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But the DST scheme can be taken further, argues Elizabeth Garnsey, an innovation researcher at the University of Cambridge UK, who has evaluated the probable effects of the proposed changes to the British system.
Countries are starting to realize that their day-light-saving policies havent really been saving daylight. Moving the clocks forward yet another hour would produce a slew of benefits... The reduced need for lighting in the afternoons could save around £485 million... a year, as well as 170,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
To fight climate change, we do not need to alarm ourselves with clocks of doom. Instead we just need to use our time to good purpose. And the reduction in energy use to be expected from single-double daylight saving in Britainor from the extended single-daylight saving that is to be implemented in the United States this yearwill be a marginal, but nonetheless welcome step in the right direction.
I do not wish to over-claim the benefits for climate change, but I assert that there are some benefits to be gained and that we should seek to secure them. A three-year trial would settle the matter one way or the other.
Mr. Russell Brown: The emphasis on the whole issue of climate change and energy-saving opportunities is welcome. My hon. Friend referred earlier to savings suggested by the previous experiment between 1968 and 1971 and suggested that the contact between the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) and the National Grid Company indicated similar savings. However, we must bear in mind that we are now almost 40 years on and demand is comparatively much greater, so would the saving be as great in percentage terms as it was deemed to be in the past?
Mr. Kidney: I would answer my hon. Friend like this: the need to tackle climate change is urgent and if we are to deal with it we all need to make many changes in our daily lives, our businesses and our transportation. The Bill represents one such changeand it is a fairly easy and quick one. I also believe that it would be an effective one. That is my argument.
I now want to move on from the issue of energy and climate changeI think that is the strongest argument for the Billto that of road safety, which also provides an important argument. Two years after the experiment in 1968, the Transport Research Laboratory published its initial findings. It reported in time for the debate in Parliament that there had been a net reduction of 2,700 in the number of people killed and seriously
injured in the two winters since the experiment began. After the debate, a re-analysis of the figures gave an annual result of 230 fewer deaths, 1,120 fewer killed and seriously injured together and 2,340 fewer other injuries. They are significant figures and they are not assumptions; they are actuality. That is what happened at that time.
The TRL has kept its research up to date and, most recently in 1998 re-analysed the figures and analysed single/double summer time against British standard time. Its research that year estimated adopting single double summer time would result in between 104 and 138 lives being saved on the roads every year. It would result in 450 fewer killed and seriously injured each year.
Mr. MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman talks about a reduction in accidents and the savings of lives, but are there peaks when that is more prevalent? Are there more accidents in November, December, January or March? Is there a spike or are the figures fairly uniform?
When analysing the TRL research, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found in 2004 that road deaths rise when the clocks go back in October. The figures for road deaths in 2004 show that there were 269 in October, 300 in November and 323 in December. The same pattern occurs if we break down the figures for pedestrians. There were 56 deaths in October, 76 in November and 78 in December. Clearly, the most pressing danger occurs when we make the evenings darker.
Rosemary McKenna: Will my hon. Friend speculate on what the situation would be if we did not change the clocks? Would there be an increase in road deaths in the north of the country? Is that possible?
Mr. Kidney: The ROSPA findings are, as far as they can be, for across the country. There would also be savings in Scotland from adopting single/double summer time. The savings would be much smallernot larger; I am not over-claimingbut they would be significant. That is why ROSPA, the Local Road Safety Officers Association and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety adopt the policy. In respect of the latter, I declare my interest as a member.
Mr. MacNeil: I thank the hon. Gentleman for the figures that he has just provided, but can he also provide the figures for the month before and the month after the clocks change? Can he provide the figures for September and for March and April so that we can make a comparison?
Mr. Kidney: Astonishingly, the answer to that is yes I can. I have the figures in the Chamber with me but, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind, I will carry on with my speech. I shall try to find the figures and if he speaks, I may intervene and provide him with them.
All the statistics to which I have referred, including the ones that I do not have to hand this moment but that I have in the Chamber with me, were put by me to the Roads Minister, my hon. Friend the Member
for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman), in the debate on 20 April 2006 that the hon. Member for South Suffolk mentioned in his speech. As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, the Minister accepted in his answer to me that the research was correct. He said that
changing to single/double summer time would have road safety benefits. It is not in doubtthe research has been done.[ Official Report, Standing Committee E, 20 April 2006; c. 288.]
This country has an excellent record in casualty reduction. The number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads has fallen year after year. However, that leaves us today contemplating a situation in which there are about 3,400 deaths and about 10 times as many serious injuries on our roads every year. Are we really saying that a gain of reducing by about 130 deaths a yearthe equivalent of an average-sized primary school in my constituencyis to be sniffed at, rejected and to be considered not worth taking? Since we stopped the British summer time experiment in 1971, more than 3,000 lives have been lost on the roads that might not have been lost had we carried on with the experiment. That is a sobering thought.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I do not think any Member would challenge any successful attempt to reduce the number of people who are killed and injured on our roads. I hope that the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) will forgive me if I promoted him to the Privy Council earlier. I apologise; I meant no embarrassment. The hon. Gentleman made the same case as my hon. Friend. However, even though I accept what my hon. Friend the Roads Minister said, the figure of 100-plus for those who may have been saved is small compared with the figure of 3,000-plus who have died. A bigger impact on reducing deaths would be achieved by better driver behaviour, better roads and a better awareness of safety and the highway code. The evidence from the experiment in Portugal is that the number of accidents rose when summer time changed between 1992 and 1996.
Mr. Kidney: I say two things in response to that. First, my hon. Friend says that he does not dispute the evidence, but then goes on to slight it by saying that there was a different experience in Portugal. Secondly, it is a shocking argument to suggest that 100 deaths here or there against a total of 3,400 is not so very bad. Those are 100 peoples lives lost each year that we could help to savebereaved families are suffering.
This country has such a good record in reducing casualties, including deaths, on our roads because we have been bearing down with a whole range of measures every year. I am saying that we are missing one measure that could contribute significantly to all the other measures. I support the drink-driving limit for alcohol. That would save about 60 lives a year. Here we are talking about one measure that would save more than 100 lives a year and it would not cost us anything to implement. We could implement it through this Bill.
Yes, the studies by TRL and ROSPA show that the group that would most benefit would be those aged between five and 15. I gave the statistics about pedestrians to the hon. Member for
Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) because it is likely that quite a few of those pedestrians would have been children. There would be a significant saving.
Mr. Beith: Why is the hon. Gentleman so confident that young children walking to school, as they are now encouraged to do, on as many as 80 more dark mornings than they do at present would not face a more serious risk?
Mr. Kidney: I think that I have been clear all the way through not to over-claim. The number of casualties on the roads goes up on dark mornings; it is just that the number of casualties goes down far more if there is light at the end of the day. Overall, there is a saving. I do not say that there would not be dangers in the mornings. In fact, ROSPA makes a special point in its briefing paper that much more work would need to be done about safe travel to and from school in the mornings if the Bill were adopted. However, I note in passing that the Education and Inspections Act 2006 gives local authorities a wider power to provide for school buses. That is partly a solution. Equally, in areas such as Staffordshire, we have a good number of walking buses that organise the safe walking of children to school with supervision. I will support such measures in future.
Given that a Minister from the Department of Trade and Industry is on the Front Bench, I now want to point out that there are benefits from the proposal for trade and industry. I take it that my hon. Friend considers the tourism industry to be a serious business and employer. According to the Tourism Alliance, tourism was worth £73 billion a year to the UK economy in 2002, earning £14 billion in foreign exchange every year, contributing 5 per cent. of our GDP and employing an estimated 2.1 million people. In the west midlands alone, 102 million tourism trips are taken each year, earning about £4.4 billion for the region and resulting in the employment of 130,000 people. In 1993, the Policy Studies Institute estimated that single/double summer time would benefit the tourist industry by another £1 billion a year. Some people now inflate that figure to £2 billion or even £3 billion, but although it is an old figure, it is a big one and I will stick with it. That is the increase that could be had from making the change.
Support for lighter evenings comes from the Tourism Alliance, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and Tourism West Midlands. When Nigel Beard, a former Member of the House, introduced his Bill on the subject in 2004I was a sponsorhe said that he had support from the British Resorts and Destinations Association and Visit Britain. Why do they support the change?
I want to give a couple of examples of why it helps to have lighter evenings. Alton Towers in Staffordshire is probably the pre-eminent visitor attraction in Britain today. It has millions of visitors every year. It is in quite a secluded area of Staffordshire. It is surprising how successful it is, given its location. Most people arrive mid-morning, so it is light, but clearly quite a lot of light has passed by the time they arrive. A lot of people leave before they want to, because it gets dark early in the evenings in the autumn and later in the year.
Mark Lazarowicz: Will my hon. Friend inform the House how most of the visitors to Alton Towers make their way there and what effect an increase in visitor numbers will have on the overall energy emission figures for the UK?
Mr. Kidney: My hon. Friend has got me there: because Alton Towers is secluded, lots of people drive there. There is a huge coach industry to get people there and there is a rail ticket to Alton Towers, although the nearest rail station is at Stoke City. I was once the Labour candidate for a county council seat called Churnet Valley, which has Alton Towers in it. I had my election photograph taken on the platform of Alton railway station. [ Interruption. ] The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) is quite right: it is currently a disused line. Alton Towers is one example. It is a big attraction, a big employer and a big earner of wealth.
Shugborough in my constituency is the estate of the old Anson family. Lord LichfieldPatrick Lichfield, the photographerwas the last ancestral occupant until his sad and sudden death last year. Shugborough is a working estate. It shows how life and work were carried out in about 1805. It attracts people for half the year and gets about 100,000 visitors a year. Shugborough says that if it could open for longer in the evenings and later into the autumn, it could extend its season, employ people for longer, encourage more visitors to the area and earn more income. It is a strong supporter of the measure.
Other businesses are also speaking up. Stafford chamber of commerceI find this almost surprisingis a strong supporter of the measure and has written to me to say so. Farming is still a significant industry in this country. From expressing strong opposition in 1944, that industry has completely turned around. The hon. Member for South Suffolk has received a letter of support for his measure. When Nigel Beard introduced his Bill in the House, he drew attention to our trade with European Union countriesthat is about half our trade, affecting 3 million jobsand argued that joining the central European time zone would be helpful for our trade and industry and the invisible earnings of this country from our pre-eminent financial services sector. The Ministers Department ought to think more of the interests that it represents and realise that the Bill is helpful.
I will be brief, because what I am about to say has been said by the hon. Member for South Suffolk. The Bill will be good for health and feeling good. This is the week that a Public Accounts Committee report has
said that we are not doing enough to tackle the great challenge of obesity. The report records that in 2003-04, we opened 72 new playing fields and 131 swimming pools. Most of those playing fields are probably not illuminated, so they will be used during hours of daylight. During most days, youngsters are at school and adults are at work. The only time that they have to use those facilities is after school or work, and of course at the weekend. If we want to encourage people not to be obese and to exercise and stay fit, we have to allow them to use the kinds of facilities that we are investing in.
This increased opportunity of extra daylight after work, combined with our policy priority to get employers to do more in terms of promoting activity among their work force, could make a significant contribution towards driving up participation rates and delivering the associated health benefits that would stem from having an active and successful sporting nation.[ Official Report, 8 June 2004; Vol. 422, c. 147.]
Mr. Russell Brown: In terms of people being active and taking part in sport and outdoor activities, I wholeheartedly applaud that. However, the issue for some people at leastI tend to think for the vast majorityis not just daylight, but the climatic conditions. More often than not it is adverse weather conditions that prevent people from taking part in activities.
Mr. Kidney: I take that point. I suppose that this is personal and anecdotal, but I used to be a keen rugby player when I was a lad. We did not stay away from the ruby pitch because it was cold, windy, wet and raining. We still played the game. I would argue that my character is all the better for the fact that I turned up on the pitch in those bad conditions that my hon. Friend described. We are, whether we like it or not, the promoters of the Olympics 2012 in London and we want British competitors to be successful in those games. Part of their being able to practice and train for those games requires us to give them not just the training facilities, the money and the time off work, but the chance to go out after work or school to train. That is what lighter evenings would allow us to do.
John Robertson (Glasgow, North-West) (Lab): I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. He is most generous with his time. Does he agree that rugby will not be an Olympic sport and we will not need to worry about Olympians playing the game in the first place? The fact of the matter is that rugby was not generally played too much out in the open in that way. Football was played out in the street and in the parks. I do not remember too many people in the parks of Glasgow playing rugby. Would it not be better if we put money into playing surfaces for winter use or into indoor facilities? Most people play outdoors in the summer.
I am completely with my hon. Friend when it comes to the desirability of all-weather surfaces for sports facilities, and I agree that indoor facilities and lighting so that facilities can be used in the evenings are good. I would just point out that all those things are expensive. However much we spend on them,
there will still be outdoor playing facilities. If we think of the thousands of playing fields in this country, I cannot imagine us covering them all over or taking them indoors. Although some of us might think that some of the well-paid footballers in the premiership might not be particularly strong in their characters when it comes to resisting the cold weather, I still think that they turn out for matches when it is cold, wet and windy. That applies to football in the same way that it does to rugby.
I want to move on from sport and talk more generally about people enjoying the lighter eveningsbeing out in the streets walking and exercising, rather than sat at home on the sofa in front of the TV. That includes older people, who feel that they are safer during hours of daylight. That is why Age Concern supports the Bill so strongly. Let us go back to that great promoter from this country, William Willett. He said:
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