SHOPS should be able to open as long as they want on Sundays, according to a Bury MP.
David Nuttall urged Business Secretary Vince Cable to help retailers by pressing ahead with a change in legislation limiting Sunday trading for companies whose premises are bigger than 280 square metres.
At present, those firms can only open for a maximum of six hours at any time between 10am and 6pm.
Mr Nuttall, MP for Bury North, said in the Commons: “Does the Secretary of State agree that retailers would find it easier to pay higher wages if they were allowed to open all day on Sunday?”
Mr Cable replied: “I suspect that it would make relatively little difference.
“We had a modest experiment at the time of the (London 2012) Olympics.
“The results did not show a great deal of real economic consequences, but we are always open to new evidence.”
Afterwards, Mr Nuttall said he believed the argument should be about whether anyone would object to the change, rather than whether there is an evidential benefit.
He added: “Many Bury firms opened longer during the Olympics and not one person complained to me, so why not open it up?
“Online retailers can trade 24/7 and yet independent retails especially are struggling for their lives and are being told they are limited to what they can do.
“Changing things would mean more profit for them, more choice for the customer and more benefits for employees, whose employers would be more able to pay them the living wage (£7.65 an hour).”
Mr Nuttall said the law will change sooner or later and believes the restrictions are merely down to history, as all Sunday trade was banned until 1994 as many MPs saw it as a threat to family life and church attendance.
He added: “I am a regular churchgoer and I have absolutely no objection to shops opening later on Sunday.
“It should not be up to the Government to dictate to businesses how they run their shops and, if shops saw no benefit to opening later, they wouldn’t have to.”
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of Bury firms, said it was not in a position to comment as its members had not been asked to form a view on the subject.