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I want to ask the noble Lord a question. He speaks of harmonising with Central European Time. That is not quite the phrase used by the noble Viscount, but we know that it means the same thing. He will realise that what one might call central Europe has three time zones in it. There is ours, the middle bit and the part where the Greeks reside. Does he suggest that we could harmonise the whole of that part which we might for convenience call central Europe into one time zone, which would be--the noble Lord, Lord Monson, will correct me later if I am wrong--perhaps the widest single time zone in the world with the exception of China?
We are very grateful to my noble friend Lord Montgomery for reminding the Government yet again that it is the wish of your Lordships' House--at least it was its wish last January--that this whole matter should be discussed. It has gone on for a long time. A question paper was sent out and we have the view of many organisations. It is time that Parliament is invited to give a view. After all, that is the function of Parliament. It is there to lead and enact legislation. It does not necessarily dictate legislation, unless it is a matter of government policy, and on a issue of this kind, it is a matter for the feeling of Members of Parliament and your Lordships.
I should like to refer to the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, that there should be a referendum. I am most opposed to that. It would be quite improper and wrong. Members of a club do not elect a committee to run it and then everlastingly have the committee ask its members how they feel about some matter. Only on an issue of major national or constitutional importance, such as joining the ERM, having a single currency or something of that nature, may there be a justification for having a referendum; not for something like this matter. It is up to Parliament to decide.
Last year, I was very upset when your Lordships were kind enough to give my Bill a Second Reading but unfortunately the Government--it was not unconstitutional but surely it was a little less than polite--seemed totally to ignore it. That was not very polite. The noble Lord, Lord Howie, suggested in his speech and also in correspondence recently in The Times, that my Bill was utterly bizarre and that is why your Lordships gave it a Second Reading. I find that
The main reason why my Bill was considered bizarre was that Scotland was left out of it. That is as may be. If the noble Lord, Lord Howie, had read my speech, he might have realised that I was happy for the Scots to be permitted to decide for themselves and consider opting into my Bill. However, my noble friend's Bill is now in front of us--I personally like its title much better than the title of my Bill because it is far more to the point--and it embraces Scotland. So all that is happening is that the Scots might be invited either to opt out of the Bill if they do not like it or to opt in to my Bill if they so wish. It is exactly the same thing but the other way around.
The noble Lord, Lord Howie, made some rather upsetting remarks, if I may say so. He said that it was bad enough going to work in the daylight. Some people actually enjoy their work. It is their life and what interests them. To suggest to them that it is bad to have to go to work even in the light is rather presumptuous. Many people who work outside think it is pretty awful to have to work in the dark, as they have to do in the winter months. Consideration should be given to them also.
The noble Lord went on to say that if businessmen, financiers, and so forth, want the same working hours as their counterparts in Europe, they should go to bed earlier so that they are fit enough to get up earlier. That is an appalling suggestion.
Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I shall not give way; I shall say why it is an appalling suggestion. Does not the noble Lord have a social life? If he had to go to bed earlier because he wanted to get up earlier, he would have to give dinner parties earlier.
Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I have been enjoying the noble Viscount's speech very much but cannot let it go on--I know the Chief Whip wants to get home and so do I. I did not say anything about when businessmen went to bed. I said that they should get up earlier to do their work. I do not care when they go to bed or indeed if they stay up all night.
Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I apologise if I misheard the noble Lord. But is he seriously suggesting that financiers, businessmen and the like should have to work a longer day than everyone else in order to satisfy the noble Lord's countrymen in the north of Scotland? That is a most selfish remark.
I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Howie, has been to Northern Ireland, as I have. I can assure him that though there is a difference in the light in winter, it is not substantially different from the light on the mainland. But the further north one goes--to Inverness or Fort William--then it is a longer night. It is not only
I like the title of the Bill and hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will take the message back to his colleagues in the Government that if the Bill is passed, as I sincerely hope it will be, the Government must take on board the fact that the Bill of the honourable Member for Bournemouth West, if he introduces it, must be given time. I do not say that they should support it or oppose it. But it must be a free vote and the Government should provide time for it. In the meantime, I wish my noble friend's Bill fair speed and a safe homecoming.
Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, although I wholeheartedly support this Bill, I must admit to being a beneficiary of the current status quo today, having left Russia at around 2 o'clock this afternoon for Copenhagen, and then taken an onward flight to London, arriving some five hours later at 5 o'clock.
Before giving my reasons for supporting the Bill, most of which were extensively debated during the course of the Second Reading of the Central European Bill moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, I wish to raise one simple issue, summarised on textline following the recent gracious Speech. It read,
Surely in light of the Government's Green Paper on this subject in 1989--mentioned also by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra--and with the results of the National Opinion Poll in October last year showing such strong public support from throughout the United Kingdom, now must be the time for this issue to be given serious consideration by the Government and at least a free vote in the other place. I was very pleased to hear that the Butterfill Bill, as it is called, will receive a free vote in the other place. As I am the sixth speaker in the debate, the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, will be interested to see that the score is now 5:1.
As noble Lords will be aware, there have been two experiments with adopting permanent summertime. One was during the Second World War to ensure that children could get home from school before the blackout and also to save energy in munitions factories. The other was the experiment between 1968 and 1971. I understand that one of the main reasons for the 1968 to 1971 experiment ending was that at the time the tabloid press took up the cause of objectors--mainly builders, farmers, postmen and, of
Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, if the noble Lord looks at the statistics from the Transport Research Laboratory for that period he will soon realise that my figures are correct. There would be more casualties in the morning than in the afternoon if the experiment were to be tried again, which I hope, as the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, said, will be the case.
As a consultant to one of the stockbrokers in the City, I suppose I should be referring to myself as what the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, mentioned when the issue was debated earlier in the year. He referred to,
Mention has also been made in the past of the 1993 Policy Studies Institute conclusion that the move to harmonise British time with the rest of Europe would mean fewer road deaths and accidents, would reduce crime, would be a benefit to sport and tourism and would cut electricity bills by more than £250 million.
I wish to make two final points regarding children and the elderly. If the Bill is passed I believe that the major beneficiary will be the ability of many children to play sport in the longer afternoons, an issue which is very close to my heart. Children do not have nearly enough opportunity to play sport in the afternoons during the winter months. I am sure that the Bill would also be warmly welcomed by older people. I am not just referring to noble Lords but to the 9 million elderly people in Britain who have no need to rise early. Age Concern firmly believes that an extra hour of daylight in winter would enable millions of older people to travel, shop and socialise more easily, especially as many are worried about being mugged after dark. Both the Home Office and the Police Federation statistics suggest that the cover of darkness encourages greater
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, it is now absolutely apparent that there is considerable and wide-ranging support for a common European time zone, and a recognition that it is this country which is out of step with its Continental colleagues. The Bill which my noble friend Lord Mountgarret sought to introduce in January of this year is very similar to the Bill which we are now considering. But he omitted Scotland which, I suppose, on reflection, was probably not a very good idea.
I am glad to see that my noble friend Lord Montgomery makes no such exception. As I recall saying in January of this year, ours should in all senses remain a United Kingdom. I understand well that in Scotland, where winter days are short and the nights already feel very long and cold, there is more opposition than elsewhere in the United Kingdom to the prospect of the sun rising even later in the morning. But in Scotland, even more than in the rest of the country, there are surely commensurate benefits to an hour's more daylight in the afternoon. These have been touched on already. There have been signs that in Scotland there is growing appreciation of this. An NOP survey a year ago showed that Scottish opinion was not so firmly set against harmonising our time with Europe as had been thought previously. On the contrary, 62 per cent. of Scots surveyed said that they thought it was a good idea. As an aside, I really do fear for the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. Those involved in selling Glasgow either as a business centre or as a tourist destination will hardly take kindly to the pretty awful description of dark, dank, cold Glasgow.
However, for those accustomed to rise at unearthly hours in the morning far north in Scotland, the idea of waiting a further hour for daylight might appear bleak indeed. As someone who is familiar with London's 5 a.m. darkness, I believe that I understand how they feel from time to time.
But, for heaven's sake, even now we all adapt our habits by an hour every summer and spring. We get an extra hour in bed or we lose an hour and what difference does it make? Harmonisation will not greatly change the adjustments that we now have to make. If in Scotland it creates particular problems we should find ways of helping to overcome them rather than simply saying, "It is all too difficult, so let us forget it".
I am sure that your Lordships need no reminding of the commercial benefits that an extra hour's afternoon daylight would bring. Business supports it; tourism needs it and Scotland more than anywhere else should really be conscious of that. There are overwhelming economic reasons for providing an extra hour of
The sheer inconvenience of starting work later than our Continental colleagues, taking our lunchbreaks at different times from them, and calling them late in the afternoon to find that they have packed up for the day, will be all too familiar to anyone who does international business. Meetings on the Continent all too often involve the additional cost of hotel accommodation and the disruption of the previous day, simply in order to be there to make a 9 a.m. meeting, when we are constrained at this end by actually being unable to take off earlier on early flights because of noise restrictions.
Let us just pause for a moment and note how the Daylight Extra campaign, which has worked for several years to encourage the adoption of Central European Time, Single or Double Summertime, call it what you will, is not just supported by commerce. It is also supported by several large, reputable and national safety organisations such as RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) the Child Accident Prevention Trust, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. I hardly believe that any of those need any introduction to your Lordships or require my recommendation to noble Lords. The Police Federation, too, supports the campaign and for very good reason. None of those organisations excludes Scotland from its support.
A friend of mine was a schoolgirl of 11 when the permanent summertime trial of 1968-71 started. She still remembers the road safety lessons that she attended to highlight the need for extra care, and still has the fluorescent armbands that were given to her and all her friends to wear over their dark winter gaberdine coats.
Yes, we must be responsible about such a move. We must ensure that the right support is given to all those who are affected and ensure that all children are well trained in the highway code. At present our children may make their way to school in daylight, but they return at dusk. Indeed, if they have extra curricular sports or drama interests which take place after school, they come home in the darkness. I am informed that three times as many children are injured in road accidents between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. as between 7 and 10 a.m. I suspect also that children who are tired after their day at school and possibly distracted as they walk home with friends are more vulnerable than in the morning. It may be necessary to change the hours of the school day further north where daylight is generally in shorter supply, but I simply cannot understand the opposition to the principle of harmonisation.
However difficult this decision may appear to be, that is not a reason for failing to take it. We have spent many years and many parliamentary hours since 1971 avoiding any decision on this matter. It is time to make such a decision and we now have a double opportunity with a Bill in the other place and one here. We are unlikely to get such an advantageous situation again. Now is the time to make a sensible decision. I commend the noble Viscount's Bill.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I should like first to declare an interest in Eurotunnel. I do not think that Eurotunnel has any strong views on Central European Time except that we believe that it is generally good for business. However, it does not have the same effect on our company as it would if we were running an airline or through trains. I have supported the Daylight Extra campaign for many years now in an unpaid capacity. I am supporting it today and hope that I may be of some assistance to Mr. John Butterfill and his Bill in another place. I congratulate the noble Viscount on introducing his Bill.
As we have all heard, this debate has been going on for 30 years and during the two world wars previously. This country achieved a single time zone only in late Victorian times with the coming of the railways. We have talked today about a "twin-track" approach so perhaps it is appropriate to say that, before that, this country had about 15 different time zones. I really cannot resist the thought that with rail privatisation comes the possibility of having 19 train operators in the future and that each may bring back its own time zone. We have talked about through ticketing at length in this place. Perhaps through journeys as well as through ticketing will become even more difficult and unreliable than at present if that happens. I hope that it does not. To me, Daylight Extra sums up what we are talking about. We are talking about more daylight in the afternoon and evening when most people need it.
I should like to concentrate in a little more detail on preventing road accidents, because I believe that that is the main, possibly the only, reason for supporting change. I should like to quote from the two reports of the Policy Studies Institute, which in turn drew heavily on studies conducted by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, based on the accident statistics during the experimental double summertime period between 1968 and 1971. Projecting those figures forward to two years ago, it is estimated that the number of road fatalities in the UK would have been reduced by 140 per annum and that the number of serious injuries would have fallen by 520 per annum. The basis for that is that more accidents occur in darkness--I think that we can understand that--than in daylight. As we have heard, children make one journey to school in the morning but they may make several journeys after school for sport and leisure or to see friends. Therefore, they are much more exposed to traffic after school than before.
The report states that only 11 per cent. of child fatalities occur on school journeys. That confirms what I have just said. As we have also heard, in the afternoon children and other people tend to become more tired and less attentive. So it follows that, if time after school is in daylight, there will be many fewer accidents, although against that there will be a small increase in the number of accidents in the morning. There will be 140 fewer fatalities per annum in the UK if we change to Daylight Extra.
We managed to pour concrete by making the concrete with hot water and other things. We introduced this extraordinary idea of electric light on a construction site, which meant that we could work in the darkness. It did not matter if the electric light came on in the morning or the evening. In fact it was so dim and dull on some days that we had the lights on all day. The other thing I found in Scotland was that between about 20th December and somewhere near the middle of January, not a great deal of work went on anyway. Something called Hogmanay took place. So I do not really believe that the construction industry lost a great deal of time during that period when it is darkest. It could put on the lights and put up scaffolding boards to stop people falling off the scaffolding, and people could get on with their work like everyone else does.
I shall deal briefly with road safety in Scotland. It is interesting that there is lower vehicle ownership than in England and Wales but proportionately there are more road fatalities and injuries. This, it is said, is because more people walk. I assume that that is a good thing. Using the same arguments in Scotland, there is more to be gained in the road accident business by the change to Daylight Extra. The report estimates that Daylight Extra would cause an annual reduction of about 60 deaths and serious injuries in Scotland.
I do not know what the Scottish Office is doing with all these statistics. Perhaps we can hear from the Government later whether they are about to produce a report rubbishing what the Transport and Road Research Laboratory has produced. However, I hope that they will not, because that will get us into an English/Scottish debate, which would be pretty unhelpful.
In conclusion, the reduction in road accidents (140 fatalities a year) is the strongest argument for changing to Daylight Extra. It will not cost the taxpayer a penny. Perhaps that is why the Treasury is not opposing the proposal. Statistics and forecasts do not have faces attached to them, but there will be 140 faces attached to those fatalities--people who have died unnecessarily this year, next year and so on until we change. I strongly support the Bill.
Lord Craigmyle: My Lords, a great deal of learning has been shown and a great many statistics quoted, some of which can probably be challenged, although I do not know, because I am not in the business of challenging statistics. No one seems to have got down to the basic principle of the matter: clocks are there to tell the time of day, and one expects the clock to tell the time of day where that clock happens to be. That is just the thing which the Bill will abolish.
When our clocks strike 12 in the summer under BST--if the Bill is adopted it will not be the summer only, it will be the winter--it will not be midnight or midday here in Britain, but in Bohemia. Again, if the Bill is adopted, in the summer when the clock strikes 12 we are supposed to imagine that it is midday. Will it be midday? Not a bit of it, it will be midday in St. Petersburg. One may for convenience abandon reality to a certain extent but certainly not to the extent of 30 degrees longitude. That is overdoing things.
Does it matter? Can we not all go about doing our own things in our own time and not be ruled by clock time? Yes, we can, but that defeats the purpose of the Bill, which is to urge us to do things not at what we have come to regard as standard time but an hour or two earlier than we want to.
That kind of ploy works for a time. It worked with double summer time in the Second World War. But it works only for a short time. In the longer run, people will do things when they feel like it and when it is natural for them to do so, because people have in-built body clocks just like animals. We have not heard much about animals tonight; they are usually spoken of a lot in these debates.
If the official clock time disagrees too greatly with our body clock we are increasingly inclined to ignore the official clocks and heed our body clocks. We are seeing that phenomenon already in the increasingly late hours being kept on the Continent. I am told that in, for example, Madrid the streets, cafes and restaurants are thronged with people well after midnight. I suspect that the people of Madrid like to be in their beds by midnight as much as most of us but that, by midnight, their bodies mean midnight in Madrid and not midnight in Cairo. Cairo is an awfully long way east of Madrid. So the apparently late hours of the people of Madrid are the consequence of having the clocks two hours away from reality.
We in this country have succeeded at least in part in keeping to natural time in winter. As the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, observed, we mere offshore islanders have kept a better tradition. Why is it that we with the better tradition propose to desert it and go for the less sound tradition of our continental neighbours?
I am all in favour of having the same time zone but let it be a sensible time zone based upon reality and not merely for the sake of neighbourliness having Ljubljana time in the winter and Istanbul time in the summer.
One radical solution occurred to me only last night. I could not help laughing at myself because I thought that it was too daft. Then I began to wonder whether it was as daft as all that. Could we not do as all air navigators do; that is, to reduce everywhere all over the world to one time zone? Could we not have all the clocks throughout the world indicating the same time and everyone in different areas working their way around those clock times? It seems a sensible answer but I admit that it is radical and would require international agreement. I believe that clock time should be real time wherever possible. To get away from reality is artificial.
Lord Monson: My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Craigmyle. I agree with much of what he said. The noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, is following in the well-trodden footsteps of his noble colleague, the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret. However, my noble friend, as he is in reality outside the four walls of this Chamber, has been cleverer in choosing the Short Title for this Bill. "Western European", with its connotations of plucky democracies standing firm against communist imperialism, is more user friendly than "Central European", with its traditionally murky connotations.
However, a time zone by any other name smells no sweeter. I must remind the noble Viscount that he is still proposing that we should harmonise our clocks with those of Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade, Banja Luka, Sarajevo and so on--none of them exactly western European. Yes, of course, Paris, Rome and Madrid are also included. But the point is that the geographical centre of the time zone which the noble Viscount wishes us to join would appear to be Leipzig, and I do not think that Leipzig is exactly in western Europe.
The alleged benefits of the Bill for road safety, tourism and so on are speculative and unproven. My noble friend Lord Berkeley cited the statistics emanating from the experiment in 1968 to 1971 from which projections have been made as to what might happen today if that experiment had been continued. But I must remind my noble friend that it was during that period that the 70 mile-an-hour maximum speed limit and the breathalyser were introduced. Therefore, it is quite possible that those projections are based on a false assumption. I would only repeat that if daylight in the afternoon were really safer than daylight in the morning, then East Germany, Poland, Austria and so on would surely have switched to Eastern European Time decades ago.
As always, the business case has been pleaded. But American, Canadian and Australian businessmen are astonished at the apparent wimpishness of their European counterparts who moan at minor time differences that they--by which I mean the New World businessmen--take in their stride. There was an interesting letter in the Financial Times to that effect about a fortnight ago.
The noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, is certainly the greatest expert on Latin America in your Lordships' House. He will, therefore, know that Latin America has four time zones; North America has eight; Australia has three; and the Russian Federation has no fewer than 11, all embracing, on average, approximately 15 degrees of longitude. Los Angeles lies 34 degrees west of Atlanta, Georgia, and is on approximately the same latitude. There is a three-hour time difference between the two, so that when it is 9 a.m. in Atlanta it is 6 a.m. in Los Angeles.
Significantly, Tralee in County Kerry also lies approximately 34 degrees west of another place, Brest Litovsk on the Polish/Russian border, and is also on approximately the same latitude. Yet if the Bill goes
The examples which most supporters of the Bill are unwittingly copying--and which my noble friend Lord Tanlaw, judging by his answer to the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, is consciously copying--is that of communist China, where there is one single time zone spanning 61 degrees of longitude, so that if the sun rises at 8 a.m. in the east near Vladivostok, on the North Korean border, it will rise at 12 noon in the west near the border with Tadzhikistan. I would respectfully suggest to the noble Viscount that the Americans, the Canadians, the Australians and even his Latin American friends are better mentors than Chinese communists.
Lord Mountevans: My Lords, I am delighted to support the Bill which would, if enacted, have significant benefits for the tourism and transport industries. In both those industries I do, as ever, declare an interest. My former colleagues in the British Tourist Authority support the Bill. They welcome the calculation of the Policy Studies Institute that enactment would add another £1 billion of spend to what is already a £36 billion per annum industry. A £1 billion increase in revenue would directly lead to an additional £100 million in Treasury, VAT and excise receipts. It would also lead, indirectly, to significantly new employment opportunities. Further, it would make our tourism product much more user friendly. Perhaps here I could pick up the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, about not going to Egypt for the light. It could be argued that no one goes to Lapland at this time of year for the light either, and yet it is difficult to get a charter flight to Lapland at this moment in time.
Let me pursue that a little. The user friendliness would derive from the fact that many of our tourism attractions do not open before 10 in the morning and, particularly in the winter, they shut at dusk. At 10 in the morning the average recreational traveller is still taking life easy. That is part of what a holiday is all about. What he wants is to be active in the afternoons. Therefore, if we moved the daylight--we are not getting extra daylight, we are simply moving it--to some extent the traveller would have greater leisure opportunities which must be good for the many attractions which face the problems of the long winter evenings.
I believe that following the route proposed in this Bill would have advantages for Scotland because Scottish tourism to a certain extent finds itself in a vicious circle. As the noble Lord, Lord Howie, admitted to me earlier, tourists do not go to Scotland much after September because many of the attractions are shut for reasons that I have already explained. Why are many of the attractions shut? They are shut because tourists do not go to Scotland in October. If we stretched the day a little
I also believe that transport would be a major beneficiary if we were to go down the route proposed in this Bill. Every carrier--maritime, air, the Tunnel--has problems in terms of having to run different timetables at different times of the year, but in particular--it has more or less disappeared now--because of the one hour difference. Eurostar still gets many Continental visitors turning up at Waterloo an hour early for a departing train. Many British visitors turn up an hour late, or even just 10 minutes late--there are recorded cases of Members of another place suffering from that--because, again, they have not quite absorbed the time difference.
As regards our railways, the scheduling of Channel Tunnel passenger and freight services, not to mention their integration with the domestic network which they still use, would be greatly simplified. A bonus would be the fact that international passenger services would conflict less with London's morning peak, whether that be a matter of arriving passengers at Waterloo, or perhaps one day, St. Pancras. Furthermore, the longer evenings would encourage leisure travel which must be good for the railways. Passenger perceptions of personal security would be improved and I gather from the British Transport Police that the change would lead to a reduction in crime.
In making my final point I take on board my noble friend's wish for us to be brief. At the outset I should say that this is an expression of experience and not an attack on the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. Today in Tromso in arctic Norway the sun has set, not to rise again for some two months. Tromso schoolchildren will still go to school safely; motorists will still drive; pedestrians will still walk or ski; ships, planes and the construction industry will continue to function, as they must. If the Norwegians can cope with so much longer periods of darkness, let alone so much greater cold, surely our innovative Scottish friends can cope too. Rather than let them rule our councils, we should, indeed we must, push on with this Bill.
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