Shopkeepers in Madrid are certainly moving with the times. As a result of falling sales and a desire to be more competitive they have voted to open on 26 Sundays and public holidays a year. The move forward has been welcomed by the Madrid Tourist Board. Meanwhile, in the Balearics shops are only allowed to open on five Sundays and public holidays a year despite the fact that the islands receive far more tourists than the Spanish capital. This is part of Balearic government legislation which has met with the full support of the small shopkeepers associations. Other shop owners have been straight-jacketed by the local authorities. How long will it take for the government and some shopkeepers to see the light and decide the only way to survive will be to open all hours? If everyone worked from 9.30a.m. to 1.30p.m. and then from 4p.m. to 7.30p.m. there wouldn't be a problem. But these days a growing number of people are working longer hours and even on the weekends which means that they are unable to do their shopping unless they want to take time off work to do so. For a large number of people in the Balearics Saturday afternoons and Sundays are their only free days and therefore it is vital that shops are open. If the stores are open then there is greater activity on the high street and therefore cafes and restaurants also benefit. Come on Balearic government and Palma shopkeepers, copy your counterparts in Madrid. It is not a major change, but it will certainly be a change for the better.

Jason Moore

A principled act

John Bercow's resignation from Iain Duncan Smith's Shadow Cabinet yesterday was a brave and principled act. Instead of taking advantage of the offer made to Conservative MPs by Mr Smith that they could absent themselves from last night's vote on the Adoption Bill, he chose to stand his ground and be counted. His lead was followed by Michael Portillo; several other Conservatives chose the easy way out and found that they had other urgent business to attend to.

It is difficult to see how Mr Smith and his advisors could have made a bigger mess of this issue. Their policy of opposing a Bill that would allow suitable cohabiting heterosexual and homosexual couples to adopt children hardly matches the image of compassionate Conservatism that was promoted at the Party conference just one month ago. Then, to make matters worse, Mr Smith first announced a three–line whip – requiring 100 per cent attendance of MPs and voting according to the party line – but subsequently retreated and said that those who disagreed with the policy could absent themselves. Mr Bercow, who has strong views on this issue, treated Mr Smith's compromise with the contempt it deserved.

Last week Iain Duncan Smith responded to criticism of his performance by asserting that he “couldn't care less” what was being said because he knew what he had to do and intended to do it. In his soldierly way he is doing what he sees to be his duty. But it is unlikely to be enough to save his party.