The Liberal Democrats' pledge to liberalise Sunday trading laws in its election manifesto has been widely condemned as naïve and irresponsible by independent retailers and shopworkers' representatives. The party proposes giving local councils the authority to set Sunday opening hours in their area but "within a national framework to guarantee extra pay for Sunday work and to protect conscientious objection to Sunday working". A spokeswoman said the move was designed to reflect the cultural diversity of Britain rather than the beliefs of one religious denomination, and did not mean local councils would necessarily choose to extend opening hours. But the Association of Convenience Stores public affairs spokesman James Lowman said: "This would lead to a grossly unfair system whereby different laws would operate in different areas of the country." "It is incredibly naïve to say it would not lead to extended opening hours for the multiples in some areas." {{NEWS }}