§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
When this Bill was read a first time the other night, there was an amazing outburst against its enactment. There appeared upon the Paper a whole series of notices for its rejection—numbering some ten altogether. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) went so far as to say that he would take immediate steps to go over to Ireland to consult his Constituents—who, he said, were largely migratory labourers 2223 who were in the habit of coming over to England to enjoy English time—and to find out their opinion with regard to this measure. By some fairy wand which I am wholly unable to understand, all that welter of objections has disappeared. It is certainly a great lesson in the art of government and the art of managing men to find out that the patriotism of Wednesday in last week becomes the ordinary British Imperialism on the following Thursday week. I am annoyed at this extraordinary change of heart. Since the famous conversion of St. Paul there has been nothing more wonderful. I desire to say a few words in reference to this Bill which will be of a practical character. Before the passing of the Summer Time. Act I thought there was a great deal to be said, and I still think there is a good deal to be said, in favour of the assimilation of English and Irish time. It is called "English" time, but it is no more English time than it is any other time. It is God's time. [An HON. MEMBEE: "Sun time"] Yes, sun time. That it should be called English time or Irish time is a gross absurdity. It is just like people who, if their name is Doyle, and they insert seventeen letters after it, call it Gaelic spelling. I do not. I will never be associated with bad spelling or bad time keeping as a mark of patriotism.
There is a serious and particular objection to this measure, namely, that while the Daylight Saving Bill added to the length of your daylight, this Bill adds to the length of your darkness. Agriculture, in the main, is the chief business of Ireland. I concede that for Dublin and Belfast this Bill has several advantages. I see them myself and can state them. But if you take the farmers of the country, this Bill is most disadvantageous. Supposing there was a proposal that England should get up to its work twenty-five minutes earlier than it does now and work in winter time in the dark. What would Englishmen say to that? By this Bill you add twenty-five minutes to the Summer Time Bill, and although in fact it does not add in summer time to the darkness yet it puts us practically an hour and a half before the clock or before the sun. What is the effect upon the farming population? Take haymaking. Irish hay for some reason takes longer to dry than English. The farmer in Ireland finds that in the earlier hours by the clock as it now is, say 2224 from 6 to 10, the dew lies so heavy on the hay that haymaking cannot be effectively conducted, and the best hours for haymaking are from 4 to 6 o'clock. You may say, let the labourers and farmers adjust their time, and I dare say after a few years this adjustment will be made. People who have been in the habit of going to work at a given hour by the clock will not like to be told that they should work on till half past seven instead of half past six, and there will always be a feeling such as was manifested by the mob in London when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. "Give us back our eleven days. "They kept the City in a commotion for days, showing that amongst the enlightened people of this City the prejudice was not easily eradicated. But in the case of the farmer you have not only the question of the hay but you have very largely also the question of the milking of cows. The cow does not give its milk by the clock but by the sun. It is daylight and darkness that influence the animal world, and once you make the trains, as you will by this Bill, run earlier, you will inflict upon the dairying and agricultural populations a hardship for which no commensurate advantage will arise. What is the advantage that is to arise? The advantage for Dublin and for Belfast will be considerable. We do not know yet what view the railway companies will take of it. I spoke to a railway manager on the subject and he told me that on his line it would involve 2,000 changes in the time-table, and that is a line of not more than 300 or 400 miles. I take it you must leave the existing trains that bring business people to business and school children to school trains arriving at nine or ten o'clock. But take the case of the mail trains. In time of peace you could not alter the Irish mail train without altering the trains as far east as Russia. The Irish trains go by the English, the English go by the French and so back to Moscow. So that the result will be that the Irish mail trains must necessarily be altered. That will enable us to leave Dublin thirty-five minutes later than we now do, a very considerable advantage to business men and that I fully put upon our side of the account. But the result of the changes on the crossing trains will have to be considered. Many of these railways are single lines, and both for postal and railway communications you are making a change for which no adequate reason has been shown. I feel an 2225 advantage in the change, perhaps, because I am travelling so frequently between the two countries.
I know that in counties like Donegal they have absolutely refused to act on the daylight saving. They have not been able to do it. I fully believe that this is a change which should only be introduced after a great deal more inquiry than this has been given to it. The Bill met with strong opposition, when it was introduced, by the hon. Member for East Mayo and his friends who, apparently, have deserted from their leader who took up the cry. The hon. Member for Mayo has not by any view that I have heard expressed a change of sentiments. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has not expressed, so far as public utterance goes, any opinion, but we had it from the Home Secretary, and I fully accept his statement, that he did not introduce the Bill until the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had given his assent to it. I think the hon. and learned Member for Waterford in this matter has assented without giving the matter sufficient consideration. There is no war reason for the Bill that I can see. If English Members in their own case proposed that a trade union should work in the dark twenty-five minutes longer on winter mornings than they now do, I think there is not a single trade unionist who would consent to its adoption. I have asked what were arguments in favour of the change so that I might balance one thing with the other. The arguments in favour of the Bill as given to me—of course there may be, others—was that some English business men who have several duties to discharge, go to their offices only for a part of the day between nine and ten o'clock.—I have not seen that section, I do not know of its existence—and that if they do not get their telegrams and letters at that time great dislocation occurs. That seems to me to be a flimsy reason. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that, as the Irish Members have withdrawn their opposition to the Bill, I am not going to stand out against an experiment. Instead of being called English time I think it will be called Redmond time, and those who get up fifteen minutes earlier in the dark will have a pleasant recollection as to who is the author of this Bill. Therefore I do not intend, so far as I am concerned, to carry my opposition to the length of voting against the measure. Still I say that it has not been recom- 2226 mended in argument for the agricultural part of the country. Anybody who reads the Conservative papers in Ireland will see that there have been lots of gentlemen farmers of the Conservative cause opposing this Bill, and speaking of the unfortunate effect it will have upon the country. I would cheerfully pass this Bill if it were to apply to the summer half only, but in that case there would be this difficulty, that there would be one time for one part of the year and a different time for the other half. That is a strong objection. I therefore leave the matter in the hands of the Government. The responsibility is upon them. The Home Secretary said he had received a letter in favour of the Bill from the Cork Chamber of Commerce. But the Labour affiliation passed a strong resolution the other way. The Bill has not been properly considered. There is no hurry for it. We are in the midst of a war, when the Government is getting its Bills very easily, and yet they thrust this down our throats like a ramrod. Having made my protest against the Bill I leave the responsibility upon those who, having put down their blocks, have withdrawn them.
§ Mr. LUNDON
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, having found that the maligning of the Dublin Corporation was not a very wise line to follow, has now turned to his old tactics of slinging mud upon this Party. All I can say is that we shall treat his mud slinging now with the same contempt as we have shown towards his mud slinging for the last six or seven years. The more mud he slings the stronger will be our party in Ireland. A few moments ago he told us that if there were an election very few of us would come back, but he will find a warm reception awaiting him when he goes to North-East Cork.
§ Mr. LUNDON
As testimony of what I say I think that he will not challenge me when I say that when prisoners were being taken from his Constituency in connection with the recent rebellion they did not communicate with him in any way.
§ Mr. LUNDON
I just treat that remark with contempt, because the people of Mitchelstown sent me the list of prisoners who were taken from that neighbourhood. The Home Secretary will bear me out. It was only after a question dealing with 2227 this subject, in connection with the case of a man named Thomas Hannigan, who was interned at Frongoch, was published that the hon. and learned Gentleman came to the rescue.
§ Mr. LUNDON
All right; have it. The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University said a week ago that the opposition to this Bill came from some angry politicians. I do not know what he means by the term "angry politicians.'' If "angry politician" means a man who stands up in this House to criticise the Government and oppose the measures which they introduce, all I can say is that the right hon. Gentleman is the champion angry politician of this House. The hon. and learned Member for Cork is quite right in saying that ten or twelve of us put down a blocking Motion against this Bill, but it was not because we were angry politicians, but because we believe that there is no demand for this Bill in Ireland by any section of the community, industrial, commercial or agricultural; and we intended to carry our opposition into the Lobby, but the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University said that if we continued our opposition to the Time Bill he and some of his friends would do their best to kill the Dublin Bill. We look upon the Dublin Bill as being a Bill of great importance to Ireland, and while there was no bargain, no compromise and no suggestion whatever of any arrangement being come to between the Home Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member, and those of us who were opposed to this measure, the moment that we found that the right hon. and learned Member and his friends were to oppose the Dublin Bill, if we continued our opposition to the Time Bill, we went to the Home Secretary and told him that we would withdraw our opposition to the Time Bill, on the understanding that the right hon. and learned Member and his friends would support the Dublin Bill. The right hon. and learned Member stood by his word. He did not oppose the Dublin Bill.
§ Mr. LUNDON
The right hon. and learned Member cannot deny that he stated in this House that he would oppose 2228 the Dublin Bill if we continued our opposition to the Time Bill. My friends and I took it for granted that he would not oppose the Dublin Bill if we withdrew our opposition to the Time Bill, and having accepted that, whether we were right or wrong, we are going to stand by it. Even if we did not want the Time Bill in Ireland we are not going—as the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork would not hesitate to do for one single moment—to go from our word. We stand by it, and we will not oppose this measure going through, although it is not applicable to country districts, where the farmer cannot attack his hay and corn, because of the condition of the ground, until eight or half-past eight in the morning, and to put the clock back an hour and a-half will mean that in the summer months he will have to find work for his men until the usual time comes for attacking the hay and corn. We have taken up our position, and we are going to stand to it. No matter what happens at the next General Election, whatever may be the decision in the Time table, we are quite prepared to meet the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork, and those who are with him, at the ballot box.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
I desire to say a few words in answer to the question raised by the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork. The introduction of this Bill is not due to any idiosyncracy of my own, nor is there any passionate desire on the part of the Government to assimilate Irish time to the time of Great Britain. Some few years ago there was a strong movement in Ireland for the unification of time throughout the United Kingdom. It was felt that there was undue inconvenience to travellers, inconvenience to telegraphic, and, in some instances, postal communication, and also business persons found inconvenient the difference in time on our Stock Exchange and in our markets. In consequence, the Chamber of Commerce throughout Ireland passed resolutions in favour of unification of time in the United Kingdom. A Bill was introduced in the House of Lords and passed through that Chamber, but it did not make progress in this House. When I introduced a few months ago the Summer Time Bill, hon. Members urged that the opportunity should be taken to unify British and Irish time. The hon. Member for South Kerry and other Nationalist Members 2229 pressed that very strongly, and the same view was expressed by the hon. Member for East Down. I said at that time that I should be unwilling to make a proposal of that kind in connection with the Bill, first, for the reason that the measure was only a temporary one, while this ought to be a permanent change, if made at all; and, secondly, because I should not wish to act in defiance of public opinion in Ireland. At that moment the rebellion broke out and was suppressed. It was impossible, in those circumstances, to draw the attention of the Irish Government, or other Irish bodies, to a question such as this. Since that time I have received a number of resolutions from different portions of Ireland urging that this change might be effected. Dublin and Waterford Chambers of Commerce, Dublin Port and Docks Board, Dublin Corporation, the Limerick Harbour Commissioners, the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, and other bodies urged strongly that the opportunity should be taken to unify British and Irish time. As the hon. Member for North-East Cork said, I approached the Chairman of the Nationalist Party here, and he expressed approval of the proposal before the Bill was introduced. In these circumstances, I thought it was my duty to the House and to those bodies in Ireland, to lay this proposal before the House for its consideration. It was for these reasons the Bill was introduced.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
Has the right hon. Gentleman had any resolutions from any Trade Unions or Trade Councils in favour of the Bill?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Although it has been a good deal noticed in the Irish newspapers. With respect to agriculturists, to whose case both hon. Members who have spoken have drawn prominent attention, all agriculturists ignore all questions of the clock and always have done so. They work by the sun. When the daylight comes and the warmth of the sun has lifted the dew then and then only they are able to begin certain agricultural operations. In one month it may be one hour and in another a different hour, and in summer time— under the new regulations it is one hour by the clock and in normal times—it is another. They ignore all those things. 2230 When the land is ripe to be worked upon then they start their agricultural operations. When the Summer Time Bill was under discussion we heard much the same kind of speeches. I do not know if the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork was present during that Debate.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The agriculturists then were expressing exactly similar views, although with more emphasis, because the change was an hour instead of twenty-five minutes. We had then many prophecies that the greatest inconvenience would be felt and that the agriculturists would find it difficult to carry on operations when the Summer Time Bill was passed. I have made inquiries in many quarters, including from hon. Members of this House who expressed the views of the agriculturists very strongly, and I find that no serious inconvenience has followed and that the agriculturists carry on operations just the same. Most of them, as the hon. Member for Donegal said, pay no attention to the alteration of the clock and proceed simply by the sun, and others find it practical and convenient to work by the altered hours, and so it will be, I am quite convinced, if this Bill is passed also. With regard to the railways, I have had no opposition and no protest from any of the Irish railways. They have only asked that they should have two months notice before it comes into force in order to alter the time-tables. The Railway Executive Committee which is managing now on behalf of the railways in Great Britain, and which also has relations with those in Ireland, have passed a resolution strongly favouring the proposal embodied in this Bill. Let me say, finally, it may meet the susceptibilities of some people to point out that what we are proposing to apply in Ireland is not really English time but Western European time. Ireland alone of all the Western European countries has her own clock time. France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, have all, for the sake of international convenience, adopted the time based on the Meridian at Greenwich. Germany, Italy, Holland, and Sweden and Denmark have adopted Central European time, which is based on the time different by one hour from that of the Meridian at Greenwich. The whole civilised world is divided into zones of standard time; each zone differing by one hour from the next, and all of them based primarily on the Meridian at Greenwich. We are asking that in 2231 Ireland Western European time should be adopted. Ireland is the only country which stands in an exceptional position. An hon. Member says there is no urgency about this Bill. The Bill, if it is to be adopted, ought to be adopted at this moment, because the most convenient time for carrying the change into effect is when the clocks are altered on the 30th September or 1st October to restore the normal time at the termination of the summer. Instead of making two changes of the clock you can make one change of the clock. Whilst the clocks of this island will be put back one hour in the early morning of 1st October, it is proposed that the clocks of Ireland shall be put back only thirty-five minutes, thereby eliminating the difference which there has been between Irish and British time. If that is to have public effect on the 30th September I would ask the House to sanction the passage of this Bill to-day in order that it may proceed to the other House before the Recess.
§ Mr. FIELD
I desire to support this Bill. I entirely agree with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Really clocks do not make much difference to agriculturists; they keep their own time. I have had some difference of opinion with several of my colleagues on this question, but anybody who knows anything about the farmers' work knows perfectly well that at different seasons of the year men go to work at different times. The hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) charged one of my colleagues with making a false statement. I have been furnished with a letter from a gentleman in Cork showing that my hon. Friend stated what was really the fact. I strongly support the Bill. I am of opinion that the unification of time will be beneficial not only to Great Britain but also to Ireland. If France and other countries have settled the time according to Greenwich I cannot understand why it cannot be done with regard to Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee on the Bill."—[Mr. Gulland.]
I object. This is not emergency legislation in any sense. It is being rushed through because the Irish public have been left under the impression 2232 that it would not pass, owing to the block set down to the measure. For my part I strongly object. I believe that when the Irish people realise that this measure is being thrust upon them without consideration, there will be, especially among Trade Unionists, the strongest objection. It will involve an additional half-hour's waste of gas. I consider it a great hardship to working people that this Bill should be passed. You have adopted it because it suits you, but if it meant your working people having to work another twenty-five minutes in the dark I would like to see any English Minster proposing it.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I think the hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that there must be absolute unanimity to enable this stage to be taken now.
On a point of Order. Is it, Mr. Speaker, within the power of a Minister to take this stage of a Bill without unanimity?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
On the point of Order. I venture to say that the only reason we ask the House to proceed with the Bill to-day is that it is useless, it comes into operation on 30th September.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I do not think the Bill is of such importance as to merit a special sitting of the House. The Bill has to pass through the other House before the Recess, and that is the reason I would ask the House to pass it now. The Bill only contains one brief Clause. The principle of it has been agreed to.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I would appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman to allow the Bill to pass. The difference in English and Irish time in the Irish Post Office has led to a great deal of confusion.
§ Bill accordingly considered in Committee.