HC Deb 03 August 1944 vol 402 cc1591-3
31. Sir Reginald Clarry

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the removal of the extra hour of summer time on 13th August conflicting, amongst other things, with the holidays with pay period, he will consider either extending the period of the extra hours of Summer Time or relaxing the present total black-out arrangements.

34. Sir Henry Morris-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any statement to make in regard to the extra hour of daylight and, in connection therewith, about the black-out regulations.

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

His Majesty's Government have given the most careful consideration to the question whether Double Summer Time should be prolonged after 13th August, and whether some relaxation of the black-out could be made. As regards Double Summer Time, when, on 24th February last, I announced the Government's decision, I said that, but for agricultural considerations, there would have been a case this year for extending the period beyond the middle of August. Since this decision was announced new factors have arisen, which have caused His Majesty's Government to re-open the question. These factors are the operational needs of the Armed Forces invading the Continent and the problems created by the flying bomb. Having weighed the arguments for and against the continuance of Double Summer Time, and having given the most sympathetic consideration to the difficulties of the agricultural community, the Government have come to the conclusion that, on balance, the national interests require the extension of Double Summer Time to the morning of Sunday, 17th September, and a Defence Regulation for the purpose will be made as soon as possible. I should like just to add that the Government fully sympathise with the difficulties of the agricultural community, and regret that it should be necessary to add to their problems under present conditions. For their part, the Government will do everything they can to help in the provision of additional labour for the harvest, as far as this is practicable, and to give every encouragement to further volunteers to come forward to assist with it. Persons who volunteer for this purpose will be doing a most important national service, and it is hoped that hon. Members will take any opportunity which arises of making this as widely known as possible. As regard the black-out, the Government are anxious that it should be relaxed, or removed, as soon as the interests of national safety permit. All the relevant considerations have again been carefully reviewed, but the Government have come to the conclusion that it would not be desirable to lift the blackout at the present time. The question will, however, be reviewed again.

Colonel Sir George Courthope

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this proposed extension of Double Summer Time will greatly increase the difficulty of harvest and the risk that some of our crops will not be gathered? I hope, therefore, that the steps the Government will take to provide additional labour will be taken promptly, and that they will not wait until it is too late for them to be of any use.

Mr. Morrison

I accept entirely what my right hon. and gallant Friend has said about the added difficulties that this will involve for agriculture. I have given full weight to agricultural considerations but I think that these further considerations now turn the balance. Nevertheless, I appreciate the difficulties, and I assure my right hon. and gallant Friend that the Government will do everything that they can to help the agricultural community to meet the undoubted added difficulties.

Sir H. Morris-Jones

In considering the question of the black-out regulations, will my right hon. Friend consider not only the military risks, but the fact that our people have made up their minds that the disadvantages of the black-out outweigh its advantages?

Mr. Morrison

If my hon. Friend is so confident about the feelings of the people at this end of the country, I do not share his confidence. I do not know what the feeling is, and I would not dogmatise about it. Everything that my hon. Friend has mentioned is taken into account. We will review the matter again, and if we can relax the black-out, we shall be delighted to do so.

Mr. Thorne

Would there be any danger about having the black-out only when the warning is given?

Mr. Morrison

There are difficulties about that.

Mr. Edgar Granville

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in East Anglia agriculturists have always regarded Double Summer Time as foreign time and that they call the old time real time, and that his statement will make no difference to the position there?

Mr. Morrison

That comforts me very much.