Bishop of St Albans questions Government on impact of Sunday trading changes on small shops

On 17th September 2015 Lord Naseby asked the Government “what new proposals they have to support independent high street retailers, particularly in the light of the increasing cost of business rates”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop St Albans June 2015The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, while I am grateful for the support Her Majesty’s Government are giving to independent retailers, it seems extraordinary that they are doing so at a time when they are talking about deregulating further Sunday trading hours, which many insiders in the industry believe will give huge commercial advantage both to the large supermarkets and to out-of-town shopping centres. There is deep concern that local councils will not be able to resist the legal appeals by some very powerful commercial organisations if they try to differentiate in different areas. Recently the CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association said that any extra trade from deregulated Sunday trading,

“will go to the more suitable out of town centres with further lost market share for independents”.

Can the Minister inform the House of what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to support independent retailers in the light of this information?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is absolutely right to point out that that will be up to local areas. However, we have done a lot to support independent retailers by supporting projects such as the Portas projects, which have done very well in Braintree, Tiverton and Ashford, and we have put 360 town teams in place. Ultimately, however, these decisions will be for local authorities to make.