HC Deb 04 March 1941 vol 369 cc763-4
39. Mrs. Tate

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that if the clock is put forward two hours this summer as suggested the cost of food production will be increased, farm labourers rendered discontented, farmers' difficulties greatly augmented and children's health impaired; and whether he will assure the House that this proposal will be dropped?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

A number of considerations arise in connection with this question to which the Government have been giving careful attention. Examination of the problem has shown that the addition during the summer months of an extra hour's daylight in the evening would be advantageous to the war effort in many ways, particularly by enabling work to be continued in the loading and unloading of ships at the docks and in the railway marshalling yards. In many factories it would also enable two shifts to be worked in daylight. On the other hand the change would cause difficulties in connection with farming operations which the Government would have wished to avoid especially when food production is so important a factor of the war effort. On balance, however, it has been found that the advantages to transport and the production of munitions would be such that the scheme ought not to be set aside, and the conclusion of the Government is that provided the period during which the changed time operates is so limited as to mitigate the agricultural disadvantages, the scheme ought to be adopted. It is accordingly proposed to make a Defence Regulation advancing the clock by another hour from the night of Saturday, 3rd May, to the night of Saturday, 9th August.

Mrs. Tate

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this announcement will be received with horror by the agricultural industry and by all who are interested in food production? Will there be an opportunity of expressing one's disapproval of this Regulation?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure the hon. Lady that the Government did take the very important agricultural and food-production point of view into account, and that the view of agriculture was consulted and every account was taken of it. Admittedly it is a matter of balance of advantage and disadvantage, but on the whole the Government thought that the advantage was in the direction of making the Regulation. As the decision will be implemented by a Defence Regulation, it would be competent for any hon. Member to put down a Prayer against the Regulation if it were so desired.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Is there to be any limit whatever to the difficulties put in the way of the production of food?

Mrs. Tate

In view of the extremely unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.