HC Deb 11 May 1992 vol 207 cc367-8
30. Mr. Jon Owen Jones

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the enforcement of Sunday trading legislation; and if he will make a statement on progress towards resolving issues in regard to the case before the European Court.

The Attorney-General

Two important questions are currently before the courts in relation to Sunday trading —first, the question relating to cross-undertakings in damages, on which the judgment of the House of Lords is expected shortly; and, secondly, the issue as to the compatibility of the Shops Act 1950 and Community law, which is to be heard by the European Court of Justice on 2 June this year. Meanwhile, local authorities can still issue summonses or, indeed, seek injunctions, and I—like my predecessor—keep the question whether the public interest requires me to take action to enforce the law under review.

Mr. Owen Jones

In view of the Prime Minister's stated aim to make the laws on Sunday trading workable, will the Government now give due support to local authorities, such as mine in Cardiff, which are trying to enforce the law? It is not a simple matter of taking out an injunction, as the Attorney-General suggested. Will the Government consider the substance of the Bill relating to the issue that has been presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell), and also consider including it in their programme?

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman will realise that the substantive law, and the reform of that law, are matters for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. It is nevertheless worth reminding the House and local authorities—in case they do not remember—that there is absolutely nothing to stop them from continuing to issue summonses when they think that the law is being broken. The cases to which I have referred will come before the courts comparatively soon; once they have been decided, if the law is upheld, the summonses can be carried through to whatever result the court considers appropriate.