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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 14:49 GMT
Day of rest petition is passed on
Rev Hugh Cartwright and church elder Alexander MacLean
Members of the church put their case to MSPs at Holyrood
MSPs have passed on a petition to Westminster calling for a return to Sunday observance.

The plea for an official day of rest was made by the Reverend Hugh Cartwright, of the synod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

He said that the lack of a day of rest was one of the main causes of stress and family breakdown.

MSPs said responsibility for employment law rests with Westminster, which could consider the issue.

However, they expressed scepticism about the prospect of legislation.

People today are so busy, one day follows another with relentless pressure and no opportunity for rest, relaxation or time to stop and think clearly
Alexander MacLean
Church elder

Mr Cartwright was joined by church elder Alexander MacLean to make the case to Holyrood's petitions committee.

Mr Cartwright said: "We make no bones about the fact that our primary motivation is religious.

"But our aim is also philanthropic in the widest sense."

It was accepted that there were some people who would still have to work on Sundays, such as the emergency services.

However, he added: "We believe that the observance of a day in which all, except those who are engaged in work of necessity or mercy, are free at the same time would be highly beneficial economically, socially and morally, as well as spiritually."

Mr Cartwright argued that the increased trend for working on Sundays had contributed to a reduction in order and respect in society.

Mr MacLean spoke about the pressures of modern life.

Celtic cross
The church believes there is no regard for Christian traditions

He said: "Stress and the 24/7 lifestyle are inseparable.

"People today are so busy, one day follows another with relentless pressure and no opportunity for rest, relaxation or time to stop and think clearly."

He also claimed there were economic benefits to businesses shutting up shop on Sunday.

Mr MacLean said: "If you have something running for seven days it costs a lot more than if you have something running for six days, in power etc."

However, Labour MSP Michael McMahon, the committee convener, pointed out that many of the methods he and others used to relax, such as watching football and playing golf, required others to work.

Sandra White, an SNP MSP for the Glasgow area, asked how people would get about if buses and trains stopped running on Sundays.

'Deny rights'

However, Mr Cartwright insisted that Sundays should be a day of rest and not leisure, claiming people had "ample opportunity for work and recreation" in the other six days of the week.

Independent West of Scotland MSP Campbell Martin said: "Your petition, if it reached its logical conclusion, would actually deny me the right as an individual to determine what I do on any particular day of the week."

The church believes due regard has not been given to Scotland's Christian traditions, with a secular society emerging by default.

The petition came in the same week that a bid to ban large stores from opening on Christmas Day and New Year's Day was backed by some MSPs.




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