As you may be aware, currently large shops can only be open for six consecutive hours on Sundays whereas small shops do not face this restriction. The Government has proposed giving local areas the power to decide whether they wish to change these rules, and I do think it is important that such decisions can be taken at a local level. This will mean that those most affected will have a greater say over their own economies and changes will not be directed or imposed on our local area by Whitehall.
A public consultation on devolving powers to allow mayors or councils to extend Sunday trading hours within parameters that they would determine has recently closed, and I look forward to seeing the Government’s response to this in due course.
I understand there are strong feelings on both sides of the debate and opinion can be divided on this issue. However, I hope that all those who have an important stake in this, including church groups, workers groups and small businesses are included in the debate at the local level. My own view is simply that it should not be for government to interfere in when shops can open, although I do support limited regulation of trading in tobacco, alcohol and other controlled substances.