The Prime Minister has insisted that “all the evidence shows” that Sunday trading deregulation would be welcomed by shoppers, even though a business minister has admitted that the government has failed to commission any research on the issue over the last 10 years.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday), Labour MP Bill Esterson asked David Cameron when he changed his mind on changing Sunday trading laws given his contrary position before the General Election.
Responding to the question, Cameron said: “I think the House should look carefully at this idea not least because our constituents are able to shop online all-day every day including on Sundays. All the evidence shows this will be welcomed by customers, will create more jobs and I think we have nothing to be scared of by moving into this new arrangement.”
However, small business minister Anna Soubry has admitted to Parliament that the government has failed to commission any research over the last 10 years to look into the impact of Sunday trading deregulation.
In an answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Kevin Brennan MP, Soubry stated the following: “In 2006 Indepen were commissioned by the DTI to evaluate the economic costs and benefits of extending Sunday Trading hours, a copy of the report can be found on the GOV.UK website.
“My department has not commissioned any research since then into the effects of the extension of Sunday opening hours.”
The 2006 report cited by the minister was commissioned as part of a wider review into Sunday trading hours during 2006. The Department for Trade and Industry at the time decided not to remove the Sunday trading regulations.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “For the government to attempt to justify its decision to change Sunday trading laws with research that led to a previous government retaining the rules is just absurd.
“There is a wealth of new evidence that shows that consumers don’t want change, that the proposals would damage small shops and would harm high streets when local authorities favour out of town locations over centres.
“These proposals are nothing more than an ideological pet project from the Chancellor and should be voted down in the Enterprise Bill next week.”