Shops Bill 1986

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The Shops Bill 1986 was a parliamentary bill in the United Kingdom that would have ended government regulation of Sunday shopping in England and Wales.[1] Introduced by the government of Margaret Thatcher, it was defeated in the House of Commons at its second reading: the last time that a government bill had fallen at that stage.[2]

The Shops Act 1950 regulated Sunday shopping hours, making it illegal for shops to sell most products on Sunday. The Auld Committee, chaired by Robin Auld, found that the regime established by the 1950 act was unworkable, with arbitrary exemptions and widespread breaches by large retailers.[3] The consequent Auld Report recommended that the Shops Act 1950 be repealed, which the government accepted and adopted into its legislative programme.[3]

Thatcher had anticipated that Labour would oppose the bill, spurred by trade unions fears that shop-workers would be forced to work on Sundays. However, she did not anticipate the backlash from the Christian right. 72 Conservative backbenchers defied a three line whip, voting against the bill at second reading – just after midnight on the morning of 15 April 1986 – and it was defeated by 14 votes.[1] This represented Thatcher's only defeat in the House of Commons.

Sunday trading was ultimately relaxed by the Sunday Trading Act 1994: the 27th attempt to do so.[4]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Regan, Paul (1988). "The 1986 Shops Bill". Parliamentary Affairs. 41 (2): 218–235. 
  2. ^ "Guide to Parliament". BBC News. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "1994: Sunday trading legalised". BBC News. 28 August 1994. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 

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