The Association of Convenience Stores has condemned the government’s tactics on its controversial deregulation of the country’s Sunday trading laws.

Despite crossbench opposition to the government’s proposals, which will see responsibility of setting Sunday trading hours devolve to local government, business minister Sajid Javid today confirmed that the changes would be introduced to the Enterprise Bill, which is currently before Parliament, at its committee stage.

As a result, there will not be a debate on floor of the House on the subject.

James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, which is campaigning against the proposals, said: “We cannot allow this unpopular, unnecessary and damaging legislation to be forced through Parliament when it did not feature in the Conservative manifesto, and when there is such strong opposition from within all parties at Westminster and from a broad coalition of shopworkers, small shops, family groups and churches.

“Two-thirds of the general public support the current Sunday trading laws.

“Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street, it would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out of town supermarkets. 

“While ministers talk of increasing high street sales, our survey of local councils shows that extended Sunday hours would be applied to out of town parks, hurting high streets.

“Not a single company has reported in its latest trading update that the current Sunday trading regulations are a barrier to growth in their business, and there is no evidence that extended Sunday opening hours generate any additional sales. 

“Extended Sunday opening hours would in fact it will lead to a net loss of jobs as small stores lose out to large stores.”

Speaking in today’s debate, shadow business minister Kevin Brennan MP described the government’s actions as a “gross abuse of power”.