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Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I have come to listen to the debate and I have not made my mind up on the issue. However, I have one concern. Has the hon. Gentleman had any consultation with the faith groups on the Bill? For example, I have had representations from the Beth Din, which tells me that the first Jewish prayers are at dawn and the proposals could mean that Jewish people would be late for work.

Mr. Yeo: I have had representations from several faith groups and I recognise that the Bill would raise issues for certain believers. However, it is the job of the House to make a judgment about the balance of advantage for the whole population. Indeed, we have seen recently the difficulty that the Government have got into in appearing to place perhaps undue emphasis on the concerns of individual faith groups.

Mr. MacShane: One of the advantages of the Bill would be to align Britain permanently with most of the European Union countries. It is exciting to hear the Conservative party lining up with the EU to support this move and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman. It is another reason why the Government should support the Bill.

Mr. Yeo: The right hon. Gentleman may be surprised to learn that for some reason I did not think that that was an especially powerful argument to advance.

Mr. Kidney: Historically, the next biggest objectors to the change, after Scottish interests, have been farmers. Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that on this occasion he has a letter from the National Farmers Union, representing England and Wales, that is much more supportive of the Bill?

Mr. Yeo: I can indeed confirm that. I have the letter here and I shall quote from it shortly.

Mr. Pelling: In terms of the time zone being the same as the rest of the near continent, another clear interest is that of the City of London. Surely it would be greatly in the interests of our financial markets to join the same time zone as the rest of Europe. Many of my constituents would also value not having to get up an hour earlier to start at the same time as Europe, which is an hour ahead of us.

Mr. Yeo: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Indeed, many of my constituents work in the City and the change would offer material advantage to them. In the spirit of cross-party co-operation, I should say that I know that it would also offer great benefits to Ministers. Some of us can dimly recall when we were in government and how many times we had to go to early morning meetings, especially in relation to the European Union, for which we had to leave the night before. One cannot get to an eight o’clock meeting in Brussels, Frankfurt or Paris without leaving the night
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before. If Ministers support the Bill, they would be able to spend more nights at home with their red boxes and their families.

Mr. MacNeil: If harmonisation of working hours with the European Union was such a strong consideration for the City of London, surely people would just start work an hour earlier than at present.

Mr. Yeo: That is exactly what they do. I have represented South Suffolk for 24 years and many more people now catch the 5.30 train from Manningtree to get to the City in time to do business with the continent. That is the crowded train now, whereas 24 years ago it was the 6.45 train.

The economic benefits are particularly great in the tourist industry, an important employer that may become even more significant to our economy during the 21st century. The chairman of the Tourism Alliance, Tony Milnes, has said:

I could not have put it better myself.

All in all, the benefits—in terms of saving lives, avoiding injuries, improving road safety, cutting energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions, improving the quality of life and strengthening the economy—add up to an overwhelming case in favour of the Bill. Furthermore, there have been several changes in the 40 years since the previous experiment that are material to the Bill. The most important of those is the much greater concern today about the importance of saving energy and cutting carbon emissions, an issue that was neither understood nor of concern in the late 1960s. Secondly, as has been mentioned, many more British people now travel regularly to the continent of Europe, and they would find those journeys more convenient after the change—a particularly important advantage for the business community.

Working practices are also more flexible than they were 40 years ago and those few industries that resisted the change then have for the most part become more relaxed in their attitudes. One of those industries, widely but wrongly thought to be hostile to the change, is agriculture, as the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) mentioned a few moments ago. This week, I received a letter from the National Farmers Union, which stated:

We have touched on the Scottish dimension several times, so I stress that the benefits I have described apply as strongly in Scotland as in the rest of the United Kingdom, although I am aware that the proposal has less support in Scotland. A YouGov poll, highlighted in The Daily Telegraph on Boxing day, revealed that
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54 per cent. of British people as a whole support the change, with only 36 per cent. against, but in Scotland the figures are 40 per cent. in favour and 48 per cent. against.

The House has to decide whether it is right to allow the Scottish tail to wag the British dog. Are the views of Scotland to prevail over those of the rest of the UK? London has a bigger population and a larger economy than Scotland and there can be little doubt that the majority of Londoners would warmly welcome the change. Indeed, two weeks ago the Mayor of London wrote to me, saying that

I am happy to confirm that on that issue—indeed, on a number of others, too—I completely agree with the Mayor.

In conclusion, the balance of advantage lies overwhelmingly with making the change. I hope that even if the Minister is not able to support the Bill, he will explain why, when a Transport Minister says it will save lives and a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister says it will improve the environment, the Department of Trade and Industry cannot give it support. The Government could not get much more unjoined-up than that. However, there is time for the Minister to become the hero of the hour and say that at least the Bill should go into Committee where it can be examined in more detail.

The Bill introduces an experiment, and provides for the experiment to be monitored. It allows other parts of the United Kingdom to decide whether they want to join the experiment. The change will inevitably be made eventually. The question today is whether we should enjoy its benefits sooner rather than later.

I commend the Bill to the House.

10.33 am

Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) on both his success in the ballot and the choice of subject of his Bill. I am here to support it, which he will no doubt be relieved to hear, as I am one of its sponsors.

As the hon. Gentleman said, the first daylight saving Bill was introduced in 1908, and in my research I found a Staffordshire link, because it was promoted by Robert Pearce, MP for the Leek constituency. Like the hon. Gentleman, I, too, have read “Saving the Daylight” by David Prerau, the US co-author of three reports on the effects of daylight saving time. I recognised in the hon. Gentleman’s speech some of the
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arguments from that entertaining book about why we put the clocks forward. I did not pay for my copy of the book; the author handed it to me personally last year and signed it for me. He is a most entertaining gentleman to meet and to talk to about the subject.

Before I cover some of the same ground as the hon. Gentleman in explaining why I support the Bill, I have two preliminary points: first, it is legitimate to legislate about time and, secondly, to do so would not create any more daylight, but merely distribute it differently between the start and end of the day.

On the first point, there was a great debate about daylight saving time in the United States in 1993. As Time magazine pointed out, “chaos of clocks” reigned because states operated daylight saving time at different times, or did not use it at all. Some Senators put notices on their doors saying, “This office operates on God’s law”, referring to when there were no clocks and we relied on the sun and the shadow it cast to determine the time. We first interfered with God’s, or natural, law when we introduced mean time with the development of mechanical clocks. Astronomical studies showed that each day of the year was not the same length in every part of the world, so the first artificial adjustment was to adopt a mean time such that the length of an hour was the same throughout the country according to the clock.

As the hon. Gentleman noted, the second artificial interference was in the 19th century when standard time was adopted. Typically, noon was set on public clocks around the world by the height of the sun in the sky over each clock, which is why even within Britain there were many time zones, because the sun reaches its height at different times of the day in different areas. The great explosion in railway travel and difficulties in compiling meaningful timetables caused pressure to adopt a standard time, so everybody measured time by Greenwich mean time.

Mr. Russell Brown: Does not my hon. Friend realise that the Bill would be divisive? Different times in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland would create timetable chaos for rail travellers in the UK.

Mr. Kidney: I recognise that argument. If the Bill were successful, and if a Scottish Parliament were considering whether to keep to the time zone in England, it would take that factor into account.

A third, but still incomplete artificial change, was the adoption of daylight saving time. The hon. Member for South Suffolk mentioned the first great campaigner in this country, William Willett, who produced, published and distributed at his own expense the pamphlet, “Waste of Daylight”. He wanted to provide more time for exercise in the open air at the end of each day.

It is now fashionable on the Labour Benches to be proud of and respectful towards Winston Churchill. He certainly had a good turn of phrase. At the beginning of the 20th century, in debates on the early Bills, he said that William Willett did not propose a change from natural time to artificial time, but rather that we substitute a convenient standard of artificial time for an inconvenient one. That puts our proposals in context.

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We are proposing not to add more daylight, but to provide more usable hours of daylight, which was the original motivation for such proposals. The first time that nations adopted daylight saving time was during a great challenge to the whole world: world war one. Many countries in Europe and in other continents—eventually 31 countries in four continents—adopted daylight saving time due to economic pressures. Their war efforts required more usable daylight hours. Although the UK never abandoned daylight summer time, we adopted double summer time during the second world war for increasingly longer times between 1941 and 1944, which gave us, in effect, what the Bill would provide. At that time, the National Farmers Union registered the strongest possible protest to the change.

In modern times, in America in the 1950s and 1960s, for example, we have seen that without a co-ordinated move to daylight saving time, there is clock chaos, as Time said. We have experimented with changing our time to try to make better use of daylight hours. There was a three-year experiment from 1968 when we adopted what we called British standard time, which was Greenwich mean time plus one hour all year round. Then, at the height of the oil crisis in 1973, the United States adopted daylight saving time all year round under the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act 1973—a two-year experiment. Of course, the European Union has weighed in to make the time at which we put the clocks forward and back each year uniform across the EU. Most recently, the US adopted the Energy Policy Act 2005, which from this year onwards changes the times at which the clocks are put forward. It will now be on the second Sunday in March, and the clocks will be put back on the first Sunday in November. Those are some examples of countries legislating to change their hours.

My reasons for supporting the Bill reflect those put forward by the hon. Member for South Suffolk: energy saving and climate change; road safety; trade and industry; and health and generally feeling good. Energy is the most important, as reflected in the title of the hon. Gentleman’s Bill. The resulting gain should be the greatest with respect to energy.

When our clocks were first put forward for daylight saving time in 1916, Parliament appointed a summer time Committee to evaluate the effect of doing so. A year later, it reported a 20 per cent. reduction in power for electric lighting equal to 1 per cent. of total coal use for the whole year. The next time that daylight saving time was adopted widely around the world was during world war two, but I have been unable to find any formal evaluations of the energy savings that occurred then.

I move forward to the 1968 experiment in this country and the subsequent Home Office and Scotland Office review of British standard time in 1970. That contained a report from the power industry saying that there was a shift in electricity demand from evening to morning which, if continued, would allow a saving in the capacity required for the evenings—the peak demand time—equivalent to one whole power station and a capital cost of about £100 million. That paper was by the Central Electricity Generating Board—the precursor of today’s National Grid—and the hon. Member for South Suffolk confirmed that, in his
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discussions with today’s National Grid Company, those arguments still stand. It is important for us to take that into consideration.

Let us think why the United States adopted daylight saving time all year round in 1973. It was because of the oil and energy crisis. The US Department of Transportation analysed the effects of the first year of adopting that time all year round and concluded that it probably resulted in a decrease in electricity consumption in the order of 0.75 per cent. for January and February and 1 per cent. for March and April.

In 2001, the state of California appointed an energy commission to look into the problem. We should remember that there was such a crisis there at the time that they could not even keep the lights on, which shows how crucial energy is to a modern society. The commission conducted a study that is reported in a Library research paper for the Bill. It states on page 20:

Crucially, it describes the important shift from the peak evening demand to low and cheaper morning demand that is equivalent to a 3.4 per cent. change in total energy demand. David Prerau, the author of the book I mentioned, describes that as “peak shaving”, which is becoming increasingly significant around the world.

As we continued to reflect in this country on whether to move on again with summer time, a Green Paper was issued in 1989, “Summer Time: A Consultation Document” and the CEGB said that a permanent British standard time by shifting peak demand from evening to morning might obviate the need for one whole power station—consistent with my earlier point. Furthermore, the US Energy Policy Act 2005, driven again by high oil prices, included a requirement for the Department of Energy to assess the actual contribution to energy conservation that the measure makes and report it to Congress. That is an echo of the proposal in the Bill to set up a review of the experiment, so that the facts will be available by the time we have to decide whether to make the change permanent.

In my discussion with David Prerau, he said that most countries around the world—about 70—now operate daylight saving time and that the principal argument used to justify the change is energy. He says that the UK has been unusual in the past in making its principal argument road safety rather than energy.

Related to energy, of course, is climate change. In all our previous debates about changing the clocks in this country, climate change was probably not a large factor. Today, most politicians would describe climate change as the greatest threat facing ourselves and the world in our deliberations, so climate change becomes a much more pressing consideration for the debate.

There is not a great deal of research available to date to support my assertion that climate change will be more effectively tackled if we adopt the Bill. Some research was conducted on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by the British Research Establishment, but it is not particularly encouraging for this argument. It was only limited
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research centred on Manchester and based on information from its weather centre. It concluded that, if we adopted the equivalent of single/double summer time, although there would be some reductions in energy in some sectors, there would be increases in others and an overall slight net increase. That is disappointing. However, the hon. Member for South Suffolk mentioned more recent research by Cambridge university, which reported in this week’s Nature magazine. It is worth referring to it, because it is the most recent and most direct research on the subject.

On page 344, Nature states:

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