HL Deb 21 June 1993 vol 547 cc3-4

2.41 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, when proposing options to replace the Shops Act, they will refrain from proposing any restrictions on Sunday trading in Scotland.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

Yes, my Lords.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his reassuring reply. Did he see the letter in The Times last Tuesday from the Keep Sunday Special Campaign mentioning an option extending to Scotland? As Scotland is not affected by the Shops Act, and has had no restrictions within living memory, would it not be retrograde to disturb a voluntary system of Sunday trading that has been working well for many years?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I did see the letter to which my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy refers. I agree with him that Scotland does not wish to be regulated. According to a recent poll, only 8 per cent. of the people in Scotland want any regulation. The system has worked there very well in the past and we have no intention of changing it.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the other advantages about Scotland is that, following the letter from the Keep Sunday Special Campaign to which the noble Lord referred, what is shown about the Scottish experience is how little Sunday is disturbed by Sunday trading?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right. That is the experience of the people in Scotland.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the Scottish example is an extremely good one which, in that respect at least, we should follow?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, that is one of the arguments, though not the only one. But I agree with my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter that it is quite a forceful argument.

Viscount Tonypandy

My Lords, is the Minister aware that whenever I have had the pleasure and privilege of going to Scotland I have been impressed by the quietness of everything on a Sunday and by the fact that I have seen very few shops open?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, whenever I have had the privilege of going to Scotland my experience has always been that I have been entertained by the amount of noise and happiness there. However, I agree that in Scotland the opening of shops on Sundays does not seem to have had a material or disastrous effect.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that a little over 20 per cent. of shops open on Sundays, although they are free to do so, and that it has been estimated that a larger proportion of the population in Scotland goes to church on Sundays than is the case in England?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, Scotland has always had a fairly severe discipline of puritanism which has not necessarily been reflected in England.