Should shops be allowed to stay open longer on Sundays?
(C) 2007 Pixland
Conservative council leaders have rallied behind the Chancellor as he seeks to win support for the controversial changes to Sunday trading laws.
A number of East Anglian council and Conservative group leaders have put their name to a joint letter to minister Brandon Lewis backing his plan to give them the power to let shops open for longer.
George Osborne faces a major Tory rebellion over plans to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales.
Dozens of Conservative backbenchers are expected to oppose the change and reports suggested the Prime Minister could face the prospect of ministers resigning in order to join the revolt.
The chancellor announced plans to shake-up Sunday trading laws in his first Budget after being returned to office last year, but faces a potential defeat over the plans just a week before his next set-piece financial statement.
The Government has a slender working majority of 17 so is vulnerable to any rebellion if opposition MPs unite against it.
Labour’s leadership has urged the SNP not to back the plans to relax Sunday shopping laws, and they said last night they would not be backing the government.
Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale penned a joint letter calling on First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to rule out her 54 MPs supporting the move at the weekend.
Under the Government’s plans, contained in Business Secretary Sajid Javid’s Enterprise Bill, local authorities would be given the power to extend Sunday opening hours.
But Tory David Burrowes is spearheading an attempt to remove the measure from the Bill, which will be debated by MPs today.
Graham Butland, Braintree council leader, David Finch Essex County Council leader, John Fuller, South Norfolk council leader, Derrick Haley, Mid Suffolk council leader, Jennie Jenkins, Babergh council leader, Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council leader, James Palmer, East Cambridgeshire council leader, Lord Porter of Spalding, leader of South Holland council and Andrew Proctor, leader of Broadland District Council, all put their name to the letter which said: “As Leaders of our local communities we want the Government to put its trust into councils. We are best placed to make decisions about Sunday trading. However, to make those decisions in the best interests of our communities it is absolutely vital that these devolved powers come with flexibility including the ability for councils to zone their Sunday trading so that we can give consideration to a wide range of factors including our local economic circumstances.
“Therefore, we would urge you to continue with proposals to localise these decisions and help us deliver what is best for our local communities,” they said.
But Mr Burrows said: “Government should recognise the strength of opposition for a plan that was not in our manifesto and should at least agree a compromise which restricts deregulation to tourist zones.”