Front benches back Sunday hours change

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Indy Politics
NINETEEN Cabinet ministers and many members of the shadow Cabinet last night helped ensure a relaxation of Sunday trading laws. They included the Prime Minister and John Smith, the Labour leader.

Among ministers opposing it was Tim Sainsbury, the trade minister, whose family grocery chain played a leading role in the Shopping Hours Reform Council campaign for big stores to be allowed to open for six hours. Mr Sainsbury supported the Keep Sunday Special option. His senior colleague, Michael Heseltine, voted the other way.

Surprise supporters included John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, and Gillian Shephard, Minister of Agriculture.

Tories opposed to change included social security ministers William Hague and Alistair Burt.

Labour opponents included David Blunkett, shadow health secretary, Frank Dobson, transport spokesman, Neil Kinnock, former party leader, and John Prescott, employment spokesman.

But Tony Blair, shadow home secretary, Gordon Brown, shadow chancellor, Robin Cook, industry spokesman, Jack Cunningham, shadow foreign secretary, Donald Dewar, social security spokesman, and Harriet Harman, shadow chief secretary, supported the change.

Some MPs switched allegiance after the Keep Sunday Special vote was lost, including Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, Margaret Beckett, deputy Labour leader, Jack Straw, shadow environment secretary and Ann Taylor, shadow education secretary. They were persuaded by the fact that if all options had failed, the law would have been left in limbo.