HC Deb 23 March 1972 vol 833 cc1669-71
33. Mr. David James

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will ensure that next year British Summer Time is brought back into force over the last weekend in February.

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir. I believe that the present arrangements, under which British Summer Time starts during the third weekend in March, conforms most closely to the wishes of the public.

Mr. James

Happily I have no time to cite an Act of 1795 in this supplementary question! Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that in 1970 Parliament decided to revert to G.M.T. to save one hour for farmers and schoolchildren during the shortest days? Is he aware that if he looks at a nautical almanac he will find that that hour has been restored by the sun by the second half of February? Does he recognise that thereafter the extra hour is extremely important to gardeners, coarse fishermen, golfers, and everyone else who likes outside life.

Mr. Carlisle

The decision to revert to British Summer Time, as I remember it, was taken on a free vote quite recently. My hon. Friend does not have to go back as far as the 18th century for a Statute, because there was one as recently as 1968. I accept that different people have different views over different interests but I believe that on the whole the present situation meets the wishes of the majority.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman recall that the research done for the Home Office showed that fewer people were killed in road accidents during the period of the experimental scheme? Will he cause further investigations to be made so that, whatever the decision of the free vote was, we can look at the facts before we have to take a decision again?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not accept that. The facts were known to the House when the debate took place and the House in its wisdom by a free vote, decided to revert to British Summer Time. That was the wish of the majority in the House. The hon. Gentleman may disagree, but he was outvoted, and this Government accept the decision taken then.

Mr. Tom King

Does my hon. and learned Friend accept that many in the House will find that a disappointing answer and do not accept that there is a general demand for the return of full-scale British Summer Time? Does he recall that there was widespread support for an Early Day Motion to this effect when the matter was debated, urging that we do not need to go back to the full extent of British Summer Time?

Mr. Carlisle

I understood that the criticism of the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) was about reverting to British Summer Time from British Standard Time. I appreciate that my hon. Friend has raised a point on which there are differing views. I can only repeat that as recently as 1968 the present dates for Summer Time were set. The Home Office has no reason to think that they do not accord with the views of many people throughout the country.

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