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I recognise the concerns of the Magistrates' Association that the suggestions it made at the time were not totally accepted by the Government. Having said that, I am sure that indications have been given to the Magistrates' Association and similar bodies that the Government are prepared to carry on consultations with them.
With regard to residents' objections, we expect longer opening hours to allow for more relaxed and civilised drinking--and therefore, we hope, to lead to fewer problems. However, the order gives the courts powers to limit the opening of individual premises where there is a real risk of problems arising. Applications to limit hours can be made by residents and by local police authorities. I also take the noble Baroness's point regarding the ability of residents to object under these circumstances.
With regard to the statement on the changes to the law, the view is shared by the police. The whole point of scrutinising the process is to enable the Government to listen to any views that might be put forward and to take on board any serious concerns. That is what we are doing, and I hope that each of those areas has been considered. If I have missed any points raised by the noble Baroness, I am prepared to write to her. I commend the order to the House.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Some form of the Bill has come before the House on several occasions. It has been championed by my noble friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein. There is a slight difference on this occasion; namely, that since it last came up, Scotland now has its own Parliament. That is something the Scots have wanted for many years and I was delighted that that Parliament has opened with such success. But now that the Scots have their own Parliament, I cannot understand why it is not possible for them to make a decision such as this.
I shall try to refute arguments as well as to put my case. The first one, which will come up again and again, is that it would stupid and silly to have a different time in Scotland from that in England. If England chose a particular time or decided to stay on European time or summer time, whether or not to do the same would be Scotland's choice. My belief is that it would follow suit.
Perhaps I may point out that in 1888 there were different times in Scotland from in England. It was only the rail timetable that brought the times together. So this is not a precedent--I do not suggest that--but it is of immense common sense, not least because of the time zones in the rest of Europe.
My second reason is a populist one. I do not apologise for that because I realise that in this House a populist is a rare animal. I am not ashamed of it, I am by nature more of a commoner than a Peer. I fear that I shall go
I come now to those who would support my cause, were they Members of this House. They have made their position clear, either in their annual general reports or in public statements. First, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has made it clear that it would like an extra hour's sunlight--that is, daylight in the evening--so that the number of accidents would come down. On what figures did it rely? It relied on statistics from the Transport Research Laboratory and the Government, suggesting that 120 lives would be saved if we allowed this. I should have thought I could sit down now and that the whole House would leap in the air and say, "Let's do it". I should have thought that that reason alone was enough to see the Bill go through.
But added to that, not satisfied with the Government's figures from the Transport Research Laboratory, the Child Accident Prevention Trust came out and said that it backed the idea as well. It did so because schoolchildren going home in the dark at 3.30 p.m. and 4 p.m. are more likely to be hit by a vehicle than if they were able to go home in the daylight.
Who else supported the idea? The Sports Council. Why? Because it wanted young people and even some of those who are not so young to be able to participate in games in the early afternoon and not have to pack up at 3 o'clock and blow a whistle because they can no longer see the ball. Not every school or club can afford great lights on their pitch so that they can go on until 5 or 6 o'clock. One would have thought that on that basis alone those noble Lords still capable of leaping would have leapt up to support the Bill.
We come to crime prevention. As one chief superintendent said to me, there are not as many muggings first thing in the morning as at night, and those who do it cannot wait for it to be dark at 3.30 p.m. Figures were produced to show that crime would drop if we had an extra hour of light. Once again, one would have thought that, on that basis alone, people would be happy to support the Bill.
I return to the Government's figures. The Bill would result in financial savings, and produce the value for money about which we know the Government feel so strongly. The estimate is that £250 million would be saved. I hope that now the Front Bench will leap up to support the Bill. Perhaps I undermine the position of the Minister and at any moment he will leap to the Dispatch Box to say that the Government believe that the Bill is wonderful, that he will not bother to add any argument but will merely send the Bill on its way to Report as quickly as possible.
The next supporter of the Bill--perhaps bigger still--is the Confederation of British Industry. The CBI, which is responsible for all business associations and business representatives throughout the land, has begged for this
I have paid the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, the compliment of reading his most recent speech on this subject. I ask noble Lords to hold their breath while I produce my ace to trump the day. To my surprise, I am supported by the Scottish National Chamber of Commerce. Obviously, it felt that the Government's figures and its own were so compelling that it would back this Bill.
I do not stand here to demand something for England, as only a small-minded person would do so. Scotland has its devolution and a form of independence. Let Scotland make that choice. But why should we have to go along with so much discomfort simply to placate the Scots? Is there a possibility that because the Cabinet has in it a Scottish Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Defence Secretary, Financial Secretary and, despite devolution, a Scottish Secretary of State--whereas we in London have only two Cabinet Ministers--my Bill will be stamped firmly upon in a back room in No. 10 Downing Street, even though 88 per cent of the British people want it?
I look forward to hearing the Minister, not least because last week he kindly leapt to the Dispatch Box and supported me 100 per cent, for which I am grateful. With his support, the Football (Offences and Disorder) Bill shot forward. I stand here today hoping for the same backing, because I believe that not only is this Bill needed by the country, but that it is welcomed by the entire nation.
If the Minister says from the Dispatch Box that Her Majesty's Government cannot support the Bill, I do not want him to think that it will end there. I intend to join the legion of my noble friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein and to bring the issue back again and again. As long as such a vast majority of the British population want this provision, I shall not let the matter slip away. Were I to have the privilege not only of being a noble Lord but of representing the people of London, I should bring into the Chamber the backing of 88 per cent of 7 million people, and ask that the change be made. I commend the Bill to the House.
Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, when I saw the Bill on the Order Paper I shuddered with dread. After the noble Lord's remarkable performance, I tremble with fear at the threat of this issue returning over and over again for as long as time stretches out before us.
As the noble Lord hinted, we have been over this ground once or twice before. Just as the sun rises every morning and sets every evening, a debate of this kind turns up in ever faster cycles. And the noble Lord promises us more in the future. Fairly recently, in January 1994, we had an Unstarred Question advocating central European time. In January 1995 a Central European Time Bill was presented by the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, which suggested central
More recently, last July and November amendments were tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, to the Scotland Bill, the Bill which brought devolution into legislative form, which would have had the effect that the noble Lord, Lord Archer, wishes. They gave the Scottish Parliament the power to deal with time zones.
The Bill presents us with a little difficulty. Although it is set against the general argument about time zones, it is really about devolution. I recall describing the Bill of the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, which excluded Scotland, as bizarre. I have to confess that in a later debate I described it as idiotic. I shall not be so impolite today. I merely say that the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Archer, is misconceived.
The noble Lord mentioned the coming to Britain of unified time in the last century. As he rightly said, it was a matter of railway timetables. But it was not then a matter of bringing Scotland and England but the whole country into conformity. In those days one had different times in London, Reading, Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle, as well as in Scotland, and so on. That was a step forward. The Bill would be a step back.
I have four reasons why we should not proceed with the Bill. First, this is a national problem that should be dealt with by a government. It is wholly unsuitable for a Private Member's Bill. I would go so far as to say that it is vainglorious to bring in such a measure as a private Member. It is quite reasonable to try to persuade the Government to introduce such a measure, but it should be for the Government, not a private Member, to introduce it.
My second reason for opposing the Bill is that having a time change at the border would be rather silly. Even after devolution, we are still geographically one island. From my experience of travelling north from time to time, I think that Virgin Trains has enough problems without trying to cope with a time change just after Carlisle, or at Berwick on the way south.
Thirdly, I am not sure what the effect on Northern Ireland would be. We could conceivably have a European time zone in England, while Scotland and possibly even Wales remained on Greenwich Mean Time. What about Northern Ireland? Would it be coerced into the English arrangement, leaving an hour's difference between the time in Belfast or Londonderry and that in Glasgow, which is on approximately the same latitude? Sligo in the Irish Republic is also on almost the same latitude, but there would be another hour's difference there. That compounds confusion.
Lastly, the issue was fully debated when we discussed the Scotland Bill in July and November last year. The noble Lord, Lord Archer, announced then that he was going to produce a Bill on the subject. The issue was made a reserved power. The Bill is not about time, although the underlying reason for it is time. The Bill is an attempt to achieve English independence in time. The noble Lord is following the flag that was waved so raucously by his leader William Hague just the other day. I am all in favour of English nationalists and I do not mind them waving St George's flag, but there are places where it is appropriate and places where it is not. This is one where it is not.
There is no need for me to go over the old ground of the arguments. They are all in Hansard. I was happy to hear the noble Lord refer to one of my speeches, although I did not hear him refer to anything that was in it, which was a pity because it would have helped him a bit. We know the arguments about Scotland and about time. We also know the arguments about road safety, although they are more confused than the noble Lord suggests. Part of the difference in the statistics is due to breathalysers and similar matters rather than daylight.
The experiment in the late 1960s and early 1970s--which lasted for three years at first and was then extended by a further two--came to a sudden and dramatic end when a number of children on their way to school in the dark of the morning in Stornoway were hit by a bus. That is exactly what one would expect.
London is a long way from Stornoway, as is Glasgow. I remember being a student in Glasgow while we had the double summer time during the war. That was a miserable and daunting experience. In those days Glasgow was not delightful even in the daylight, and it was a sight worse in the dark. The Scottish dimension does matter. I have mentioned before that the construction industry is a dangerous business with workers on scaffolding constructing buildings on icy mornings. Postmen do not like it; farmers do not like it; anyone with any sense does not like it.
In so far as this measure has a hidden agenda to make England move to continental time under another name, either Western European Time or Central European Time or whatever, I remind the House that this is one of the few occasions when Britain is in step rather than out of step with her neighbours. It is our neighbours who are out of step with us. The Greenwich time zone passes through Britain, but a good deal more of it passes through France, Spain and Portugal. In fact, it is the French, the Spaniards and the Portuguese who are out of step, and they should join us rather than we join them.
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