have condemned the breaking of the law in the past and am happy to do so now. The law as it stands should be obeyed until it is changed.