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Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, at what time of year did the noble Lord see a sunrise in Glasgow at a quarter past 10?

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, quite clearly it was in winter. I do not imagine that there can be any divide about that. I have been talking about winter for most of the time.

Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, I just want to point out—is the noble Lord aware?—that the sunrise today in Inverness was only 15 minutes later than it was here. I am finding difficulty in focusing on what time of year the noble Lord is discussing.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I am talking about the time of year that we are in. The noble Lord will know—I seem to recollect that he is an enthusiast for this kind of reform, as it is sometimes called—that the problem is not merely one of north-south; it is also one of east-west. The country is tipped over on its axis. The best way to illustrate that is to remember that Bristol is actually further east than Edinburgh. As we go west the problem of daylight becomes more difficult. Belfast and Londonderry are at the same level as Glasgow. At the moment Glasgow is around 45 minutes out of sync with the proper sun time. Under the new proposals it would be one and three-quarter hours out of sync with the sun time.

One other problem arises; that is, the difficulties with which the construction industry is faced. I am still discussing winter. The construction industry has a workforce of around 2 million people—or it did have until the policies of the present Government diminished it somewhat. Even so, it is still a large workforce. The wet trades in building—plastering, concreting and things of that sort—are affected by temperature. To the best of my knowledge, concreting can only be carried out if the temperature rises above 3 degrees centigrade. That is a temperature which, under this proposal, will be reached in winter around halfway through the day, thereby losing a substantial part of the construction industry's working day. The construction industry believes that the effect of the change would be to add around £4 million to its costs.

A further problem arises in the construction industry. It is a dangerous industry. A larger number of industrial injuries occur than in any other industry in the country, with the possible exception of North Sea fishing. The dangers arise from scaffolding in frosty, wintry, dark conditions. The effect of this proposal is to add another hour of frosty, slippery, dangerous conditions on the building sites.

I agree with the two previous speakers that the majority should be heard and that their views should carry considerable weight on this or any other question. I do not query that at all. The majority should usually carry the day, but not always; not if the majority having its way is to the detriment of a sizeable minority, such

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as the Scots, the Northern Irish or the construction industry. This Bill should be opposed and I urge on the Government to continue procrastinating.

8.20 p.m.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, should be congratulated on introducing this Bill which in part will, I am sure, have widespread support outside Parliament. But I have to say that the proposal to exclude Scotland or, rather, not to include Scotland, would, in my view, create a situation which would be even less tenable than the existing situation. I would urge the noble Viscount to revise the proposals, if that is possible, so that we shall be a United Kingdom in time as in so much else.

The situation pertaining of two different time zones in the UK and continental Europe is anachronistic but also very costly to British industry and commerce. It is on that issue that I intend to concentrate. Because of the time difference on the other side of the English Channel and North Sea British business has to bear a significant cost penalty in dealing with the mainland of Europe. We all know that our exports to continental Europe are increasing. Our invisible earnings from the City of London operations in world financial markets, particularly European financial markets, are a significant part of our balance of payments and our membership of the European Union is becoming more important. All of these areas of operation are detrimentally affected by the time difference throughout the year between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

As an aside, I wonder whether other noble Lords share my view that it seems easier to cope with the five-hour time difference between here and the United States than with the one hour time difference between here and continental Europe. Perhaps it is because I am much more aware of the geographical distance in between.

Many of us must have had the shared experiences of being very frequent visitors to the Commission in Brussels. In a previous job I seem to have been going to Brussels at least twice a month over a very long period. There were endless meetings with Commission officials, with the United Kingdom permanent representation—UKREP—with European trade associations based in Brussels, with lobbyists based there, and others. All of these meetings, or nearly all of them, started at the reasonable hour of 9 to 9.30 a.m. To get to Brussels for the start of the meeting it was essential to travel the previous evening, thereby incurring hotel expenses—not cheap in Brussels, my Lords. Usually the visit to Brussels ate into the previous work day, leaving the office at 4 p.m. or thereabouts to enable one to get to the airport in time for the late evening flight.

There is, of course, a cost in that also. I used to estimate that each of those trips cost approximately £300 more than it would have done if we were in the same time zone. Multiply that £300 by the number of business visits to Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt made each year by British business people and I am sure it would come to a very large sum. All of this money has to be recouped through prices of the final goods and services

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provided by British businesses. It is quite a competitive disadvantage. It could even be called, in economic-speak, a non-tariff barrier to trade.

This is just one aspect of additional cost to business. Another one, less quantifiable, is the business opportunities lost through our inability to transact telephone business throughout the whole of the working day. It has been brought out twice already that the CBI feels that there are only four hours in which we can actually do that properly. How many times have I unthinkingly lifted the telephone around midday to be told that there is no one in the office because it is the lunch hour. Then, of course, I have a lunch break and forget about it. Not everyone is as inefficient as I am, but one does not always remember the stupid time zone difference.

All British businesses with which I have been or am associated wish strongly that we were operating on CET. British Airways has long supported the Daylight Extra Group, which has campaigned for the adoption throughout the UK of CET. In the case of BA, significant extra costs are involved in having to night-stop aircraft at continental capitals in order to compete with the morning schedules of continental airlines. While the costs vary country by country and by aircraft type, an estimate of the additional costs at just one city, Frankfurt, suggests that for each night stop in Frankfurt the annual costs are in the range of £300,000. Brussels has two aircraft night-stopping each night. In all, there are some 40 aircraft night-stopping in continental European cities.

The airline also supports the view that tourism throughout the UK would be boosted by the longer usable daylight period. I have no need to remind your Lordships of our very valuable tourist earnings.

However difficult it is to operate with the current situation, it would be disastrous if there were two different time zones on the mainland of Britain. I am aware that Scotland has voiced its opposition to CET but recent research by NOP suggests that opinion is now weighted much more strongly in favour. The research was carried out in October 1994 and the question asked was:

    "For a number of years now, there have been discussions as to whether Britain should harmonise its time with the rest of Europe, so that everywhere in Europe is on the same time. This would mean having an hour's less daylight in the morning and an hour's more daylight in the evening. Do you think that this would be a good thing or a bad thing?"

The research was carried out in four television areas. In the Scottish TV area 62 per cent. said they thought that it would be a good thing, 29 per cent. a bad thing, and 9 per cent. did not know. In Tyne Tees, Granada and Yorkshire, the figures were 72 per cent. a good thing, 21 per cent. a bad thing, and 7 per cent. did not know. In Central, HTV and Anglia, the figures were 70 per cent. a good thing, 20 per cent. a bad thing, and 9 per cent. did not know. In London, Meridian and West Country, the figures were 77 per cent. a good thing, 13 per cent. a bad thing, and 10 per cent. did not know. On balance one could say that the idea of harmonising time would be a good thing. Scotland accounted for 9 per

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cent. of the sample, Tyne Tees 26 per cent., Central 31 per cent. and London 33 per cent., which I think is fair enough on the population split.

I do think that we should not underestimate the level of support for harmonisation with CET. What was not asked in the research was whether the Scots would prefer two different time zones on the British mainland. This would certainly need to be researched before any action was taken. With the caveat that it is essential that Scotland must be on the same time zone as the rest of the mainland, I welcome the proposal that we should consider changing to Central European Time.

8.29 p.m.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, I came to this debate with a relatively open mind although I felt marginally "agin" it. But my feelings were made concrete by my noble friend Lord Mountgarret and by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, because of what I may say, possibly slightly rudely, was their total failure to reconcile the position of Scotland with the rest of the country.

As my noble friend said, the Bill does not include Scotland. I agree with noble Lords who say that we must have the same time in all parts of this country. For those few of your Lordships who have not looked up the times, sunrise in London this morning was 8.3. In Belfast and Glasgow, it was at 8.43 which is only about three minutes earlier than on the shortest day as the days begin to get longer in the mornings some considerable time after they do in the evenings.

I rang the duty officer at Stornoway airport this morning to ask him what time sunrise was there. The answer was 9.5. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to accept sunrise at 9.43 and at 10.5. The duty officer was horrified at the mere thought that sunrise should not be until after 10 o'clock. The mornings are short enough already without taking another hour off. In the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, I noted the use of the words "convenience" and "efficiency". I do not believe that he used the word "logic", but I suspect that that was also in his thoughts.

No one else seems to have this trouble. Noble Lords have described what happens in America where there are six and-a-half hours between Labrador and Alaska. There are four standard times: Standard Eastern time, Mid-Western time, Rocky Mountain time and Californian time. None presents any difficulties for the people working in communication with each other. The frequently quoted difficulty in Europe seems to be that lunch hours are different; I cannot believe that that is insuperable.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, stated that British Airways supports the Bill. That may be the case. It is by no means the case among navigators and pilots who have to struggle with Zulu Time and all the variations of it. Until yesterday I failed to appreciate that Greenwich Mean Time in fact no longer exists and that our time zones are based on Universal Consolidated Time (UCT) which reaches us from some time clock in the middle of the Arizona desert and is a micro-second

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or so different from GMT. Nevertheless, GMT or UCT is the god of all aerial navigators and all flight plans are founded on that basis, which is Zulu Time.

In winter, in Britain, all flights are logged in real time. At least for some period of the year the possibility of error, which is now very prevalent, is reduced. All flight controllers have experience of the considerable number of occasions when flight plans an hour late have been logged wrongly.

I said that I believe the argument in favour of the Bill is logic. There is no logic in the current system. It is true that Portugal has joined Spain on Central European Time, but Hungary is plus one and Finland plus two, Poland is plus one and Greece plus two. Not surprisingly, in Russia the time ranges from plus two to plus 12; Australia from plus eight to plus 10. As I said, America presents the largest variation of all bar Russia.

Convenience and efficiency for industry even so appears illogical. Many of your Lordships will have been consulted or written to by the racing industry which believes that it is making a great deal more money now that there is Sunday racing and that it could make even more if it could have a further two months of evening racing. But I doubt whether that is supported in the same manner, as my noble friend Lord Mountgarret says, by the professionals in the industry. I understand that the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, who is a distinguished trainer himself, will express the feelings of that profession on the proposals before us today.

There can be no doubt that the concept has many attractions. But it is not surprising that for so long and for so many years Her Majesty's Government have not found it possible to make up their mind to propose such a change. Therefore, I am with them in suggesting, as the noble Lord, Lord Howie, proposed, further procrastination.

8.35 p.m.

Lord Palmer: My Lords, your Lordships will be pleased to know that my contribution will be extremely brief as the noble Lord, Lord Howie, has already covered most of the points which I intended to make. Judging by the way this debate is going I feel certain that emotions will be high by the end of it. I did listen with great interest to the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, particularly to what he said about Scotland. He made a most convincing speech but I am afraid, sadly, I am still not behind him. I am against the Bill. I believe that we have survived for many years with the status quo and it seems to have stood us in good stead.

I must perhaps elaborate a little about the idea of Scotland being on a different time scale and not being included in the original Bill. The idea is farcical and crazy. I live in Scotland and yet my nearest supermarket is in England. I would forever be changing my watch when crossing the Border. Likewise, my nearest rail station is in England. I can imagine the havoc that will be played with the timetables on the main East Coast

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InterCity line between Edinburgh and London. I even have friends whose house is in Scotland and their garden in England! The whole idea is a non-starter.

Edinburgh too is now a very important financial centre. To be on a differential time to London, would again, I believe, cause havoc. I could go on with examples for ages. I strongly support the noble Lord, Lord Howie, in hoping that we see no more of the Bill.

8.37 p.m.

Lord Crawshaw: My Lords, I want to add a few words on behalf of those who live in rural England and Wales and in particular on behalf of those whose work takes them outdoors most of the time. In the farming community I am not particularly concerned about the arable farmer. My thoughts very much turn to the dairy farmer and the herdsman who already have a hard life. Their normal schedule means that they start at about 5.30 in the morning and that goes on for seven days a week right through the year. It is not really very much fun, particularly at this time of year, to be involved with the milking of cows in a very cold milking parlour when there has been 10 degrees of frost the night before, the pipes are frozen and the taps are stuck solid. All that has to be dealt with when, like many noble Lords, one is not feeling at one's best at that time of the morning. It is my hope that the Bill will not in any way make the lives of these people any harder.

My noble friend Lord Burnham mentioned horse racing. In a moment your Lordships will be hearing, as he said, from my noble friend Lord Huntingdon who, I suspect, was up at the crack of dawn this morning. He will be able to tell noble Lords from first-hand experience and straight from the horse's mouth his view on the subject. Suffice for me to say this evening that it can be a very exacting job trying to hold a hard-pulling young horse on the wide expanses of Newmarket, Lambourn, or on the local aerodrome, as I tried to do and probably in the company of my noble friend Lord Oaksey. That was a few years ago. It is a hard job at the best of times. With freezing fingers in the early morning and partially in the dark, it is an even harder job. My thoughts turn very much to the people involved with racing.

I believe that accidents involving cars have been mentioned. But accidents with horses can also be extremely serious, particularly when a great deal of work in connection with horses has to take place in the dark in villages like Lambourn.

Having said that, I appreciate that spectator sports should take place when people are best able to attend. It is for that reason that so many of us in your Lordships' House are in favour of Sunday racing. However, the effects on the personnel involved are not apparent so far. It would be my wish, if feasible, that a change of time should take place gradually. I do not suppose that one can change time gradually, but I hope that your Lordships will understand what I mean. To have such a change introduced quickly on top of the introduction of Sunday racing might be detrimental to the people involved.

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I realise that farming and racing people can to a certain extent—and only to a certain extent—set their own clocks and times, but the practical fact is that we all have to live in a wider community and in the wider context. In that way, we all have to conform to certain times and certain practices.

Finally, I am encouraged that all the wind-up speeches are to be made by people who will readily understand what I am talking about. My point is to try to raise such matters at an early stage in our deliberations.

8.41 p.m.

Lord Monson: My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, is to be congratulated on having mustered impressive support for his contention that Britain will become a land of milk and honey, with everyone living to the age of 100 plus and with a near-doubled standard of living, provided only that we synchronise our clocks with the clocks of Warsaw and Budapest.

I hope that the noble Viscount will forgive me if I say that the only thing that I like about his Bill is the title. It is a thoroughly honest title, which is welcome in this era of double-speak and obfuscation. The title makes it clear that what the noble Viscount proposes is unnatural in the literal sense of that word—flying in the face of nature, in other words. The Bill proposes that the United Kingdom, excluding Scotland, lying as it does off the western fringes of the European Continent, should be deemed henceforth to be part of central Europe. The only situation more nonsensical occurs at the other extreme of geography—in eastern Europe where there exists a four-hour time difference between Poland and the Ukraine although they have a common frontier. When it is 12 noon in Poland, it is 4 p.m. in the Ukraine, just a kilometre away across the border.

The earth is divided into 360 degrees of longitude. It revolves on its axis once every 24 hours. Logically, therefore, clocks should be advanced or retarded every 15 degrees (approximately) that one travels east or west. That is exactly what happens in Australia where three different time zones cover just over 40 degrees of longitude; in the continental United States, excluding Alaska, where four time zones cover 57.2 degrees of longitude and in Canada where, as has already been said, six time zones cover 88.7 degrees of longitude. There is also the Russian federation, as the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, mentioned, where there are 11 time zones. I regret that I have not had the time to calculate quite how many degrees of longitude that embraces.

If the Bill goes through, there will in Europe be a single time zone spanning 32.4 degrees of longitude or 33.5 degrees if mainland Portugal's recent experiment, designed to attract affluent Spanish tourists, becomes permanent. That defiance of geography, as one might call it, is exceeded only in totalitarian China where there is one single time zone, spanning 61 degrees of longitude. In any totalitarian country, nature and common sense can easily be stood on their heads—and usually are.

Although it may seem a minor point to some, if the Bill goes through, the custodianship of GMT, with its associations for which Britain is internationally famed and respected, will pass to Iceland, Morocco, Madeira,

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the Canaries, a handful of West African countries and a handful of small islands in the South Atlantic. Indeed, Greenwich Mean Time will have to be renamed "Ghana Mean Time" because if Greenwich adopts Central European Time, Accra, the capital of Ghana, will be the only place of any size and significance on the former Greenwich meridian.

We are told that the Bill would be good for business. My noble friend Lady O'Cathain said as much. It may well be good for European business to some extent, but it will certainly not be good for transatlantic business because we shall be an hour further away from the United States. However, the briefing from the Confederation of British Industry effectively admits that businesses here generally start one hour later than on the Continent. Surely they can adapt their habits to conform. British businessmen flying to the Continent or "entraining" (as they will now start to do) face no greater hardship than does a Chicago businessman flying to Detroit, which happens to be almost exactly the same distance from Chicago as Paris is from London. In both cases, one has to put one's clock forward an hour. Such businessmen face no greater hardship than do those flying from Milwaukee to Pittsburg, from Minneapolis to Washington, from Los Angeles to Phoenix (where a number of high-tech industries have relocated) or from Winnipeg to Toronto, yet none of those people complains that business is impossible in consequence of having to change their clocks.

On the basis of some highly speculative figures from the Road Research Laboratory, we are told that the Bill would cut road casualties. If that were really so, would not the pragmatic Germans and Danes already have changed to Eastern European Time, given that sunset in Berlin now occurs at the same time as in London under the present dispensation and that sunset in Copenhagen in winter now occurs at about the same time as in Glasgow? Yet those countries have not done so.

Fewer and fewer schoolchildren walk home nowadays. That is hardly surprising, given the number of vandals, muggers and rapists who lurk our streets. In any case, I find it difficult to buy the argument that dark mornings are safer than dark evenings. On Monday, two days ago, I had to drive here from north of Lincoln for an important meeting in advance of our Second Reading debate on the Bill to increase our contribution to the EC. For the first 50 minutes I was driving on narrow, twisting, badly cambered roads which are prone to black ice (although admittedly the weather was better than is normally the case at this time of year). I would have hated to have to do that journey in the dark, but that is what I would have had to do if the Bill had been law.

There is a further important point. The noble Viscount claims that the Bill is popular in Northern Ireland. I can assure him that that is not so. This morning I rang an extremely senior political figure in Northern Ireland who told me that the noble Viscount is mistaken. That is hardly surprising given that sunrise and sunset in Belfast occur at almost the same time as in Glasgow, as the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, pointed out, and given that Northern Ireland is much more agriculturally based than England is.

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Is there any change that could usefully be made which would offend or inconvenience nobody anywhere in the United Kingdom? I suggest that there is. Could we not press the nations of Europe to agree to start Summer Time earlier by, say, the second Sunday in March so that Easter would always occur when Summer Time was in force? That would suit most countries because, with the exception of the Scandinavian countries, spring normally starts earlier on the Continent anyway—and it would help tourism there.

At the same time, Summer Time could be extended to the first week in November when the weather is still good throughout much of southern Europe and occasionally in northern Europe as well. That is all that is needed to help British tourism. After all, whatever else tourists come to Britain for in December, January and February, they do not come to enjoy long winter evenings. They probably come for the museums and art galleries, but they do not come with a view to sunning themselves on our beaches. The changes that I have suggested are the ones which would inconvenience practically no one and give pleasure to many. That is as far as it should go.

8.50 p.m.

Lord Mountevans: My Lords, I am happy to support my noble friend Lord Mountgarret. As he reminded us, he has waged a war of attrition on this issue over many years. It is like dripping water on a rock, but I am glad that my noble friend's hand is on the tap. I have many reasons for supporting the Bill. The first is a personal one. Many speakers tonight have put forward practical issues. Perhaps I may introduce a personal one.

I have spent more than a fifth of my life north of John O'Groats, in Sweden and Norway. I am not aware of some of the problems that have been described this evening about mornings, evenings and road accidents. As a school child, Swedish and Norwegian roads seemed safe to me. They seemed safe to me as a pedestrian. They seemed safe to me as a transport user. We would benefit substantially in those terms, and in particular with regard to safety, if, as I hope will happen in the fullness of time, the Bill, or a similar one, receives not just a Second Reading in this House but eventually Royal Assent.

My first reason for supporting the Bill is, as I say, a personal one. I am a Scan. I am a quarter Norwegian; I was brought up in Sweden; I have worked for many years in Sweden. Not just that, I am a European. That is not in any Maastricht, or dodgy sense, but because I married into a Dutch family. I have learned to look at the issue their way. I wish to be in the same time zone as they are, but not because we have to say, "Can we ring them now? Are they still in bed? Have they gone to bed?", or anything like that. No, I give the Bill all the support that I can from a personal point of view.

I turn from the personal to the general. I remember what the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, said. She made the case for British Airways very strongly. She made the case for business. She has knowledge of commerce and industry. We must remember that it is not just manufacturing industry which contributes to our

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national well-being but also the service industries. I shall return to the subject of tourism. It is a problem for British Airways that it has to night-stop aeroplanes. The figure of £300,000 per annum per plane in Frankfurt that she quoted is an understatement, because, if the cost of putting crews into hotels and all the other expenses are added in, the figure will be much higher. There are other places such as Stockholm and Oslo where the cost of living is high, and where I suspect the cost to British Airways is much higher.

In the old days when airlines flew in pools it did not matter with which airline one flew because the two partner airlines—perhaps I may stick with my Scandinavian analogy and take SAS—shared the revenue, but nowadays they do not. They compete head to head and it is in our best interest to ensure that our airline is the best. It cannot be the best in terms of profit without giving the customer what he needs. However, if we can reduce those costs—one way of doing so is to join CET—we shall be better off. We shall have a better airline and better opportunities.

The noble Baroness quoted the NOP survey, which was not commissioned by someone with an axe to grind. It was commissioned independently. It was not unlike the survey which is carried out once a year among your Lordships and which seeks to find out the attitudes of parliamentarians. The survey was independent. The noble Baroness perhaps understated the case. I shall not break down the figures by sex or TV area or do anything like that, but one should stress that the lowest figure in favour of joining the CET was 62 per cent. Stretching it a little, very nearly two-thirds of those asked were in favour. The highest figure in favour was 82 per cent. We should not forget that. Both those figures are substantial. It was a small sample, but the people who carry out the polls try to make the sample nationally representative. I was taken by the lower figure of 62 per cent. because, as I said, that is nearly two-thirds.

The Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety is another national body which supports the proposal. I can understand that, because whatever the noble Lord, Lord Howie, says about the building industry—it should get its act together rather than worry about us—PACTS believes that transport safety is paramount. I, as a pedestrian and a public transport user—I have never had a vehicle licence—believe strongly that safety, especially transport safety, is paramount.

Just as important, and perhaps more productive, is the fact, as has been said, that the majority of CBI members support harmonisation as bringing benefits to business and thus improving the viability of what we might call UK plc.

I started with some personal reflections and then switched to general ones. Perhaps I may finish with just two—tourism, where I declare an interest, and public transport. The tourist industry as a whole would love to see us go into CET because it has a government mandate to extend the season. As a result of having longer afternoons, especially in the autumn, we should receive more foreign revenue. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, said that foreign tourists do not come to sit on our beaches. That seems to be a rather pathetic point, if I

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may say so. Of course they come for culture, and culture is available in the evenings, but when it gets dark one tends to think of going home, going back to one's hotel and having a bath or doing other things like that. These cultural attractions are open. They are waiting for people to spend money on them. Foreign visitors are willing to spend money on them. Foreign tourism is important to this country. We are still the sixth most popular tourist destination in the world. We should do everything to encourage them and to meet the Government's mandate to the British Tourist Authority.

I return briefly to transport. We are joined to Europe, not in a time zone, but since last May by means of that marvellous institution the Channel Tunnel. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, agrees that it is a marvellous institution. We are now physically joined to Europe. The people who run the European passenger services through the Channel Tunnel feel that they are penalised because, given our present habits, they cannot run a train out of Waterloo much before 7 o'clock in the morning. Because of the time difference, that train will not arrive in Paris until 11. That is practically lunchtime. Again I pick up what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain —we miss half the opportunities. There is not just the missed opportunity of the time lag, there is the physical cost. Due to the way they have to stack the trains, they estimate that it costs £7 million or £8 million per annum to be geared to the fact that our morning rush hour is later than it is in Europe. We are joined to Europe, as I say, through that magic institution, the Tunnel. I believe that we should be joined in time zone too. I urge your Lordships to support the Bill.

9 p.m.

Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, like many other noble Lords, I congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, on introducing this Bill. I question why a Bill of this importance—and it is a very important Bill because of the implications that it has outside this House; it affects every man, woman and child in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and, it is to be hoped at a later stage, Scotland—must be debated at the end of a day at this time without much enthusiasm by the Government.

This Bill is called the Central European Time Bill but it is about British time. There are bound to be noble Lords and Members of another place who will become confused and because the word "European" is in the Title they will oppose it. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, should look more closely at the Bill. If he does so he will see that the Bill is about British time and not about European time for reasons which I shall explain.

I must declare an interest. I am a consultant to the British Horological Institute, which I am pleased to say is in favour of the Bill. In view of some of the comments that have been made by noble Lords, it may be helpful if I go briefly into the history of why the Bills were originally formed in the first place.

Page 9 of the introduction of the Summer Time consultative document, to which the noble Viscount referred, mentioned that the important point about Summer Time is that it is an artificial means of changing

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working habits. The same effect would be achieved if everybody started and finished work an hour earlier in the summer, but it is easier to adjust the clocks rather than the times of the working day.

That is important. Some noble Lords have said that it is unfair to have a Bill for England and not for Scotland. But I believe the noble Viscount was saying that it would be more democratic for the Scottish Members of Parliament to be able to decide on a Central European Time (Scotland) Bill so that it would be felt that they had been given due consideration for their longitude and, above all, their latitude.

We must remember that up until the 19th century time in Britain was always a very local matter. There was no sense of national time as there is now. For Piers Plowman in the 14th century time was measured in the towns and villages around the Malvern Hills simply by judging the position of the sun in the sky. Accuracy was not a requisite, nor was it possible with sun time. A century later, Chaucer's band of pilgrims might have made a leisurely journey from London to, perhaps, Plymouth without noticing that the difference in sun time was 17 minutes later than it was when they left London. The time differential would have been due to the fact that they were 4 degrees longitude west of London. If they had made a similar pilgrimage to Canterbury, which is only 1 degree east of Greenwich, they could perhaps have been forgiven for overlooking the fact that the Office of Nones was celebrated in the cathedral five minutes earlier than in the capital.

In the Middle Ages local time was usually taken from a sun dial, which was the standard for setting and correcting the mechanical clock in the church tower. It was not until the establishment of a national rail network in the 19th century that there was a need to establish a national rather than local time standard. That was necessary, just as it is today, so that travelling and connecting with trains, and later aeroplanes and ferries, could be achieved by making all clocks register the same time. Business hours were set to harmonise with the new timetables and connections were made by telephones for appointments on the same basis.

That may be very obvious to many noble Lords and I apologise for repeating it, but I think it may have been forgotten. That is why, in the middle of the 19th century, all clocks in Britain were set to the standard of Greenwich Mean Time, which was based on the sun crossing the meridian at zero degrees longitude.

Considering some of what has been said earlier in the debate, it may be helpful if I spell out what longitude is. It is the angle measured in degrees, minutes and seconds between a terrestrial meridian through a place east or west of the standard meridian at Greenwich. One degree of longitude is equal, at the earth's equator, to approximately 70 miles of distance on land or 38 nautical miles at sea. Perhaps I may point out to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that you cannot move Greenwich. Greenwich will always be at zero degrees longitude.

On the other hand, latitude is the angular distance, also measured in degrees, minutes and seconds, of any point north or south from the earth's equator equalling the angle between the respective horizontal planes. One

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degree of latitude equals approximately 111 miles of distance on land or 60 nautical miles at sea. The Palace of Westminster is situated approximately 51 degrees, 8 minutes of latitude north and zero degrees, 1 minute of longitude west of Greenwich.

As the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, has said, sunrise today was at 8 a.m. or 8.03, and sunset was at 15 minutes past four in the afternoon, whereas in Inverness which, as I said earlier, is at latitude 57 degrees, 20 minutes north and longitude 4 degrees, 20 minutes east of Greenwich, the sun rose at 8.16 but set one hour earlier than in London at 15.23 hours. People imply that Inverness will always have a much later sunrise than London, but that is not always the case.

By acknowledging those facts, my intention is to establish two points. The first is that this Bill, like its predecessors, is primarily intended to assist those who travel and communicate over large distances for business or for pleasure. The second point is that for those to whom the first point does not apply—that is, those who remain mainly at one location and do not have to do business over the telephone with Europe or the rest of the world—the effects of the Bill will be minimal. Those people will notice merely that it is lighter for longer in the afternoons rather than in the mornings during the winter months.

I make no criticism, but if a survey were made of Members of another place it is doubtful whether there would be a majority who could give either the longitude or latitude of their constituency or, indeed, who would know whether the clocks are to be put forward or backwards at the end of March. I mean no disrespect. That point was made in the consultative document on the subject in 1989; namely, that in general people were not conscious of the daily basis of whether the time standard was GMT, GMT+1 or GMT+2. Perhaps noble Lords present would indicate whether they know that. Perhaps they will nod if it is GMT, raise their hands if they think it is GMT+1 or raise both hands if they think it is GMT+2. I should be very surprised if we received a general answer. It may be that the noble Viscount when he winds up will put us right on that matter.

The only section of the population that is concerned with the time standard is the travelling public and the business community, as I have said. It is since travel and communications have been speeded up that greater opportunity has been given to many people to travel to the Continent of Europe and beyond which had been hitherto unavailable. The opening of the Channel Tunnel and the European rail service has extended connections with Europe to many more people than would previously have been possible.

I wonder whether the noble Baroness who is to reply—although it was supposed to be the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, who was present when we debated the Summer Time Order in this House—will agree that the reasons for making a change in the status quo as outlined in the noble Viscount's Bill are precisely the same reasons which brought about the introduction of the time standard in the middle of the last century. Apparently not. It would appear from a letter that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, wrote to the chairman of

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Daylight Extra Now on 10th November that there are many other reasons why she does not agree. The letter says that,

    "there are broader political considerations of national identity and cohesion".

I wonder whether the noble Baroness can from the Home Office side expand a little more on what is meant by those words, especially in the light of the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and recorded in Hansard on 18th October 1994 (at col. 198) where she stated, when speaking about Central European Time,

    "nor is this a party political issue".

Can the noble Baroness also tell us what is meant by the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, further on in the letter where she says:

    "The views of the general population may also be more complex than ... [those] revealed by an opinion poll. My office receives a steady flow of letters on this issue throughout the year"?

What is complex about asking thousands of travellers who now use Eurostar trains each day whether they want to alter their watches or portable computers by one hour on the outward journey and again on the way back? I should have thought that the answer for most of the population would be quite uncomplex. It has to be either yes or no. Does the Minister agree?

Further, can the noble Baroness say what her noble friend Lady Blatch meant in terms of numbers by the phrase,

    "a steady stream of letters"?

Does that refer to more than one letter a day or is it more like one a month? How many of those letters does the noble Baroness's office receive in a year? How many bear the postmark, I wonder, of Tunbridge Wells or its equivalent? Further, can the noble Baroness divulge how many letters have stamped on their envelopes "The Society for the Preservation of Little England" or something similar? Can the noble Baroness also record how many letters in her postbag originate further north than latitude 56?

Earlier in the debate much was said about the important effect that the Bill would have on business. The noble Lord, Lord Howie, said that only a few business people in the City would be affected. Well, according to the City of London handout, A National Asset as it is called, more than 700,000 people work in banking or financial services. It is precisely those areas that the Central European Time Bill will affect and improve. It will improve their business. I see that the noble Lord wishes to respond. I give way.

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