Christian leaders warn over extended Sunday trading hours
Extending Sunday trading hours will disrupt community life, a cross-section of Christian leaders has warned.
The group, including a Roman Catholic and a member of the Church of England, has written to the Sunday Telegraph to oppose Government plans to deregulate Sunday trading laws.
The letter - signed by Anglican Bishop of St Albans the Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith and Catholic Archbishop of Southwark the Most Rev Peter Smith, as well as a Methodist minister and Salvation Army colonel - claims the current arrangements strike a balance between the needs of consumers and communities.
The letter reads: "They make space for shopping, while preserving the common leisure time essential for family life and shared social activities.
"They also protect small stores from near-monopolies, and preserve the right of shop workers to spend time with their families."
The Government is pressing ahead with plans to allow local councils to extend Sunday trading hours by the autumn.
The Christian leaders reference a recent study that forecasts no net gain for the economy if the plans go ahead.
Instead, the changes will result in a loss of market share for smaller shops, they claim.
"Most fundamentally, however, we are concerned that the further deregulation of Sunday trading laws is likely to disrupt the rhythms of community life that are so integral to the common good," the letter says.
"In a world of increasing commodification the space for shared time and activities, central to human flourishing, is becoming increasingly rare."
The full list of signatories is: Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans; Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark; Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales; Rev Steven J Wild, president of the Methodist Conference; Colonel David Hinton, chief secretary of the Salvation Army; R ev David Grosch-Miller, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.