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Sunday Trading

Volume 174: debated on Thursday 14 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation in the light of inconsistent judgments on Sunday trading cases now coming from the courts; and if he will make a statement.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago to my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans).

In the search for a compromise, will my hon. and learned Friend pay particular attention to the needs of garden centres, the purpose of which is widely recognised as being recreational? Will he bear in mind that some garden centres do as much as 70 per cent. of their business on Sundays and that without Sunday opening they would be forced to close? Does he appreciate that there is great concern in that industry about the continuing uncertainty?

I well appreciate all the points that my hon. Friend makes, and she is absolutely right.

Will the Minister accept that many shop workers are saying loud and clear, "You already take our Saturdays for work—you are not going to get our Sundays"? Will he further accept that shop workers will not believe any offers of protection which may be held out to them by the Government, who have a shocking record of stripping protection from shop workers in relation to wages, hours of work and other matters?

The hon. Lady should, in all conscience, recognise that the world has moved on since the clays of Mr. Polly and that in reality several million of our fellow citizens—including, I suspect, a good many of us—regularly have to work Sundays but that we manage to do so while having perfectly normal, decent and sensible family lives and being able to follow our religions. All retailers who advocate a change in the law say that it has never been difficult to find people willing to work on Sundays, particularly when supplements are paid.