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Sunday Trading Laws

Oral Answers to Questions — Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 2nd February 2016.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East 11:30 am, 2nd February 2016

What recent discussions he has had with shop workers and their representatives on Sunday trading laws.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Officials met USDAW, the TUC and the GMB back in August, and I am very much in favour of the policy of devolving down to local authorities the powers to extend Sunday trading laws if they wish, and if it suits their local area. We may hear more about this from the Secretary of State later when introducing the Enterprise Bill; I hope so.

Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Labour, Swansea East

I take it from that that we can expect an announcement on Sunday trading very soon, but with small traders worried that their only advantage over the supermarkets is the ability to have convenient store Sunday hours and over 91% of USDAW shop-floor workers saying they do not want to work longer hours on a Sunday, just who is going to benefit from these changes?

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

What has been really interesting in the consultation that was carried out was the large number of local authorities who welcomed the ability for them to have powers to see what would suit their area. So if a local authority took the view that an extension of Sunday trading hours was not right for it for whatever reason, it would not have to do it. That is the beauty of this policy. It devolves the powers down to local authorities so they decide what is best for them in their areas, and I can assure the hon. Lady that a number of Labour councils welcome such a devolution of powers.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that the Sunday trading laws were relaxed in the run-up to the Olympics, and given that the sky has not fallen in in Scotland where there are no restrictions, will the Government please crack on and relax the Sunday trading laws as quickly as possible?

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

I have made my position clear, but the ideal is that this is not about the Government imposing this on anybody. It is about giving local authorities the power to decide what is best in their area for all their shops, of whatever size, and of course for their shoppers and their consumers. If they do not want to do it, it would not be mandatory, but they have the choice because we take the view that they know best.