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Sunday Trading (Amendment)

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 6 July 2011

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to permit local authorities to vary restrictions on Sunday trading on a temporary basis; and for connected purposes.

The objective of this measure is to provide a temporary and modest economic stimulus during the period of the Olympic games. This will be an exceptional period. Britain has invested billions in the games, and we must maximise the revenue opportunities from the hundreds of thousands of new tourists who will come into Britain at the time. My desire is therefore to help to offset the huge cost of the event by ensuring that every opportunity is taken to boost the economy during those six weeks or so.

I support Sunday opening. Large stores are restricted to opening for six hours, between 10 am and 6 pm; smaller shops are allowed to open for longer. Scotland has complete deregulation. This is about showing that England and Wales are open for business. We need to create a provision for events such as the Olympics, and we need to offset the financial costs involved. I am a supporter of the games, which will bring hundreds of thousands of international tourists and global opinion formers into the United Kingdom.

I want to make it clear from the start that the effects of this measure would be temporary in nature, as it would apply to only about half a dozen Sundays. This would be a small adjustment that could make a huge difference to thousands in the retail trade. This is not a partisan issue; I know that many Members on both sides of the House support this common-sense proposal.

Many of my colleagues will have been to the Olympic park and seen the enormous amount of redevelopment there. Some of the largest regeneration projects in the UK have been undertaken in the run-up to London 2012. They include the construction of Europe’s largest urban shopping centre. As the Prime Minister has said, we must utilise the potential that such a place provides for the country as a whole, by providing opportunities for the unemployed.

Millions of people will be visiting Britain in 2012; it will be the year to showcase our country to the world. We have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate what Britain is capable of, and this opportunity, not just for London but for the whole of the UK, is one that we must get right. I am also mindful of my own north-west. It is imperative that visitors are encouraged to return. Let us make allowances for people: for the shop workers who are desperate for overtime, for the ordinary worker, for the unemployed and for the consumer who wants more convenient shopping hours.

The preparation for the Olympics has already shown that we are able to adapt to the pace of change necessary to meet the big demands of a major international event. The royal wedding was a prime example of Britain at its best. So far, the major construction work has been on time and on budget, but it is also crucial to get the small things right. In the run-up to the 2012 games, London has no choice but to adjust. Allowances have already been made for Olympic car lanes, alterations to supermarket deliveries and changes to meet carbon emission targets. Let us make allowances for people: for the shop worker who is desperate for overtime during this exceptional period; for the employer who wants to adapt to cope with the millions of extra customers and a different pattern of trade; and for the average consumer who will want flexible shopping so that they can fully enjoy the games.

Certain areas of Britain, such as Oxford street in London, and Blackpool and the Lake district are tourist attractions in themselves. We must utilise the opportunity that the Olympics offer by giving businesses the chance to extend opening hours to consumers on the Sundays up to and during these exciting events. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the best of the UK’s culture, creativity and industry. It is anticipated that Britain will receive hundreds of thousands of extra visitors per day. They will include 14,700 athletes, alongside the 20,000 accredited journalists. Tens of thousands of global opinion formers will be visiting our country. Scotland already has freer Sunday trading hours. England and Wales therefore need to be prepared for the challenges that these additional visitors will place on the country.

As the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said, we must

“boost national self-confidence, enhance the UK’s reputation abroad”


“attract high value inward investment.”

It is vital that we have the necessary services and facilities for the largest number of visitors that Britain will ever have seen. Olympic events will be going on at all times of the day. What a missed opportunity it would be if tourists with money in their pockets leaving an event late on a Sunday afternoon were to find the shops closed. The Olympic games also coincide with the annual summer holidays for schools and universities in England and Wales. Those young people will fill the temporary jobs that will be created during the Olympic games, not to mention the numerous temporary jobs created by local businesses. This is a fantastic opportunity to encourage our young people into work, and to improve their future employment prospects.

The Olympic games will bring benefits to areas across the UK. These include Old Trafford in my own north-west, a world famous football stadium that will be used to host nine football matches during the games. It is situated next to the Trafford Centre, a hugely popular shopping venue. During the passage of my Bill, we can deal with the powers for the Welsh Assembly and local authorities that might not choose to take advantage of this temporary measure. I do not wish to compel local authorities to have additional Sunday trading hours that they do not want.

Britain is a nation of many sporting events. The football and rugby Saturday and the summer Wimbledon are just some examples of the many events that attract thousands of visitors to the UK from across the globe. It is important that communities should be able to provide the flexibility for such events, so as to maximise economic gain. It makes little economic sense to make basic amenities unavailable to tourists and citizens alike during the games. At a time when the Government must focus on rebuilding the economy, creating jobs and boosting the disposable income of our people, we must not waste the unique opportunities that this major event will provide. What more powerful legacy could there be than creating opportunities for people to get jobs and earn some money?

With the retail sector booming in central London, having been boosted by foreign tourists, we must ensure that all our shops are able to deal with the increased demand. We must adjust their hours to cope with the fact that many people will stay at home and watch television because they wish to maximise the hours on a summer Sunday evening. I wish to give similar opportunities to my constituents in the north-west. One reason for this measure is the increase in tourism. The London Olympics are set to be worth at least £100 million in extra revenues to the UK retail sector, and we must meet this demand. We are not the first nation to face this issue. The French Parliament recently passed a measure to give local authorities in popular tourist destinations the power to extend Sunday trading hours. This is an example of how Sunday trading legislation can adapt to meet local demands.

I am committed to preserving the tradition of Sunday as a family day and ensuring the rights of shop workers. Having worked in the retail sector all my life, I am a champion of the primary legislation that sets in stone those rights, and it is rightly sacrosanct. No worker should ever be put in a position of having to work on a Sunday against their wishes. I believe that there is a real need for this temporary economic boost, however, and that we therefore need to reassess the current provisions. It makes little sense to impose Sunday trading limits on shop workers and the retail industry when transport, pubs and restaurants can be responsive when demand arises.

This measure is not a radical change. It is a practical, temporary tweaking of the common-sense provisions that have already been accepted by Parliament in 1994. It is an economic stimulus measure. Certain occasions demand that shops open for longer on a Sunday. Scotland has been sensible in this regard for many years, and this provision will have only positive benefits for our local economies. This move comes at a significant time in the history of our country with the coming of the Olympic games in 2012. England and Wales have demonstrated that they can adapt to the challenges that major events pose. Let us send a message that Britain is open for business and let us use this opportunity to maximise revenues from tourists. We have shown that we can get the big things right; let us not make the mistake of ignoring the smaller details.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak against the Bill, Mr Speaker. I recognise that the House is keen to move on to the next subject, however, so I shall not press the motion to a Division.

It is perhaps unusual to hear a speech from a woman opposing a proposal for more time to shop. I suggest, however, that the Bill that my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) is introducing would have unintended consequences. He started to make a convincing case for extending Sunday hours generally, and I am not sure why he is trying to restrict his proposal to the Olympics if he believes that it would be helpful as an economic stimulus. He also said that only the larger stores are currently restricted. I encourage him to think again about his measure, so that we can once again reinforce the role of small, independent stores or smaller high street stores in boosting economic activity.

My hon. Friend suggested that the provisions would have only a temporary application. I am rather nervous about that, because such provisions usually set us on the road to permanent change. He also mentioned new employment opportunities, but stores in the Westfield shopping centre and similar places will not take on extra shop workers just to deal with an extra 24 hours of work spread across six Sundays.

I believe that my hon. Friend’s Bill sends out the wrong message. The Olympics will be a once-in-a-generation—perhaps once-in-a-lifetime—opportunity for everyone in this country to participate in and enjoy. He said that people could not be compelled to work on a Sunday, but I think he will find that that is no longer true. I will not press the motion to a vote today, but I give him notice that I will oppose the Bill as it passes through its parliamentary stages.

Question put and agreed to.


That Mark Menzies, Conor Burns, Rehman Chishti, Philip Davies, Thomas Docherty, Stephen Gilbert, Daniel Kawczynski, Chris Kelly, Andrew Rosindell, Iain Stewart, James Wharton and Priti Patel present the Bill.

Mark Menzies accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 25 November 2011, and to be printed (Bill 217).