MPs elected in Scotland have once again outvoted MPs elected in England on an English-only law.
The SNP joined Labour and some Tory rebels to oppose the liberalisation of Sunday trading laws in England and Wales that would have allowed local councils in England decide whether there was enough local demand to allow a shop to open longer on Sundays. Without the 51 SNP MPs, one UUP, seven DUP and three SDLP MPs voting down the law it would have passed with a majority of 31.
In Scotland they don’t have restrictions on Sunday trading and shops routinely stay open all hours where the local economy supports it. A previous attempt to abolish the restrictions on Sunday trading in England in 2006 was blocked by Alistair Darling, then MP for Edinburgh South West and British Minister for Trade & Industry.
The ridiculous and fundamentally flawed convention of English Votes on English Laws that was recently introduced into the British Parliament has failed its first test by failing to prevent MPs elected in Scotland claiming voting rights for something that clearly doesn’t affect Scotland. The SNP’s claim that not having premium wages for working on Sunday enshrined in legislation in England might bring about the end of the common practice of paying overtime to Scots working on a Sunday in Scotland thus giving them the right to vote on it is frankly pathetic and exposes the inherent weakness of English Votes on English Laws and highlights yet again the need for a devolved English government.
God says it’s a sin to buy medicine on a Sunday
Embarrassed at the thought of the world mocking the way we pander to medieval superstitious beliefs by banning shops from opening all day on Sunday in the name of a religion that only 10% of the population actively engage in, the British government relaxed Sunday Trading laws in England and Wales during the London Olympics. Now the debate is open on whether to tighten them back up again.
The last serious attempt to get Sunday Trading laws relaxed in England was back in 2006 when a group of companies, including the big supermarkets, petitioned the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry to relax them so they could open for more than 6 hours on a Sunday. The Secretary of State declined. The Secretary of State had no business making the decision because the Secretary of State was Alistair Darling, the MP for Edinburgh Central, whose own constituents don’t have to put up with the inconvenience of Sunday Trading restrictions because there aren’t any in Scotland.
Scotland is by far a more religious country than England yet they are sensible enough to realise that translating those minority religious views into restrictions on economic activity benefits nobody. It’s a shame that the politicians they inflict on us don’t share that same sensibility but when they’re messing up someone else’s country, I suppose they don’t really care. But if Scotland can dispense with Sunday Trading restrictions despite being a more religious country than England, why should we endure these ridiculous restrictions because of the irrational beliefs of a declining number of adherents of the state religion?
The economy is on the rocks at the moment and anything that can give it a boost should be welcomed. We need drastic tax cuts and people spending money to create jobs. The drastic tax cuts aren’t going to come under Labour or the Tories because all either of them know how to do is spend more and more of our money but abolishing Sunday Trading restrictions is just about compatible with today’s Tories, even if they have all but abandoned their conservative principles.
On average, those of us who still have jobs are working longer hours to pay for those that don’t, bailing out the €uro, Indian space missions, etc. so we have to do more things at the weekend. If we want to do our weekly shopping at 9pm on Sunday then why shouldn’t we be able to? If we need a pharmacy at 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, why should we have to drive 30 miles to find one of the increasingly small number of independent pharmacies that haven’t been snapped up by big chains that don’t have to comply with Sunday Trading restrictions? Why can we go for a bagel at McDonalds at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning but can’t go to Tesco’s and buy a packet of bagels to make our own? This ridiculous rule about observing the Jewish religious law of observing the Sabbath has no place in England in 2012 and it’s time to consign Sunday Trading restrictions to the history books they came out of.