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Abolish Sunday trading restrictions

Comment 18th May 2015

Sunday trading laws, as currently established in the Sunday Trading Act 1994, restrict the right of traders to operate on Sunday within England and Wales.

Currently, shops may open for business, as they and their customers wish, at any other time of the week.  But on Sunday, shops larger than 280m² may only open for up to six hours between 10am and 6pm.

In Scotland, Sunday trading is fully deregulated and shops may open to serve customers who wish to shop whenever they choose.

Workers' rights to a weekly rest period are enshrined in the EU Working Time Directive.  The rights of workers who prefer not to work on a Sunday in Scotland are protected by the Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003, and in England and Wales by the Sunday Trading Act 1994.  These rights should be retained.

Why does this matter?

These restrictions limit the freedom of traders and shoppers to carry on their otherwise legitimate and beneficial business entirely because of parochial religeous prejudice of a minority section of society.

These restrictions cause inconvenience to those who prefer to trade after 6pm on a Sunday and limit the economic benefits from free trade.

These restrictions address the concerns of a minority of Christians only.  They do not provide freedoms for Christians who choose to trade on Sunday, for Jews and Seventh Day Adventists who observe the Sabbath on Saturday, certain muslims who observe Friday as a rest day, or others who set aside no specific day for rest.

These restrictions do not protect the right of workers to a weekly rest period which are guaranteed by the EU Working Time Directive.

Abolishing these restrictions as described will impose no harm or hardship on any person or section of society.  People who prefer, for religeous reasons or otherwise, will remain free to choose not to trade on a Sunday.  People who choose to trade on a Sunday will be free to do so.

These restrictions are archaic, irrational, unnecessary and should be abolished.

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