The government appears determined to push ahead with proposals to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales, refuting media reports that the policy changes have been put on hold.
It comes after the Scottish National Party threatened on Monday to vote against the proposals, which would give local authorities power to allow stores of more than 3,000 sq ft in size to trade for longer than six hours on Sundays.
The party, led by Nicola Sturgeon, said it believes extended Sunday shopping hours could drive down wages for workers in Scotland as businesses look to offset the costs.
SNP Westminster group leader Angus Robertson said: “This legislation will impact on workers in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and no pay safeguards have been offered by the Westminster government.”
On Tuesday evening, the BBC reported that the proposals had been put on hold while talks continue with opposition parties, which the SNP said it welcomed.
However, the government has denied any U-turn on the policy. A spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The government has consulted on plans to devolve Sunday trading powers to local authorities in England and Wales. We will publish our response soon and will be laying legislation in due course.”
If it goes ahead, the draft legislation will be introduced as an amendment to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which enters committee stage on November 17.
Around 20 rebel Conservative MPs revealed their intentions to oppose the bill in October.