It would be a “mistake” to deregulate Sunday trading laws, the Bishops of England and Wales have said.
A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “We will need to see the detail of what is proposed”, before adding: “It would be a mistake to further deregulate the laws on Sunday trading.
“The different atmosphere of Sunday which remains, despite partial deregulation, is good for society, families and communities. Our freedoms as consumers need to be balanced by the rights of workers, and family stability is enhanced if as many families as possible have a common day off.”
The statement concluded: “True prosperity is enhanced through the quality of relationships we foster, as well as by economic exchange.”
The Government unveiled its plans in a consultation today which would allow local councils the discretion to extend Sunday trading hours.
Under the proposal prohibitions limiting large stores from opening on Sundays for more than six hours could be lifted in certain circumstances but local shops would also have the right to extend their opening times.
Ministers will write to the Church of England and say that the plans will ensure that high streets “remain the heartbeat of our communities for decades to come”.
Writing to Anglican bishops Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said: “The Government has been determined to revive our nation’s high streets to ensure they remain the heartbeat of our communities for decades to come.
“High streets provide the social, cultural and essential services so many local people enjoy and rely on.”
The Government argues the change would help high streets because councils and mayors can decide to relax trading laws in town centres while upholding them for out-of-town shopping areas.