Archbishop of Southwark, Archbishop Smith has called for the current Sunday trading rules to be maintained in order to protect “family life and shared social activities”.
Commenting on the decision of the MPs over Sundays trading hours, he said:
“I am pleased that MPs have decided to protect the existing arrangements, which meet consumer needs while recognizing the unique and important atmosphere of Sundays.
“There is little evidence that further deregulation would bring any tangible benefit to the UK and today’s debate highlighted how it would negatively impact upon family time, community cohesion and faith groups.”
MPs voted 317 to 286 against Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal to extend Sunday trading hours beyond the current six hour limit. The government was defeated by a majority of 31.
The Government had claimed that this would bring economic gains.
In an open letter signed by Christian leaders including Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Most Revd. Peter Smith and Anglican Bishop of St Albans the Rt. Revd. Dr. Alan Smith and several others, they claimed that extending Sunday trading hours would disrupt family and community life, and would put employees under pressure to work on Sundays.
The letter read: “They make space for shopping, while preserving the common leisure time essential for family life and shared social activities.
“They also protect small stores from near-monopolies, and preserve the right of shop workers to spend time with their families.”
“Most fundamentally, however, we are concerned that the further deregulation of Sunday trading laws is likely to disrupt the rhythms of community life that are so integral to the common good.”
Brandon Lewis MP, minister for housing and planning, said: “Extending Sunday trading hours will provide businesses with more flexibility in their opening hours so that they are better able to meet their customers’ needs and compete with online retailers that can trade 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Business Secretary Sajid Javid expressed his disappointment saying, “It is the government’s first major Commons defeat since the election.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also expressed deep concern towards the Lackadaisical attitude towards the observance of Sunday Sabbath.
He said: “You might ask what it has to do with the Chief Rabbi. I think it has got everything to do with every citizen of this country for one and all and I say that sincerely.
“I lament the fact that we already have lost the respect for the Christian Sabbath on a Sunday to the degree that it already exists. We as Jews identify strongly with the need for faith and what faith provides people with and as a result we are being confronted today with what I call an increasingly aggressive secularism – it’s not only atheism it is anti-religious, aiming to drive religion off the streets.”