Thinking Anglicans

Sunday Trading: should there be changes?

Various people in the Church of England have criticised the government’s latest proposals to change the Sunday trading laws in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate laws).

Here is the actual consultation document, a 21 page pdf file.

And here is a helpful explanation of it from David Pocklington: Consultation – Sunday Trading.

See these news reports:

And see these blog articles:

Also this: Michael Nazir-Ali Sunday shopping risks depriving us of something precious

All of which has led the government to write to the bishops: Church told: Back Sunday shopping to save the high street.

Earlier this month, Bryony Gordon wrote this in the Telegraph Sunday opening won’t destroy the Church – but the Church might destroy itself.

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Father DavidClive SweetingErika BakerDavid KeenFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

KEEP SUNDAY SPECIAL

Peter
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Peter

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.

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

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

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

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.

Susannah Clark
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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… Read more »

David Keen
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David Keen

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… Read more »

Tim M
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Tim M

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… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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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.

David Keen
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David Keen

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… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

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… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

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… Read more »

Clive Sweeting
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Clive Sweeting

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).

Father David
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Father David

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