Comments: Sunday Trading: should there be changes?


Posted by Father David at Friday, 7 August 2015 at 11:48am BST

Last time I was involved in consulting on Government policy we were expected to consult for a minimum of 12 weeks, and longer if the period included a holiday season. This was to help small businesses respond, and consequently to help the relevant Minister understand the impact on small businesses. This consultation does not meet the old requirements, and the policy change appears to be driven by big business.

Posted by Peter at Friday, 7 August 2015 at 4:04pm BST

We live in Scotland, and our personal Sunday habits have not changed. The Sunday Mass is our regular food.

The local shops are there for emergency, and it is up to Christians to live according to their faith, in a much different world to our childhood many years ago now.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Fr John

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Friday, 7 August 2015 at 4:48pm BST

Keeping sunday special is up to the believer who chooses it. it's not the business of government to enforce it. those days are past. Long past.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Friday, 7 August 2015 at 11:49pm BST

I feel considerable nostalgia for the days when Sunday meant my home town was still, the streets silent, the pavements empty because no shops were open.

I would walk to church in the morning (I was a chorister) and there was a stillness that made you really know it was a different day, and prepared you for your service.

Afterwards I would walk home for Sunday lunch with my family - always the special meal of the week - and rest and relax in the afternoon before walking back to church for Evensong.

Those days are past. This country no longer really claims to be Christian. To be far, it is made up of people with Muslim belief, Jewish belief, Hindu belief, agnostics, atheists, pagans, and people who are simply spiritual.

I don't believe that The Church can ask for Christian Sunday to be imposed on everyone else.

But I miss those days, and feel a good deal of nostalgia for them, and yes, I do think we have lost something.

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it Holy. On the seventh day God rested.

It points, in a profound way, to the eternal Kingdom of Rest, and the household of God.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 8 August 2015 at 12:01pm BST

The UK government regulates all sorts of things - sale of alcohol, working hours and conditions, where shops can be put etc. So regulating opening hours is a natural thing for a government to do, if there is a social good involved. And a common day of rest (whether or not people use it for worship) is a social good. The changes are opposed by the unions and shopkeepers associations as well as the church, but it suits the liberalisers (as they do in the consultation paper) to pretend that it's only Christians who value Sunday as a day of rest. That simply isn't true.

Posted by David Keen at Saturday, 8 August 2015 at 1:39pm BST

David Keen: the trend for government over the last decade or two has been to regulate the things you've listed less and less. Personally, I oppose relaxed Sunday trading laws, yet when this position is presented by the Church or its clergy, it comes across as self-interested.

I'd rather see the Church speak up louder for the people who are most inconvenienced by Sunday trading - the people who actually have to work those shifts so the rest of us can consume. Point 6 in David Keen's blogpost should be Point 1: I want to see the Church argue for increased rights to flexible working and strengthening rights to Sunday opt-out. Anyone who works in retail (as I have done in the past) or catering knows that in most positions, if you refuse to work Sundays, you won't be in a job. To me, this is a worse situation than making purchases on the Lord's Day to the accompaniment of moralistic finger-wagging.

Posted by Tim M at Saturday, 8 August 2015 at 6:07pm BST

Perhaps the biggest incentive to opt out of Sunday Church here in New Zealand is the predominance of sporting and outdoor activities. These often take preference - especially for families with growing children. Sunday shopping is only one such disincentive.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 8 August 2015 at 11:03pm BST

Tim M - I agree, I feel compromised in arguing for Sunday to be different because it does look self-interested for a vicar to oppose changing the Sunday trading laws. Even worse, it plays into the governments hands: the way they word the consultation makes it sound as though the only people who will be bothered by this are Christians.

It would be useful to have some case studies to hand of where employee protection under the current law has failed, to back up arguments in the consultation. The government claim that nobody will have to work on a Sunday that doesn't want to, but that's clearly not even happening now.

Posted by David Keen at Sunday, 9 August 2015 at 8:03am BST

Being a nominal Christian country with a national Church by Law Established, I would have thought that it was the duty of any British Government to protect and uphold Christian values, not least the preservation of the Christian holy day. It was on the hapless Mr. Major's watch that the rot set in with regard to Sunday trading. The Church of England does so much towards serving this nation by providing first rate Christian schools, celebrations of national importance, volunteers for Food Banks, Street Pastors and countless other aid towards various charities, in return you think the present Government in gratitude might just do something to uphold the Established Faith of this land. The Prime Minister bangs on endlessly about "British values" (whatever they might be?) but surely the future of this nation would be far more secure and fruitful if there was a return to Christian values.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 August 2015 at 7:40am BST

David Keen,
you say you'd like some case studies to show where employee protection under the current law has failed, yet even without case studies you are sure that people who do not want to work on Sundays are "clearly" not protected. How do you know? What statistics are there that prove that people who don't choose to work on Sundays are being forced to?

Father David,
I know there is still this strange 1950s image of everyone living in happy families, all wanting to spend time together on Sundays, in the good old days when all the theatres were closed and you couldn't do anything at all, when there were no single people anywhere not minding work on Sundays, when no-one was married to doctors, policemen, firemen, nurses or anyone in the catering industry who had to work Sundays and no-one would have wanted to flexibility to arrange their own free days to coincide with those of partners. When students didn't need weekend work to save for next years' living costs, when the church could determine what counted as Christian values and what didn’t and when it felt it had a right to impose its values on the over 90% of people who are not practicing Christians.
I can just about accept a church grumbling that everyone is abandoning “Christian” values. But expecting Government to uphold those same ideas as a duty is… maybe not entirely realistic.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 10 August 2015 at 10:25pm BST

I do not feel this is simply or predominantly a question of the church imposing its values on the country. It may well also be a question of a people sticking to its traditions unless these are proved manifestly to be wrong in several ways (not just economic,but social, medical, etc).
(As a Welshman I am anecdotally reminded of the vision vouchsafed in 1172 to Henry II in a chapel in front of Cardiff Castle - now beneath the city's busiest traffic artery - which ensured the absence of Sunday markets in chartered towns for some 800 or so years).

Posted by Clive Sweeting at Friday, 14 August 2015 at 2:59pm BST

May I remind Erika that limits on Sunday trading go back as far as 321 when Constantine became the first Christian Emperor.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 15 August 2015 at 10:08am BST
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