|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, when I said a few, I really meant a small proportion of the 55 million or so people who live in the country. Incidentally, I do not imagine that the 700,000 people to whom the noble Lord refers spend their days on the telephone to Europe.
Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, that may be the point. I am glad that the noble Lord raised it. The daily turnover of the foreign exchange is 300 billion dollars. Its business will be increased by 20 per cent. per day by the increase in trading hours with Europe. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Howie, thinks that a mere 60 billion dollars a day is peanuts when it comes to turnover or business. The same applies to Lloyd's of London. Its turnover is £25
Such considerations may apply for only a few businessmen, so it is said, but in terms of the national economy I believe that it is extremely important that the issue should not be overlooked. I believe that the CBI and the City of London should perhaps do more than they are doing at present to persuade politicians of the importance of the Bill now before your Lordships' House.
I conclude with one point which I have raised previously. What are the attitudes of the three political parties? Not one of them has come out with a definite statement on where they stand on Central European Time. The Government have offered only a consultative document which is now destined, as noble Lords have said, to procrastinate as a definite policy. There are many people outside the Palace of Westminster who actually have to operateand I use the word reservedlyin the real world. We have to get things done with real people who have real businesses. This kind of thing is pathetic.
Then there is Her Majesty's Official Opposition. They are prepared to offer great things to revitalise and even review the constitution of your Lordship's House and, indeed, to do something about devolution. But what are they going to do about Central European Time as a party? I do not know; I have not heard.
What about the good old Liberal Democratsthe great Europeans? Have they committed themselves definitely to supporting the noble Viscount officially as a party? When all things are said and done, I do not believe it is morally or ethically right that this question should be left to the individual judgment of individual Members of Parliament, or indeed individual noble Lords. Members of Parliament are not competent as individuals to make that judgment. If he has to get elected, no individual Member of another place at election time will risk losing votes by misunderstanding this subject which is quite complex in many ways, although its effects are extremely simple.
I think there is a failure here in the political system. The noble Viscount has put this Bill before us with much persistence. But what is being done about it by the party managers? The party managers seem to be worried that this may affect their political chances in an election. I think that is a totally wrong and immoral view for any political party to take on an issue of this kind. I would like the noble Baroness to be much more specific than to say that the policy is to procrastinate. I wish she would give the noble Viscount far greater
Lord Monson: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, as he has criticised me twice in his speech, I hope I may put one question to him. He has wrung our hearts with tales of how tough life is for people who have to travel to Paris or Brussels and back in a day and have to alter their watches once on the way out and once on the way back. What about the people who for years and years and years have been travelling from Chicago to Detroit and back whom I mentioned who also have to alter their watches twice but do not seem to worry about it?
Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, I think that is their problem. I am talking about British Time and European Time. The position in Chicago is the problem of the people living there and it is for their Congress to sort out. It is not for us to sort out.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, I hope I may reassure the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, who gave us a fascinating and technical exposition, that some of us know that we are now on GMT. At this moment we are on GMT during the British winter. It is quite possible that not only do Members of another place not understand the difference between longitude and latitude but that quite a few members of the population do not understand these things either. That, of course, is a slightly different issue from the one we are addressing tonight.
Like many noble Lords, I agree that we owe a great debt to my noble friend Lord Mountgarret for his persistence and for his comprehensive introduction to this important Bill. He has certainly been involved in this matter for a very long time. I have been following this debate with great interest and have kept the score. The score so farnot counting my noble friendfrom the Back Benches, or from those who have spoken since he spoke, is four speakers have spoken in favour and five against. I wish to reassure my noble friend that I am wholly on his side, which makes the score equal, although I suspect that my noble friend Lord Burton, judging by the various noises I have heard him make during the course of the debate, will be against.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, that confirms it. When we reach the wind-up speeches from the Front Benches, the score will be six against and four in favour. However, that does not mean to say that this is not a very important issue. I believe it is important for a number of reasons which have been put particularly cogently by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney. I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I meant to say the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. A number of reasons
However, I thought it was particularly interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, should mention his initiative of 28 years ago, which unfortunately failed. It is greatly regrettable that we were not able to continue with that. The noble Lord also reminded us that during the war, for very good reasons, we instituted exactly what is being proposed tonight and it worked because it was more efficient. Indeed it is this whole matter of efficiency which is so important.
We have heard, as one might expect in your Lordships' House, a good deal about the racing industry. I believe that more will be said on that matter. As I understand what has been said in the debate so far, it seems that the punters are in favour of the Bill and the workers are against it. Later we shall hear from the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, who is a most successful trainer. I would remind the workers that it is, of course, ultimately the punters who are the customers and who pay for the whole damn thing. Therefore, ultimately, I suppose they are rather an important element. Perhaps it should be a case of the customers' interests prevailing, but we shall see what happens.
I have little to add because so much has been said and my noble friend Lord Mountgarret's introduction was so extremely comprehensive. However, I should like to make one point to him. There is an obvious psychological obstacle arising from calling the Bill the Central European Time Bill. I wonder whether he would consider at a later stage substituting "Western European Time", because that might have a more favourable connotation in the minds of the public.
Secondly, my noble friend has been extremely persistent over the years. However, with his long service in this House he should have known that when any government, whatever its colour, is "actively considering the matter" that is Whitehall-speak for "nothing is happening whatsoever". That has been proven time and time again. On the Front Bench this evening we have my noble friend Lady Trumpington, who is a very vigorous and dynamic female. I hope that we can rely on her to put her weight (and I speak metaphorically) behind this measure so that some progress is made. She has a reputation for getting things done, and this is a matter on which something needs to be done now and the sooner the measure is on the statute book the better.
Lord Burton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, said that 15 degrees of longitude was the division between an hour of time. That coincides with my information. I have discovered that the Central European Time zone presently covers 30 degrees of longitude. Therefore, it already covers twice that distance. We would be adding almost all of England west of Greenwich, Scotland another 3 or 5 degrees further west, the Western Isles 6 and 7 degrees further
It is not often realised that not only Bristol but also Carlisle is east of Edinburgh. Nearly all of France is east of Scotland. Belfast is west of Land's End. The further north one goes the shorter the hours of daylight in winter, and thus the shorter the acceptable variations in time that are available.
I am not sure whether I heard him correctly, but I was rather amazed when the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, said that the working class start work in the dark anyway and therefore it did not matter. I was rather shaken. I did not expect to hear that kind of remark.
We were told that Scotland was 80 per cent. against a change, and quite rightly. But to get round that the noble Viscount has sought to give Scotland a different time band from England. That is crazy. If it were to apply to Scotland then why not to Northern Ireland?
Had my noble friend's proposal been in effect today I should have had to get up at 4.45 this morning to catch my plane. As it was, I had to get up at 5.45, but that is another story because I slept in. I just made it. To ask those in the north to get up at a quarter to five in the morning in order to come to London is not very kind.
If Scotland was on a different time band what would happen to the Scottish financial markets, which are very important? I do not think that Glasgow and Edinburgh would be pleased to be on a different time band from London, which is what would happen. Why should they be on a different time band from London when London does not want to be on a different band from Paris? If the whole UK were on CET, we would be in even further trouble. It was said that tourism would benefit. However, I am sure that the Scottish ski resorts would suffer severely if they had very dark mornings. They are not happy about the issue. They are an important part of tourism in Scotland.
I thought that the arguments put forward by the noble Viscount on agriculture and the building trade were completely fallacious, as were those regarding children going to school.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page