Conservative MPs must be ready to keep Sunday special

Jun 7, 2020 by

by Paul Goodman, Conservative Home:

What was the only Government Bill defeated at Second Reading under Margaret Thatcher?  The answer is nothing to do with the poll tax or Europe or even Keynesian economics.  It was her Bill to abolish the Sunday trading laws – introduced when her powers were at their zenith in 1986.

No fewer than 72 Conservative backbenchers rebelled – enough to annul her three figure majority and defeat the Bill by 14 votes.  Thirty years later, it was Tory MPs once again who saw off an attempt by George Osborne to liberalise the laws by leaving decisions in the hands of local authorities.

So Boris Johnson will be chancing his Parliamentary arm if he seeks temporarily to suspend the laws, cautiously relaxed in 1994, in order to boost English and Welsh economic growth as the Coronavirus recedes.  (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own arrangements, the former having no Sunday trading restrictions at all.)

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