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Lord Monson: My Lords, perhaps the noble Viscount will forgive me for interrupting. I was suggesting that we should try to persuade our partners in Europe of the merits of changing Summer Time across Europe, not only in the EC countries but in all European countries.

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord but I do not know whether there is anyone with powers which are sufficient to persuade the officials and mandarins in Brussels to move once a decision has been made.

My noble friend Lord Montgomery suggested that we might refer to it as Western European Time rather than Central European Time. I am sure that he will know how to deal with that matter at a later stage were your Lordships kind enough to give the Bill a fair run.

I knew that the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, and my noble friend Lord Burton were not entirely happy with the proposals. However, I am amazed to find myself so much in agreement with them. I agree with my noble friend Lady Trumpington that it would not be a very happy situation to have two time zones in the United

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Kingdom. But, as I said in my opening remarks, I should like to see the representations of Scotland made first to opt into the Bill rather than to include Scotland automatically when one knows that there is contention and differences of opinion so that it then must take the more difficult route of opting out. That is all I say. I agree with those noble Lords about that.

I am grateful for most of the speech made by the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu. I do not believe that she is entirely fair when she joins forces with me to criticise the Government about their inaction and not showing their hand. After all, I am not sure that her party has any definitive views as a matter of policy. The party to which I have the honour to belong also does not have any definitive views. Indeed, I am not sure that the Liberal Democrat Party as a whole has any definitive views, although I was extremely grateful for, and encouraged by, the excellent speeches made by the noble Lords, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead and Lord Ezra.

I may be wrong but I sense that the general feeling running throughout the country is such that if one of the political parties were to wave the flag for the adoption of Central European Time, it might find its task at the next general election rather easier. I believe that it would be good to follow the route of adopting the same time as Europe.

Indeed, this Bill affects everybody in this country and, as I said, I appreciate that there are wide-ranging views and feelings of foul and beastly complexity. However, I feel that the Government are suffering from the inability

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to grasp the nettle and make up their mind, primarily due to fear of the reaction of Scotsmen. It is a case of the Scottish tail wagging the English dog. I do not recommend referenda, but if the Government lack the courage to allow Parliament to deliberate then that has to be a logical course.

I do not believe that the Government lack courage to take decisions that might be unpopular with a minority of their citizens. They are bold enough, at times, to take decisions which are highly unpopular with the majority. They might do worse than to draw on the book written by Richard Pape, Boldness be my Friend. May that boldness be manifested in this matter.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Accommodation Level Crossings Bill [H.L.]

King's College London Bill [H.L.]

London Local Authorities Bill [H.L.]

Presented and read a first time.

British Waterways Bill [H.L.]

Returned from the Commons agreed to with amendments; the amendments considered and agreed to.

        House adjourned at sixteen minutes past ten o'clock.

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