Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Twenty-Eighth Report

Annex 1


Letter from the Clerk to the Department of Trade and Industry

The House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform gave preliminary consideration to this proposal at its meeting on 5 November. Before deciding in what form to report to the House, the Committee would like some further information from the Department of Trade and Industry as sponsoring Department for the proposal. The further information requested relates to the issue of "necessary protection".

In its response to the consultation, Blackpool Borough Council suggested that the proposal would reduce the protection of shop workers because the removal of the notification requirement would enable large shops to change their Sunday opening hours at short notice. (The Committee also noted that, in its response to the consultation, USDAW (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) supported the proposal although warned that if it led to "retailers regularly changing their opening hours on Sundays, thereby severely disrupting our members' working patterns", the notification requirement should be reinstated.) In reply, the Department argued that any tendency for hours to be changed at short notice would be off-set by the need for shops to ensure that they have adequate staffing and to ensure that customers had advance notice of the shop's Sunday opening hours. The Department concluded that the impact of the proposal on consistency of working hours was likely to be "minimal". In contrast, however, to this reply, in its Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Department suggests that the proposal would "allow large shops to adjust their opening hours at much shorter notice than currently because they will not have to give 2 weeks advance notice of changes in planned opening hours".

The Committee would like the Department to explain the apparent inconsistency between their views on the likely impact of the proposal on the consistency of working hours for shopworkers and to state whether any loss of necessary protection for shopworkers would arise from implementation of the proposal.

It would be very helpful if your response could be received by the end of next week, Friday 14 November. I am copying this letter to the Clerk of the House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee, Martyn Atkins. I would be grateful if your response to this letter could be copied to Mr Atkins.

7 November 2003

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