Sunday Trading and Named Persons

On the face of it, the questions of whether or not the hours businesses are able to trade on a Sunday should be extended and the Scottish Named Person proposal whereby the State would appoint a guardian for each child to supposedly ensure the welfare and interests of that child is safeguarded are unrelated. But these two matters were raised today in my church as matters for prayer, given many Christians of my ilk are concerned if these measures are carried through it will have a detrimental effect. They are also two of the issues reported on and campaigned against by organizations like Christian Concern and the Christian Institute. I appreciate these are not everyone’s cup of tea and both attract criticism, some of it justified, but I for one value the work these organizations do by bringing these matters to our attention, for if they didn’t we would likely be going down the slippery slope quicker than we are. Some of their stories have helped to inform my blogs, most recently about a social work student that was thrown off his college course for sharing his views on same sex marriage on his Facebook page.

Christian Concern’s report titled “Pupils home life to be state monitored under the named person scheme” relates to story about “No to Named Persons Coalition legal challenge” to the scheme. Checking out the No2NP website there are a number of mini-presentations from parents and experts in the field as to why this is a bad idea. In essence, the shared concern in many cases is that the scheme gives too much power to government over family life, in that they can intrude and intervene on the flimsiest of excuses when families appear to be operating not in accordance with conventional norms even when the child is being well looked after and not being abused. It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach to give extra powers in the minority of cases where the child is at risk from bad parenting. There have already been distressing cases where good families have been harassed by the State for doing things in an unconventional way, and suffering the consequences, which is ironic given how many times authorities have got it wrong in the past, and the scope for more of the same has been extended when really a better way is needed, given the issue is to protect children who are in troubled families. While the move currently applies only to Scotland, similar could happen in England and has.

Christian Institute’s report titled “Keeping Sunday special has priceless value, MP says” refers to the objection of one MP: “Family time on a Sunday is priceless and needs to be protected, a senior Labour MP has said, as he explained why he will oppose extending Sunday Trading hours. Tristram Hunt, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, said the culture of the UK would be diluted if the plans were passed. Sundays are special, Hunt wrote in his local newspaper, and said “we should use whatever powers we have to protect them””. The proposal in essence is in the name of liberalizing the laws and perceived (albeit not proven) economic gain, yet families will suffer if trading hours are extended. We have, of course, gone a long way from when I was a child when little went on, on a Sunday, but the concern is that the effect of this move toward making Sunday like any other day would be a detrimental one for the family. While I am open to be challenged regarding evidence, I suspect this has contributed to family breakdown.

While I have no doubt that arguments for and against Sunday Trading and Named Persons are many and available in the public domain (as a simple “Google” search has revealed), I for one am grateful for organizations like Christian Concern and Christian Institute for making me that much more aware. I post merely, to raise awareness among those who care to read my blogs, believing that if these proposals are carried in the way government has set out, the people of this country will be the losers overall.

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