Government's Sunday trading Bill imminent

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Indy Politics
THE BILL promised by the Government to establish a coherent and enforceable law on Sunday trading will be published 'in the next few weeks', Peter Lloyd, Minister of State at the Home Office, told MPs yesterday. Although pressed, he gave no commitment on premium pay or on protection for employees who do not wish to work on Sundays.

His comments came as a backbench measure to end illegal Sunday opening by big stores failed in the Commons after a day of procedural manoeuvres.

Ray Powell, Labour MP for Ogmore, said voting on his Shops (Amendment) Bill showed the Commons would not accept proposals for total deregulation of Sunday trading. The idea was rejected by 127 votes to 13 as the Bill was considered on report.

Total deregulation is the route preferred by Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, and will be one of three options offered in the Bill he plans for inclusion in the Queen's Speech this autumn. The other options will be the Powell- Keep Sunday Special Campaign proposal for a tight general ban on opening with exemptions for DIY, recreation and travel outlets, and the compromise of the Shopping Hours Reform Council, allowing all- day trading for small shops and six hours for big stores.

Mr Powell's Bill was given a Second Reading by 214 votes to 41 in January, and negotiated its Committee Stage. But yesterday further progress was blocked by the tabling of 135 amendments and 13 new clauses - 99 of the changes in the name of Dame Angela Rumbold, a former Home Office minister. Although the Bill remains on the Commons order paper, it is as good as dead.