Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 11 March

This week in Parliament, the Government suffered a significant defeat as MPs rejected plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws.

I was happy to join 316 of my Parliamentary colleagues in opposing the planned changes which I felt were unwise, unnecessary and potentially damaging to both small business owners and overworked supermarket staff.

Our existing laws limit opening hours for larger shops to just six hours while smaller stores are free from restrictions.

Under the Government’s proposals, local councils would have been given the power to allow larger stores to stay open for longer in a bid to boost the economy.

But this idea is pure economic fantasy.

Extra time to shop would not magically boost demand, it would simply spread six and half days worth of spending over seven.

As I have repeatedly argued in the past, it would also have a devastating effect on our high-street which is already competing on two fronts against supermarkets and retail parks as well as the internet.

As chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Small Shops, I speak to many convenience store owners in Rochdale and across the UK. Without exception these small business owners tell me that they dread losing the one slim advantage they have over the out of town megastores.

During the 2012 Olympics, when Sunday trading restrictions were temporarily relaxed, convenience stores lost an estimated £26m in sales to their larger rivals.

On top of that, three quarters of supermarket workers already say they are unhappy with their work life balance and struggle to find time to spend with their children. Coupled with the genuine concern that longer Sunday hours would put downward pressure on wages, this proposal that would create many losers and very few winners.

Wednesday was a defeat for the Conservative Government, but victory for common sense.

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