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Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I came here to listen and to learn. Can the Minister say whether the apprehensions which she has mentioned were borne out by experience during the war?

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, no, I cannot say that. I know that they are based on experiments that went on after the war. I cannot confirm that they include wartime experiences. The noble and learned Lord will be aware that I was around at that time, too. I shall write to him. I am worried about the time.

My noble friend Lord Mountgarret touched on the subject of crime. The extension of daylight hours in the evening and its effects on the fear of crime is hard to quantify, but we do know that the elderly and women in particular are fearful of walking alone in the dark. Nevertheless, the fear of crime has much wider causes than a lack of daylight, and there may be some force in the view that, in some cases, better street lighting, which provides a benefit throughout the year, could contribute as much, if not more, to improving the sense of security felt by vulnerable groups.

It has also been said that the leisure and tourist industries stand to benefit from a move to CET. The benefits would be generated by an additional hour of daylight in the evenings rather than the early morning, when most people are in bed or at work. The Government welcome greater participation in outdoor pursuits and I am personally aware that the British Horseracing Board is a supporter of a change which would extend the evening racing season, but I recognise that there are other cases. Indeed, as we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Crawshaw, and the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, some sections of the racing industry are against change. There are other groups such as hill walkers who may prefer lighter mornings. However, indoor sports and exercise programmes have also seen rapid growth in recent years and these sources of well-being are unaffected by a lack of daylight.

Turning to transport, I am happy to say that the problems for carriers will be eased by one recent decision which was welcomed in all parts of your Lordships' House. Our partners in the European Union have now agreed to adopt common start and end dates to Summer Time with effect from 1996. This harmonisation, which will remove an irksome anomaly is, I know, particularly welcome to the transport industry. Timetables for the increasing amount of traffic between the United Kingdom and continental Europe would indeed be simpler still if we shared a common time zone but it would not make any difference to the real time of the journey and it is an adjustment which international travellers and businessmen are used to making on journeys to a variety of destinations.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, produced some very interesting figures on air travel to and from Europe. While we are on the subject of business travel, I should perhaps also mention the possible effects on international business and finance of a change to the status quo. On the one hand, the adoption of CET would

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bring the working hours of the United Kingdom more closely into line with those of our major trading partners in continental Europe (although different business practices would prevent a perfect match). It would also provide an overlap with countries in the Pacific rim. On the other hand, such a change would deprive business of the one-hour overlap with the working day in North America and the advantage this gives us in that market over our European competitors. But then it may also be argued that such calculations are themselves behind the times, if your Lordships will forgive the expression. Do office working hours really matter so much in a business environment which is operational around the clock? Both the noble Lords, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead and Lord Howie of Troon, referred to the existence of a number of time zones in the United States although for different reasons. Does business on the east coast of America suffer because of the time difference with the west coast?

To set against the advantages put forward in favour of CET, not all of which are quite as clear-cut as the speech of my noble friend Lord Mountgarret might suggest, supporters of the status quo highlight a number of specific disadvantages which would flow from its adoption. The status quo itself is the standard for comparison. It is well established and well understood.

The arguments in favour of maintaining present arrangements are more than the attraction of familiarity, but defenders of the status quo are right when they say that familiarity in itself counts for something. Strong and compelling reasons are required to justify altering a system with which everyone is perfectly at home, if not perfectly happy, and the cost and benefits to all parts of the country must be carefully weighed up.

Those who are opposed to change, as well as questioning the size of the benefits claimed for CET have argued that such benefits which could accrue to certain sections of the community and parts of the country would be at the expense of increased dangers and inconvenience to others. It is undoubtedly true that those people living and working in the northernmost parts of the United Kingdom would suffer from a form of double detriment with the adoption of CET. Not only would they have darker mornings for more months of the year, but they would also be bathed in daylight in midsummer up to and even beyond midnight in some places—certainly beyond the point of any conceivable benefit to sporting or tourist interests.

But it is not only a matter of geography which distinguishes the opponents of a change. Other groups within the United Kingdom object on diverse grounds. The Orthodox Jewish community is concerned that any change would adversely impinge on its hours of prayer, and some mothers of small children dread the extension of light summer evenings.

I have so far concentrated on the general question of CET versus the status quo and have been speaking on those matters in relation to their application to the country as a whole, as I believe is right. I must now come back to the detail of my noble friend's Bill and specifically to the fact that it suggests that change could be introduced without application to Scotland. In an

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earlier debate on this issue one of the opponents of CET, the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, did indeed suggest that that was a possible answer.

What exactly would be the effect of my noble friend's Bill? It would create two time zones in the United Kingdom, thereby setting up a series of new barriers to trade and communication within the United Kingdom itself. There are both technical and practical objections to this proposal.

The technical background was explained fully by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw. But perhaps I may say that time zones occur ordinarily only in countries which are very wide from east to west, as in the case of Australia, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. In the UK the greater part of Scotland falls within the same degrees of longitude as the rest of the country, a situation which would not normally suggest the need for a separate time zone. That last point was amply explored by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead.

In addition, the practical difficulties and anomalies which would arise from the creation of a separate time zone for Scotland must surely rule it out of consideration. First, there would be the creation of a new difficulty for our transport systems between Scotland and the rest of the UK arising from the time difference. The noble Lord, Lord Palmer, gave us some examples of peculiarities which exist near his home. The likely solution to this would be a transport system operating on London time in the same way as much US transport operates on New York Central Time. Potentially that would create two time systems within Scotland. In addition, the present mismatch of working hours with Europe would be transferred to business between Scotland and the rest of the country and a company's London office would need to remember that when phoning colleagues in Glasgow or Edinburgh and vice versa.

The Government have never accepted that that is an issue of Scotland versus the rest of the United Kingdom. Opinions are divided across the nation and across the parties, as I said. Not only are there many people throughout England and Wales who support the status quo; there are many in Scotland also in favour of change. It is within that context that political questions of national identity and cohesion referred to by my noble friend Lady Blatch and questioned by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, arise. Whatever decision the Government reach, it must be applied to the UK as a whole.

In no aspect of this question are the answers clear-cut. The Government must be sure of reaching the right answer, even if in seeking it we take longer than some Members of your Lordships' House would wish. I feel now rather like that girl in the song which the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, once quoted:


    "She didn't say yes; she didn't say no".

This is a Private Member's Bill and the Government do not therefore propose to vote against it. We continue to listen to representations and to consider them. We shall be listening with particular attention to the arguments presented by your Lordships during the

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proceedings on the Bill. We have not rejected the arguments for change, but neither are we so convinced by them that we wish to act on this matter now.

10.9 p.m.

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, in view of the time, which were we on CET would be 10-past 11 and we should have finished, I hope, a very good dinner and be on our way to bed, I shall try to be brief. I hope that I shall be forgiven if I do not refer to every point made by noble Lords.

Perhaps I may deal first with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, who, alas, I see has had to leave, and the noble Lord, Lord Monson. Both made the same point about Northern Ireland. They were concerned as to whether or not the people of Northern Ireland would be happy about the Bill. All I can say to those noble Lords is that 75 per cent. of the responses received from Northern Ireland were in favour of adopting Central European Time.

The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, went on to ask about the people of Bristol, the West Country and so on. I do not know but again all I can tell him is that according to the responses, in Cornwall, 90 per cent. are in favour; in Devon and Dorset, 70 per cent. are in favour; and in Somerset, 75 per cent. are in favour. I should have thought that that put paid to that anxiety.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, made a suggestion which appeals greatly. He may remember that that is where I started from some years ago; namely, an extension of Summer Time. That would be a very satisfactory way of dealing with the matter. Unfortunately, since that ball was put up into the air, we find that we have to obey many directives from Brussels. One of those directives provided that we must change our clocks at the same time as they do. Therefore, that would not appear to be an available option because it would appear that we cannot operate differently.


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