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Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend realises that the Scottish and the Northern Irish are the same.

Baroness Mallalieu: My Lords, I can see that there are similarities between the noble Lord and the noble Baroness; but there are also marked differences!

For myself, when France is only a short distance from Waterloo Station; when we are well and truly part of a single market; when our business links with Europe

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grow daily closer, whatever people's personal views about that; and when people like the noble Baroness are commuting regularly to and fro for work and for pleasure, it seems to me that business, travel, communications and tourism would be greatly eased and simplified if we shared the same time as our close European neighbours. In addition, there is abundant evidence that the majority of people, at any rate in England and Wales and probably in Scotland too, want that change.

Quite apart from business benefits and benefits for those who travel, those who live here would enjoy considerable benefits also. There is of course the important road safety consideration to which both the noble Viscount, Lord Mountevans, and the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, referred. The figures mentioned are plainly those for the whole of the United Kingdom. It is clear also that there would be substantial savings in things like lighting costs and considerable unappreciated benefits in the field of tourism, sport and leisure, to which a number of noble Lords referred. There may perhaps be a side benefit. Who knows, if Members of another place who took advantage of the offer to try the Eurostar train to Paris before the service began, and missed the return train, might not have had to be flown home if Her Majesty's Government had acted earlier and synchronised their watches for them? But it may be that they were delayed admiring the winter sunset over the coffee cups, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, said, and lost track of time.

Of course the decision the Government face is a difficult one. Some may say that it is an almost impossible one because it is bound to upset someone. They have therefore shied away from taking any decision of any sort. It is not possible in this area to please both the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, who spoke so eloquently of the troubles of the dairy farmer on a cold winter morning, and the Milk Marketing Board and the Royal Agricultural Society, which took the opposite view when they responded to the consultative document. It is not possible to please both the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, and the British Clock and Watch Manufacturers' Association, who appear to hold a different view, so far as I can understand the consultative document on that matter. It is not possible to please both the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, on the one hand, and the Horse Racing Advisory Council and the British horseracing board on the other, who take the other view.

I therefore sympathise considerably with the Government. But once more tonight we are in the position where—to use the equestrian motif, because racing played a considerable part in the speeches of a number of noble Lords—the reluctant horse is again before us. I hope that tonight things will be different. I hope that, with the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, in the saddle, things will change. I hope particularly, since the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, is now standing on the other side of the hurdle, having led the way and shown how the Government should do it and particularly as he is standing holding a carrot in his hand in the form of an exclusion for Scotland, which may decide to opt back into the Bill at a later stage if it so

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wishes or stay out if it so prefers (as indeed can the pheasants of the noble Lord, Lord Burton, if they so wish) that tonight we shall see a decision from the Government.

I should prefer the noble Baroness to tell us that the Government will, if not support the Bill, at least let it have a fair passage and ensure that there is time in another place so that a proper debate can take place. If she cannot do that, I should prefer her to say that the Government have decided not to advance this legislation than to hear yet again that the Government are going away to consider what they might or might not do. Can we please have a decision tonight?

9.50 p.m.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, one could say, "Here we go again!" I congratulate my noble friend Lord Mountgarret on initiating a Bill on an issue which never fails to produce a lively exchange, reflecting as it does the strong opinions held; and today's debate has been no exception. Before I endeavour to tackle the subject, I must make my noble friend Lady Blatch's sincere apologies for not being here this evening. She is abroad on important government business. So I am afraid that your Lordships will have to put up with me, not as a shining Lady Godiva on horseback but as a pusillanimous pig in the middle.

It is clear that there are those who share my noble friend's certainty that at least part of the United Kingdom would derive great benefit from the adoption of Central European Time, or single/double Summer Time. There remain others who have spoken in the debate, and some who may not have been represented this evening, who feel equally strongly that the balance of advantage is less clear-cut and that we can manage very well with the status quo. Incidentally, for the benefit of my noble friend Lord Montgomery, I make the voting in today's debate eight for and seven against.

I note that, while the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, made great play with the fact that, for reasons I have given and will give, the Government are taking time to consider the matter, she had finally to confess that the Official Opposition, too, have yet to reach a conclusion on the matter. I would venture to stress that it is not a matter of party politics, because opinion is immensely varied, as we have again seen this evening.

In response to my noble friend Lord Mountgarret, I must tell him that the 1989 Green Paper did not produce a clear view. Excluding petitions which were generated by pressure groups, just 50 per cent. favoured SDST and 49 per cent. favoured the status quo. In reply to the reference of the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, to opinion poll results, the Government are concerned about public opinion but cannot allow it to be the sole guide. The recent NOP survey used a method of quota sampling and the result for Scotland was taken from a sample of just 93 persons.

I am well aware that the Government have been considering this issue for some time. I know that many Members of your Lordships' House are anxious for a decision to be made: but only if it is in line with their own views. The diverse opinions expressed in this

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House are reflected in the correspondence which Ministers receive, and your Lordships may be interested to know that, despite the recent campaign conducted by such organisations as Daylight Extra Now and supported by sections of the press, these letters continue to be evenly split between those who favour change and those who equally vehemently argue for the status quo. That is why the Government continue to keep the issue under consideration. To answer one of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, the office of my noble friend Lady Blatch receives hundreds of letters a year from all over the country.

What we have to consider is whether there is a clear advantage to be gained from adopting Central European Time in place of the status quo—that is, Greenwich Mean Time in the winter months and GMT plus one hour in the summer. If there is, there remain further questions which need to be answered.

Is the advantage sufficient to justify change? Does the advantage accrue disproportionately to one part of the population and impose unacceptable penalties on another? Is the balance of advantage one which the Government can accept for the country as a whole? These are issues which the Government cannot brush aside.

The Government have a duty to consider all the implications of a decision which would affect the lives of every citizen of this country. Many different issues have been raised this evening and I do not propose to rehearse them all now, but I should comment on some of the more notable of them.

It is often said that the most persuasive argument in favour of a move to CET is that relating to road traffic casualties. My noble friend Lord Mountgarret produced some impressive figures. The most recent Transport Research Laboratory figures estimate a net reduction in road traffic casualties of 140 deaths and 2,000 casualties, including 520 serious injuries, each year. The RTL estimates have taken account of recent changes in driving habits, but are based on direct experience which dates back to the 1968-1971 experiment with British Standard Time. I can confirm that the RTL figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, are based on a model for Great Britain as a whole.

While those in favour of a move to CET quite fairly point to the potential saving of road casualties, there are others who are equally concerned that the adoption of CET would endanger the lives of certain groups of workers. The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, has pointed out the serious nature of some of these concerns. For those, such as farmers, construction workers, postmen and milkmen, who start work outdoors early, the increased risk of accidents could be considerable and the impact would be greater the further north and west one goes. That is one reason why the Scandinavian

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experience is not as directly relevant to the United Kingdom as my noble friend Lord Mountevans might suggest.


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