Wednesday, 9 March 2016

I feel dirty

I feel a bit dirty. I have to accept it, but it is not comfortable, nonetheless.

You see, I agree with George Osborne. And (believe me this is worse), I agree with Brandon Lewis too. I don't think extending Sunday shop opening hours is a bad thing.

Today's defeat for the Government - and by quite a sizeable majority - is disappointing. It's even more disappointing that some parties seem to have voted against for political reasons rather than the principle of the matter.

I don't want to force shop workers to go to work when they don't want to and I don't want to deny them their family time. But the truth is that every shop can currently open for six hours on a Sunday and small shops can open for as long as they want. Most shop workers already have a pretty disrupted Sunday and larger shops are only likely to open for an extra three hours if this goes ahead.

But what the current law does do is restricts the right of workers to sell their labour as they might wish. It restricts the right of business owners to make the most of their premises and it restricts the right of consumers to be able to shop when we want to. (I'd probably say those reasons run from most to least important.)

I respect those who say, for religious reasons, that they disagree with any Sunday trading. But for that argument to stand up, it has to be all or nothing. They should be making the case for a return to the 1980's situation of no shops open at all on a Sunday (there were caveats, but forgive me if I can't remember them). I don't agree with that view, but it seems to make a heck of a lot more sense than the Labour Party position which doesn't recognise that Sunday trading takes place at all. Or the SNP hypocrisy of refusing to extend opening hours in England and Wales to match the existing situation north of the border.

And no, I don't know why the Lib Dems voted against the Government on this. (UPDATE - Four Lib Dem MPs - Farron, Mulholland, Pugh and Williams - voted against the government. Three - Clegg, Brake and Lamb - voted against. Alistain Carmichael did not vote)

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