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Archbishop welcomes Commons vote against Sunday trading

A shopper on Oxford Street, London (PA)

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has welcomed the House of Commons vote not to extend Sunday trading hours.

“I am pleased that MPs have decided to protect the existing arrangements,” said Archbishop Smith.

The government proposal, which was contained in the Enterprise Bill, was voted down by 317 votes to 286 after 27 Conservative MPs rebelled.

It would have allowed councils to decide whether to let large shops stay open for more than six hours on a Sunday.

The Government claimed that this would bring economic gains.

But in an open letter published last week, Christian leaders including Archbishop Smith denied that there would be any such benefit.

The leaders – from six different denominations – claimed that deregulating Sunday trading would disrupt family and community life, and would put employees under pressure to work on Sundays.

In his statement after yesterday’s vote, Archbishop Smith said that the existing arrangements “meet consumer needs while recognising the unique and important atmosphere of Sundays”.

“There is little evidence that further deregulation would bring any tangible benefit to the UK and today’s debate highlighted how it would negatively impact upon family time, community cohesion and faith groups.”

The amendment was defeated after David Burrowes MP, a Conservative backbencher, put down an amendment to remove the Sunday trading plans from the legislation.

Labour and the SNP voted for the Burrowes amendment along with the 27 Conservative rebels.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the result was “extremely disappointing”. It is the government’s first major Commons defeat since the election.