The Government has been defeated in the House of Commons over plans to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales. It is thought 24 Conservatives MPs rebelled over the plans to extend opening hours from six continuous ones currently permitted. SNP MPs also shot down the plans, arguing that relaxed laws in England and Wales would affect workers' rights north of the border. Trade unions and the Church of England were also against the plans.
George Osborne promised in the Budget last year that power would be devolved to councils to decide Sunday trading laws in their areas. But the government backed out of a vote amid fears Labour and the SNP would shoot down the proposal.
John Hannett, leader of USDAW, the shopworkers' trade union, earlier issued a last minute plea for MPs to pull down the shutters on the plan. "The current Sunday trading rules are a fair compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years, and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family."