Thankyou Speaker. It is with a heavy heart today that I will be voting in favour of my Honourable Friend’s amendment, the Member of Enfield Southgate, who spoke so eloquently earlier to keep Sunday Special. I say that because, to keep Sunday special, I will be voting against my Government—a decision that no loyal member on this side of the House wants to take, certainly not regularly.
My reasons for supporting this amendment and why I believe other members should consider supporting it, are based on three core issues:
- my Conservative Principles and the traditions of our Country
- the impact on staff in all shops, and also, particularly,
- the impact on small independent shops, their owners and their staff. These places are
- well used and well liked in the City of Lincoln, but if Sunday is no longer special, we will lose them.
There is something uniquely British, perhaps Anglo-Saxon, Christian and traditional about how we mark Sunday in this great country of ours – it is the one special day we have every week and to lose that means losing something special about Britain. A week where every day is the same, will be a drab and very grey Britain.
And as a Conservative who believes in our country’s traditions and culture, undermining this special day is not something I can support. I personally would go even further and look at protecting other days in the year such as Boxing Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday by maybe imposing current Sunday opening hours on these days too.
Sunday already provides enough opportunities for large scale shopping if you are up early enough– in fact, a full six hours!
And those who want to shop online will do so whether or not larger shops are open for longer on Sundays.
For those who do not want to spend all day shopping in large malls or superstores on Sundays, there are plenty of convenience and independent shops to go to and I am fearful of the impact on these shops, the lifeblood of so many communities across our Country.
I want to live in a country with a rich mixture of shops, not an endless sea of large faceless superstores. I fear extending the hours of larger shops on a Sunday will diminish choice, impact on the livelihood of those owning and working in those smaller shops and will ultimately damage businesses in our high streets.
I am also concerned about the impact on the families of the shopworkers. As well as Sunday being a special day for those who do not have to work, we need to make sure it remains a special day for those who do work.
If we extend shopping hours, then there will be no respite for them and throughout the week all they will have is snatched time with families – they will be on a conveyor belt of work that never ends. Everyone needs ‘quality family time’ – or just time away from work - we should all work to live – not live to work.
I understand from a big business point of view that they want to sweat their assets. Closed large stores in Bluewater, Meadowhall or anywhere around the country earn no money from shoppers, and hence no profit for their owners. In the middle of the UK, I am sure Bicester Shopping Village would want to open 24 hours, 365 days a year but what would be the effect on the staff working there?
Sunday, as it is currently, is a Great British Compromise that works for everyone.
- Retailers can trade
- Customers can shop
- Shopworkers can spend some quality time with their family, and,
- We can still have that one special day of the week.
I do not want to live in a country where every day is the same, where our traditions and uniqueness are lost.
The full debate can be found on Hansard at: