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Lord Ewing of Kirkford: Having risen from my comfortable, warm bed at six o'clock this morning and now it is 18 hours later, there is no one more conscious of time and the need to catch up with time than I am at this present moment.
The only point that I wish to make now is that it is my fervent hope that my noble and learned friend will give us an absolute assurance in his response that no leader of the Opposition, when speaking for the Opposition, will be able to rise to his feet at 15 minutes to midnight and keep the Scottish parliament at Holyrood occupied until that really uncivilised time of night.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: I rise to express my support for my noble friend Lord Mackay but for rather different reasons. I follow on from what the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, said, as one of the horrible people who actually proposed that we should have our time more aligned to that in western Europe. Indeed, a year or so ago, I proposed the western European time Bill which was, needless to say, opposed vigorously by friends in Scotland. I suppose they did so for the reasons that have been given, but one of the curious things is that they always go on about what happens in winter when there are many hours of darkness, while never mentioning the fact that there is a huge number of extra hours of daylight in summer which we do not enjoy down here. I give way to the noble Lady.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: That may well be so. However, other people may be awake and, of course, the cows do not necessarily relate to that sort of activity because they work on a different clock.
However, if this power is devolved to Scotland, it seems to me that they will be able to go their own way and those of us in the rest of the United Kingdom will be able to join in with Europe in this respect. After all, that is where most of our trade takes place. It would be a very sad day if this were to happen, so I find myself in the rather bizarre position of agreeing with my noble friend Lord Mackay but, as I said, for completely different reasons.
Lord Monson: The noble Viscount's intervention helps to explain why I am pulled two ways by the amendment. On the one hand, time zones are surely a perfectly proper subject for devolution. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackay. Those in this country and in the EU who maintain that there ought to be one uniform time zone right across Europe are, one fears, little Europeans and ignorant of the ways of the wider world, not least the United States, Canada, Australia, the Russian Federation and Indonesia.
As I must have pointed out at least a dozen times in this Chamber, Chicago is the same distance from Detroit as London is from Paris. When it is 10 a.m. in Chicago, it is 11 a.m. in Detroit. That does not worry the Americans, nor does it impede their economic
On the other hand, I want England to stay on western European time rather than moving to central European time, as the noble Viscount wants. The English status quo is more likely to be jeopardised if the Scots are allowed a free hand. Therefore, I remain undecided on the matter.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: I believe that we do not quite understand the meaning of the summer time Act. Indeed, it is a simple Act designed to make people get up earlier. If people in the City of London want to enjoy community of time with offices in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere, there is no reason why they could not get up an hour earlier. There is no questioning the fact that people have accepted summer time in this country.
The noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, may not have noticed that it is impossible to transfer the extra time in the summer to the winter. Therefore, his argument is not a very good one. We want the situation to remain as it is timewise; indeed, it works quite well and there is no reason that I can think of for moving it. Therefore, we need some device whereby the Scots have a veto on any move by the English to change it, or a simple transfer of the power to the Scottish parliament.
Lord Howie of Troon: This amendment is in the name not only of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, whose name I find hard to pronounce but with whose speech I agreed almost entirely, but also in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon. It so happens that I was in Drumadoon last week. The sunlight was delightful, especially in the evening, as happens in that part of the Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Arran, and the rain was, as usual, refreshing, drenching and constant.
I suffer from an awful feeling of deja vu. We have discussed this question in this Chamber--some of our more recent Members will not realise this, but older "hands" will--at least four or perhaps five times in the past three years. It has been awful because the usual suspects--they are all here--have stood up one after another to say the same things. I say to the noble Lord the Chief Whip that we will say them as briefly as possible. The noble Lord nods at me. He may be surprised that I am making these comments, unimportant as they may be.
The key to the whole matter is--as the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, said--we are in a time zone based on the Greenwich Meridian. There are certainly Euro enthusiasts who wish us to enter Central European Time for reasons that have nothing to do with time. The problem is really quite different from the one proposed by interesting people such as the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, whom I have heard on this subject so often and so inconclusively. It is not the United
The arguments about the Post Office and schoolchildren being mown down in the mornings in the dark and the dangers in the construction industry are well rehearsed and there is no reason to go over them yet again. I am going to say something which causes me a certain amount of pain. I hope that it will not cause my noble friend Lord Sewel any embarrassment. As I understand that he is quite likely to oppose these amendments, and I intend to support him, I hope that he can withstand my support and be firm in his opposition to these amendments.
Lord Sewel: I thank--or at least I think I do--my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon for his strong supportive speech. There is a first time for everything! I shall try to deal with the specific questions that were asked of me. As I understand it, timescales are a system of determining time, for example Greenwich Mean Time, Co-ordinated Universal Time, or whatever. The computation of periods of time refers to whether particular days are to be included when periods of time are calculated in determining when obligations expire or become unenforceable for purposes, for example, of the civil law. I hope that I have now informed and enlightened the Committee on those points.
The main issue is basically whether we should have a system to allow the possibility of the introduction of horizontal time zones in the United Kingdom. I ask noble Lords to think of the enormous disruption to day-to-day life if, say, there was an hour's difference in time between Berwick and North Berwick. That sort of issue becomes a greater point of inconvenience than the argument as to whether we should have summer time, double summer time or whatever.
I accept that strong views are held on these matters, as we have begun to see during this debate. The matter is properly decided on a United Kingdom basis. This is an area where it is appropriate for Scottish interests to be reflected and defended through Scottish Members of Parliament at Westminster. I hope that on that basis the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.
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