HC Deb 01 March 1945 vol 408 cc1559-61
58. Major Sir Goronwy Owen

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now able to state the Government's proposals regarding double summer time.

59. Mr. Quibell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now in a position to state what decision he has arrived at respecting double summer time for the season of 1945.

60. Mr. Snadden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can now state the decision of the Government on the question of double summer time for this year.

Mr. H. Morrison

The Government, in reviewing this matter, have considered, on the one hand, the requirements of food production and the interests of the agricultural community, and, on the other hand; the requirements of the fighting services. The Prime Minister explained on Tuesday how acute is the shipping difficulty. Double summer time makes a substantial contribution towards alleviating both the shipping situation and inland transport, and after very careful review of all the relevant considerations, the conclusion has been reached that the adoption of double summer time for a period starting from the beginning of April is essential to the maintenance of the war effort. The difficulties caused to the agricultural community are greatest towards the end of July and in the early weeks of August, and with a view to mitigating those difficulties the present proposal is that the terminal date shall be 15th July. The situation will be reviewed in the summer in the light of the war situation at that time, and it is hoped that the situation may then be such that it will not be necessary to extend the period of double summer time beyond the 15th July and that it may be possible—in accordance with pre-war practice—to revert to Greenwich Mean Time on 7th October. As 1st April is Easter Sunday, when very early services are held in many churches, it is proposed that double summer time shall start not in the night preceding Easter Sunday, but in the night of Sunday-Monday so that it will operate from Monday, 2nd April.

Sir G. Owen

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that the country generally, and particularly the agricultural constituencies, will accept this decision of the Government with a great deal of gratitude, and that it will help very largely to conserve the food supplies of this country?

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend. I would like to assure the House that it is a very difficult matter to balance all the conflicting interests, and that we have tried to arrive at a fair decision.

Mr. Snadden

While appreciating the slight concession made to agriculture, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that there will still be a handicap in seed-time owing to the backwardness of our cultivation this year; and will he give an assurance that when the European war is over the double summer time hour will be swept away and the winter one as well?

Mr. Morrison

For the comfort of my hon. Friend, I may say that after the defined end of the war, or, at any rate, when the Emergency Powers Act comes to an end, it will not be lawful to have double summer time without further legislation.

Mr. Higgs

Did the Home Secretary consult the trade unions and the employers' federations before coming to this conclusion?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir. I had my hands pretty full consulting other Ministers.