HC Deb 03 March 1986 vol 93 c15
29. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, what response the Church Commissioners have received from those retail companies of which they are shareholders regarding the proposed deregulation of Sunday trading.

Sir William van Straubenzee (Second Church Estates Commissioner, Representing Church Commissioners

Of the responses received so far, the majority have indicated in varying degree that they are not in favour of Sunday trading, although many say they may well feel compelled to open if their competitors do.

Mr. Bruinvels

In view of the General Synod voting 427 to six against Sunday trading, I warmly welcome my hon. Friend's answer. Is he aware that the cathedral bookshops at Canterbury and Guildford have now closed and are awaiting the debate on Sunday trading? Will my hon. Friend impress on shop chains in which the Commissioners hold shares that they should close on Sunday, to ensure that Sunday is a day for recreation, religion and leisure?

Sir William van Straubenzee

The Church Commissioners would expect any institutions in which they hold shares to obey the law. Perhaps I might add that the nearest biblical analogy that I can find for the Government's present stance on this issue, if they insist on persevering, is that of the Gadarene swine.

Mr. Frank Field

When we next ask questions on this subject, may we ask the Second Estates Commissioner to draw attention to the Prime Minister's post? She has received only 100 letters in support of her proposal, and 37,000 against.

Sir William van Straubenzee

I shall bear that suggestion in mind. The interesting experience of many hon. Members on both sides of the House, and with differing views of the legislation, concerns the number of people who express their anxiety when they have no religious observance whatever.

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