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Sir Patrick Cormack calls for large shops to be forced to close on Remembrance Sunday

Sir Patrick Cormack Yesterday Sir Patrick Cormack presented a Bill to the Commons that would put the same restrictions on trading on Remembrance Sunday as already apply to Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

As he explained to the House:

"I believe that this a very modest but very sensible proposal. It is extremely difficult for members of the British Legion in some towns and cities to organise their remembrance parades because of the clutter, hustle and bustle of the high street on Sunday. Many people who would wish to pay their respects by standing silently at the local cenotaph are local shop workers. This Bill has the very strong support of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, and I am delighted to be able to introduce it.

"The Bill would not affect farm shops, pharmacies, petrol filling stations, shops at airports or railway stations, or shops at exhibitions that are specially staged on a Sunday. Rather, it would mean that large shops-those of 280 square meters, or 3,000 square feet, and above-would not be able to open on Remembrance Sunday. It would also mean that the loading restrictions in force for Easter day and Christmas day would apply.

"When we first debated Sunday trading, I was one of those who strongly opposed the removal of all restrictions. I said in a speech then that, if we abolished all the restrictions, we would end up with a high street Sunday that was a replica of Saturday. Whatever view colleagues take of Sunday trading, no one can deny that that is what has happened. In all our major towns and cities, the hustle and bustle and activity on a Sunday mirror that of the day before, the Saturday. Surely it is not too much to ask that only a second Sunday of the year-and, on those rare occasions when Christmas day falls on a Sunday, a third-should be set aside.

"Christmas day is a great day of family celebration. Easter day is too and, like Christmas, it is also a great religious festival. However, there are very few families in the land who have not been touched in one way or another by the conflicts of the last century."

"We have just gone though the war in Iraq, and we are still at war in Afghanistan. I really feel that we should set aside Remembrance Sunday, so that the remembrance ceremonies can be conducted with proper and due decorum, and so that the ringing of the cash till does not drown out the observance of the silence."

The Bill passed its First Reading without a vote; Sir Patrick is being supported in his bid by fellow Conservatives Chris Chope, Christopher Fraser, Ann Widdecombe and Sir Nicholas Winterton, along with  Vince Cable (Lib Dem), Rosie Cooper (Lab), Nigel Dodds (DUP), Kate Hoey (Lab), Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru), Richard Taylor (Ind) and Tony Wright (Lab).

Jonathan Isaby


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