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The Right Reverend Peter Hancock spoke to the Gazette
THE Bishop of Basingstoke said he is “disturbed” by news that some MPs are seeking to permanently allow shops to open for longer on a Sunday.
His views follow comments from Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury ’s, who also attacked the idea of extended Sunday trading. In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr King said extended Sunday opening hours was not a “magic answer” to the UK’s economic problems.
Stores have been allowed to open for longer during the Olympic and Paralympic Games after the Govern-ment relaxed legislation which prevents shops of more than 280 square metres from opening longer than six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sunday.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he would be willing to look at the impact of the temporary relaxation on trade following calls from the Institute of Directors business lobby to end Sunday trading restrictions.
However, Bishop Peter said: “I am not convinced that there is any great economic benefit overall in this, and the proposal would continue to undermine small shops and family life.
“Moreover, it would further undermine the special character of Sunday which offers the nation something very important. Sunday has been described as a ‘collective breather from the stresses of modern life’, and we don’t have to look far to realise how important that is.
“Many people who work on Sundays are people who don’t choose to. People feel they need to work those extra hours but there’s a social cost to that.
“At a time when so many people are under stress and pressure, they look forward to the weekend. It would be a shame if it was just like any other day.”