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Daylight saving measures were first debated by Parliament over 100 years ago, and, from what I can see, the essence of the argument has remained similar ever since, albeit that argument against has weakened
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Those of a more cynical disposition may believe that this amendment to the Energy Bill is nothing but another excuse for the proponents of daylight saving to wheel out their favourite hobby-horse for its regular canter in the field of parliamentary discourse. That is to miss the point entirely, as one of the strongest arguments for daylight saving has always been that it will save energy. Indeed, Britains first adoption of daylight saving came in 1916 with the express purpose of saving coal and energy during the First World War, and a variation was similarly applied during the Second World War for much the same reason.
Today we face a similar crisis of confidence in the security of our energy supply: an energy crunch the effects of which may be every bit as serious as those of the credit crunch. We also have the added knowledge that energy consumption pollutes and distorts the world around us, and as a nation we are committed to dramatically reducing the environmental effects of energy use. For that purpose we are prepared to accept and devise any number of astronomically expensive technologies and offsetting schemes but, for some reason, we fail to grasp the blindingly simple yet brilliant concept of just recasting our days in winter to make more use of the daylight available to us. Winston Churchill was an early advocate of daylight saving, suggesting that its opponents were driven by the,
I will not be so bold as to level that accusation this afternoon, but I wonder if it is a collective comfort with the status quo which condemns the nation to its needlessly long and expensive dalliance with darkness.
There is much evidence to suggest that daylight saving can deliver energy savings. Academic research has indicated that the move would reduce United Kingdom carbon emissions by 170,000 tonnes per annum, while the American experience suggests that energy use during its daylight saving days has fallen by 1 per cent. Combined with the well known benefits that daylight saving would provide for commerce, tourism and an increasingly obese population, who would have the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, I ask noble Lords to support the amendment.
This is one of those rare political occasions when we have the opportunity to make a practical yet cost-free improvement to the life of the nation. I hope that we will not pass up this opportunity yet again.
Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, this is an unusual topic for me to intervene on, but I support all the arguments already put by noble Lords on all sides of the House. I want to address the objection often raised that, if we were to follow the advice underlying the proposal to establish SDSTsingle/double summer timeso well advocated by the noble Lord a moment ago, it would hugely inconvenience a massive proportion
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I do not suggest that there would be no problem in adjusting to this proposal, but it must be put into proportion. I do so by referring to two examples. Central European TimeSDSTis followed by no fewer than 27 countries, covering two complete time zones. All the people in those countries are able to adjust their life pattern to the way in which the sun rises and falls, within the single time framework they have. If they get on Eurostar, travelling north-south or east-west, they enjoy the benefit of not having to work out when they will arrive in the other country.
That is only a modest example. The Peoples Republic of China manages to have one time zone covering four time zones, stretching from Vladivostok on the Pacific corner in the east across to the capital of Xinjiang in the north-west, √úr√1/4mqi, which is still 500 miles short of the ultimate western frontier of China. That is 2,500 miles, stretching from Vladivostok to a place just about in line with New Delhi and Calcutta, and Novosibirsk in the north. If people can adjust their normal patterns of behaviour over that spread of 2,500 miles, it seems to me absurd to cling on to what we have, which cannot be proven to have any inherent advantage, for the reasons that have blocked us for so long.
I went to China for the first time in 1978 with my noble kinsman and my noble friend Lord Brittan of Spennithorne. We found ourselves at √úr√1/4mqi, way up in the north-west. At the end of the day, emerging from a most important cinema show between midnight and one oclock, we came out into daylight. That did not disturb or alarm us; more to the point, it did not disturb or alarm all the people who lived around us. Two days later we were in Shanghai with a completely different pattern of behaviour of the sun. However, one and a half billion people manage to live without discomfort within this four-hour time zone. I suggest that the time has now surely arrived to accept this often-debated proposition, which has never been refuted by any rational argument, save the need to be sensitive to the consequences of change, which are modest. Therefore, it gives me great pleasureintervening for the first time in an energy debate, which is wholly beyond my normal capacityto support the proposal made by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I do not think there is anything wrong with this amendment. It is a perfectly good idea to have wide consultation and a report on this matter, and I think that opinion is changing. It is interesting that, when the subject of daylight saving is let loose in your Lordships House, it is like letting a cat out among the pigeons. We all feel very strongly about it. I am bound to say that I do not look forward to it being dark until 10 am where I live, and nearly 11 am in the north of Scotland. However, there is the tail-wagging-the-dog argument and there
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The noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, put her finger on it when she said that all parts of the United Kingdom must be consulted on this. That is important because this is a cultural matter. I do not understand the argument about so much energy being saved. In the war the measure was introduced mainly because the bombers did not come until it got dark, as I recollect; therefore, it was better for it to get dark later, although there was the energy point as well, of course. I do not oppose the amendment but there is a lot of consulting to do, otherwise a lot of annoyance and misery will be caused. It is always people who live in the south or the west of the United Kingdom who are so keen on this. People who live in the north and the north-east are rightly more doubtful about it. However, as I say, I am not against the amendment.
Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, I support the amendment and many of the arguments made. It is a privilege to follow the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jones, from the Cross Benches. I look forward to following his progress with interest. By my calculations, by about autumn 2009 he will have made it to our Benches, where he will be extremely welcome, but I am not sure whether he will touch the Tory Benches en route.
The arguments in favour of double summer time, which is really what the argument is about, are overwhelming. We have the road safety argument, the energy saving argument, which we are discussing today, and the fact that elderly people regard the dark evenings almost as a curfew on their lives. Double summer time would be beneficial in reducing crime as well. The NFU is neutral on this issue.
I particularly wish to draw attention to the benefits of double summer time for tourism. I declare an interest as chairman of ALVA, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. We have 42 members, all of which have more than a million visitors a year. No single measure would be more beneficial to our important tourist industry, our sixth largest industry, than a move to double summer time. As many noble Lords will know, the noble Lord, Lord Jones, was for a number of years the chairmanthe first chairmanof the Tourism Alliance. Once again, he is very supportive on this issue from the business and tourism points of view.
The arguments are overwhelming. We have heard from all sides of the House that there is a feeling in favour of double summer time, and I would like to see some progress and some interest from the Government.
Lord McCluskey: My Lords, as another Scottish Member of this House, I support entirely and wholeheartedly the amendment standing in the name of the noble Viscount. For far too long, the interests of a small number of people who live in the north of Scotland, whether they are farmers, crofters or whatever,
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Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: My Lords, I support the amendment and I am delighted to see my noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham in his placealthough he is movingbecause he is of course a former president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. I am the current president of RoSPA, which noble Lords will recognise as a responsible organisation. It has fought for a long time in the campaign for the clocks not to be put back and for lighter evenings in the UK.
RoSPA has collected statistics, as would be expected, which show firmly that such a change could prevent approximately 450 road deaths and serious injuries each year. The statistics also show that casualty rates increase with the arrival of darker evenings. By not changing the clocks, more protection could be given to the most vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, children and the elderly. There are more accidents in the afternoon rush hour than in the morning. Motorists are more tired after a days work, therefore their concentration is lower. Children tend to go straight to school in the morning, but often many digress on their way home and are thus more vulnerable to accidents and injuries.
There are other benefits. An extra hour of daylight would increase opportunities for outdoor activities of all kinds. It would encourage fitness and health. Surely that is part of the Governments programme. The change would help the campaign to reduce childhood obesityanother part of the Governments programme. As the noble Lord, Lord Jones, said, it would help UK companies working and competing in Europe to use the working day fully. It would extend the tourist season, as lighter evenings appeal to tourists all over the world.
The proposal could be introduced on a trial basis for two or three years. RoSPA has pressed for this over the years; surely it is worthy of consideration. That is the background against which I support the amendment, which proposes investigating a saving of energy through the adoption of a daylight saving scheme. It could be one more positive aspect of not changing the clocks, and I urge my noble friend to consider this sensible proposal.
Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on his excellent maiden speech. I share with him a declared interest: I have to go to Germany on Thursday and I should like to go there and back in a
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I want to mention an aspect of this matter referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Billinghamthat is, the debate on 2 December 1970 in the other place that created the status quo that we have today. I am disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, is not in his seat because I think that he is the only person in this House who attended that debate. I shall refer to him later. In the debate, the Home Secretary, Mr Maudling, said:
Either we pass this Motion and, if it is ... passed ... British Standard Time will be made permanent or, if it is [not], there will be a reversion to Greenwich Mean Time on 31st October, 1971.[Official Report, Commons, 2/12/70; col. 1331.]
This was the critical debate which gave us what I believe to be the wrong status quo. It was based in part on wrong or out-of-date information, as was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham. Apparently, in that debate statistics did not count.
The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, always refers to daylight saving as Berlin time in reference to the war, and later I shall quote his intervention in that debate. However, the main argument put forward came from the many Scottish farming elementsin particular, from the late Duke of Buccleuch, or the Earl of Dalkeith, as he was then. He argued that the long dark mornings would increase the suicide rate in Scotland. However, that is statistically incorrect, as the suicide rate went down during the experimental period. He reminded Members that,
It is nothing of the sort. A photoelectric or photoemissive effect is when light strikes a surface either large or small. I understand that one of the twin foundations of the quantum theory was subject to Einsteins photoelectric law of 1905, which involved Plancks constant and other factors way beyond my own scientific knowledge. It has nothing whatever to do with the amount of light falling on sheep or humans during the act of procreation. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit Mr Tebbit, as he was thenleapt to his feet and interrupted the Earl of Dalkeith because he was worried that human beings were similarly affected. He asked:
What do Eskimos do in the winter?.
That was the level at which the debate was conducted. The Earl of Dalkeith was not deterred at all and carried straight on. He said:
I went through all the statistics that I could find last night.
The fact is that no one knew what the Earl of Dalkeith was talking about with regard to photoelectrics. I do not want to be crude but I think that it is a question of whether the light is on or the light is off. I feel that that is the problem. No one dares say it but Mr Tebbit, as he was then, did. The Earl of Dalkeith went on:
referring to the experiment taking place in Scotland. I take that to mean that the Earl of Dalkeith was a lights off man because he voted against a change.
The debate went on to cover the building and construction industry and postmen. The unions for these workers have entered the debate, saying that postal workers get up in the dark early in the morning, but today how many letters are delivered before sunrise? What age is the postal workers unionand people such as Peter Hain MP, who represents itliving in? It is another age. This debate took place in another century. We are now in 2008 and a lot of things have moved on. The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, is not here either. He has talked about apprentices in the construction industry being frozen to ladders. Under health and safety legislation, ladders are not allowed to be used even by window cleaners, yet these arguments are still used today on the issue of daylight saving. As we all know, building work takes place under enclosed plastic sheeting and in controlled conditions. So, where are the facts?
Another depressing fact is that the issue is not on the agenda of the Energy Saving Trust. I asked about that, and the trust said that it was not allowed to include it. Why is it not on the agenda of the climate change committee? We are trying to save energy and lives on the roads, so daylight saving should be put on the agenda and debated; and it should be proven whether it will assist the nation in the severe crisis that we are facing today.
None of that is happening. The Minister will make some noise about the amendment, but it will sink without trace and be lost in the great confines of the filing systems of his department. I forgot to congratulate him on his appointment. I hope that he will last longer than some. The shelf life of these Ministers is not longthere have been nine in the past nine years. I hope that we will have the benefit of his wisdom and direction and that he will consider my noble friends amendment seriously and do something about it. Nothing has happened for 45 years.
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I am not going to talk about the sexual activities of animals or Eskimos or even follow the perambulations of the noble Lord, Lord Jones, except to say that I welcome him back to his place.
This is a very modest amendment about energy. Perhaps I may ask my noble friend to look at the Centre for Technology Management, Cambridge University, study of 2007, which showed that by going into line with European time we would save 2 per cent in electricity alone. That is quite a saving in itself. The study gives other examples but another one, done in California, would also be useful to look at. I will not delay the House because most of the points have already been made, especially those on road safety, which is very important, and on tourism and the need to be sensible in relation to Europe, where 50 per cent of our trade is done. It would make sense to come into line and I can see many benefits in the proposal. However, as this is about energy, I simply ask my noble friend to look specifically at those studies.
Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, I must first apologise for my delayed arrival. I hope that noble Lords will realise as the day proceeds why I was rushing round trying to get agreement with someone on another Front Bench. I also take this opportunity to wish the noble Lord, Lord Jones of Birmingham, a happy birthday, and to say how pleased we are at his safe return after his recent illnessan illness that seems to have included a Damascene road conversion, as we now welcome him to the Cross Benches. How sad it must be for the government Back Benches to have lost him so soon after his arrival in this House.
The amendment raises an issue that recurs frequently in this House, not least because of the assiduousness of the noble Lords who have added their names to it. A similar amendment was tabled to the Climate Change Bill which my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach, our spokesman on the Bill, did not welcome at the time. I do not intend to be as forceful as he was in opposition to the amendmentbut he is, of course, noted for his early starts in the morning. I take the point that the amendment is purely to investigate the effect of a daylight saving scheme, and I will be interested to hear from the Minister about recent studies on the matter. His colleague the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, threw a rather effective bucket of cold water on the subject in January with the information that the Building Research Establishment concluded in 2005 that a daylight saving scheme would increase emissions rather than lower them.
Lord Monson: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may ask whether she agrees that yesterday her colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, said:
Noble Lords on these Benches find it difficult to support amendments that involve public expenditure.[Official Report, 27/10/08; col. 1396.]
I am sure that most noble Lords would agree that that is a very wise sentiment. Does the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, agree that this amendment would involve unnecessary public expenditure, since no legislation ever devised can persuade the Almighty to conjure up more hours of daylight than are appropriate for the season?
Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, I am not sure that this amendment requires us to discuss expenditure at this stage.
Lord Teverson: My Lords, I welcome this amendment because, as the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, said, it is about energy saving, a subject which is completely absent from the Bill. We were very critical in Committee about the omission but I think that there is no more progress to be made on the issue now. However, it needs to be noted that although the Governments energy White Paper said that the,
a great opportunity to implement that policy has been missed in this Bill. That is why I particularly welcome this amendment, not so much for its addressing daylight saving time itself but for its proposing a proper factual investigation so that we can see what the issues are. If such a report came out positively in favour of daylight
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Lord Monson: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he accept that there is no such thing as European time? There is Western European Time, Central European Time and Eastern European Time, to which many countries subscribe. Would he like to clarify that?
Lord Teverson: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that correction and withdraw the remark. There is, as we were told yesterday, no European army, and there is no European time. I agree with both statements.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to respond to such a lively debate. I am sure that we are all jolly grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, for allowing us to discuss this at some length this afternoon. I also welcome my noble friend Lord Jones of Birmingham, and am very proud to call him my noble friend. He must be enormously relieved not to have the burdens of office and no doubt feels free to speak on many important matters from the Cross Benches. We look forward to that. I pay tribute to him for the outstanding work he did for the Government as an ambassador for the UK and for the great and wonderful city of Birmingham.
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