Letter: Trading Sundays for more enjoyable Saturdays

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Sir: When Parliament votes on Wednesday evening on what formula to adopt for the future of shopping on Sundays, it is worth bearing in mind that under each of the options there will be winners and losers.

The real question is: whose side are we on? The simple answer might appear to be the shopper, but nothing in life is quite so straightforward.

With complete deregulation, or virtual deregulation under the Shopping Hours Reform Council proposals, the survival of smaller shops is at stake. We must retain the community shopping facilities that keep neighbourhoods alive and prevent the tragic dereliction of small shopping centres on housing estates and in small towns across Britain.

The vote is far more than whether MPs give way to the enormous pressure that has been exercised on them, as well as on retail workers, by the major companies. It is about the society we would wish to see for the future.

Finally, there is the matter of increased public expenditure. Policing, cleaning and servicing town and city centres will cost the kind of money that local government does not have. What an irony if education and social services were to be cut back still further because no one had ever done a calculation of the real impact of their decisions.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Sheffield Brightside (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

3 December

The writer is opposition spokesman for health.