Keep Sunday Special

The government is facing defeat over its plans to relax Sunday Trading rules after Scottish National Party MPs decided last night to vote against.

The SNP said the proposals to allow local authorities to decide whether to allow larger stores to open for longer in the government’s Enterprise Bill failed to protect the premium pay employees currently receive in Scotland.

While there have been no restrictions on Sunday trading in Scotland for some time, employment rights associated with proposed protections to workers who choose not to work on Sundays remain reserved to the UK government under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

“The SNP are supporters of Sunday trading - we think in principle it can be a good thing - but we are clear that it should not be happening on the back of often low-paid shop workers in Scotland and throughout the UK,” said SNP Economy spokesman Stewart Hosie MP.

The Association of Convenience Stores, part of the Keep Sunday Special campaign, said the result was too close to call at this stage.

An ACS spokesman said the government had just three hours to come up with something because the debate was scheduled to begin straight after Prime Minister’s Questions.

“All things considered it looks like the government will be defeated,” he said, based on the government’s working majority of 17 and the group of 23 rebels led by David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate.

But he added: “All bets are off. The government could do something crazy in the next few hours.”