The Government has been defeated in its bid to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales after its attempt to let larger shops trade for more than six hours was voted down.

It lost by 31 votes after Cameron failed to convince MPs to extend Sunday hours, according to media reports. Those who voted against him argued that it was necessary to “keep Sunday special”, and protect family time for shop workers.

A last minute vote by the SNP helped prevent the proposals from going through for England and Wales, even though Sunday trading laws are already relaxed in Scotland. But 27 Conservative MPs also voted against the bid.

The plan would have allowed local councils to make a decision about whether to let larger stores stay open for longer than six hours on Sundays, which ministers said could benefit the UK economy by an estimated £1.5bn or more over 10 years.

Diana Hunter, ceo for off licence and convenience chain, Conviviality, said: “Th Government’s decision to reject Sunday trading laws is positive news for independent retailers and local business people. We are pleased that our off licences and convenience franchisees will not be affected by the threat of larger retailers being open for longer hours on a Sunday and heavilty support the Federation of Small Businesses opinion that the vote was a “major wine” for these smaller firms.”

John Hannett, the general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw said: “The current Sunday trading rules are a fair compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years.”