Sunday trading – December 2015

The debate in December 2015 arose out of an amendment laid against the legislation, which itself arose out of the States agreeing to complete deregulation earlier in the year. Debate at that time has been shortened as a result of a successful guillotine from Deputy Kuttelwascher. I didn’t have the opportunity to speak then, but did so during the December debate. My speech is below.

Sir,

Before I start I should declare that I have an interest in this debate as a part owner of a business that runs both a Shop and Tearoom, which both open on a Sunday. And great for your Christmas shopping needs may I say.

I didn’t get to speak when Sunday Trading was debated because of the guillotine. But I was still happy to vote for it at the time as I thought everything that could be said has been said and I’ve heard nothing new today that would make me change my mind. I would just like to make a few points in response to some of the comments made not just today but in the original debate.

I have to say that 2 years ago I was uncertain about whether total deregulation was the way to go. I was probably more in the camp of tidying up the laws. However, having seen the ridiculous amount of legislation and administration that is needed to maintain a system that current retailers are working around, I have become convinced that we should ditch it altogether.

How daft is it that certain businesses have built premises just small enough to allow them to open on a Sunday? Why can one business rake in money on one day a week because others can’t open?

On that note  I do recall Deputy Gillson’s speaking during the last debate about those people who lived near shops and who welcomed the fact that Sunday gave them a bit of peace. Well, I can tell you, that for those people living next door to a certain food store in St Martin, quite the opposite is the case, where it is the busiest day of the week by far. In fact it is not just the immediate neighbours, with standing traffic down the Merriennes that day.

Virtually all the emails I have received against deregulation focus on Guernsey’s way of life changing irredeemably. Well, why, if there are so many businesses that can open on a Sunday now but don’t? Why will the fact that just a few more shops can open change life as we know it forever? It won’t. And if people don’t want to shop on a Sunday, they definitely won’t. The amti-lobby believe a floodgate will open. It won’t. It won’t because Guernsey is different.

The point is this is not really about Sunday trading, it is Sunday opening. Just because you open your shop, it doesn’t mean that you will see any customers. If the customers don’t come, the shops won’t open. But that’s the point. Why should Government interfere? This should be a decision between retailers and their customers.

The argument that small shops will be forced to open is non-sensical given that there are already shops that open now and compete with those that aren’t.

Just why is the retail sector the only industry on the island that is prevented from opening on a Sunday by law? No other business on Guernsey is restricted in this way? There are  huge numbers of businesses who choose not to work on a Sunday. The pertinent word here is choose.  No one stops the lawyers, accountants, fund administrators from working on a Sunday to meet deadlines on the Monday. If a service can be provided and charged on a Sunday, why not physical goods?

Is it government’s job to tell specific businesses when they can open their shop? You can buy a packet of crisps from a pub on a Sunday, why not a supermarket?

By supporting this amendment we are really only putting off the inevitable. It will come back . And honestly, don’t we have more important issues to deal with in this Assembly? Of course we do – issue of population, housing, economic development, public sector reform that will have far more impact on the people of this Island.

So please don’t support this amendment. Now is the time for deregulation, just think about it, we are getting rid of unnecessary laws, not creating more of them – how refreshing is that?!



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