Quality of life argument 'will sway Sunday vote'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

MPs will reject the deregulation of Sunday trading because of increasing concern about quality of life, it was forecast yesterday.

According to the Keep Sunday Special campaign the debate is moving beyond the freedom to shop on Sunday into wider issues.

Alasdair Barron, the campaign's media director, said: 'We believe our position further strengthens as more people appreciate the quality-of-life arguments. It is to do with the time one can have to relax, rest, play sport, have time for family and relationships.'

Despite the Government's U-turn last week on guarantees for new workers, allowing anyone to withdraw from Sunday working as long as they give three months' notice to their employers, Mr Barron said the employment protection proposed in the Sunday Trading Bill was still 'pretty minimal'.

The campaign wants protection extended to supervisory and managerial staff and people in ancillary, non-retail industries. It also wants mandatory double-time payment to ensure that Sunday does not become 'another working day'. The Government has said it will call a whipped vote against premium payments but Keep Sunday Special believes an alliance of Labour and dissenting Conservatives could force a change of mind.

MPs will have a free vote on three options: total deregulation; the restrictive option supported by Keep Sunday Special, which would allow most small shops and DIY stores to open but limit large stores to the four Sundays before Christmas; and the 'partial deregulation' proposed by the Shopping Hours Reform Council. This would allow big stores to open for six hours every Sunday and is labelled 'virtual deregulation' by opponents.