A RELAXATION of Sunday trading laws could encourage more people to go to church, according to a Bury MP.

David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, called on a liberalisation of the laws, which restrict the opening hours of larger stores to a maximum of six hours.

He was one of the backbench Conservative MPs to propose additions to the Deregulation Bill, which Labour and the government have said they will not support.

Speaking after the debate in the House of Commons last week, Mr Nuttall said: “In this day and age, the current laws are indefensible.

“The church must encourage people to attend. People already have to make a choice whether to do something else or go to church, and that will be no different.

“But if shops were allowed to stay open longer, then people would perhaps feel more able to go to church, and then have the rest of the day to go shopping.”

Mr Nuttall, who is a church warden at St Anne’s Church in Tottington, called for either a repeal of the Sunday Trading Laws Act 1994, an extension of trading hours on Sundays or a temporary suspension of restrictions during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

A temporary suspension of the laws was introduced during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Earlier in the debate, Conservative MP Philip Davies said that the current situation means that people are forced to shop at the supermarkets’ smaller stores, in comparison to their bigger, cheaper stores.

However Solicitor General Oliver Heald said there were no plans to change the current laws, despite its success at the Olympics.

He said: “The interests of smaller retailers, the working hours of employees, the effect of extra lorry traffic and the need to have some family day consideration lead the government to the view that the current balance does not need changing, although it was for the Olympics, and very successfully so.”