Reform of Sunday Trading Law

We are in a recession, and in order for a country to leave a recession, it must experience a growth in spending. This can be achieved through an increase in consumer spending, business spending, government spending or a combination of all three. To quote a business that would welcome this proposition: “Every Little Helps!”

I propose the abolition of the restrictions on shops’ Sunday opening hours. The current law (in England and Wales) prevents shops greater than 280 m2 (3014 sq. ft.) to open for longer than 6 hours or outside of 10am to 6pm on Sundays. Many varying reasons are given for these restrictions, but I find none of them to be satisfactory.

I’ll start with the most indefensible argument: that it’s “God’s day.” You may well believe that, but most people do not. In this day and age, such an argument is ridiculous: why should one group be able to force its religious practices against others?

While on the topic of religion, the current rules hamper employers, workers and customers, solely for observing a religion other than Christianity, which happens to not designate Sunday as a “holy day.” This puts them at a disadvantage, just for not being a Christian.

One argument used by proponents of Sunday Trading Law is that it provides “family time.” Surely it should be down to the members of said families if they want to spend time together on a specific day of the week, and not pushed upon them by legislation. Perhaps a more noble cause would be to provide more opportunities for families to engage together during the week.

The main concern of the trade unions, in regards to Sunday Trading Law, is that employees could be forced to work on a Sunday by their employer. The current legislation guarantees the right of employees to refuse to work on Sundays, without fear of reprisal from their employers. (In fact, this right was later given to employees in Scotland, where Sunday trading hours are not restricted.) Some might say that this is an inadequate protection for workers; however this is the only protection that shop workers in small shops, Scotland or any of the exempt shop types have. (Some of the exemptions I find to be quite odd, such as: “any shop where the trade or business carried on consist wholly or mainly of the sale of intoxicating liquor.” Why is this granted a special exemption?)

While this is all well and good for those with jobs, what about those without? Unemployment currently stands at around 2.47 million. History of previous recessions teaches us that the central economic question has to be “does this policy have the potential to boost employment.” By allowing shops to open for longer on Sundays, jobs will be created both directly and indirectly (or at the very least the number of job losses reduced).

I hope that unions like Usdaw (thanks for the great “Usdaw for Labour” highlighters you sent us!) will recognise the need for both their members, currently in work, to stay in work, and for those unemployed to get into work.

(Special thanks to Tom Watson for help with a particular sentence)

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LabourList ideas roundup: CONTINUED!

This time they've all been submitted by twitter, and there aren't any completely awful suggestions! (well apart from the blanket nationalisation ones, and I just ignore them!)

Remove charitable status from Private Schools. (I would go further and levy a tax on private education)

Ban private education!

A transport system for the rest of the country like London's. (A national Oyster card would be amazing!)

Hold all elections on the same day: local, national and european. Improves turnout & removes using vote as protest against incumbent.
Abolish Sunday trading law: allow shops to open for any length of time on a Sunday. Would provide an economic boost.

Scrap the different rates of NMW and benefits according to age. Being under 25 is no less expensive than being 25+.
Schools should teach how to budget, how to run a bank account, which bills you should pay first, what credit is... (I would add teach a bit of economics, especially Keynesian macro-economics)
National standards and enforcement agency for private landlords.

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Roundup of the best (and worst) ideas on Labourlist

LabourList is currently seeking "New ideas for a renewed movement"
And after looking at some of the ideas, I've decided to roundup a few of the best and worst of them, and the reasons why.

The Best

"Much tighter regulation of international credit rating agencies to curb their undue influence on UK government economic policy. Will need to work towards international agreement on same but someone's got to start. Dull, but necessary if sensible (Keynesian) economic policy is to be pursued to take us through/beyond recession."
- Paul Cotterill

"A referendum on AV+ to be held on the same day as the General Election"
- Marcus Roberts (I would prefer AV)

Link a commitment to ending domestic flights in Britain by 2015 with further electrification and substantial fare decreases on long-distance trunk routes.
- James Stafford (I think the aim should be reducing not scrapping them)

Align the minimum wage and personal allowance tax threshold - and give the Low Pay Commission the statutory authority to set both figures. Just as giving Bank of England operational independence in 1997 was welcomed as devolving power, so should this be. The guidance for the figure should be based on the Rowntree foundation's minimum income standard (ie a basic but acceptable standard of living, currently set at £13,900) In a nation as rich as ours, people should be able to afford to live in basic levels of comfort, and we shouldn't take money away from people under that figure. I believe that raising the threshold to around £12,000 would cost approximately £20bn, less the cost of tax credits not paid and the like. Our debt interest is projected to rise from around £20bn to £50bn as a result of the increase in borrowing, so it's not the craziest idea to say that as that figure drops back down to 40% of GDP we channel a large part of that relief into the proposal. As a manifesto committment it would be possible to plan a staged increase in the later years of an administration. You'd look to build support on the left and the right (the right wing critique of the tax credit money-go-round and people on benefits being worse off in work currently could be to some extent addressed by the proposal).
- Gavin Shuker (Although he could have written it more concisely!)

Well that was disappointing, so far very few suggestions that I think are worth repeating. There are plenty of "do more for this" but simply saying that isn't going to help anything.

The Worst
"Straighten out financial services, and I mean straighten out, using legislation if necessary so that the events of the last two or more years can never happen again on these shores. Banks and other hangers-on will squeal that “London will lose its competitive edge.” Well, maybe, but taxpayers won’t lose their shirts and tell the banks etc they can take their CDOs, CDOs (squared), CDSs and all the other ridiculous ‘instruments’ invented by the ‘rocket scientists’ far away from these shores, never to return. If other governments want to allow dangerous games to be played on their patch, well, that’s their business."
- Peter Barnard
I don't think he's realised just how vital the financial sector is to the UK. While the regulations certainly should be sorted out, their purpose shouldn't be to harm the financial sector. Its bad enough that the French and Germans are trying to bring in EU legislation to do this as they've been jealous of London for years.

"Reduce tax on fuel and make sure that the likes of BP don't just absorb it. And don't tell us it's to help the environment as we all know that's c**p the same way that road tax is not spent on the roads.
Scrap road tax and add it on fuel. That way everyone pays and it encourages them to buy more efficient cars. How much does the current system cost and what does it make?"
- Gordon Brown-Nose (So both reduce AND increase fuel tax?! Although I do agree that scrapping road tax in favour of an increase in fuel tax)

"More referenda"
- J Doran
A bold move towards more democracy by increasing the number of referenda particularly on matters affecting our political systems
- George Woodhouse
Referenda on changes to the political system, OK. But more referenda in general is a truly terrible idea. See California for details.

I'll update with more after the LabourList page updates.

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