Owners of smaller shops across the UK have welcomed parliament’s decision to reject changes to Sunday trading laws in a vote on the Enterprise Bill.
The proposals, which would have seen local councils given the power to remove Sunday trading hours in their local area, were rejected by 317 votes to 286 as MPs supported David Burrowes’ campaign to retain the existing laws.
During the debate, local government minister Brandon Lewis attempted to promise amendments to the proposals which would have seen 12 pilot zones deregulated over the next 12 months, but this amendment was rejected twice - first by the speaker of the house and second by MPs who voted against the plans.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Today’s vote will be a welcome relief for local shop owners, who would have lost out to superstores and out of town retail parks if these measures had been passed.
“The flaws in the government’s plans have been exposed, and MPs from across the House of Commons have voted to retain our popular existing Sunday trading regulations.
“We encourage the Government to look at measures that will actually help the high street such as business rates reform, and look forward to hearing about the Chancellor’s plans to help retailers in next week’s Budget.”
NFRN national president Ralph Patel said: “This is a huge victory for small shopkeepers and store staff and a huge victory for common sense.
“There have never been any compelling arguments or evidence as to why large stores should trade for longer hours on Sunday. Such proposals were neither needed nor desired.
“The NFRN is indebted to the rebel Tories, along with the Labour and SNP MPs who voted against this ill-conceived and unnecessary policy.”
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter added: “When the government announced its intention to overhaul Sunday trading laws we stated that we would not accept such plans willingly as this would pose a real and serious threat to independent retailers. In response, our members have lobbied long and hard against them.
“Restricted hours for larger stores were brought in to protect small shops and store staff and that requirement is still the case today. Moreover, there has never been any great desire from the public to relax the current six hours for large shops on a Sunday. Independent retailers are now expressing relief that jobs and their livelihoods are no longer under threat as these proposals have been rejected.”