Last week, Gerald stood up for businesses and workers by opposing the Government’s proposals to relax Sunday trading laws.
George Osborne and the Tory UK Government were proposing to devolve Sunday Trading regulations to local authorities, which would have lead to an extension of Sunday opening hours. The proposals had been slipped in at the eleventh hour as part of the Government’s Enterprise Bill.
There has been a complete lack of scrutiny and consultation for an issue that has the potential to change the British way of life – making Sundays just like any other day. In contrast the Sunday Trading Act 1994 took 2 years of thorough Parliamentary scrutiny to reach a compromise that has worked well for over 20 years. Gerald has already outlined his concerns about the government changes to the bill, but remains unconvinced the government has legislated to negate these issues.
The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebels voted against the Government.
Gerald Jones MP said:
"The Sunday Trading Act keeps Sundays special, and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. The current arrangements work well in Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney and across the UK, meaning that retailers can trade, customers can shop, and shop workers can spend time with their families.
I am convinced that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping and that Sunday should remain a special day, different to any other. That's why I am standing in solidarity with businesses, workers, trade unions and faith groups and voted to oppose the extension of Sunday Trading Laws.”
Angela Eagle, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said:
“I am strongly opposed to the Government’s proposals to relax Sunday Trading Laws by devolving them to local authorities. These proposals were not in the Tory manifesto, and will do little to drive economic growth.
“The current arrangements work well, providing time for customers to shop, and for shop workers to spend time with their families. The proposed reforms amount to an attack on British workers, and will contribute to the gradual erosion and diminution of workers’ pay and rights across the UK.
“I believe that Sundays should be kept special, and I am proud to be standing up for businesses, workers and consumers by opposing these reforms.”
Gerald had previously outlined his opposition to with the Keep Sunday Special coalition. A few weeks ago members of shopworkers union Usdaw and convenience store owners met with MPs to explain how extended opening in large stores will reduce trade for small stores and lead to even more retail staff in large stores being pressured to work longer hours on Sundays.
At the event, the Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney said:
"The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.
“I am convinced that shops are currently open long enough for people to do their shopping and that Sunday should remain a special day, different to any other. I oppose devolving Sunday trading because it will lead to longer opening hours.
“Extending Sunday trading does not mean customers have more money to spend, it would not create jobs and could lead to the closure of smaller stores. So this is not a way to boost the local economy or help town centres. It would be detrimental to shopworkers and their families, as well as wider society, so I am pleased to be supporting the Keep Sunday Special campaign.”
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw and our members are delighted to have the support of Gerald and many others who value the special nature of Sunday and want to protect it. There is no great desire from shopworkers, customers or retailers for these changes and many oppose them.
“The Government are pushing through these changes in the final stages of a Bill which will be voted on next week, but without having published any up to date economic evidence to support their case, any impact assessment or a family test to weigh up the effect on the families of shopworkers, who already work long hours at weekends.
“We are therefore calling on all MPs to oppose this ill-thought-out measure and for the Government to concentrate on supporting retail businesses and their staff