Local shops have condemned government actions to force through its last-minute plan to liberalise Sunday trading rules for eight weeks this Summer. This was done despite concern and opposition expressed by MPs from all the main parties, says the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Backbench from the government side were subject to a ‘three line whip’, which requires them to attend and vote with their party leadership, for the first time in a Sunday Trading related matter.

ACS also criticised government for the last-minute publication of an Impact Assessment that failed to make a convincing case for why liberalisation across the whole of England and Wales was necessary. The Assessment failed to adequately assess the harm the measure was likely to impose on smaller shops.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are disappointed that this ill-conceived and unnecessary measure has been forced through Parliament. It is clear from the debate that MPs from all main parties had a number of concerns that were not adequately addressed.

“Local shops from across the country have had their say in the past four weeks and MPs referred time and again to the concerns they had heard from constituents. This includes thousands of postcards and letters co-ordinated by ACS and other small shops groups.

“We believe that the scale of political and popular opposition expressed should convince Ministers that further erosion of Sunday Trading rules is both unwanted and unnecessary.”