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Lord Selkirk of Douglas: It has been useful to elicit the views of the Minister on this subject, which raises an important principle. When the independent commission has reported on the matter, no doubt the issue can be considered again in a different context. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale moved Amendments Nos. 222B to 222E:

Page 82, line 37, leave out from ("on") to second ("to") and insert--
("(a) any office-holder in the Scottish Administration, or any Scottish public authority to which paragraph 1 or 2 of Part III of Schedule 5 applies,").
Page 82, line 38, leave out ("their functions") and insert ("the functions of the office-holder or authority").
Page 82, line 39, at end insert (", or
(b) any cross-border public authority to make arrangements with a view to securing that its Scottish functions are carried out with due regard to the need to meet the equal opportunity requirements.").

27 Jul 1998 : Column 1325

Page 83, line 8, at end insert--
(""Scottish functions" means functions which are exercisable in or as regards Scotland and which do not relate to reserved matters.").

The noble Baroness said: Although the Government believe that it is right for equal opportunities matters to be generally reserved, the Government also believe that it is important for the Scottish parliament and the Scottish executive to have the necessary powers to promote and encourage equal opportunities. We have provided two important exceptions from the reservation which will enable the Scottish parliament and executive, first, to encourage equal opportunities generally and, secondly, to impose duties on public bodies with functions relating to devolved matters in order to secure that their functions are carried out with due regard to the requirements of equal opportunities law.

All bodies in Scotland will, of course, be obliged by law to adhere to the existing requirements of Great Britain equal opportunities legislation. But this is an area in which there could be scope for further encouragement. For example, the exceptions make it clear that the Scottish parliament and executive will be able to give guidance on equal opportunities, support the spread of best practice and require public bodies to adopt equal opportunities policies and monitor the effectiveness of those policies.

Against that background, Amendments Nos. 222B to 222E are technical amendments to clarify the bodies to which the second exception to the equal opportunities reservation applies in Section 2, Head 11. The exception is to enable the parliament to impose duties on certain public bodies to make arrangements to secure that their functions are carried out with due regard to meet the equal opportunities requirements. At present, this exception applies to public bodies with functions relating to devolved matters. These amendments would replace that reference with a more precise listing of the office-holders and authorities in relation to which this competence should be exercisable. Those are, first, any office-holder in the Scottish administration. We have, for example, the Scottish Ministers, the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Keeper of the Records and the Keeper of Registers.

Secondly, any Scottish public authority which has no functions which relate to reserved matters. An example of that is the Deer Commission for Scotland or the Crofters Commission. Thirdly, any Scottish public authority which has functions relating to reserved matters as well as matters which are not reserved but which are to be devolved by Part III of Schedule 5. Authorities in this category include, for example, Scottish local authorities and NHS bodies which, although largely concerned with devolved matters, have certain functions in relation to reserved matters. Fourthly, cross-border public authorities in relation to those of their functions which are exercisable in or as regards Scotland and which do not relate to reserved matters. That would apply, for instance, to such functions of the Forestry Commission, the British Waterways Board or the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce.

27 Jul 1998 : Column 1326

I hope that, with those explanations, your Lordships will agree that these amendments provide useful clarification. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I should point out that if Amendment No. 223 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 224 through pre-emption.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 223:

Page 83, leave out line 18.

The noble Lord said: I suppose that we should introduce this debate by saying, "Here cometh the time lords". Section 5 of Schedule 5 relates to time. My amendment and that in the name of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, address the same issues. However, I wish to raise one or two interesting questions with the Minister about what is reserved and what is an exemption from reservation.

I am puzzled about what the Government mean by "timescales" in the reservation and what they mean by "the computation of periods of time" in the exemptions. "The computation of periods of time" could be interpreted to mean 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. I do not imagine for a minute or even a second that that is what it means because I do not believe that the Scottish parliament could decide to go to metric time or anything of that nature. Therefore, I should be grateful for an indication of exactly what is meant by "computation of periods of time".

I can understand the two subject matters in the exemption, which are clear. I do not believe that the Government would have created some of the problems they have created for themselves if, when they came to exemptions, they spelt out the Acts of Parliament and the sections of those Acts which were to be exempt. That would save asking questions such as "What do they mean by the computation of periods of time?"

But the most important aspect of this little debate will be the discussion on whether,

    "Timescales, time zones and the subject-matter of the Summer Time Act 1972", should be reserved or whether they should be devolved.

I am a purist. I believe, simply because of the way it works, that we live in the Greenwich time zone. That is an inevitable part of geography; it just happens like that. No Acts of this Parliament or even the European Parliament can wish that terrible fact away. Quite close to us is the Greenwich Meridian and therefore we are in the Greenwich time zone.

As some of your Lordships will know, I have mentioned this before. The idea that we could be in a time zone that stretched from the west of Ireland to central Europe, and that that would be a logical time zone to be in, is absolutely crazy. In that, there is no concept of what time zones are about or why we have them. It also seems amazing to me that people think that Europeans are so stupid that they can exist only in one time zone, when the Americans manage four and the

27 Jul 1998 : Column 1327

Australians three or four. The Russians manage a good deal more than that, and the Japanese seem to manage to sell their goods all round the world in all 24-hour time zones. It does not seem to bother them too much. It seems odd that it should bother the Europeans.

However, our problem is that in Scotland many people feel strongly about the issue of time zones and the Summer Time Act in particular. While we are content with the current way that the Summer Time Act works, we would not be content, and we were not the last time it was tried, with an attempt to have summer time all the year round and, I suppose, double summer time in the summer time.

Everyone knows that every time this is discussed Members of Parliament in the other place from Scotland make clear to their own parties, if they are the governing party, that they do not believe this is a wise and sensible thing to do. Not only does Scotland lie further north than England--an obvious fact--but the problem is that it lies slightly further to the west. The distortions of time, if I can call it that, are a factor both of west and north. The further north one is, the shorter the days in winter time and the more out of balance they are if one moves into the wrong time zone.

So these matters of time zones are important in Scotland. Given the natural reduction in influence which we believe Scottish Members will have in the other place after devolution is up, running and working, many of us feel that it would be best if the question of timescales, time zones and the subject matter of the Summer Time Act of 1972 were devolved to a Scottish parliament. Then this issue which concerns Scotland greatly would not be dealt with on the basis of southern England, where daylight in the winter-time is much longer. I can understand that there the temptations to be in the same time zone as their friends a few miles away across the Channel are considerable. But the people in southern England have to remember the people in the north of Scotland as far north as Shetland where the whole question of summer time all year round would be met with a considerable degree of horror and opposition.

Given the position of the Scottish parliament in looking after the Scots and the Scottish economy, I believe that it is important for this matter to become a devolved matter to protect us from any diminution in Scotland's influence down the corridor and from being precipitated into summer time all the year round. I beg to move.

11.45 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, has said, between 1968 and 1971, we had what I call double summer time imposed upon us for a trial period of, I think it was, two years. It was desperately unpopular, especially in the north, where in mid-winter it does not get light until after eight o'clock in the morning and it gets dark again soon after three o'clock, even with what I call ordinary Greenwich Mean Time. I do not know if it is still called Greenwich Mean Time.

27 Jul 1998 : Column 1328

Double summer time meant that we were driving our children to school in the dark and it was getting dark again when we picked them up. For farmers, especially dairy farmers whose beasts do not recognise double summer time, it made life very difficult. It was misery for the building trade and others involved in work out of doors.

Various attempts have been made since then to reimpose this horror on Scotland from Westminster, mainly by Private Member's Bills, but Private Member's Bills, even though they do not succeed, very often eventually lead to government legislation.

The point of my amendment is to take this whole question of summer time, double summer time or what time we have in Scotland out of the hands of the Westminster Parliament and into the hands of the Scots.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, I am not quite clear as to what "time scales" are. When I put down my amendments, I asked the Clerk and we thought they were probably the fine adjustments of something like one second per 100 years to iron out the discrepancy between Greenwich mean time and the time mother earth takes to circle the great round sun. Then I asked the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and he thought, as he said, that it was a question of the number of seconds per minute and so on, the kind of thing that the French altered at the time of the revolution, when they tried to impose the metrical system on God.

I then looked in the dictionary and I found scant help there, so I went to the Library. A kind librarian found me various scientific encyclopaedias and photocopied the most helpful looking for me. I shall read your Lordships a very short extract from it:

    "Numerous time scales have been formed ... Universal Time (UT; the mean solar time of the meridian of Greenwich, England), Coordinated Universal Time (UTC; the basis of legal, civil time), and leap seconds are treated under the heading Rotational time. Ephemeris Time (ET; the first correct dynamical time scale) is treated in the section Dynamical time, as are Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB) and Terrestrial Dynamical Time (TDT), which are more accurate than Ephemeris Time because they take relativity into account".

I expect that most of your Lordships are now quite clear as to what time scales are but I am afraid I am not very much the wiser. In any event, I wonder whether there is really any point in devolving them. Nevertheless, I should very much like to know what they are. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, could enlighten me. I presume he knows since he is in charge of the Bill. If they are something quite different from what I think they are, I might prefer to support the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, instead of my own.

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