HC Deb 19 January 1996 vol 269 cc990-1063

Order for Second Reading read.

9.36 am
Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have great pleasure in introducing this Bill. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Too early."] It has support on both sides of the House, and in all parts of the United Kingdom.

I shall first describe the advantages that I envisage that the Bill will bring to the nation. In relation to road safety, the Bill will undoubtedly save a very large number of lives. That fact is asserted by the Transport Research Laboratory of the Department of Transport, which has estimated that there would be about 2,080 fewer accidents per year, and approximately 110 fewer deaths per year.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Butterfill

I wish to make more progress, if my hon. Friend would allow me, but I am sure that in due course I shall happily give way to him.

Perhaps I can anticipate what my hon. Friend might have wanted to mention—a report from the Scottish Office, which says that, following an analysis that it has done in Scotland, there would be only a marginal benefit in reductions in serious injuries, and a report from De Montfort university, which also questions the figures of the Transport Research Laboratory.

Those two reports have only recently been prepared, and we have not had time to analyse them in detail, but the preliminary analysis that has been carried out by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and by the Policy Studies Institute suggests that the methodology of both reports is deeply flawed.

The Transport Research Laboratory has the largest collection of scientists and statisticians who are permanently employed in analysing the causes of accidents and their nature and commenting to the House and to Ministers on the way in which those accidents arise, and ways in which they might be prevented. I do not believe that any group of scientists and statisticians is better qualified to consider the matter. With great respect to the civil servants in the Scottish Office—who I am sure are people of enormous integrity and good will—I do not believe that their expertise can compare with that of the Transport Research Laboratory.

With even greater respect to the academics at De Montfort university, it must be said that they are not renowned as experts in traffic safety measures. The university's report, which not only refers to road accidents but also questions the alleged reductions in crime and the benefits to business, gives greater cause for scepticism than some other reports.

I find it difficult to understand how the university can know more about crime than the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Police Federation or the Home Office. I also do not believe that the university knows more about business than the Confederation of British Industry and all the other business organisations which support the Bill.

Mr. Gallie

My hon. Friend wrote in The House Magazine that all the chambers of commerce in Scotland fully supported his Bill. That is absolutely wrong. His remarks are without foundation, as checks with the chambers of commerce confirm. Why should we accept any of my hon. Friend's comments about the validity of the reports to which he has referred?

Mr. Butterfill

I wish that I could express my gratitude to my hon. Friend for that intervention, but I cannot. The last time that the Scottish chambers of commerce voted on the issue in autumn 1994, they supported the principle of daylight saving. There has been no subsequent vote in the Scottish chambers, although some individual chambers of commerce have voted on the matter.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr is absolutely correct to say that some individual chambers of commerce in Scotland—notably Inverness and Aberdeen—oppose the measure. However, not all Scottish chambers of commerce share that view. I have received a letter from the Edinburgh chamber of commerce which refers specifically to its support for the notion. I shall deal with business matters later in the debate, as I am sure that there will be other opportunities to deal with that issue.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Butterfill

If hon. Members will allow me to make, a little progress, I shall give way some time in the future.

I know that there is concern in Scotland about the measure and I sympathise very much with Scottish anxiety about the road safety issue. I know that the mornings in Scotland are darker for much longer than in England, and that my Bill will make those morning hours darker and longer still. However, I remind the people of Scotland that the advantages already enjoyed by the rest of the United Kingdom are even more important to Scotland.

The analysis by the Transport Research Laboratory shows that, during the experimental period from 1967 to 1971, in southern England the number of accidents decreased by 2.2 per cent., while in Scotland the figure was 5.3 per cent.

Hon. Members must realise that there is a correlation between accidents and darkness and bad weather. Sadly, Scotland suffers worse weather than the rest of the United Kingdom and it has more hours of darkness. Therefore, it is logical that darkness should impact on the accident figures in the way that the Transport Research Laboratory has shown. For those reasons, I believe that the case for fewer accidents is proven.

Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that all the evidence shows that more children are killed in summer than in winter?

Mr. Butterfill

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. It is true that there are more accidents during the long summer holidays when children play out of doors unsupervised. For the rest of the year, they are in school, where they are not exposed to the dangers associated with playing outdoors; therefore, there are fewer accidents. If the hon. Lady examines the accident statistics, she will see the clear correlation between school terms and fewer accidents. However, that does not disprove my case in any way—in fact, it confirms it.

Sir David Mitchell (North-West Hampshire)

Before my hon. Friend leaves the accidents issue, will he deal with the question of postal and construction workers and others who work outdoors? They travel to work and work in the dark, thereby increasing the risk of accident.

Mr. Butterfill

I shall deal with the issues separately. I have a letter written by Alan Tuffin when the matter was debated in 1987, in which he says that there is no hard evidence to suggest that there would he any increase in accidents or energy use among post office workers. I shall happily pass a copy of that letter to my hon. Friend.

Dr. Godman

On a procedural matter, if the hon. Gentleman's legislation is successful today—I sincerely hope that it is not—will he agree to send his Bill to a Special Standing Committee to consider the matters to which he refers? At the very least, the Scots would welcome that suggestion.

Mr. Butterfill

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I do not think that that would be the appropriate procedure. The Bill will go to a Standing Committee, where we shall be able to examine all the arguments in great detail. The House will have many opportunities to debate the issue.

Mr. Hugh Bayley (York)

We all know that this is a controversial matter. Therefore, I took the precaution of writing to a wide range of statutory and voluntary bodies, businesses and schools in my constituency. The response was four to one in favour of the proposed change. However, the majority in favour was less clear—at two to one—among head teachers, who had some very serious reservations about child safety.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider an amendment in Committee which would introduce the measures in his Bill for a trial period of about a year, with the provision to extend through statutory instrument if that was the consensus?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. That was a very long intervention. Many right hon. and hon. Members are hoping to catch my eye in the debate, but some will not be successful if interventions of that length continue.

Mr. Butterfill

I am most grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's comments about his mailbag. His findings are approximately the same as my own—although mine were slightly higher, at closer to five to one in favour.

As to his substantive point, I am not in favour of an experimental period. However, if it was the will of the Committee that there should be an experimental period, I would consider that suggestion sympathetically. I believe that the previous experimental period was too short, and we did not receive enough hard evidence to make an informed decision. I believe that any future experimental period should be of five years' duration, during which time we could gather hard evidence on which to base a review, if the House believed that such a review were necessary.

Only 18 per cent. of all accidents involving schoolchildren occur on the journey to or from school. Some 82 per cent. of accidents occur after school, predominantly in the early afternoon or evening, when children are at play outdoors. That is when our children are most vulnerable, and they will benefit most if we move an hour of daylight from the morning to the afternoon. I believe that that will lead also to a reduction in accidents—not only those involving children but those involving the elderly and people returning from work. For those reasons, I believe that the accident prevention case is proven absolutely.

Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Butterfill

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I must make some progress.

That is not simply my opinion. The measure is also supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in England and in Scotland, the Automobile Association, the RAC, the Police Federation and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

It is also supported by the Child Accident Prevention Trust, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and the Road Safety Council of Northern Ireland. As that is a list of people who have no axe to grind and are concerned solely with our health and safety on the roads, the case for road safety is overwhelming and irrefutable.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Butterfill

No. I must make some progress. I shall. give way to the hon. Gentleman later.

I now turn to the reduction in crime. There is no doubt that a high proportion of crimes, particularly those against the person, such as mugging and assault, as well as vehicle theft and theft from vehicles, occur in the hours of darkness. Criminals do not get up early to commit crimes. They are probably still in bed sleeping off a hangover produced by the proceeds of their previous crimes.

There is no doubt that crime is influenced by the time of day. Home Office statistics show that, if present patterns of offending persist, the measure will result in an overall reduction of about 200,000 crimes a year. The Association of Chief Police Officers, the Police Federation, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland) and Age Concern all believe that we should proceed with the measure as it would result in a significant reduction in crime.

Age Concern strongly supports the measure, as many elderly people are frightened to go out after dark. They feel trapped in their homes. Many elderly people will not attend social events in the afternoon, and they deserve a great deal of sympathy. Their lives are difficult enough, particularly north of the border, where the hours of daylight are so short. In the very north of Scotland, it starts getting dark at about 2.45 pm. The measure will be of enormous benefit to elderly people, particularly those in Scotland.

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

Will the hon. Gentleman explain the point he has just made? If his contention is that the measure will reduce crime, why do two thirds of police officers work day and early evening shifts?

Mr. Butterfill

They work those shifts to prevent crime. The police believe that the measure will prevent crime, and they are the experts. I have consulted my local chief constable in Dorset, who is quite convinced that it will reduce crime, as are all chief police officers, including those in Scotland. All members of the Police Federation are unanimous in that view, which is supported by Home Office statistics.

Let me turn to business. I have already mentioned Scottish chambers of commerce, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) will accept what I said about their view. The last time they voted on the measure, they were convinced that it would assist them, although one or two now take a different view, and the new director general is personally not as keen on the measure as his predecessor was.

The Association of British Chambers of Commerce supports the measure. The Confederation of British Industry recently carried out a complete survey of its members, and CBI Scotland was the only branch that was not in favour of the measure. On average, it received the support of 75 per cent. of CBI members in the United Kingdom. It received 84 per cent. support in the south of England, 75 per cent. in the midlands, 70 per cent. in northern England, and 70 per cent. in Northern Ireland. An overwhelming majority of businesses believe that the measure would be good for them, as does the British Tourist Authority.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)

My hon. Friend is telling the House who supports the Bill and who does not. When he was first interviewed about it on radio, he suggested that there should be a separate time zone for Scotland. That is a silly idea, which would greatly disadvantage Scotland. Does he still maintain that view, and if he has moved away from it, why?

Mr. Butterfill

My hon. Friend is quite wrong. I never suggested that. A reporter asked what would be my reaction if Members of Parliament representing Scotland wished to have a separate time zone. I said that, if that was the wish of the majority of the Scottish Members, it would not be for me as an English Member to seek to impose my view on them.

Although I have not heard anyone articulate that view—perhaps the Scottish National party will do so—it would be a silly idea for Scotland to have a separate time zone. Even on a longitudinal basis, there is insufficient justification, and we should not give it further thought. It was not my suggestion, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to put that on record.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the implication of such a change on Ireland? The west of Ireland is in the next time zone. Is he not imposing a solution that either forces the Republic to move into a time zone that is miles outside its range, or divides Ireland, not just on religion and politics but on time as well?

Mr. Butterfill

I understand that the Republic of Ireland would like to change time zones, but only if we do so. The Bill would give it that opportunity. We are primarily concerned with the United Kingdom. We do not legislate for the Republic of Ireland, and I do not think that we ever shall, so the hon. Gentleman's suggestion is something of a red herring.

The Bill would provide immense benefits to business. Some 60 per cent. of our exports go to the European Community.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford)

That is not correct.

Mr. Butterfill

My hon. Friend says that it is not correct. He will have the opportunity to make his own speech.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Butterfill

No. My hon. Friend can make his own speech in a moment.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Will my hon. Friend give way on an important point?

Mr. Butterfill


Mr. Duncan Smith


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Interventions of this nature are not helpful. It is obvious that the hon. Gentleman is not giving way. That being the case, the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) should resume his seat.

Mr. Butterfill

I do not wish to engage in banter about statistics with my hon. Friend, whose antipathy to the European Community is well known.

At present, there are four hours in the day when we encounter difficulties in trading with our partners in the' European Community. They start a hour before we do, they go to lunch a hour before we do, we then go to lunch, and they pack up a hour before we do. British business is disadvantaged for four hours a day. In addition, we have many opportunities to trade with the far east, which is a growing area of trade. The Bill would allow us the opportunity of one hour's trading with the Tokyo market. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. There is a great deal of chatting going on, and I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Gentleman. He should be given a fair hearing, and that is not happening.

Mr. Butterfill

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

There will be special advantages for the banking and financial services sectors, which is particularly important in Scotland. Edinburgh is the fourth largest banking and financial services centre in the European Union, after London, Frankfurt and Paris, so it has a special reason for wanting to trade at the same time as the others.

Mr. Bill Walker (North Tayside)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Butterfill

I must make a little progress. I have been very generous in giving way. My hon. Friend can make his own speech later.

British business has in large measure confirmed the importance that it attaches to my Bill and the boost that it would give our national economy.

The quality of life in our country is greatly inhibited by the present arrangements. If they are changed, all our citizens would have much more opportunity to make use of the available daylight. Daylight is currently restricted, particularly in winter. Many people go to work in the morning in the dark and return home in the dark, and never have the opportunity to enjoy outside recreation for a considerable part of the year. That affects the nation's health and the ability of schoolchildren to play sports in the afternoon.

Many organisations support a change because it would provide greater opportunities for recreation, gardening and sport. The British Medical Association says that the change would make for a healthier nation. There would be less sickness, and seasonal affective disorders would be reduced. My Bill has the support of the Sports Council, BMA, Royal Horticultural Society, Scottish Sports Council and National Playing Fields Association in England and Scotland. If the change is made, all our citizens will lead a more enjoyable life through having an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon.

At present, tourism suffers from the fact that, for a large part of the year, the daylight available is not particularly usable. We all have experience of waking up and finding that it is already light outside—but at the time that we might be able to go out and enjoy ourselves, it is already getting dark. In September, it is often dark at 7 o'clock, when some people might wish to go out and enjoy themselves.

Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams)

People can have fun in the dark.

Mr. Butterfill

My hon. Friend is quite right—people do enjoy themselves in the dark. They can do other things in the dark, and I shall not prevent them, but they also like to do a lot of things in daylight.

Most tourist attractions in Scotland are daylight-dependent, so Scotland would particularly benefit. If the change is made, the shoulder months of the year would be extended.

Mr. Welsh

Will the hon. Gentleman give way now?

Mr. Butterfill

I made it clear to the hon. Gentleman that I will not give way. Perhaps he will please allow me to continue my speech.

Tourism organisations argue that, in spring and autumn, when activities are usually curtailed, there would be a huge extension of the tourism season. The British Tourist Authority supports my measure. Studies show that the increased spend on tourism and leisure would be £1.2 billion a year. The proposed change also has the support of the English, Northern Ireland and Wales tourist boards. A huge number of companies involved in tourism throughout the country have written urging me to present my Bill and get it through the House.

Most passion surrounding the proposed change has been aroused in Scotland, but I do not accept the assertion by some Scottish Members that change is overwhelmingly opposed there. A number of opinion polls have shown that the reverse is true. The 1992 Gallup poll showed that public opinion was evenly divided, with 42 per cent. of people in Scotland in favour of change and 42 per cent. against, with the remainder being "don't knows".

When people were told the accident figures, support for the change in Scotland increased to 69 per cent. An NOP poll in 1994 showed that 62 per cent. of Scots were in favour of the Bill. The most recent poll was organised by the newspaper Scotland on Sunday, and it showed that 55 per cent. of Scots were against change. The polls have presented mixed information. At the very least, opinion in Scotland is evenly divided, but the evidence from the majority of polls is that it is in favour of the measure. Opposition Members who claim the reverse do not understand true opinion in Scotland.

Many Scottish farmers have written to me expressing their support for my Bill, contrary to the assertions of its opponents. Scottish farmers are in large measure in favour of change.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

On the occasion of the previous experiment in this time nonsense, I was living in Aberdeen. Whatever the public might say in answer to hypothetical questions on opinion polls, when daylight hours were changed in the 1960s, that was most unpopular in Scotland, particularly in the north. My hon. Friend should not pay attention to opinion polls, but should talk to real Scots in Scotland, who would give him a different answer.

Mr. Butterfill

I have done precisely that. I spent the new year in Scotland, listening to the opinions of Scottish people.

Mr. Bill Walker

I am surprised that my hon. Friend found them able to articulate their views.

Mr. Butterfill

Some of the Scots with whom I spent a most enjoyable time were quite merry, but my stay was an enjoyable experience.

A dairy farmer in Kirkwall in Orkney wrote to The Scotsman: Dark in the morning is fine in the winter. We work by electricity anyway. What would bother me is if it would mean the clocks didn't go forward in summer. I need the sun to drive the dew off the grass for harvesting. The men would be kicking their heels for an extra hour if they didn't go forward. A farmer in east Lothian commented: In my younger days I worked on a farm in Aberdeenshire. In those days we fed the cattle in the dark in the winter mornings and it was dark when we fed them in the afternoons, and we had to work under the poor light of paraffin lanterns, not the electric light most farms have today … The farmers I have spoken to around here don't seem to have any strong views one way or the other". The debate in Scotland has generated a lot of heat, but not a lot of light in respect of Scottish opinion. I am convinced that opinion polls provide a better indication of Scottish opinion than the views of some hon. Members who purport to speak for Scotland in the House.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

For the sake of balance, given the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall), I too was working in Scotland at the time of the last experiment, as a teacher. It made not a ha'p'orth of difference whether there were six hours of daylight from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock or from 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock except in respect of the safety aspect, which was eloquently argued by my hon. Friend, and the advantage of being able to teach sport in the afternoon.

Mr. Butterfill

I thank my hon. Friend. I now wish to refer to some of the arguments made against the Bill by particular groups of workers. I very much understand that there are people who have to work outside and who have to get up early in the morning, for whom the Bill may present particular disadvantages. I am not without sympathy for their predicament, but I think that it has often been considerably exaggerated.

I shall deal first with post office workers. I am well aware that the Communications Workers Union has been lobbying hard against the Bill, and, in fact, has retained consultants to advise on how to conduct a campaign against it. I am also aware that certain Members of this House are sponsored by that union, and have a particular interest in the issue. Alan Tuffin, to whom I have referred, has said that there is no hard evidence of accidents to post office workers as a result of the previous experiment.

Mr. Peter Hain (Neath)


Mr. Butterfill

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, who has a particular interest in the matter, as an hon Member sponsored by the Communications Workers Union.

Mr. Hain

Does the hon. Gentleman not recall that the Conservative Government's White Paper of 1970 confirmed that the number of accidents involving postmen and women doubled during the experimental period?

Mr. Butterfill

That was not confirmed by the letter that I received from the union, nor was it confirmed by the letter that Mr. West of the Post Office sent me when the matter was debated in 1987. Mr. West said: Finally, although we have no evidence to support the contention, it has to be said that carrying out deliveries almost exclusively in darkness could make our delivery staff more vulnerable to criminal attack. The House should note that he said that there was no evidence. Mr. West continued: I understand that current statistics do not in fact show any particular correlation between attacks and dark winter mornings.

Sir Peter Lloyd (Fareham)

While the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) was right to say that the number of accidents went up during the experimental period, I believe that the number went up throughout the year. The point was that there was no correlation between the increase in the number of accidents and whether the morning was dark or light.

Mr. Butterfill

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that helpful intervention.

John Holt, a postman from Portree on the Isle of Skye, wrote to The Scotsman on the issue, saying: It really doesn't matter whether the clock changes or not. It wouldn't make my work any harder. I am aware when I'm driving my van to watch out for children going to school. But I would just as soon have an extra hour in the evening. I hate it when it gets dark at four. That comes from a postman from one of the most northerly parts of Scotland, and I therefore believe that the case with regard to postmen has been considerably exaggerated.

I now wish to refer to farmers. It has been suggested that farmers are unanimously against the Bill and—I must say—that certainly was the case some years ago. Farmers were very solidly against the Bill then, but that is not the case today. There have been enormous changes in farming and in farming methods, and the industry is quite different from what it was when last we debated this issue in the House.

The National Farmers Union has been traditionally hostile to the measure but is now entirely neutral, and, in a letter to me, it confirmed that many NFU members see considerable advantages in the Bill. It is interesting to note why that may be the case.

For example, Scottish dairy farmers are considered to have the greatest problem with the Bill's provisions. Dairy farmers keep their cattle in nearly all winter, and only let them out after milking in the morning—which will be done in the dark whether the Bill goes through or not. The farmers let them out into the fields later if the weather is clement, to allow them to enjoy what little daylight is available. The cattle are brought in again in the afternoon.

If the Bill goes through, farmers will be able to leave the cattle out for longer and bring them in at night, so there are advantages for dairy farmers in the measure. Similarly, Mr. Ross—the president of the Scottish NFU—confirmed in a radio debate with me only last week that the Bill would not create problems for dairy farmers in Scotland.

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

The excellent briefing provided by the Library says that, if the Bill becomes law, it will not be sunrise in Newcastle—near my constituency—on 21 December until 9.29 in the morning, while sunset will be at half-past 4 or 20 minutes to 5 in the afternoon. Where is the hon. Gentleman getting these extra two hours from? It seems to me that the sun will rise when it always rises, and set when it always sets.

Mr. Butterfill

The hon. Gentleman would do himself a service by reading the rest of the briefing, as he would then understand how the measure works. We want to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the afternoon. My point is that, while dairy farmers will still be milking indoors and in the dark, they will have an hour of extra daylight in the afternoon, to the benefit of their stock and their lives.

I shall move from dairy to arable farmers, from whom I have received letters supporting the Bill. The extra hour would mean that arable farmers would be able to do their spinning and top dressing in the spring at a time when they cannot do it at the moment. In the autumn, farmers will be able to harvest their crops in the late afternoon and early evening—

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

They do that anyway.

Mr. Butterfill

The hon. Gentleman says that they do it anyway, but the point is that, if the Bill goes through, they will be able to do it in daylight. We are all familiar with arable farmers harvesting in the dark with large combines with lights. To the extent that there will be more light, the Bill will have advantages for arable farms.

The only group of farmers that the president of the Scottish NFU stated would be disadvantaged by the Bill are those who have their stock out on the hillsides—sheep farmers and beef farmers. They keep their stock outdoors, and the difficulty for them will be that they will not be able to get out to see their stock until one hour later than at the moment. That, it is alleged, will totally disrupt their lives.

I frankly find that difficult to believe, because there are an awful lot of things that a farmer can do in the morning. The cattle and sheep do not know what the time is—they operate on nature's clock, and they are not aware whether it is Greenwich mean time, British summer time or double summer time. The animals need to be dealt with when their natural body clocks say so.

Mr. Gallie

One reason why it is important for farmers to see their stock before 11 o'clock in the morning is that they depend on vets, and 1 lam will he already halfway through the vet's day. If everyone comes in with messages for the vet at that time, it will create great pressure, and animal welfare—a very important issue these days—could suffer.

Mr. Butterfill

I sympathise with the position of the veterinary profession. My hon. Friend may know that I am on the council of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, the largest employer of vets in the country apart from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. If the Bill goes through, vets will be able to come out and look at animals later in the afternoon—they will simply transpose one hour of their working day to the afternoon. It will not make it impossible for the work to be done.

For a farmer to say that he cannot accommodate an extra hour of darkness in the morning is puzzling, as there is an awful lot for farmers to do. The farmers I know are constantly complaining that they must fill in forms for the European Community and others. They complain about their VAT returns, and that they have a struggle to do the school run in the morning and get hack to their livestock. They will have much more time if the Bill goes through to do all of those things. I believe that many of the assertions made by Opposition Members about the predicament of farmers are totally ill-founded.

I regret that the leader of the Scottish National party, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), is not in his place. He tells me that it will be impossible for his farmers if the Bill is enacted. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not present. In his own constituency, however, the Buchan branch of the Scottish NFU took a vote on the issue this week. The result was that eight to one of the hon. Gentleman's own branch of farmers voted in favour of the Bill. It appears that SNP Members do not know what farmers think in their constituencies.

Mr. Welsh

I know full well what happened in Buchan, but that is one NFU branch among many in the area. Producing one NFU branch, one postman and one farmer hardly shows a mass movement towards the hon. Gentleman's point of view. He asked for Scottish opinion, but he has been loth to hear mine.

The proof of the pudding is the last time that the experiment took place in Scotland. It was a disaster, and Parliament rejected it. Portugal listened to the blandishments that the hon. Gentleman is now presenting in 1972 and went to central European time. It is now regretting doing so, for reasons that have been expressed this morning, and wishes to return to Greenwich mean time. The hon. Gentleman's experiment failed in the past. The Scottish people know that, and reject what he is putting forward.

Mr. Butterfill

I listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech with considerable interest. What he says is not borne out by the correspondence that I have had. Nor do I believe that the position that the Scottish NFU has taken, uniquely—it is not the position taken by the NFU elsewhere in the kingdom—is entirely representative. Some of its branches have had the no the issue, and that I find absolutely conclusive. I have received many letters—I shall not bore the House—and I could read out any number from Scottish farmers on this issue to convince the hon. Gentleman that there is considerable support.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear—I think that I have understood him well—that he is suggesting that farmers should rejig the whole of their working day, and that business men and financiers are incapable of doing so? I am not clear about the logic of that.

Mr. Butterfill

The hon. Lady may wish to know that many farmers believe that what is proposed will give them an advantage. That was the point that I was trying to make to them. Many farmers have written to say that they agree. The NFU has confirmed to me in writing that a large proportion of its members are in favour. I am not seeking to impose something on an unwilling group of farmers. Farmers have changed their view. They have come round to the majority view of other industries.

It is alleged that builders and others who work outdoors are vulnerable on safety issues. I am a chartered surveyor by profession. I have spent—

Mr. Robert G. Hughes

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There is certain activity in the Chamber, if it can be so described. The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) is clearly operating in a different time zone, and is sleeping. Should we not proceed to the next business?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for me. All sorts of things have been going on this morning. Chatting has been taking place, and jokes have been made.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

At least I have been quiet.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have already said that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) should be given a fair hearing. He has a right to put his case. Some hon. Members may not agree with him, but he still has a right to put his case. I hope that he will now be given a reasonable hearing. The chit-chat and joking must cease.

Mr. Butterfill

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall try to make some progress. I have given way on many occasions. I am conscious that many hon. Members want to speak.

As I have said, I am a chartered surveyor. I have been a director of a number of building companies, including companies that operate in Scotland and Scandinavia. I am very familiar with the activities of the building industry.

We operate in a relatively mild climate. Compared with the climate in which the building industry operates in other parts of Europe, including Scandinavia, and in north America, our builders are blessed with—

Mr. Bill Walker

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Butterfill

No. I must make progress. I have had too many interruptions already.

We are blessed with the Gulf stream, which warms our shores. Although, from time to time, we have brief periods of extreme weather, by and large we have much milder weather than many of our continental neighbours. They all work satisfactorily in climatic conditions that arc far worse than our own.

It is not true to say that builders are opposed to the measure. Many builders have written to me. I have received letters from Tarmac, Laing and Bovis, for example, all telling me that the measure will assist their activities. When the Federation of Master Builders last voted on the issue, the result was 45 to 35 in favour.

I have had interesting letters from contractors in Scotland. For example, the Seamless Roofing Company in Scotland wrote: The general pattern for most building works is of a relatively slow start in the morning with men and materials being organised. Only then does the actual construction phase start. When daylight hours are short it is infinitely preferable to allocate them to this latter period. We find in our own company that we waste daylight in the morning and desperately need it in the afternoon. Do not accept the argument that sites close between 3.00 and 4.00 pm. With the universal prevalence of 714s"— that is, self-employed status— 5.00 to 6.00 is now the norm. That is a Scottish builder. I could quote many others.

It is alleged that other groups of workers would be put at risk. The British Safety Council, which is Britain's largest industrial safety organisation, wrote to me on 17 January, wholeheartedly supporting the Bill. That is the organisation that is principally concerned with safety at work.

I do not underestimate the argument that certain groups in the population will be inconvenienced, but I believe that that inconvenience has been grotesquely exaggerated by many of the Bill's opponents. It is clear that the Bill has widespread support throughout the United Kingdom. There is overwhelming support among the population. Polls show over 70 per cent. in favour.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Butterfill

I know that my opponents are well-meaning. In my opinion, however, they are living in a time warp of about 150 years ago. The country wants the Bill. Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on it.

Mr. Couchman

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Butterfill

No. I am sorry. I am into my peroration, and I am not giving way.

Mr. Couchman


Mr. David Marshall


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member made it clear that he is not giving way.

Mr. Butterfill

I shall give way for the last time to my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman).

Mr. Couchman

My hon. Friend has been generous throughout the morning. Before he finishes, will he say whether he has a frisson of guilt about attacking the world standard of time, Greenwich mean time, with his Bill?

Mr. Butterfill

I was sure that that issue would be raised, if not now at a later stage. I shall deal with it now. Of course I am not attacking Greenwich mean time. Greenwich mean time will remain for navigation purposes. It will be used throughout the world. Its importance will be entirely undiminished by the Bill.

I hope that Parliament will feel able to debate the Bill freely, and particularly to vote on it freely. I hope that those who oppose the Bill will have the courage to allow it to go to a free vote and will not attempt to talk it out, which I regard as an entirely undemocratic process. I accept that I have spoken for some time, but I have been most generous in giving way to all those who sought to intervene.

There is an old saying about how we measure the way that the clocks change: fall back, spring forward. I urge the House to agree that we should leap forward in 1997 and pass the Bill.

10.29 am
Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) sounded a bit like a snake oil salesman at one stage in his speech. He said that the Bill would create extra daylight, that there would be rejoicing in the streets, and that it would even make Scottish farmers happy. I have news for him, not only as a Scottish farmer, but as a parent of children who have to join a school bus about as far south. in Scotland as one can possibly get at 10 past eight in the morning. I do not want them to have to get on a bus in darkness. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Bill will not cause rejoicing.

The hon. Gentleman quoted some curious data from an opinion poll and said that there was massive support for the proposition in Scotland. If he were to put it to the people of Scotland, or anywhere else in the world, that extra daylight was on offer—rather like longer holidays or longer summers—I suppose that they would say they that wanted it, but it simply cannot be done.

Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge)

Does my hon. Friend accept that the consumer survey was carried out by a very respectable organisation, National Opinion Poll? I am sure that it framed its questions in such a way as not to cause the bias that my hon. Friend suggests.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right, but we are all politicians and we know that it is possible prove almost anything from different sources of data, whether polls or academic research.

As a farmer, I should like to dispose of the argument that the principal opposition to the proposed legislation comes from the agricultural lobby; it does not. The hon. Gentleman went on at great length about Scottish cows. I put it to him, with great respect, that Scottish cows could not give a damn what the clock says. Dairymen going about their work are not necessarily affected, but their families are. If the dairyman is expected to get up to milk his cows in the morning darkness, his wife will have to get going at the same time, perhaps to go to work. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?") Because if we change the clocks, other employers will be affected as well, and children will have to join buses to go to school in the dark, so it is not quite as simple as the hon. Gentleman suggests.

When I was elected to Parliament an awful long time ago, I was aware that I had the honour of becoming a member of an extremely important, august and powerful body and that we could amend all sorts of laws, but it never entered my head that anybody would be dotty enough to try to alter the laws of physics and the solar system. That seems to be what we face today. I suppose that there is a precedent, not from an English king, but from a Danish king of England—King Canute, who tried to hold back the tide and got his feet wet. We are in the same science fiction territory with the Bill.

Mr. Foulkes

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Home Robertson

I know that my hon. Friend is always up with the lark and knows what the sunrise looks like, so let us hear from him now.

Mr. Foulkes

And I am bright and awake, unlike the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes), who has left.

Will my hon. Friend condemn the opponents of the Bill who talk about daylight robbery and accuse the supporters of the Bill of being time bandits? No one is taking away any daylight, just as no one is creating extra daylight. We are talking about better use of existing daylight, whether in the north, south, east or west.

Mr. Home Robertson

My hon. Friend is a dear friend and I know how interested he is early morning activities, but he has rashly drawn my attention to the title of the Bill—British Time (Extra Daylight) Bill. Both wrong. It is neither British time, nor will it create extra daylight.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West suggested that his Bill would save lives, create jobs and even cause rejoicing among Scottish farmers. All those propositions are based on delusions and on dodgy data. The safety statistics in particular are baloney, as they do not take account of the fact that drink-driving enforcement legislation was enacted during the previous experiment to change the time.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

The proper way to sort out the science, to which the hon. Gentleman properly paid some regard a minute or two ago, is not by arguing something that has already been dealt with by the research briefs from the Library, from the Transport Research Laboratory and from all recognised resources.

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that, if the five hours of the debate were the equivalent of five winter months, the benefits—the reduction in the number of casualties—would be apparent during the six minutes for which the hon. Gentleman has been speaking, as two extra people would not have died? For every three minutes of the debate, one person's life could he saved if we moved forward and adopted this sensible proposal.

Mr. Home Robertson

As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) just now, it is unfair and unreasonable to make such categorical assertions, which the hon. Gentleman simply cannot sustain. It is notoriously easy to construct academic data to justify almost anything, and I suspect that that is what has happened. I prefer to rely on common sense and experience, and my experience on Monday morning. when I saw off my sons to school at 10 past 8 in the morning in the extreme south of Scotland, was that daylight was just breaking. If the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West has his way, daylight would not break until an hour later. As a result, we would have sleepy children joining buses or walking to school on icy roads, on dark, foggy mornings, and they would be at great risk.

I also base my opposition to the proposition on the experience of the 1968–71 experiment, when kids went to school in the dark. I remember it vividly. I was an agriculture student at the time and had to go to work on a farm not far from Livingston, in West Lothian. I remember seeing kids with reflectors on the backs of their coats going through the murky darkness on frosty roads before the salt had had time to take effect. One does not need to be clever to understand that that is dangerous. No doubt my hon. Friends who know the Communication Workers Union well will know that postal delivery workers experienced a 265 per cent. increase in accidents while going about their work in the mornings.

Mr. Bill Walker

The hon. Gentleman made great play of the different weather conditions. Will he remind the House that, in Scotland, we suffer from high relative humidity, and that drops in temperature immediately before dawn can create black ice?

Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Gentleman is right, but it is a mistake to characterise this as entirely a Scottish-English debate. Similar circumstances can arise in Kent and throughout the United Kingdom.

Dame Angela Rumbold (Mitcham and Morden)

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point about young children going to school in the early morning. When the previous experiment took place, I had to take my children to school in the dark, and I was not particularly happy about it. Collecting them in the evening was just as difficult because of the darkness, and it went on for longer. Does the hon. Gentleman think that a change would assist in that respect?

Mr. Home Robertson

I disagree profoundly. Because of the frost factor, there tends to be ice on the road in the morning rather than the evening. I put it to the right hon. Lady that commuters and children are more alert in the evening than they are in the morning, when they are going to work or school.

During the recent recess, I spoke to some of my constituents about the Bill. A number of building workers said, "Oh yes, we remember very vividly what happened last time round, between 1968 and 1971. Because we were not able to work effectively for the first hour in the morning because of darkness, our employers required us to work for an extra half day on Saturdays to compensate." I am not saying that that would happen again, but there is a risk of it.

I gently remind the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West and the rest of the House of the experiment between 1968 and 1971, when similar proposals were put into effect. They were violently unpopular and rejected in a free vote in the House by 366 votes to 81—in the light of pressure that hon. Members received from their constituents. I cannot see the case for trying this trick again.

The hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) referred to Greenwich mean time; he was right. The global time zones were worked out more than 100 years ago by scientists who calculated the relationship between the hours of daylight and darkness at different points on the globe. The system was based on the Greenwich meridian.

I suppose that it was all down to that rogue Galileo, who said that the earth was in orbit around the sun. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West wants to amend that law—who needs Galileo when we have the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, the 20th-century magician who seems to think that he can create "extra daylight" by means of his Bill? That is what it says in the Bill. He also has the cheek to call it a "British Time" Bill, when in fact it is central European time.

Mr. Butterfill

The Bill does not say that it would create extra time or extra daylight. It would create more usable daylight at times when people are normally awake. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the excellent statistics that the Library produced, he will find that they confirm that more usable daylight would be provided.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am sorry, but I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to the name of his Bill: British Time (Extra Daylight) Bill. There is no extra daylight and, I put it to the hon. Gentleman, it is not British time. I yield to no one on the matter of enthusiasm for the European Community. I am probably more European than any other Opposition Member. I voted for the Third Reading of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 and I am in favour of the principle of a single European currency, but for goodness' sake, we cannot try to include a nation in the geographical position of Britain in central European time. It is absurd to put Britain into the same time zone as Warsaw, Budapest and Belgrade, where the sun rises an hour and a half or more earlier than it does here.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford)

On that theme, does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is wrong of some people to suggest that there is a magic wand to be waved and that, by changing the hours, we shall create a huge upsurge in business? The distance between Madrid and Berlin is about the same as the distance between Washington and Denver. There are three separate time zones in America, and we know that business life there is more vibrant than it is in the European Community.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am coming to that, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I cannot see the sense of putting Britain into the same time zone as that in central Europe, regardless of the time when the sun rises and sets. That would put Britain into an artificial time warp. Greenwich mean time would apply, for the time being anyway, in Tipperary and certainly in Timbuktu, but not in Greenwich or Greenock. It would be a silly idea.

I should love to know who is behind the daylight extra campaign. There is self-evidently an awful lot of money behind it somewhere. We have seen all the advertisements and all the rest of it, but I am not aware of any substantial support for the Bill from Joe Public in my constituency or anywhere else.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

I should not dream of casting aspersions anywhere, but it has come to my attention that the Rank Organisation and strongly motivated leisure groups have gone bananas on changing daylight hours on the simple and simplistic notion that, somehow, it will bring us more tourists. I cannot see the sense of it. The Rank Organisation has been mentioned to me.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am grateful the hon. Lady for letting us know where all the megabucks have come from to pay for the press advertisements.

Mr. Foulkes

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. David Marshall

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Home Robertson

This is too much; I cannot cope with all the interventions. Let us have my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall).

Mr. Marshall

My hon. Friend referred to support for the Bill. Does he find it strange that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West could find only two farmers and one post office worker in Scotland who were in favour of the Bill, yet Strathclyde regional council, which has half the population of Scotland in its boundaries, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which represents all Scottish councils, have unanimously found that all the people in their areas are opposed to this bad measure?

Mr. Home Robertson

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is always possible to find individuals anywhere who support almost any proposition. Public opinion in my constituency, in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland is absolutely against it.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

Will my hon. Friend tell me how he has measured the public opinion in his constituency? How many people have written to him? Has he or his local paper had an opinion poll conducted, and what are the results?

Dr. Godman

Ask him whether he has done the same.

Mr. Home Robertson

I confess that I have had precisely four letters on this subject from my constituency, two for and two against, but I do not rely only on the postman to gauge opinion in my constituency. I must tell my hon. Friends who violently oppose the Bill that I am out and about in my constituency quite often and I have talked with many Labour supporters.

Mr. Foulkes


Mr. Home Robertson

I think that my hon. Friend will have to contain himself; we shall hear from him again.

We have made a little headway because we know a little more about who is behind the daylight extra campaign—certain leisure groups that think that they can make some money out of it.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)


Mr. Home Robertson

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, who used to represent Glasgow, Cathcart. He represents somewhere else now.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my wife telephoned me two minutes ago to say that the "The Time, The Place" programme had conducted a massive telephone poll which showed massive public opposition throughout the United Kingdom to the Bill? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, having been conned time after time over European integration by bogus organisations stuffed with Euro-funding, the public are becoming fed up and now do not believe a word of the nonsense propaganda in favour of this time change? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the best way in which to gauge public opinion is an innocent telephone poll, which received a massive response and demonstrated massive opposition to this stupid Euro-integration measure?

Mr. Home Robertson

I am not remotely surprised to hear that that poll has demonstrated overwhelming public opposition to this dotty idea.

Mr. Bill Walker


Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Walker) can make his own speech in a minute. Oh, all right—I shall give way to him.

Mr. Walker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that The Press and Journal in Aberdeen has conducted a large poll this week which clearly shows that 14.5 per cent. of those people are in favour and 86.5 are against?

Mr. Home Robertson

I am not remotely surprised by that evidence. It certainly confirms my own experience from the discussions I have had with my constituents and people elsewhere.

I suspect that the people behind the proposition are the dark forces in the City who want to be able to telephone Zurich without checking their watches.

Mr. Butterfill

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Home Robertson

We are told about the economic advantages which, it is alleged, will flow from the measure.

Mr. Butterfill

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on that?

Mr. Home Robertson

The hon. Member has been on his feet for about half an hour. [HON. MEMBERS: "More."] I know that many others want to speak, and I should like to conclude my remarks as quickly as possible.

There are alleged economic advantages to be had from the measure; the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West referred to the interests of the banking industry and the financial sector. Many of the people who work in that sector live in my constituency and work in the insurance companies and banks in Edinburgh. I have no evidence that they are unduly enthusiastic about his proposal. I was advised by a banker earlier this week that it is an advantage to be in a time zone one jump to the west of central Europe, because it makes it possible to overlap with the trading time in New York, so there are arguments on both sides of this one.

Is it so difficult to cope with time zones? Australia has three time zones. I am not aware that its economy is grinding into the dust because its business men must take account of time zones when going about their work. The United States of America has five time zones. I am not aware of any suggestion that Chicago should be shifted on to New York time to facilitate business.

If the proposal is such a good idea, if it will make people so happy and be so good for tourism and everything else, will the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West tell me now—I would give way to him on this one— whether there is any initiative in Germany for it to move on to Moscow time, or any initiative in Sydney to put it on to New Zealand time? If he is right that it is a good idea for Britain to be able to move an hour forward, presumably the same argument holds for people in other time zones. Logically, if that were so, time zones would be moving around the whole world again.

Mr. Butterfill

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, finally, for giving way. It is nonsense to suggest that countries would want to move time zones in the way that he says. May I deal, however, with his point about who is behind the Bill? All hon. Members have been sent a full briefing by the Bill's supporters. I have here a full list of the supporters, nearly 200 of them, and it is available to every hon. Member, most of whom have been sent the list of the people behind my campaign. In case the hon. Gentleman has not received it, I shall cross the Floor of the House and hand it to him.

Mr. Home Robertson

That is something to look forward to—the hon. Gentleman following the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Miss Nicholson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) across the Floor of the House.

Mr. Macdonald

My hon. Friend might like to know that I wrote to the daylight extra campaign asking who' were the main donors to its campaign, and it refused to let me know. It just sent me a list of the organisations that were supporting the campaign, but no list of who was donating the money.

Mr. Home Robertson

I had the same experience. Last year, I saw one of the big advertisements in, I think, the London Evening Standard citing massive support for the Bill and giving the list. I wrote to the daylight extra campaign to ask who its backers were, and I am still waiting for a reply. We should be told. It would be interesting.

I have given some thought to the possibility that businesses, individuals and local authorities could counteract and sidestep the idiocy of this legislation by altering their timetables so that children could go to school during twilight at least, as they do now. I suppose it would be possible for local authorities, such as Strathclyde regional council perhaps, to opt to remain on GMT for the purposes of school timetables, but it is not as simple as that.

I return to my point about dairymen and the relationship between what different members of the same household do. Children going to school on one timetable cannot be detached from the timetable that applies to people going to work, bus and train timetables and all the rest of it. People cannot he that flexible.

The leisure industry, however, has some flexibility. There is nothing to stop people who are on holiday or those who have spare time playing golf later at night if they want to. I do not accept, therefore, that the Bill would make life much easier or be beneficial to the tourist industry.

I remind the House that this proposition was tried not so long ago. Most of us should be able to remember it. It was violently unpopular among all our constituents. Our predecessors and some hon. Members who are still in the House will remember the pressure that they came under when that experiment was rejected by 366 votes to 81 in the House. Do not let us make the same mistake again. Do not let is put our constituents through the same agony again.

10.54 am
Mr. John MacGregor (South Norfolk)

As I shall refer to advantages to business, I should declare that I have a few business interests, and they are in the Register of Members' Interests. There is nothing wrong in businesses advancing, and putting to hon. Members, causes that they believe will be of a substantial benefit, not only to their businesses, profits and the United Kingdom economy, but to their employees.

The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) advanced many strange arguments. One was that golfers could play at 11 o'clock in the evening and happily find their balls. Another involved who arc the backers of the Bill.

I have come to support the Bill on the basis of my experience over many years, on what my constituents—not all of them, but by and large—are telling me and on my experience as a Minister and Secretary of State in a number of Departments that are relevant to the Bill. I was convinced then that this measure is right. It is supported not just by business interests, but by organisations such as the British Medical Association, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Police Federation—a large number of organisations that have got nothing to do with business interests. They support the Bill for all the reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West put forward. The point made by the hon. Member for East Lothian was therefore bogus and strange.

Equally irrelevant were the points that the hon. Member for East Lothian made about the European Union. The strangest letter that I have read so far on this issue was from a constituent who said that he was opposed to the measure because it was being imposed by Brussels: it is not. The business interest—which is the only one that is really relevant to the European Union—comes from what businesses feel, not from the single market, although there are benefits there, or from being members of the EU. If businesses want to do business in Europe, they find it better to move to the same time scale. It is an argument not about the European Union, but about the balance of advantage to business.

Mr. McWilliam

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. MacGregor

One of the problems is that many of the hon. Members who want to speak in the debate will not be able to if we give way to every time. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West suffered from that.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on choosing this measure for his private Member's Bill. I strongly welcome it. As I have made clear, I have come to my view over many years, based on experience in many Departments. I shall not repeat all the arguments that he advanced, but they were compelling. As in all issues before the House, there are some losers as well as gainers, and I recognise that this time change will result in losers, but if we never took action in the House if there were losers, we would never make progress. There arc bound always to be some losers.

Having listened to the debate over a long time, considered all the elements and again listened to the objections today, I feel that there are only two valid groups of losers: one is parts of, and certain groups in, Scotland—I readily acknowledge that. That is clear. The other is the postal workers, for about two months.

Sir Teddy Taylor

The Builders Employers Confederation is against it.

Mr. MacGregor

The building industry argument is bogus, because many construction companies are in favour of the change. In rural areas, small building firms are in favour of the change. People who find a particular difficulty can alter their working pattern in the way that has been done in other northern countries.

The strong argument involves postal workers, who are compelled to deliver mail by a certain time, but the disadvantage to them is for two months of the year, and there are advantages to many postal workers' families, who will be able to have leisure time during the extra hours of daylight when they leave their work, so there are even arguments there that are balanced in favour of this change. We are coming down, therefore, to a comparatively small number of losers.

I should like to put my own gloss on some of the points made by my hon. Friend in introducing the Bill. The argument that has gained most force with me since the last experiment 25 years ago is the safety argument, particularly for older people and single women. This is therefore not an argument about business or the European Union—it has nothing do with that. It is about the conditions, life style and wishes of this country's people.

It is fact of life that many retired people do not want to start doing their leisure activities in the early morning, not least because it is colder, and that they want to wait until the afternoon to do so. Many of the functions they attend inevitably take place in the afternoon. We all know that, compared with 25 years ago, problems such as fears of going out in the dark or of being mugged have greatly increased. That fear and perception is preventing many old people from undertaking such activities. I have not the slightest surprise that organisations such as Age Concern and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust are among the strongest supporters of the Bill. It has nothing to do with business interests: it has to do with life styles, and the change will have a beneficial effect on my constituents, many of whom are elderly and will be able to take advantage of the longer daylight hours.

Single women returning from work and women returning with their children from school will benefit from the fact that they will be doing so much more in daylight hours than at present. The safety argument is extremely strong, and there is also the life style argument.

I am totally convinced by the Transport Research Laboratory's studies on road safety. I do not think that the figures can be stated precisely by saying that definitely 110 road deaths would be avoided if we make the change, but the analysis is very clear, and perhaps links most to the point that the biggest saving would occur between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock in the afternoon and early evening when there are most accidents. Therefore, it is entirely logical that the change will make a substantial difference to road safety. Whatever the precise figures, there is bound to be a big improvement.

This week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland produced for the House an analysis by the Scottish Office. I have three comments on that. First, it is somewhat strange that, after three years, the analysis was produced only this week. It creates difficulties for those of us who want to look carefully at the analysis that it was put in the Library only on Wednesday night. Inevitably, it has been rather difficult to look at it. However, I have looked at it, and at the end of the executive summary there is a crucial point. It states: The interim nature of these findings and the imprecision attaching to the estimates is stressed. I suspect that that means that there is considerable doubt as to whether analysts and other experts, when they look at the figures, will completely agree with the conclusion. My second comment is that it is important to the debate to note that the imprecision attaching to the estimates and the interim nature of the findings are stressed.

My third and most important comment is that this new work says that, at best, the change in Scotland in terms of road safety would be neutral.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

At worst.

Mr. MacGregor

I say "at best" in terms of those who are in favour of changing the hours. At best, all it says is that the change would be neutral: it does not say that it would be a disadvantage in the context of road safety in Scotland. No group of experts and no analysis that I have seen suggests that there would not he a substantial benefit in terms of road safety in England and Wales. If it is neutral in Scotland and greatly beneficial in England and Wales, the road safety argument must be in favour of the change. That must be right. In terms of the overall balance of the argument, this makes very little difference.

Mr. Gallie

I think that my right hon. Friend ignores the De Montfort report, which takes a different view. He is being unfair to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has recently taken up that appointment and has pushed for a report that gives additional information that adds to the value of the debate; he should be congratulated on that and not criticised.

Mr. MacGregor

I was simply drawing attention to the difference that the report makes to the substance of the debate. My most important point is that, at best, from the point of view of the advocates of no change, all the report says is that in Scotland the change may not make a difference. It certainly does not increase the danger of road accidents.

Mr. Welsh

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. MacGregor

No, I do not intend to give way again, because I am anxious to leave time for other hon. Members. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that he can find fault with my analysis, he can do in his own speech. He cannot dispute the fact that the report says that the estimates are imprecise and perhaps doubtful. At most, it states that the argument for Scotland is neutral, and it does not attack in any way the substance of the findings everywhere else.

Mr. Maxton

As the right hon. Gentleman may know, Heriot-Watt university has carefully examined all the research on this matter and has come down heavily on the side of the RoSPA evidence. It condemns the De Montfort report and says that there are enormous weaknesses in it.

Mr. MacGregor

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because he has said what I was about to say, that Dr. John Russell, the dean of the faculty of environmental studies at Heriot-Watt, has made that precise point.

Several hon. Members


Mr. MacGregor

I must make progress, because many other hon. Members wish to speak.

I shall now deal with the argument about tourism. In my constituency, and in the whole of East Anglia, tourism would greatly benefit, for obvious reasons. Tourists, especially those from overseas, tend not to make use of tourist facilities at 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning. They wish to make use of them after the sun has had its effect and when, in terms of a leisurely holiday, they are willing to do so, and that means later in the day. That is perfectly understandable, and I do not understand why much of the Scottish tourist industry does not see—I suspect that it does—that the tourist industry will gain substantial benefits from being able to keep facilities open for a longer period in daylight, when they are most used. That is why the industry has calculated that the change would benefit it by £1.2 billion.

The hon. Member for East Lothian spoke about the problems that would be faced by schoolchildren. However, my two local authorities and my county council, which deals with education, are the strongest advocates in my area for the change. I have had letters from both councils stating that they are in support of the change, and that has nothing to do with business interests or the European Union. They obviously take all those matters into account, and theirs is a substantial rural area.

Lord Vinson, the former chairman of the Rural Development Commission, wrote to The Times this week stating that he thought that the change would bring more benefit to rural areas than a dozen well-intentioned rural white papers. He went on to say: A comprehensive survey carried out by the Rural Development Commission when I was chairman from 1980 to 1990 clearly showed that small outside contractors—builders, foresters, gardeners—would benefit greatly from an extra hour in the afternoon, as would tourism and sports through better utilisation of their facilities. That is certainly what people in the rural areas in my constituency with which I am familiar, and elsewhere, feel.

Several hon. Members


Mr. MacGregor

I am sorry, but I cannot give way.

I shall now deal with the issue of life style. The change would produce an increase of about 35 per cent. in daylight hours, during which people who want to engage in outside activities such as sport or gardening would benefit. I have found that large numbers of gardeners in my constituency prefer to do their gardening when they come home from work rather than before they go to work in the morning. Their wives also prefer to garden at that time. Those people will benefit from the substantial extra time, not just at the height of summer, but in the spring and earlier.

The measure will greatly benefit sport and recreation; that is why so many of the sporting organisations strongly favour the change. It has absolutely nothing to do with time zones or the European Union but relates entirely to people's life styles. It is subsidiarity at work in the United Kingdom, and that is another strong argument.

I shall now deal with the business argument. The hon. Member for East Lothian said that he preferred common sense and experience to dodgy data. He dismissed the data as dodgy because they did not support his case. Common sense and experience applies in the business world too, and those who run companies know when benefits are to be had from a change. It is highly significant that there are clear benefits not just in the City and not only in terms of the European Union but in dealing with far eastern markets, as Sir Nicholas Goodison, the chairman of the TSB, has said.

Large numbers of businesses throughout the country doing business in the European Union and in other European countries see clear benefits. The leaders of many British multinational companies made that clear in a letter to The Times earlier this week. The experience of the CBI, not just in the City and in the south but throughout England, is that a substantial number of business men are in favour of the change. Most of those who are against are in Scotland, and that brings me to the Scottish argument.

As a Scot, who attended St. Andrew's university, I well understand that there will be difficulties for some groups in Scotland. The main arguments that we have heard today are the only ones so far advanced against the Bill. However, it is clear that there are changing views among many Scots, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West made an important point about farmers. It used to be believed that farmers were among the groups most against a change. As a former Minister of Agriculture, who is still in touch with the agricultural community, I assure the House that that is no longer the case. Many groups of farmers know that the change would be beneficial to them, many are neutral on the subject and some are against, but it is wrong to say that the farming community is against it.

There would be considerable benefits. Of course, I understand that there are some beef and hill farmers in Scotland who will find the change unhelpful. However, when there are so many substantial benefits for the majority of the United Kingdom and an overwhelmingly compelling case, can we for ever say that, because of the disadvantages to certain groups of people in certain parts of the country, we should never make progress? That is the key point as far as the Scottish argument is concerned.

It is clear to me that, apart from all the other advantages, such as safety and life style, the savings to the economy from the benefit to the tourist and other industries will he massive. Those savings would have a far greater effect on the profitability and economic competitiveness of those industries than minor changes in interest rates or company taxation. We can make a change which may have some disadvantageous effects on some parts of country but which has huge benefits for the rest. We should not underestimate those economic benefits.

Even if the Bill does not make progress, the arguments that have been advanced have shown the benefits, and we would be right to make the change. I am very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West for enabling the arguments to he advanced and for showing just how narrowly focused on one part of the country the objectors are. The Bill's time will come, and I strongly urge the Government to have the good sense, if the Bill is not passed, to take it up as a Government measure.

11.14 am
Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

I speak as a London Member of Parliament who strongly opposes the Bill. I must say—it has been mentioned already and I wish to reiterate it—that I regret the devious and almost, if it is not too strong a word, deceitful way in which the Bill has been presented and pushed. It has been implied that somehow we can produce extra daylight. The very name of the Bill, mentioning extra daylight, misleads people.

The whole case for the Bill is built on myths and statistics which we could argue about for the rest of the day, and on reports that other reports have disproved. As in every subject of academic research, we will be able to find academics who can point the argument in either direction. The only definite proof we have is the experiment that was carried out, and we know that the result of that experiment was that, by a very large majority—almost unanimously—hon. Members opposed it. I have not yet seen one bit of evidence that has shown that anything has changed since that original experiment.

Mr. Butterfill

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Hoey

No, the hon. Gentleman spoke for an hour and he did not convince me. I do not think that he convinced many hon. Members.

I have made clear my views on the Bill in my constituency. I have also had four letters—two for and two against. I do not think that the Bill would make a positive difference for London people. In fact, I would argue that it would make many of my constituents' lives more miserable. Those people—there are not many of them in my constituency—who have a job, are already going to work and coming home in the dark. In London, the Bill would mean that even more people would have to go to work in the dark, and that would not be of any benefit to them. I admit that, in the summer time, it would be light for a while longer in London, but those people who want to get their children off the streets in the evenings and get them to bed at a reasonable time would find it even more difficult.

I strongly refute the evidence about accidents on the way home from school. As a child, I was not particularly awake first thing in the morning when I went to school. I walked down the road and got on the bus almost like a robot. More children going to school in the dark means a greater risk in the morning than in the afternoon. The rush hour extends over a longer period in the afternoon than in the morning, when everyone is rushing to get to work. Children would be more at risk, and not one statistic has disproved that.

I also refute the arguments about leisure, women and safety. People have talked nonsense about criminals. I have certainly got a few criminals in my constituency and they are very clever. They would not say, "My goodness, Members of Parliament have voted to change the time—that's ruined my way of making a living." They would just change the way they work. As a woman who runs in the morning, I believe that it would he more dangerous to run in the dark. Many women and men who go running before they go to work would find it extremely difficult—not in Scotland, which is another issue, but here in London and in other parts of the country.

The report from De Montfort is worth reading, and I hope that people have read it. It does not claim to have absolute evidence about accident statistics, but it refutes the specific link between darkness and accidents. Many other factors must be taken into account. The Bill is based on very little evidence and a number of myths. Moving the clocks forward has been promoted as some kind of magical change that would improve safety and our quality of life. It could not achieve those goals, and I believe that it would divert attention away from the real measures that are needed to improve safety on our roads. I urge everyone to oppose the Bill.

11.17 am
Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

I agree with the comments of the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey). We started with the fiction that the Bill would bring extra daylight, and the debate has already shown that there would be no extra daylight, only a redistribution of what is currently available.

We should consider the sponsors of the Bill. Only one is a Scot with a constituency in Scotland—the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). The other Scot who has sponsored the Bill, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), represents a constituency that is east of Greenwich, where the Bill would probably have a more favourable effect that anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

It is notable that two other sponsors of the Bill, my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) and the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), both voted against the summer time experiment in the 1970 debate. That was the only informed debate in the House that any hon. Member could remember. They voted against the experiment just after it finished, when road traffic accident statistics were up to date and all the information was before us.

That debate concluded with a vote on 2 December 1970, when it was decided by a substantial majority not to continue the experiment. As the hon. Member for East Lothian said, the figure was 366 votes to 81—a majority of 285. We cannot just throw that debate out of the window, because, as I said, it was held when everyone was on the ball about what had happened in the previous two years.

Mr. Maxton

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Hector Monro

Of course I shall give way to my pair.

Mr. Maxton

I am grateful to my pair for giving way. If he has read the Library research paper on the subject, he will know that, despite the large vote here against the experiment at that time, the public opinion polling evidence was then in favour of retaining the experiment, not getting rid of it.

Sir Hector Monro

The House should not legislate on the basis of public opinion polls and pressure groups. We should legislate as Members of Parliament representing our constituents. Those who oppose the Bill believe that their constituents do not want it. The vote of 1970 should not he disregarded, as it was important and a true reflection of the opinion of the House. British summer time was discounted then, and is discounted now, as has been shown by the countless letters and newspaper correspondence over the past couple of months.

It is also wrong for my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West and others to disregard the De Montfort university research paper, which is just as well-founded as any of the other research papers that have mentioned. Research has been carried out at Heriot-Watt university, the Road Transport Laboratory and the Scottish transport office; they all have points to make that must be considered, not disregarded, as my hon. Friend did earlier.

Following the 1970 vote, a consultative Green Paper was introduced—Cm. 722 of 1989—and came to no conclusions. It rehearsed the history of the 1916 introduction for wartime reasons, and the 1939 defence regulations. But those measures were designed to help the war effort, and no assessment was made of their popularity at the time.

Cm. 722 accepted that there were severe disadvantages for many people and many widely different types of employment, but the Bill's supporters rubbish the attitude. of those from Scotland, the north of England, Ireland, Wales and, of course, the west of England. The paper said that 86.2 per cent. of the responses from Scotland were in favour of the status quo, which did not include double summer time. There were only 25,000 responses in England in favour of the change to summer time.

Scottish opinion has been backed up by the Scotland on Sunday poll and by the Edinburgh Evening News poll, which were both conducted in recent weeks. Everyone should read the informed debate of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, which came down firmly on the side of the status quo.

Mrs. Anne Campbell

The right hon. Gentleman is a Scottish Member. Has he consulted the Scottish skiing industry, one of the most up-and-coming tourist attractions in Scotland? At new year, one of the most popular times for skiing in the Cairngorms, there is little daylight at the end of the day—it starts to get dark at 3.30 pm, and people are driven off the slopes. Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that a change would improve the prospects for that important industry in Scotland?

Sir Hector Monro

It would not make the slightest difference. People have only to get up and be on the slopes at daylight, and they are ready to ski.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

I have heard representations from the skiing industry, which is important in my area—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman appreciates that, as he frequently comes to my constituency. He will be aware that the last thing the ski industry wants is the possibility of people leaving the ski slopes at the very time that school buses, minibuses and parental cars are collecting children and are on the roads, as that would enhance the possibility of accidents rather than decrease it.

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Lady makes an important point. If one is a keen skier, one will he on the slopes at the crack of dawn and daylight, and will remain there until dusk; it does not matter what the clock says.

Mr. Bill Walker

With his long experience of the sport, my right hon. Friend will have a greater understanding of what goes on on the ski slopes than the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell). Does he recollect that most of the business is carried out at the weekends? I say that as someone in whose constituency the skiing industry is active. As most of the work is done at weekends, changing the hours will not have any effect.

Sir Hector Monro

My hon. Friend is right—what the skiing industry needs is not more daylight, but more snow. We cannot be governed by polls or referendums. The polls very much depend on the question asked and the emotion put into it—particularly in relation to schoolchildren.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West believes in democracy, and it is not just a matter of simple majorities; we must understand the impact of such measures on all people; one must be considerate of others when making decisions. He said that the subject was a north-south issue, but it is as much an east-west issue. We must take into account the fact that Edinburgh is west of Liverpool—there is a north-west/south-east slant in the United Kingdom. The further west one goes, as the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) knows, the more serious the problem becomes.

What would the people of London say if the Bill were imposed on them and they were in darkness at 10.15 in the morning? I think that there would be a riot.

Mr. McWilliam

It would be a mistake to regard the vote as a Scottish-British one. Although I have a Scottish accent, I live in England, but I can see Scotland from my bedroom window. I think that I live slightly further north than the right hon. Gentleman.

Sir Hector Monro

I agree—I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman has such a splendid view of something worthwhile when he gets up. But he would not see it at all if the Bill were to be enacted. I absolutely support him, and the north of England Members.

Apart from the hon. Member for Cathcart, no hon. Member north of Leicester has sponsored the Bill. People who know what the reality is would not sponsor the Bill, and I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman, although I do not want to disagree with him. When I drove to the Scottish Grand Committee in the morning on Monday, I had my car headlights on at 9.15 am—that would have been 10.15 am had the Bill been passed. It is ridiculous to think that we should be governed by pressure groups that advocate the Bill.

There has been no proper test of public opinion since the Vote in the House of Commons. I am disappointed at the number of pressure groups that have been peddling inaccurate information. Some people say that we should have two time zones in the United Kingdom. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West has never accepted that proposal, which is ludicrous. I live within 10 miles of the border, and if the time zone changed at the border, it would create problems involving trains, work and other matters. We should not even consider such a proposal.

The 1989 Green Paper, which was inconclusive, notes the strong opposition to change among those involved in trade, agriculture, forestry, the construction industry, and the manufacturing and distributive industries in the United Kingdom, and particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It was not right to rubbish the contribution of the Communication Workers Union. The letter from the deputy general secretary makes it clear. It states: On all these counts—and not least the effect this dangerous move will have on the country's postal workers—I ask you to vote against the Bill when it comes to the House…next week. The union does not shilly-shally by saying that the Bill will not make any difference. It believes that the Bill would make a difference, and that is why I strongly advocate its view.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has also produced an excellent brief on the Bill. One cannot dismiss that document lightly, because COSLA represents all the local authorities of Scotland. It has gone to immense trouble to canvass each authority for its view, including my authority of Dumfries and Galloway, which is firmly against the Bill.

Mr. Maxton

The right hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the Government who introduced the poll tax in Scotland. COSLA sent him a brief condemning that outright, so why did he not listen then to what it said?

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Gentleman is the last man I want to have a row with in the House, but he must not try to divert me into a discussion about issues in the dim and distant past.

The briefing from COSLA makes it absolutely clear: The introduction of Central European Time is rejected as this would only lead to darkness in Scotland continuing well into the morning. We should support that well-argued brief.

Mr. David Marshall

COSLA has also expressed concern about the additional heating costs that would be incurred as a result of the Bill. It refers to public buildings, but the same argument could be extended to private buildings and domestic ones. People are having trouble paying their heating bills because of the imposition of VAT, so does the right hon. Gentleman not think it is nothing short of disgraceful that they would have to burn their heating for even longer should the Bill he passed? Does he share COSLA's concern about that?

Sir Hector Monro

I know that electricity has got cheaper as the months have gone by, and I do not want to discuss the, VAT issue, but I accept that COSLA is right, and that the Bill would lead to increased heating costs for many people.

Road safety is the key issue upon which the promoters of the Bill have concentrated. They have done so not only because the facts are at their fingertips but because it is an emotive subject. I am not in any way complacent about the death of any child in Scotland or the United Kingdom, but we must look at the facts, and we should not be guided too much by the figures that have been presented.

The figures most generally quoted are those collected by the Transport Research Laboratory between 1969 and 1970. I do not believe that they can be extrapolated into 1996. We have every right to look as closely at the figures produced by the transport statistics branch of the Scottish Office, which are up to date— in fact, they were produced this week—as those produced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West.

People have asked deviously why those figures were published just this week, but we had to have those figures, because the Bill had its Second Reading today. If there had been no Bill, there would have been no hurry to get the figures, but that does not mean that they have not been accumulated accurately.

Those figures reflect the great changes in the past 25 years in the record on road safety. Britain is now, fortunately, at the bottom of the world league for road deaths. We have made tremendous strides forward, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of State, who has done so much for road safety by introducing measures to change road design and lighting, and by introducing other safety measures and road calming systems. The changes in the drink-driving law have also made great differences. As hon. Members on both sides of the House already said, if the Bill were passed it would be difficult to continue the gritting and road maintenance that takes place early in the morning.

It is clear from the figures that there is no firm answer one way or the other. It cannot be conclusively proved that road safety would be enhanced by the Bill.

My right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), using his considerable knowledge, referred to the economic factors in favour of the Bill. Those benefits have been over-emphasised, because world financial markets are now particularly flexible. Everyone lives with fax machines, computers and God knows what, and the time zone is not crucial. Sometimes it is an advantage to have a little breathing space in the morning or in the evening when one is not in direct communication with one's opposite number in the world financial markets. It is important to record that the CBI in Scotland has come out 73 per cent. against the Bill, and that is what matters.

I am astonished by the efforts of my hon. Friends to suggest that the Bill does not matter to farmers. Of course it does. I am a farmer—that is in the Register, too—and I know what it is like to milk cows at 5.30 or 6 o'clock in the morning. Those in favour of the Bill should not try to quote one or two farmers and suggest that all farmers are in favour of the Bill.

The Scottish NFU has made it clear: The Union wants to maintain the status quo and seeks your support in ensuring that the Scottish farming industry is not severely disrupted by the introduction of this measure. It could not be plainer—that is what the principal body representing farmers in Scotland thinks.

We do not want to be carried away with the arguments of someone with a multi-million pound combine, with traffic lights—I mean floodlights—a television inside, and all the rest of it, who may drive around his fields in Berwickshire or East Lothian. The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) is well aware that I am talking about livestock farmers, who are preponderant in all aspects of farming in Scotland.

Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham)

My right hon. Friend is aware that he and I share a constituency boundary. My constituency is further north than a lot of Scotland, which is possibly why I have found myself on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

Many livestock farmers cannot simply change their day as my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) has suggested, because many of them have other jobs. They cannot survive on simple hill farming. They have to get up early in the morning, check their beasts in the daylight, and then go off to work in forestry, driving lorries and other jobs. Often, their womenfolk do the same. It is impractical and impossible for those farmers simply to change their working day.

Sir Hector Monro

My hon. Friend could not put it better, and I know that he has great experience of what is going on in the hill farms in his area, which marches with mine on the border.

I do not want to discuss farming further, because it is plain sailing that the farming industry, irrespective of one or two farmers who have written to Ministers or Back Benchers, is against the proposed change.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

The right hon. Gentleman and I probably have more knowledge of the farming industry in Scotland than his hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) does. Does he agree that, rather like the poll published in this morning's edition of The Press and Journal, farmers in. Scotland will be 85 per cent.-plus against the measure from Bournemouth?

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Gentleman has great knowledge of his constituency, and no doubt took with a pinch of salt whatever one branch of Buchan farmers voted recently.

The importance of the Bill to tourism has been grossly exaggerated. As far as I am aware, the Scottish tourist board is neutral on the Bill. We are concerned with what matters between 3.30 and 5.30 on a midwinter's evening in Scotland. Tourists are not particularly interested in travelling around on such days, and if they were on holiday, they would be enjoying indoor recreation rather than outdoor recreation.

It is making far too much of the Bill to suggest that it would help the tourist industry. Tourists are wise enough to know about daylight hours, and they will not travel to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland just because they might get an extra hour's daylight.

Mr. Gallie

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the most pleasant times of day in Scotland is early morning, when the dew is on the ground, and the light is up at about 7 or 8 o'clock? Many tourists take advantage of that. At other times in Scotland, it is still daylight at 11 o'clock at night, so how much more light does the tourist want?

Sir Hector Monro

Those are good practical points.

I am sorry that the views of the police in Scotland appear-to have been misquoted. The chief constables are against the Bill and the Scottish Police Federation, which represents the rank and file, is strongly against the Bill. It is wrong that its name should have been taken in vain by various organisations.

It is much the same with sport as it is with tourism. Goodness knows, I have been involved with sport as much as anyone in Scotland. If one wants to play a round of golf, one starts at 12 o'clock, whatever the time of dusk is in midwinter in Scotland. Not many people really want to play outdoor activities between 3.30 and 5.30 in the evening, when it is cold, miserable and damp.

There is no problem in the more formal games. They kick off at 2 o'clock in December and January in Scotland, allowing plenty of time for people to see the game played by 3.30 pm and get into the pavilion in the dark, and have fun and games for the rest of the night. The benefits of the Bill to sport are over-emphasised. There is no advantage in starting the game at 3 o'clock rather than 2 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, when one has had all morning to get to the match, and the sooner one gets it played and into the bath and into the bar the better.

That goes for football, rugby, hockey and all other games. I am sure that even the skiers take a similar approach. I am glad that the Scottish Sports Council is neutral on the subject.

I do not accept the argument that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) made about gardening. Who the hell will start digging their garden at 4.30 pm in December or January, when one should not be doing it anyhow?

Mr. MacGregor

I did not speak about December and January; I spoke about later months. However, is not the substance of my right hon. Friend's argument that there are differences in Scotland? Every single argument that he has made is regarded differently in other parts of the country.

Sir Hector Monro

No, I do not think so. Later in the year for gardening, one has daylight anyhow, so what is there to be fussed about?

The key is that the Bill is not wanted in the north of England or Scotland or Wales—or the west of England, believe—and it is certainly not wanted in Northern Ireland. We have had excellent work and support from Sunrise. It has made good arguments, and many of us have been able to develop them today.

This is a very bad Bill for Scotland, and a bad Bill for England, especially the north and west of England, and for Northern Ireland. I hope that we shall do everything possible, not only to block the Bill today, but if necessary to block it in Committee.

11.41 am
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

I shall be exceedingly brief, for a good reason. In all political parties, there are supporters of reform and supporters of reaction. My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) wishes to speak on behalf of the latter, and I hope that, if I am brief, there may be time for him to speak.

The right hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) way well speak for Scotland—I do not pretend to do so—but he certainly does not speak for the west of England, or, I believe, for Wales. Any suggestion in what he said that he was so doing is outrageous, because it is not true. The argument is as much an east-west argument as it is north-south.

Mr. Maxton

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Tyler

No; I shall not give way to anyone; I shall be very brief.

As it is an east-west argument, it is sensible to quote the opinions of the Council of the Isles of Scilly—one cannot go farther west than that. The right hon. Member for Dumfries appeared to say that we should listen to the minorities and overlook the views of the majority, so let us listen to the council for the Isles of Scilly: It might be useful to let you know that the Council of the Isles of Scilly has backed the campaign now for some time. The Isles of Scilly Tourist Board passed its support for the campaign in December 1994 and reaffirmed their support in October 1995. The second airing came about because a member of the Council wanted to debate the possibility of declaring unilateral Scilly time bringing us into line with Europe.

Mr. Home Robertson

That is what he is doing.

Mr. Tyler

Although members turned away from this delightful anarchy, it does serve to illustrate the strength of support that exists for that proposition,.

Mr. Bill Walker

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Tyler

No; I will not give way.

That opinion is supported throughout the tourist industry, not only in Cornwall but throughout the south-west and southern England, and, to my knowledge, in most parts of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Dumfries referred to the opinions of the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, who gave a unilateral knee-jerk reaction to the proposition, without consulting his board. I should like to hear the opinions of all organisations in the tourist industry in Scotland.

Organisations such as the British Resorts Association, the Association of County Councils and the Council for Travel and Tourism support the proposed change. There is support throughout the holiday industry. In the premier destination area of the United Kingdom—Devon and Cornwall, which I am proud to represent—here is almost overwhelming support for that proposition.

I want to discuss especially the opinions of the farming industry, which have rightly been given much weight in the debate, but I fear not proportionately to the number of farmers in the United Kingdom. As part of my responsibilities in the House, I travel throughout the United Kingdom. I meet farmers and growers in every part of the United Kingdom. I discuss issues of policy and practice.

The issue that we are debating is not uppermost in those people's minds in any part of the United Kingdom. There are many much more important issues. In the past few weeks, I have' attended county annual meetings of the NFU in many places. The issue has only been mentioned occasionally after the main business has been undertaken, and I have found overwhelming support for the change, for very practical reasons.

It is an urban illusion—one or two hon. Members who have spoken sounded as though they were falling for it—that farmers and growers are clock-watchers. Of course they are not. Their lives arc dominated not by what the hands on the clock say, but by climatic conditions. They are dominated by the time of the year. They are infinitely adjustable. No farmer looks at the clock: he looks at the clouds. That is as true of Cornwall as it is of Scotland.

I am not a farmer, but I have lived all my life surrounded by farmers, and some members of my family farm. I know only too well that they adjust to the suitable conditions of their area.

It is true that there was concern among dairy farmers years ago when the experiment was undertaken, and when previous attempts were made to change the clock, for a simple reason. In those days, there was a fixed time for the arrival of the tanker lorry. That is gone. The milk tanker may arrive at any time in the 24 hours now—perhaps 3 o'clock in the morning. It does not make a ha'p'orth of difference to dairy farmers now when the dairy tanker arrives, because they have to adjust to their own concerns—their life style and their animals.

Livestock do not wake up to the alarm clock. They wake up to suit the time of day that the sun gives. Therefore, although nowadays some dairy farmers milk three times a day, or once a day—it is not always twice and longer—they are adapting to their own circumstances, and it is absurd to suggest that they will be put out by the clock.

The right hon. Member for Dumfries referred to some evidence taken from farmers some years ago. Let me bring him up to date. The Agricultural Development Advisory Service report, published in October 1995, said that the option covered by the Bill would lead to some required change to meet the needs of time critical operations. However, the negative impact of adopting either of these options"— the other was an even more substantial change— is small and will be compensated by other advantages. That is the carefully considered opinion of ADAS, and that is the view of the great majority of farmers in England and Wales. We have heard evidence of farmers from Scotland taking a similar view, and I can quote a farmer in East Kilbride, who writes: What is even more of a puzzle is the impression that 'Scotland is against' such reform. This is rubbish! As for my fellow farmers; this area is all dairy and at this time of year the herds are kept inside and as far as I know all of them `have the electric'! There is no unanimity of view in the farming community in Scotland, and there is overwhelming support for the change in England and Wales.

Of course this is a matter of balance. Often, issues that come before us in the House are a matter of balance. We must weigh in the balance whether the strong view of a very small minority must be allowed to overwhelm the argument, to the disadvantage of a very considerable majority—the overwhelming majority of the holiday industry, and, in my view, a very considerable majority of farmers and growers throughout the country.

After all, farmers and growers often operate in areas of sporadic development where the roads are poorly lit. Their children are as much, if not more, at risk on long-distance journeys to and from school during the dark evenings. Farmers have children, too, and many farmers have told me that their family concerns would override any minor misgivings they might have about their working lives.

I have not been a Member for Parliament for very long—although I was here some time ago. I have watched the proceedings of Parliament many times, and I have found that, if one is not sure which way to vote, it is good practice to look at those who offer reasoned arguments in support of either side. If in doubt, one should look at the friends of an argument, as one can learn a great deal from them.

Those hon. Members who favour reform might like to take note that the hon. Members for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), for Chingford (Mr. Smith) and for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)—

Hon. Members

And the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce).

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

And our right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).

Mr. Tyler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon for that gazetteer. I regard the hon Members for Billericay, for Southend, East, for Chingford, for Tayside, North and the right hon. Member for Stirling as an excellent traffic light—to adopt the expression of the hon. Member for Dumfries. When they say stop, I want to go.

11.49 am
Sir Peter Lloyd (Fareham)

I agree with the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) on almost every point. He is quite right to say that farmers look not at the clock, but at climatic conditions. Any change to. daylight hours will prove inconvenient for some of them, although it will be very helpful for others. However, it is not a prime consideration for most farmers, who make up their minds individually about the wider issues—particularly about any effects on their families and their wider social life.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) on introducing the Bill. He has not chosen the easy option; he has not picked up a Government handout. Nevertheless, it is an important issue, which must be debated seriously and thoroughly. It must not be evaded or giggled into touch merely because it has created very real controversy, particularly in one part of the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend spoke most effectively, and I will not recapitulate his points exhaustively. He covered a great many of the reasons why many organizations—including those associated with business, but many others with no such connections—support the change that his Bill would introduce. He explained why public opinion in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as measured by public opinion polls, shows such strong majorities in favour of the measure, and why there is clearly solid support for it in Scotland, as well as the strong opposition that always arises when the matter is discussed.

The Bill assumes that, as daylight hours are short in winter, we must adjust the clock to make the very best use of the available daylight. No setting is ideal to meet everyone's work, school and leisure needs. However, it is plain that most people can make better use of daylight in the late afternoon or early evening rather than first thing in the morning. That is particularly true of sporting and leisure activities, and moving the clocks forward in winter would give people an average extra 50 minutes of daylight in which to pursue those activities.

That is why the measure would be disproportionately beneficial to those activities, and why it enjoys so much support from the organisations that promote sport, tourism and leisure. It is no wonder that they have come out very strongly in favour of the Bill. Some of the organisations are commercial bodies and some are not, but their names can be found on the list of supporters because they know what the public, who take advantage of their services, really want.

Many people, particularly the elderly, feel that they arc trapped indoors by the dark when the sun sets very early during winter. Fear of crime or accidents keeps them inside, cutting them off from friends and social activities for a considerable part of the day during much of the year. It is no wonder that Age Concern also supports the Bill.

The police believe that lighter evenings will reduce the kind of crime that is usually committed under cover of darkness. Some of those criminal activities may take place later during the night, but certainly few will be shifted to the early hours of the morning. As my hon. Friend said, burglars are not noted for being early risers.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) asked, why then are the police deployed more during the day than at night? The answer is quite simple. First, the police, like everyone else, would prefer to work during daylight hours; and, secondly, the public like to see the police on the beat during the day. However, if the police were better deployed, many more would work during the late evening and at night. Their crime prevention hours should not coincide entirely with the times that crimes are committed, because criminal cases must be investigated and solved, and it is better to do that during the day. The hon. Gentleman made an interesting point, but it does not support his other arguments.

The most striking argument in favour of the Bill is the analysis produced by the Transport Research Laboratory, which shows that there will be substantial net reductions in accidents if single/double summer time is adopted. I shall not dwell on it, because my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West has explained it at some length. It was also mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), who has great experience in these matters as a former Secretary of State for Transport.

The findings of the Transport Research Laboratory have just been reviewed and endorsed by Dr. John Russell of Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh, who will have no southern bias.

It is therefore surprising that, at the eleventh hour, the Scottish Office has produced a paper that suggests that the Transport Research Laboratory and Herriot-Watt have got it wrong. But perhaps not so surprising, as my energetic right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has not been at the Scottish Office very long. No doubt he wanted to galvanise the Department to find any evidence that the important work carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory was wrong.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Is the hon. Gentleman familiar with the work of Strathclyde region, which was not produced at the last minute but was carried out over a number of years, examining figures from the 1990s? Its conclusions were directly contrary to those of the Transport Research Laboratory. Will the hon. Gentleman concede that research finds on both sides, not one side, of the argument, and that the report produced by Strathclyde region represents a powerful argument for Scottish Members?

Sir Peter Lloyd

I am happy to concede that the statistics are complicated, and that there are differences of opinion. The fact that we have only just received the research by Scottish Office—not all the figures are available—is a good reason for considering the Bill in Committee, where hon. Members can examine the figures. I support the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) in his request that the Bill should be committed to a Special Standing Committee. It would be valuable and right to consider all the arguments.

If the findings of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are correct, that proves only that the Bill would make no difference to accidents. We would still have to consider all the other arguments, which are considerable. However, my right hon. Friend has helped to shoot down one of the main arguments of those who oppose the Bill—that it would lead to more accidents involving children travelling to school in the morning.

Perhaps the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) will have the opportunity to make a speech enlarging on that point. He believes that it will make no difference.

Mr. Salmond


Sir Peter Lloyd

If the argument is between those that say that it will not have much effect on accident figures and those who say—with very good evidence—that it will make a great deal of difference, we should not just give the Bill a Second Reading, but ensure that it reaches the Statute Book, so that we can test it out.

We should not bandy across the Chamber light-hearted aspersions on research with which we may or may not not agree. If the Transport Research Laboratory research is right, we could be saving lives. It is much more serious than looking at all the research and taking our pick of that which coincides with our prejudice.

I would be happy to support an amendment in Committee to adopt the change for two years. There should then be a review and a new vote as to whether it should continue. It is difficult for those who argue that it will not make much different to cast aside the opportunity to test the opinion—which many believe to he well-founded—that it would save lives and prevent injuries.

Mr. Salmond

The result of the trial run between 1960 and 1971 was a huge vote in the House to discontinue the experiment. I did not cite the Scottish Office report, but that of Strathclyde region, which is devastating in its indictment of the Department of Transport figures, and reaches exactly the opposite conclusion from studying actual road conditions in Scotland. Scottish Members of Parliament are. much influenced by that report.

Sir Peter Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman is serious about serious research, he must agree to give the Bill a Second Reading, so that it can be fully discussed in Committee. Important matters should not be dismissed and thrown aside with comments across the Chamber that cannot be based on analysing research that does not support the views that some hon. Members hold.

Mrs. Helen Liddell (Monklands, East)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that pilot studies undertaken by Strathclyde region in 1986 and 1993 specifically examined the effect of change across the region? Strathclyde is roughly half the size of Scotland, so it encompasses a wide range of weather conditions. Strathclyde region's research clearly places a question mark over research extrapolated 25 years ago. Should we not be taking decisions based on up-to-date evidence, such as that of Strathclyde region?

Sir Peter Lloyd

The Transport Research Laboratory tried to take into account all the changes since the original trial. The results of the trial period were not available to the House when it decided to end it. We should seriously study all research by competent people, and it is doubly incumbent on us to do so when research reaches different conclusions.

We are talking about people's lives and serious injuries. It behoves us to reach a proper decision, and we cannot do that unless the Bill goes into Committee. At this point, I am convinced by the Transport Research Laboratory's findings, which seem much more thorough—but, unlike some right hon. and hon. Members, I am more open-minded, and would like to examine all the research further.

The least important benefit is that to UK industry, including in Scotland, of using the same time zone as the rest of western Europe. As a long-standing Eurosceptic, I do not want to follow Europe for the sake of harmonisation, but believe that being on the same clock will help this country more than our competitors. As the UK is one hour behind the rest of Europe and it is one hour ahead, it is more difficult for UK business people to attend a day's meeting on the continent than for Europeans to come here. The lack of congruence of office hours hurts us more than them. That is not a decisive point, but it is part of the argument.

Small businesses are certainly in favour of change. My hon. Friend the Minister might find interesting a letter that I received from the Federation of Small Businesses, which ends: If there was a choice between the 1996 Finance Bill and Mr. Butterfill's Private Member's Bill (which would advance by one hour, the time for general purposes throughout the year and lead to the above advantages), then I think I know which one the business community would like to see on the Statute Book. Perhaps the Government should withdraw the Finance Bill, and give the time over to my hon. Friend's measure.

The European Commission has never sought to impose CET on this country, but it is determined to synchronise the end as well as the start of summer time across the European Union.

The Commission is doing so by bringing the rest of Europe into line with us and adopting our change date at the end of October. The way is now clear for us to do ourselves a favour by simply not putting the clocks back in October 1997. We will not get an extra hour in bed on that occasion, but we will almost painlessly acquire the advantages of lighter winter afternoons. The decision should be taken in the light of our needs and interests, not those of Europe. On this matter, the Commission has not been pressing us to come into line with the rest of Europe—for once.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West on promoting this Bill, and I am sure that he will understand if I say that I am sorry he had to do so. I hope the Bill gets on to the statute book, but the odds are always against a private Member's Bill such as this.

I believe that the issue should have been brought to the House by a Government Bill on a free vote, although I understand why the Government have not yet done that. I am sure that they feared that the measure would get embroiled in the arguments over Europe, but I believe that the decision of the EU to follow us on the end date has removed that worry. The total lack of pressure to change our clocks to CET underlines that view.

More important, the Government were reluctant to ride roughshod over what appears to be Scottish opinion, and I do not want to do that either. The Government are right to heed Scottish feelings, but public opinion polls and plenty of Scottish organisations have shown that the Government have probably overestimated the hostility of Scots towards putting the clocks forward. I know that a number of Scottish Members of Parliament feel exactly that, and the Government may have heavily underestimated the support in Scotland for the measure.

Support for the measure in Scotland will grow as the benefits and disbenefits of the change are thoroughly discussed, for all the benefits that apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland will apply also to Scotland—particularly, according to the Transport Research Laboratory, those related to road accidents.

If my hon. Friend's Bill does not get through—I hope it does—I hope that the debate that he has set in train will lead to a more thorough and serious discussion in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, so that, at a later stage, the Government can introduce a Bill that comes to a sensible conclusion that suits the whole of the United Kingdom.

12.6 pm

Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles)

My immediate predecessor as the hon. Member for the Western Isles spoke at length the last time that the House debated this topic in 1970, and I am grateful to have been called to speak today. It is instructive to look at that debate in 1970, because a number of supporters of the change today have made the point that individuals, groups and some hon. Members in Scotland are in favour of the change, and that was exactly the case then as well.

Among those speaking in favour of the change in 1970 were the hon Members for Dundee, West, for Glasgow, Provan and for Motherwell. Indeed, the then hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland voted to continue the experiment in 1970. There always will be a small number of people within Scotland who are in favour of such an experiment, but the fact is—as that debate showed—that they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by those who are bitterly opposed to it.

Among those speaking violently against the 1970 experiment were many hon. Members from south of the border. Hon Members from Buckinghamshire, Newcastle, Liverpool, Westmorland, Preston, Sunderland, Ipswich, Manchester, Dorset, Wiltshire and Chippenham all spoke strongly on the basis of real experience—not on the basis of a hypothetical projection—against the experiment, and that is why it was cast out by 366 votes to 81.

Contrary to the expectations of those who are on the margins of supporting the proposed change, they will find that, instead of it being welcomed and popular among constituents, if it is implemented, it will be bitterly resented.

We have heard much about the merits of various statistical analyses. The most important quality that we can bring to the debate is not numeracy or the ability to manipulate statistics but imagination. We need to imagine what it will be like if the proposed change is implemented. We need to imagine what midwinter mornings will be like when dawn arrives one hour later than at present. What will it be like for ourselves and our constituents to get up in pitch blackness, organise families in pitch blackness, get the children to school in pitch blackness, get ourselves to work and start to work in pitch blackness? We need to imagine exactly what that will be like.

Mr. David Marshall

My hon. Friend has described graphically what we all think will happen. Does he agree that one of the worrying trends in modern-day life is the number of people suffering from depression? There is nothing more depressing than getting up in darkness every day. Does he share my concern that, if the Bill were to become law, there could be a substantial increase in the number of people suffering from depression? It is a serious point that should concern us all.

Mr. Macdonald

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I am grateful to him. To get up in darkness is depressing, because it is profoundly unnatural. Our ancestors did not do it, but we have to because we must work in an industrial time scale. I have asked colleagues to imagine what it is like because most of us do not experience it, but we who live in the north and west already experience it. We do not have to imagine what it is like, because we live it during our winters.

Dawn in Stornoway today was almost exactly one hour after dawn in London. If the Bill is enacted, the impact upon places north and west in the United Kingdom will be profound. Stornoway will not become light until after 10 am. That is why I have received a vast number of representations from head teachers, schools, chambers of commerce, the tourist board, crofters and community councils in my constituency. They are all violently opposed to the proposed change.

I suggest to right hon. and hon. Members, especially those who admit, as I think the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) has, that—although they are in favour of the change—the argument is finely balanced. If it is considered that the benefits that might come about are marginal, they should weigh seriously the impact upon the communities that will be profoundly and adversely affected by the change; even though those communities may be small and remote. I do not think that Stornoway will be the worst-affected community. Probably the worst affected will be communities in the west of Northern Ireland. They should be considered as well.

The proposed change was voted out in 1970 because it will affect not only the north and west. We are talking not only about Scottish communities, farmers or people living in the north of the country. If the Bill becomes law, it will have an effect on the whole country. If it is enacted, London will henceforth experience, every winter, the same mid-morning darkness that we in the Hebrides presently experience. London will move to Stornoway time.

I suggest to colleagues from the south and the east who are tempted to vote for the Bill and who plead with us to experiment a little that we do not need to experiment. All they need to do is come to the north and the west and try things out for a winter before inflicting what we experience on their constituents. I warn those colleagues that I do not think that their constituents who live in the south and east will thank them for putting them on Stornoway time. They will not find it a pleasure or a relief; they will find it instead a dark, depressing and miserable experience.

Mr. Duncan Smith

We have heard the arguments for the change—about the forecasts and the prospects—but does the hon. Gentleman agree that, when one looks at the arguments against, it comes down to the simple fact that we did it once and it did not work'? If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Mr. Macdonald

The hon. Gentleman sums it up well and aptly. In the north of Scotland, we have to live with dark midwinter mornings. That is a geographical fact that we simply have to accept, but I cannot understand why those who live in the south and east of the United Kingdom should want to join us in that gloom. It would be touching, but completely barmy.

There has been much argument about the statistics, and hon. Members who find it difficult to argue the case on its sheer merits are falling back on statistics about accidents and road safety, but I believe that, when one looks at those statistics, one will see that they just do not stand up. We heard much about the accident rate for road users, but what about other groups—children, for example? The Government's White Paper, produced in 1989, examined all the arguments at that time, and I have had the benefit of seeing the report from the Transport Research Laboratory as well.

The White Paper warned specifically that the change could lead to more—not fewer—accidents involving children. On page 13, paragraph 41, the White Paper says: More school children would go to school in the dark in winter and would therefore be more exposed to danger. That warning is repeated in its conclusion. Proponents of the change must seriously consider the impact that it will have on children, not simply because children are an emotive group but because they are not responsible for their own safety. We are responsible for their safety.

The change will affect other groups as well. Farmers and crofters will be more at risk, as will construction workers and postal workers. I find it astonishing that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which supports the Bill, has not evaluated the impact on those other groups. When I asked it why it was supporting the Bill, it simply came back with data about road safety. It had made no study of the impact of the change on other groups in the community.

Mr. McWilliam

I recall that, many years ago, there was a break in the Meteorological Office telephone line to RAF Turnhouse, outside Edinburgh, which also served Edinburgh civil airport. It was an emergency. It had to be fixed. The wind was coming in at about 50 miles an hour and it was full of sleet. It took two of us, anchored to each other, to get up there and get that line repaired. If the Bill had been in force, it would have been pitch black at that time in the morning. As it happened, mercifully there was still some light, but it was an extremely dangerous thing to have to do.

Mr. Macdonald

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that point.

If one disregards the impact that the change will have on children—which we should not do—and other groups in the community, in terms of the great likelihood of accidents, we are left with the core of the argument for making the change: the claim that it will reduce the number of road accidents and the fatalities that result each year. I find it a deeply unimpressive argument. I do not want to go into the other reports that have been produced to show how unimpressive the argument is, as other colleagues have mentioned them already. I shall simply accept on its merits the case that has been made by the proponents of the change, and weigh up what they are claiming.

The proponents claim that, based on a 25-year-old experiment projected into a hypothetical future, the net reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads would be 1.18 per cent. That figure is contained in table 7 of the Transport Research Laboratory's report. The overall reduction in casualties is predicted to be only 0.67 per cent.

We should look at those figures in perspective properly to understand the claims that have been made for the enormous change that the Bill would introduce. For example, the latest projection for road fatality reduction is 110 each year, as the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) said at the beginning of his speech. If we compare that to the actual reduction in 1991, based on the statistics provided by the Department of Transport press office, we find that road casualties declined by 649—not 110—in 1991, by 339 in 1992 and by 415 in 1993.

I acknowledge that every life is important. However, set against those year-on-year real reductions, a one-off hypothetical reduction of 110 is comparatively a drop in the ocean of the campaign to make roads safer.

Mrs. Gorman

I was a young schoolteacher at that time, and I recall the number of children who came to school on icy pavements, who slipped over and who had very bad accidents, including broken wrists and ankles. Those statistics have not been taken into account in the debate, let alone the number of old people going to work at that time in the morning.

Mr. Macdonald

That is a good point, and I am grateful to the hon. Lady for making it.

I have compared the claimed reductions with the real reductions that are achieved each year because of road safety improvements. Another way in which to examine the merits of the case made by the proponents of change is to compare the schemes that have been specifically designed to reduce accidents. The Transport Research Laboratory, which produced the much-cited report on improvements in road safety achieved by the changes in time, has produced other reports that examine specific traffic-calming schemes and their impact on road safety. I have received copies of those reports as well.

Specific road safety schemes, such as traffic-calming schemes and road humps, have reduced accidents not by the 0.67 per cent. which it is claimed the time change will achieve, but by 71 per cent. across the areas in which they were introduced. That is what I would call statistically significant, and a real and credible effort to improve road safety. I believe that it puts the projected reductions from the proposed time change in their proper perspective.

I ask a question of all hon. Members who support the Bill and, in particular, the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West who has proposed it. If they are seriously concerned about road safety, why does he not propose a private Member's Bill on traffic calming—for example, road humps around schools in all urban areas? He could achieve massive reductions in casualties and accidents, if he really wanted to achieve that. The road safety argument is, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, an obvious and blatant attempt to divert people from the real choice that they must face. It is an attempt to sugar a pill that people would otherwise find bitter.

I have no doubt that, if the Bill goes through, people will find, as they did in the late 1960s, that is a hateful and deeply unpopular experiment. It will be unpopular because it will not be right not only for communities such as the one that I represent in the Western Isles, but for Britain as a whole.

12.25 pm
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

When the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) re-reads his speech in 20 years time, he will find two major flaws in it. The first involves the statistical information about the Bill being unpopular. After the experiment 25 years ago, the information from the opinion polls showed that more people were in favour of continuing that experiment than of stopping it. To stand up and say what he did 25 years later, when the information in the House of Commons brief shows that the majority of people wanted it to continue, is to turn statistics on their head.

The second thing that I hope that the hon. Gentleman will notice is his use of the statistic that there will be a cut of, perhaps, 1 per cent. in the number of road deaths. I thought that the number of deaths on our roads is slightly under 3,500 a year, 1 per cent. of which is about 35. The estimate that most people are willing to accept is that we shall prevent about 110 deaths a year. That strikes me as being 3 per cent., not 1 per cent. The hon. Gentleman may have been talking about overall casualties, including the vast number of slight casualties. There may be some other figure, but my estimate is that the saving of 110 lives is about 3 per cent. of our annual road deaths.

Mr. Macdonald

I am using the Transport Research Laboratory's figures. If the hon. Gentleman considers table 7, he will find that the figures for overall casualties, slight ones included, is 0.67 per cent., but that the figure for killed and seriously injured is 1.18 per cent.

Mr. Bottomley

The figure that the hon. Gentleman later used for the number of lives was 110, which, I estimate, is around 3 per cent. of our road deaths.

According to the figures as first calculated, we might have saved more than 230 lives a year at the time of the experiment. Since then, however, as the hon. Gentleman has rightly said, we have made a significant improvement in reducing deaths on our roads. They are down to under 3,500. They may go up and down occasionally. I hope that the secular trend will continue downwards.

Let me take the average number of lives that would have been saved in the United Kingdom during the 25 years that we have not had the casualty-saving time arrangement, not as 230 or 110, but as 150 a year. That means 3,750 fellow citizens in this country have died unnecessarily because the House of Commons has not taken those lives seriously.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Bottomley

I will not give way now. I am making my own speech.

Across the nation, we rightly know about the child who, on a newspaper round, was crushed by a lorry. That is newsworthy. I am not arguing that this change of time would have saved her life, but the fact that she died in a road crash is national news. Think of that death multiplied 3,750 times since Reginald Maudling was Home Secretary, when he said that it seemed obvious that people who opposed the case felt more strongly than those who supported it.

I am in the House of Commons today to say that I believe that saving those 3,750 lives was a responsibility that the House of Commons should not have ducked. We pay attention when it is reported that there is an increase in the risk of thrombosis by the use of a contraceptive pill. That becomes national news, but we can let 3,750 people die unnecessarily in the past 25 years, partly because some people, such as the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson)—although this is not a party issue—say that he prefers to rely on common sense and experience rather than on the information that is there from the "Stats 19" report and from police services across the country.

If the Bill receives a Second Reading, I shall at once propose that the special procedure that would allow some of the information and disputes on casualties to be taken into account. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) would say whether he accepts that proposal.

Mr. Butterfill

Many hon. Members have called for the Bill to be referred to a Special Standing Committee, and on that basis I would not oppose such a motion.

Mr. Bottomley

The House should be grateful to my hon. Friend, not only for introducing the Bill and for his speech in which he gave some of the reasons why some people are opposed to the measure, but for his generosity in accepting that, if the Bill receives its Second Reading, the Special Standing Committee procedure can be used. As I say, that will allow casualty figures to be compared and discussed. It should be possible to get people from Strathclyde, from the Scottish Office and from the Transport Research Laboratory together. If that happens, we may discover that there is far less disagreement than appears in the debate.

I am glad that the Government decided not to privatise the Transport Research Laboratory, because we must be able to have confidence in its work. If a major problem arises between statisticians in the Scottish Office and the TLR, I suspect that what will become the national statistical organisation will get them together and sort it out. The reason for setting up the old Central Statistical Organisation was to make sure that Ministers, Parliament and the country had the benefit of agreed figures.

Casualties have been reduced because, in general, Government and Parliament have formulated policies that work. I regret that there is a growing trend of introducing measures, either for our own reasons or because of Europe, that do not necessarily work. The idea that a heavy goods vehicle driver must be able to read without glasses even though he requires them is ludicrous. The case for a ban on coaches using the third lane of motorways is unsubstantiated by the facts. However, whether casualties will be reduced by the proposed time change is not seriously disputed.

The figures from the experiment some 25 years ago show that the gains in Scotland were at least as great as those in other parts of the United Kingdom. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West said, there are many reasons for believing that they were better. I do not argue that conditions in the north of Scotland are the same as those in the central belt. The mass of Scotland's population is in the Strathclyde region, in the central belt. If the debate concerned only Scotland and was taking place there, and those of us from England, Wales and Northern Ireland were ignored, the debate should conclude that the change would be beneficial to Scotland and should be supported by its people.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is being politically quite clever, because by giving the impression that he is not yet convinced by the arguments, he allows the debate in Scotland to take place without the partisan "Let's all knock the Government" approach that might otherwise occur. I pay tribute to him for that. In. view of that stance, I hope that people in Scotland will leave party politics to one side, will become involved in the argument, and will demonstrate to my right hon. Friend and the House the overwhelming view that the change would benefit Scotland as a whole. I cannot argue for every person in Scotland: only for Scotland as a whole.

When I last asked questions on this subject, I was told by the then Secretary of State for Scotland, probably the one who estimated that there would be a significant saving of lives in Scotland when the measure was adopted, that there was no law telling farmers in Scotland at what hour they should go into the milking parlour. He also confirmed that there is no law in Scotland saying at what time building contractors should have their staff or self-employed subcontractors on site. It is up to people to make their own arrangements.

I shall now switch from the issue of casualties to the interests of the elderly, about which my right hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir P. Lloyd) spoke. In his constituency, the elderly make up about 17 per cent. of the population. My right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins), who is one of the sponsors of the Bill and to whom I referred in 1986 as one of the wise and honourable people in the House, has 35 per cent.—twice as many—people who are retired in his constituency.

As has rightly been said, those elderly people, in my constituency and elsewhere, value the extra hours of daylight at the time that they want to use it. If we, as Members of Parliament, write off the interests of those pensioners and retired people who want to be active, but who draw back into their homes when it gets dark, we would be betraying them. In the same way, we would be betraying the active young who, after school, want to get involved in worthwhile activities outside their homes. There is much to be said for video games, television and other activities that people do at home, but there is even more to be said for worthwhile activities such as the scouts, the Woodcraft Folk, athletics and other sports, and drama and music.

For all those reasons, as well as for the business ones—although the business people can speak for themselves—let us remember those people who get killed because in the House we have not bothered to take their interests into account in the way that we should.

12.35 pm
Mr. Peter Hain (Neath)

I do not want to challenge the good faith or sincerity of the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) in this matter: nor should he challenge that of hon. Members who take a different view. This is not a black and white issue, but one which requires very fine judgments and careful analysis.

Some of my best friends in the House will vote for the Bill, but I am strongly opposed to it. That is partly because I worked for the Communication Workers Union as its head of research for some 14 years, when I studied the matter carefully. I say with pride, and no defensiveness, that that union continues to have a relationship with me through supporting my local constituency office, but if it did not, I would still take the same view on the Bill, because it involves wider issues.

The arguments that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West and his supporters made in favour of the Bill are based on extraordinarily extravagant claims. The Bill is supposed to be a magical measure. It is argued that tourism would boom, trade would be boosted, leisure would be all-pervasive, and we would become a nation of evening golfers. Crime would, if not disappear, be reduced, and accidents would fall. With the exception of the issue of accidents, to which I shall return, those arguments are pure fantasy.

The idea that, if we changed the clocks by one hour, we would arrive at some kind of semi-utopia is nonsense. It is a product of lobbies with a phone, a fax and a fictionary. The arguments are extremely creative, to say the least. I have read that tourism would increase by £1 billion a year as a result of changing the clock by one hour. That stretches all credulity.

Are we seriously being asked to believe that people would decide whether to come to Britain on holiday on the basis of whether the clocks were put forward or back one hour? Imagine the scene in Europe. Families all over Europe are looking at brochures to decide whether to come on holiday to Scotland, Wales or England. Is it seriously argued that family Schmidt in Germany, family Le Brun in France and family Gonzales in Spain will decide, as they look through their brochures, to come to Britain because we have moved the clocks forward an hour? It is pure nonsense. Families might decide to come to Britain if we managed to get rid of some rain, but not because of a change in the time. We can dispose of that argument quickly.

The next argument that is advanced concerns trade. It is claimed that, if we brought ourselves into line with most—although not all—of Europe, our trade would jump up. We have had an accelerating increase in trade with the rest of the European Union although our time has been different from that in virtually all other European countries. That is a matter of fact, and the Bill would not change one jot our ability to trade with the rest of Europe. Indeed, it would harm the British economy, because we would be less able to trade easily with the United States of America—a point made by the chief executive of a Scottish engineering firm on the "Today" programme this morning. We have a window of at most two hours in a normal working day to do business with America, and that small opportunity would be reduced. The argument that the change would affect our trade with the far east is nonsense—the time difference with the far east is so great that it would make no difference.

In America, the fact that there are five time zones—if we include Hawaii—makes no difference to the country's ability to trade across its states. In many respects, it trades more efficiently than we do in Britain with a single time zone. We live in a global economy of 24-hour currency, financial dealings and business ventures.

Ms Roseanna Cunningham (Perth and Kinross)

Does the hon. Gentleman, with whom I agree, agree that trade between this country and Spain and Italy is far more disrupted by the three and four-hour lunch breaks in those countries than by the small matter of a one hour time difference?

Mr. Hain

The hon. Lady makes a valid point: the siesta factor is greater than the one-hour factor.

We are invited to believe that leisure will become easier because of the time change, but that argument is advanced against a background of British workers working longer than anyone else in Europe. Their hours have increased substantially over the past decade. There is not time for the average British worker to enjoy the extra hour that he or she would allegedly have in the evening. The argument is nonsense.

We are invited to believe that crime would be reduced. My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) made the point tellingly: the idea that the average criminal will alter his or her behaviour in response to a time change is fantasy. Such people are reasonably bright: if they are able to rob, mug and commit other crimes, they will do so regardless of whether the time changes by one hour. I shall rely on what the Home Office told the UCW journal a little over a year ago in 1994, when it said that, on the matter of crime, there has not been one piece of definitive evidence in support of a shift either way.

Mr. John Marshall

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, when the previous experiment took place, there was no evidence that the level of crime changed as a result? It is fatuous to suggest that one thing or the other would help; people should look at what happened during the experiment, when no reduction in crime could be related to the change.

Mr. Hain

I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman, who has made his point effectively.

On the subject of accidents, may I say—particularly in response to the rather highly charged speech of the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley)—that I have two boys. They are now hairy teenagers, but a few years ago they were tiny children. If I thought that it could be shown definitively, to my satisfaction, that, as a result of the change, accidents involving children and children's deaths would be reduced, that would weigh heavily on my mind, I have not been convinced. As my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) so ably demonstrated in a devastating indictment of the sort of analysis of accidents that is put forward by the Bill's supporters, they have not proved their case.

Many wild claims about accidents have been made on behalf of the Bill's supporters. I am not saying that they are cooking the figures, but they are being highly creative. I shall rely on the words of a Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling, who commented on the then Road Research Laboratory analysis of the same figures, which are now given in a different fashion in this debate. He said: The figures are not clear enough to base a decision upon. That was his conclusion at the end of a two-year live experiment. He also drew attention to a sad increase in child casualties between 6 pm and 7 pm"—[Official Report, 2 December 1970; Vol.807, c.1335.] The Pedestrian Association on Road Safety reported a net increase of 44 fatal child casualties in the first two years of the experiment. Parents with children were also up in arms about that experiment. We have already heard that, according to a national opinion poll conducted in February 1970, 79 per cent. of parents wanted a return to the old system. Parents were also concerned about the safety of paperboys and girls in the early morning dark hours. That factor has not been mentioned up to now.

An independent report entitled "The case against a move to Central European Time" has been produced, not by some partisan trade union outfit, but by the centre for occupational and environmental health policy research at De Montfort University, Leicester. It points out how complicated it is to make easy judgment on the accident figures. The report states: Claims that a move…would deliver a reduction in road traffic casualties are not proved. There is some evidence that road traffic accidents would in fact increase. It details a number of arguments why the accident figures relied on by supporters of the Bill do not stand up. It also draws attention to a House of Commons Library research paper, published in 1993, which concluded: the possibility of a small net increase in child and road casualties…cannot be ruled out.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

To add to the figures the hon. Gentleman has given, has he noticed those in the House of Commons Library brief, at the end of appendix 1? The figures for children between the ages of five and 15—which includes those of school age—killed or seriously injured during the experiment showed that, instead of the expected increase in accidents in the morning, there was a reduction of 14, and a reduction of 319 in the evening. Both figures are statistically significant.

Mr. Hain

I do not dispute what was reported in the House of Commons research paper, but the conclusion is slightly different from that reached in an earlier one. I could quote all the figures that my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles mentioned and the others that I have noted, but their significance is finely judged.

It is important to consider the number of workers who would be affected. In Britain, 1.6 million people are early morning workers. During the previous experiment, it was noted that, in the fourth quarter of 1967, compared with the fourth quarter of 1968, the number of building workers who died increased from 35 to 44, and accidents were up by 265.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

Can my hon. Friend tell me whether the De Montfort report was prepared by scientists who have world-class reputations as authorities on road safety statistics or by people in other specialties? The reports from the Transport Research Laboratory, which have been updated, have been accepted for many years as proving that the change suggested in the Bill would save at least 100 lives a year.

Mr. Hain

My hon. Friend may have a valid point—I pay tribute to his sincerity—in comparing the validity of the TRL report with the university report, but those reports must be weighed in the balance, and I do not think that we can dismiss the De Montfort report lightly.

During the previous experiment, the fatality rate per 1,000 construction operatives went from 13.5 in 1967 to 18.9 in 1969. That was the only occasion when the otherwise steady improvement in safety conditions on building sites was reversed.

According to the National Federation of Building Trades Employees, the experiment between 1968 and 1971 cost the building industry an extra £30 million. I asked the Library to update that figure to its current value, and it appears that the cost to the building industry would be £245 million. The business case advanced by supporters of the Bill must be weighed against that cost.

Government figures show that, during the experiment in 1968 to 1971, the number of accidents suffered by Post Office workers between the hours of 7 am and 9 am more than doubled from 1,104 to 2,287. Those were official Government figures.

The Post Office conducted a survey during November to February when the changes occurred—during the early morning darkness period. It found that the accidents to postmen while on delivery or outside work increased from 1,262 before the experiment started to 2,242 in the second year of the experiment—a massive increase. The Post Office also noted that there was a general increase in the time taken to complete first deliveries and that an increased number of lamp batteries and torches had to be used.

There are 90,000 Royal Mail delivery staff, of whom 10,000 are women, which was not the case during the experiment, as there has been a massive increase in the number of postwomen during the past 20 years. They must usually leave the sorting office by 6.45 am and they are out in the streets delivering between 7 am and 9.50 am in London and between 7 am and 9.30 am elsewhere. If the change were made, throughout most of the country in midwinter, postmen and women would make the entire first delivery in darkness. That is dangerous, not only because of weather conditions, but because of the risk of muggings. Postmen and women refuse to deliver in some no-go areas because of crime and attacks on them.

Mr. Flynn

So that we may assess the importance of those accidents, will my hon. Friend tell us how many of those additional accidents were fatal, how many caused serious injury and how many were trivial?

Mr. Hain

They were mostly serious injuries. I can go into detail if my hon. Friend wants me to, but I discussed that matter to some extent earlier.

What are the opinions of postmen and women throughout Britain? In England, Postman Pat is cross, in Wales, Postman Dai is angry and in Scotland, Postman Jock is livid about the prospect of the change.

Miss Hoey

And Postman Paddy.

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

I am probably one of the very few hon. Members who have climbed a telegraph pole. Before I came to this place, 23 years ago, I was a Post Office telephone engineer, which is why I am very interested in what my hon. Friend has to say about our postal colleagues. I hope that he will remember that British Telecom engineers are required to climb telegraph poles in the dark, which is a hazardous business. I am therefore fully with him in opposing the Bill.

Mr. Hain

I thank my hon. Friend, and I pay tribute to his distinguished service as a telecommunications engineer before coming to the House.

Postman Paddy is also extremely angry, as my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) says.

Wales, being further west and further north than almost every other part of the country with the exception of Scotland, is worse hit than anywhere else except Scotland. Many parts of the Scottish nation will not see sunrise until 10 am. In most parts of Wales, the sun will not rise in midwinter until after 9 am. In the north of Wales, in places such as Wrexham and Aberystwyth, it will be nearer to 9.30 am.

Almost everywhere in Wales will be worse off. Even in a south-eastern city such as Cardiff, there would be a loss of 54 days, when sunrise would be 9 am or later, compared with a gain of 50 days when sunset would be as late as 5.30 pm. Wrexham would lose 62 days, when sunrise would be 9 am or later, compared with a gain of 43 days when sunset would be as late as 5.30 pm.

In the following towns, where the sun would not rise before 9 am, Swansea would lose 56 days, Pembroke 58 days, Aberystwyth 57 days and Llandudno 62 days of morning darkness.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones (Cardiff, Central)

I am listening with interest to the distribution of days lost and days gained. I want my hon. Friend to explain to me, because I cannot quite understand it, how the Bill would affect the rotation of the earth to create a loss or a gain of days.

Mr. Hain

My hon. Friend is a good friend and I said at the beginning of my remarks that other hon. Friends, like him, will be voting on the other side of the debate. I do not challenge his sincerity, but he does not understand my point. In the city of Cardiff, in his constituency, the sun will rise later than 9 am on an extra 54 days. That is the point that I am making.

Mr. Flynn

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hain

I am sorry, but I must make progress, although my hon. Friend is a close friend. He said that he would heckle me in this debate, and I am enjoying the experience.

Almost 90,000 outdoor workers in Wales would be affected by the change. They would include farmers, building workers, milkmen, postmen, postwomen and others. In the winter, they would stumble around in the dark in icy, wet and snowy conditions. Schoolchildren, old people, car drivers and early shoppers would be in much greater danger. Many roads in rural and in valley areas, such as those in my constituency, do not have pavements and, as a consequence, pedestrians also would be at greater risk.

In conclusion, I must draw the attention of Members of Parliament from Welsh constituencies to what occurred when the issue was last debated substantially in this place in December 1970. The then hon. Member for Carmarthen, Gwynoro Jones, spoke about the widespread opposition throughout Wales, especially rural Wales, to the change that had occurred. I also remind the House that Wales Members of Parliament opposed the change and voted overwhelmingly to reject the experiment.

For me, the clincher to this argument is what occurred last time. We are not talking about hypotheticals or the analysis of figures or statistics upon which we can draw different conclusions. The British Standard Time Act 1968, which imposed an experimental period of daylight saving between 27 October 1968 and 31 October 1971, was rejected overwhelmingly by the House because it was a disaster.

It is fascinating and instructive to scrutinise the debate of 2 December 1970. It followed what the then hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton, Mr. Eric Heffer, described as a "revolt from below" against the change. The debate also referred to a national opinion poll survey of February 1970 which found that 58 per cent. of the public opposed the change. That is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact. The Government White Paper Cmnd. 4512 was released in 1970. Paragraph 18 states: North-west of a line running from Devon to Tees-side, particularly in Scotland, people, especially women, the elderly, and outdoor workers felt greatly inconvenienced by the change and strongly favoured a return to the old system". They were the results of a contemporary analysis conducted at the time; they were not a retrospective invention of views or a reconsideration of the statistics.

Did the House of Commons go out of its mind in rejecting that experiment? Did it suffer some kind of a spasm? It did not, because it had learnt from the experiment. Hon. Members rejected the measure by 366 votes to 81—not a narrow margin, but a decisive majority. We are now being asked not so much to take a leap in the dark, as to take a leap knowing full well all of the dangers and problems that caused the abandonment of that same leap last time. I hope that the Bill will be defeated.

12.58 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Tom Sackville)

I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) on introducing the debate. However, I cannot be as helpful as I would like, as the Government are neutral with regard to the British Time (Extra Daylight) Bill.

Today's debate fills me with a sense of relief that the Government continue to be neutral. I shall not waste too much time rehearsing all the arguments which are being made so eloquently, because that would take time from the many Members who wish to speak. I would also be in danger of displaying my own prejudices.

There are strong views on both sides of the argument. Among the advantages cited for the change is the anticipated savings in road casualties. In that connection, I confirm that the Transport Research Laboratory research published in 1989 suggests that a change to single/double summer time would result in a general reduction in casualties in Great Britain. On the other hand, an interim report published on Wednesday by the Scottish Office suggests that the effect in Scotland would be neutral.

It has been said that the change will benefit tourism and outdoor leisure activities. As has been mentioned, there could be benefits for elderly people who are fearful of being out after dark. In that connection, Home Office analysis of British crime surveys concluded that, although fewer offences are committed in daylight, increasing evening daylight could have different effects on different crimes—in other words, the data are inconclusive. However, the Government have received representations from Age Concern and other organisations that suggest that longer evenings could reduce fear of crime, particularly among the elderly.

We have also been told that among the advantages cited for the change would be easier travel and business communications with continental Europe. On the other side of the argument, those who urge the retention of the status quo point to the drawbacks of darker mornings.

Mr. John Marshall

Is my hon. Friend aware that the change in the hour proposed by the Bill would create difficulties for certain religion communities? Is he aware that, for orthodox and observant members of the Jewish community, their festivities are determined not by the hour of the day, but by sunrise and sunset. Their morning prayers would have to take place an hour later, the Yom Kippur fast would be broken a hour later, and in the summer Shabbat would go out a hour later. In London, that could be as late as midnight. It would cause great difficulty for some members of the community.

Mr. Sackville

That is an interesting point, of which I hope House will take due note.

Mr. Butterfill

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Sackville

I shall not give way again, so as to allow time for hon. Members who are waiting to speak.

On the side of those who wish to retain the status quo, darker mornings and icy roads could cause more accidents. Dark mornings would have a disproportionate impact on those in the north of the country and those who work out of doors. The Government recognise that many people in Scotland are concerned about the proposed change.

On a technical point, if the Bill were to become law, the change would take effect at the end of October 1997. The clocks would not be turned back one hour as usual, keeping Britain on GMT plus one hour for the winter months. The clocks would go forward in March to GMT plus two hours for the summer. That would move Britain into the time zone known as single/double summer time, or central European time.

I confirm that, technically, such a changeover would be feasible, although we have heard representations from those who operate charter airlines about the time lag needed to renegotiate landing slots.

I want to make it clear that this is not a party political issue and the Government maintain a neutral line, but I very much look forward to the House reaching a conclusion on this long-debated matter.

1.4 pm

Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)

I join the Minister in congratulating the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) on instigating this lively and interesting debate. We are put in our best light when we discuss issues as we find them.

We were told originally that there would be a free vote among Government Members, but that prompts the question, when is a free vote not a free vote? The answer is, when representations have been made to the Prime Minister by the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), who was apparently told by his advisers that a number of Scottish seats might be vulnerable were the Government to back the Bill.

Normally, the right hon. Gentleman is not a man of caution but when it was pointed out that his own seat is one of the most vulnerable, he uncharacteristically displayed the cautious side of his nature and convinced the Prime Minister of his view. Apparently, a free vote is not a free vote when it is a neutral vote. I understand that Ministers will abstain—except Scottish Ministers, who have been given been given a licence to vote against the Bill.

It might be thought that people who live in glasshouses should not throw stones. I am not sure whether I am in an enviable or unenviable position, as a party spokesperson without a specific policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "He's not the only one."] I thought that that might provoke Conservative Members. Like other hon. Members, I have my own prejudices. My postbag on the subject has not been extensive. I have received few letters from my constituents, although a number of organisations with a vested interest one way or the other have made representations to me.

Perhaps I ought to declare an interest, as a Monday morning runner along the banks of the River Tyne. It would not suit me personally if the measure were implemented, as I would have to run in the dark a number of extra mornings in winter. I will not let that consideration prejudice my overall position or the view I take of my constituents' preferences, although I imagine that their prejudices are similar to my own.

Mr. Salmond

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Henderson

No, because that would deny time to other hon. Members who wish to speak. I will look to see which hon. Gentleman behind me asked me to give way. Having done so, I will stick to my original decision.

Transport systems, especially those closely linked with Europe, would clearly benefit from time co-ordination, and obviously it would suit business organisations to have similar starting and finishing times as the rest of Europe. Many arguments have been made about the benefits that the change would bring to tourism, especially in respect of afternoon activities. However, like my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), I am not convinced that anyone would choose a holiday destination on the basis of the time zone in a particular location.

I understood also the forceful arguments made by my hon. Friends the Members for Neath and for Wigan (Mr. Stott) and by my close colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam), in an intervention, when they spoke of the difficulties that the Bill would create for many early-morning workers—particularly postal workers, who have an obligation to deliver mail early in the day. The construction industry has changed from years ago and would he affected less, but still significantly.

Several hon. Members spoke about the Bill's effect on Scotland and the north of Scotland, many economic interests, and people's life styles. No one put that point better than my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald), who said that, before people vote for change, they should live in Stornaway in winter and see if they really like it—a telling point on behalf of people living in the northern part of the kingdom.

I see many elderly people in my constituency walking to clubs on winter afternoons, and arguably they would benefit from the Bill.

Miss Hoey

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Henderson

No, I do not think that I should give way.

I have not followed some of the arguments that have been made, such as those made by farmers—hut, there again, perhaps I have never understood the arguments made by the farming community. That community usually makes its arguments in a united way, but it appears that farmers are divided on this matter, depending on which part of the country they farm in, and what type of farming they are involved in. I am not sure that the House is able to divide on the basis of what we have been told by farming interests.

The most specious arguments made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West and his followers have been on the subject of crime. I have no doubt that the criminals in Newcastle will be happy to thieve at time-and-a-half or double time if that is all that is available to them, and they will not he influenced by the proposed change.

On accidents, I—like a number of hon. Members—could be heavily convinced by arguments about not only road safety but other safety issues, but I am not convinced that the argument is telling either way. I have seen some arguments that having more daylight in the afternoon will reduce accidents, but they are countered by those who say that more accidents will he caused by more icy and foggy mornings.

Labour Members have been given a free vote, and will make their minds up based on some of the arguments that they have accepted and some that they have not. It is their decision and, on this occasion, they will have to do without the excellent assistance usually provided by hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon). I am sure that they will manage today.

1.11 pm
Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

When I woke up this morning, I looked in my wardrobe to see what I ought to wear to suit the occasion. Should I wear my tartan weskit—it is a good Tory tartan—to express my support for our good friends from north of the border, with whom I have the greatest sympathy? Or should I put on my iridescent armbands and my yellow fluorescent flak jacket, because that is what children used to wear to school in the days of the horrible experiment?

I was a young schoolteacher in those days, and I remember my depression at having to get up in the pitch dark and go to work on icy pavements. We keep hearing in this debate about road accidents, but we have heard nothing about pavement accidents. Lots of children had bad falls on their way to school in the pitch dark. I remember children being half asleep in a class with all the lights blazing. I even remember that the third of a pint milk bottles took an extra hour to thaw out. We had to postpone the time that the children could have their school milk, because there was not enough daylight to thaw the bottles.

Those are the real facts of life during that nightmare experiment. In Britain, people tend to expect small children to go to bed around dusk, but parents had a devil of a job getting their children to bed at the usual time. It was broad daylight, and the children wanted to be up and outdoors because, in those days, they could play outdoors.

I was surprised by the argument that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) advanced on that subject, since parents these days do not let their children out to play after school, because they are frightened of leaving them alone in the street. The argument that they will be given extra time to play is bogus in today's unfortunate circumstances.

The experiment was thoroughly disliked, and if we are concerned mainly about our children—as we should be—we should not be listening to arguments from well-heeled business men who want to catch planes one hour later to go to business meetings in Brussels, if that puts our children to the bother and danger of going out in the pitch dark.

We also worried in those days—

Mr. Butterfill

When my hon. Friend refers to fat cats, is she talking about the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents or the Child Accident Prevention Trust, both of which support the Bill?

Mrs. Gorman

I am interested that my hon. Friend should raise that point. We tend to think that the people or organisations that give us fancy statistics in great glossy journals—paid for the by the poor old taxpayer, of course—always get it right. The Transport Research Laboratory got it all wrong when we were contemplating the M1 and the M25—I remember these things, which shows how old I am. Its usage figures were completely wrong. The M1 was much too small, as was the M25. As I have said, the laboratory's predictions were completely wrong. We must not take too much notice of statistics. We all know that it is possible to prove anything.

Is the House aware that there are statistics that tell us that, if we are exposed to more sunlight, we are more likely to get skin cancer? We are told that we will have more leisure time if the Bill is enacted, and that we shall be able to roam around in the summer. What will we do with all the people turning to the national health service with lumps and bumps all over their skin?

Mr. Maxton

When the hon. Lady dismisses road accident statistics and other research, she reminds me of the addictive smoker who refuses to believe that smoking causes lung cancer or heart disease.

Mrs. Gorman

We all know that the conditions on our roads now cannot be compared with safety measures such as lollipop people.

I remember people complaining bitterly about their electricity bills when we last conducted the experiment. Schools and businesses used much more electricity because of the dark mornings.

Most of the arguments about safety are bogus, not least because everybody knows that car drivers, early in the morning, are much more likely to be grumpy, sleepy and dopey as they drive to schools. When the previous experiment took place, if someone did not get knocked down by a bus or a car, there was a good chance of suffering a fracture on his or her way to work.

It is not only children who are out early in the morning, or middle-aged people. Elderly people go out to work in the early morning on slippery pavements. Watch the people leaving this building who have come in to clean for us in the early hours. About 60 or 70 per cent. of them are women in my age group.

Miss Hoey

Does the hon. Lady agree with me that, in her constituency and mine, elderly people are to be seen queuing outside post offices waiting for them to open? If the Bill is enacted, they will be queuing in the dark in London.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the vast majority of schoolchildren go to school in daylight and return in daylight? If the Bill is enacted, the vast majority of schoolchildren, if not all of them, will go to school in the dark, and gain no benefit at the end of the day.

Mrs. Gorman

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend.

There is also the television factor. We have time zones for television. After a 9 pm, 10 pm, or even later deadline, the blue-movie brigade get their wares on the airs. If children are all to be up and bright and watching television, what are we to do? Are we to shove soft porn into the small hours of the morning? That might be a good idea. It will be difficult, however, to control children's viewing. They will be wide awake and wanting to watch television at 11 pm, I promise the House. That will still be daylight to them in the height of summer.

We have heard so much about polls: people being polled for this and for that. We have heard about the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in that context. Many of those polled seem to be in what I call the soft underbelly of employment. They are the white-collar chaps who leave home at 8 am to go to work. They do not have to be in the office until 10 am. The great majority of working people, however, are not in that category.

Mr. Home Robertson

Essex men.

Mrs. Gorman

I shall come to them in a moment.

I am talking about people who have to leave their homes early in the morning. To force them out an hour earlier—that would be the effect of the Bill—would be cruelty, in my view.

I have conducted a straw poll of my own—of the infant school teachers circa 1968–71. I have not yet found one who thinks that we had a good time in those years, or that we should repeat the exercise. I want that poll to go on the record.

I have also done a poll of my Essex men and women who come up to the City to work, and there are a great many. The City relies on the talent and enterprise of that much-maligned person—Essex man and Essex woman.

They tell me that the extra hour earlier start than the continent is an enormous financial advantage. I do not understand about City trading and stocks and shares; I am only a humble ex-schoolteacher turned politician.

Essex man tells me that, of course, the people in Europe want this change, because it would put us at the same disadvantage as them, because they cannot get up a bit earlier in the morning. I asked why these hard-working Germans, who, as we keep hearing, work twice as hard, could not get up a bit earlier. He said: "Their infrastructure won't stand it." Apparently, they cannot get the buses going early enough to get them into their offices in Frankfurt or wherever.

Whatever the reason, we have a big advantage in those markets. Essex man and Essex woman do not want this change, because it will affect their standard of living and their income, and I am in favour of keeping that as high as possible.

I want to talk about builders. Everybody talks about the matter from the perspective of the worker. I shall speak from the perspective of the employer. I remember that, during the previous experiment, as I am wont to do, I was in the middle of restoring a house. [Laughter.] It has been a long-term habit of mine.

I remember that the workers who came in an hour earlier—as it were, in terms of daylight—were the very devil to get working. They lit a brazier in the garden. They started toasting lumps of bread, eating sausages, making mugs of tea, and would not start work until dawn. I reckon that I was paying for an extra hour in the day for which no work was being done at all.

It therefore does not surprise me one little bit that the Building Employers Confederation has written to us all to say that it is strongly opposed to this Private Members Bill", because it will interfere with work patterns. I can tell the House that that is true, because I have witnessed it.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

My hon. Friend has quoted from the excellent brief sent to Members by the Building Employers Confederation, but she has failed to say that it is the leading representative body of builders and construction companies, unlike the Confederation of British Industry, which has been notoriously dishonest, as ever, in the survey that it carried out, and has entirely failed to represent the interests of agriculture or the construction industry, putting them instead in a category of "other", as against manufacturing and financial services. I support my hon. Friend, but a very large percentage of business is against the Bill.

Mrs. Gorman

When did my hon. Friend ever not make a valuable contribution to any debate? I thank him for his intervention.

Now I shall say a brief word about the effect that the proposals will have on personal lives—not the magnificent statistics that we keep hearing about—because that is the level at which we should be considering the matter, and on people's day-to-day existence. People are creatures of habit, and do not want their world turned upside down unless there is some very cogent reason for doing so. They certainly will not think that the boffins in Brussels or Berlin, or anywhere else on the continent, are important enough for them to have their whole life pattern and that of their children turned upside down.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West mentioned the fact that animals on farms would not he affected because they go by their own biological clocks. Well, sheep have them. Cows have them. But so do people. We all have our own internal rhythms. We wake up with the dawn. We have all watched animal programmes and seen animals waking up in the morning, coming to life as the mist rises over great horizons.

Sir George Gardiner (Reigate)

And the dawn chorus.

Mrs. Gorman

We hear the dawn chorus and we see life going quietly to its rest as the sun sets below the horizon.

My point is that to change things like time for such trivial reasons as the wishes of a handful of business men would be a most improper and inadvisable measure for any political party to be seen to support. We are, after all, sent here not in the interests of minorities of one sort or another, but to do the best we can for the great majority, particularly the relatively unheard and inarticulate people we seek to represent.

I should like, last but not least, to bring to the attention of my Conservative colleagues in particular the advice that our Prime Minister gave on "Breakfast with Frost" the other morning, when he gave an excellent presentation on Conservative policy. One of his cogent remarks was that we should stop changing things in our society just for the sake of it. If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change—if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I call on all loyal Conservatives, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West, to follow the Prime Minister's advice. There is no public clamour for this measure. Nobody wrote to me about it until my hon. Friend began to present his case, after which most of the people who wrote to me said, "Don't do it."

People have strong memories of that depressing event 20-odd years ago; they still remember it. It is at our peril that we turn their lives upside down for such a tawdry and trivial set of arguments.

1.26 pm
Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) and popular opinion in Essex, and it is an awesome experience. I should like to make a long speech, but it will be short because I know that other hon. Members wish to contribute to the debate.

After listening to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill), I am utterly convinced that the Bill is a con trick. His arguments and statistics were hanging on a very shoogly peg indeed. His road accident statistics are based on an extrapolation from figures from the 1960s and they are hypothetical. I recommend that he reads the updated figures issued by the Strathclyde regional road department, which take into account much wider figures and criteria than those on which the hon. Gentleman bases his case.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West made a weak argument on behalf of business—he apparently has not heard of modern telecommunications. He was completely wrong about opinion polls. When the hon. Gentleman was faced by Scottish opinion, he simply chose to ignore it. It will not do for the hon. Gentleman to use the opinion of one farmer to dismiss that of the National Farmers Union or the opinion of one postal worker to dismiss that of the work force. If anything is clear in Scotland, it is the massive opposition to the measure.

Mr. Butterfill

That is not true.

Mr. Welsh

Again, when the hon. Gentleman hears Scottish opinion, he does not wish to listen to it; he ignores it. Scottish farmers, local councils, businesses and the Scottish people generally oppose the measure, and speak of the real danger of the measure, and the damaging consequences that would occur if it were implemented.

I will acknowledge one success in the hon. Gentleman's Bill: he has achieved something unique. He has united all four party leaders in Scotland—the Secretary of State for Scotland, the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), the hon. Members for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) and for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), and my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond). That is an achievement indeed. The four party leaders say that they reflect the broad wishes of the Scottish people in opposing the measure.

Dr. Godman

May I point out to the hon. Gentleman that a measure of this sort should be introduced only on the basis of a sustained consultation exercise, a White Paper and Government legislation supported by other parties? This sort of thing will not do.

Mr. Welsh

I agree. The Bill would make a fundamental change that would be stuck in the population permanently. If the change is to he implemented—I do not wish that to happen—far more consultation along the lines that the hon. Gentleman mentioned would have to take place. People have a right to be consulted, but I hope that the Bill will be killed dead today and that that will be an end to it.

Although I speak out to defend Scotland's interests, the same arguments apply throughout the United Kingdom where there is opposition to the Bill, which is designed to suit the narrow interests of a faction in the most southerly part of England. The Bill tries to defy geographical reality. The sun must rise in the east: it has no option. It travels around 12 degrees westward every hour. Allied to the low angle of the winter sun, CET will condemn all the people of Scotland, northern England and Ireland to permanent early morning darkness, with consequent problems of extra costs to industry and commerce, and substantial costs to the population.

Time zones are affected by longitude. The unchanging fact is that the UK is aligned north-north-west to south-south-east and not on a straight, north-south line. Scotland is more westerly and hence Scottish sunrises are later. CET would delay that by a further hour. The current differences with England would remain, except that they would occur one hour later. In relation to Europe, however, Scotland would be one hour worse off. If the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West has his way, only in the far north of Scandinavia would sunrise occur later than in Scotland during the winter months.

The primary beneficiaries of this European harmonisation would be people living in the extreme south of England. It is worth investigating the losers and gainers. In terms of the extra days when mornings are darker and evenings are lighter, there is a marginal benefit for London and south-east England and a massive loss for all other parts of the UK. For example, Londonderry would lose 90 extra days when sunrise is 9am or later, compared with a gain of 46 extra days when sunset is as late as 5.30. In other words, 46 longer evenings are outnumbered by 90 darker mornings.

In Glasgow, 36 longer evenings are outnumbered by 81 darker mornings; in Carlisle, 35 longer evenings are outnumbered by 72 darker mornings; in Wrexham, it is 43 to 62. London would gain 37 longer evenings, but lose 32 darker mornings, a marginal gain of only five days.

Guess who gains most from all this unnecessary and artificially induced upheaval?

Mr. Nicholas Winterton


Mr. Welsh

Indeed. In Bournemouth, there is a gain of 48 longer evenings compared with a loss of 38 darker mornings. It is obvious in whose narrow interests the Bill was framed. Although there are marginal benefits in some regions, for most of us the proposal will have definite disadvantages, especially the further north and west we reside.

The Bill will create the largest time zone in the world, double the width of zones elsewhere. The present time zone of the UK and Ireland is based on GMT, which has a mean solar time near London. Hence, Edinburgh is only 14 minutes and Stornoway 30 minutes behind, but the Bill would create a time zone based on Prague, leaving London 60 minutes behind, Edinburgh 74 minutes behind and Stornoway a massive one and a half hours behind. Northern Ireland, Cornwall and Carlisle would all be similarly disadvantaged.

The effect of those changes would be to extend the hours of morning darkness over longer periods of winter and that would not be compensated for by longer hours in the late afternoon. Those early hours of extended darkness are, by definition, colder, with hazards for construction industry, postal, agricultural and other workers. The failed experiment of the late 1960s gives us fair warning about what the Bill's effects would be if the House were misguided enough to pass it. Portugal is now seeking to return to GMT after having tried out the proposal in the Bill and found, as we have, the enormous and unacceptable price to be paid.

The proponents of CET have argued that there would be a reduction in road accidents, that vulnerable people in society would feel safer and that the proposal would improve the quality of life in terms of outdoor pursuits, tourism and leisure. In particular—again, we have heard it this morning—there has been considerable emotional propaganda about children being involved in accidents.

Some very emotive statistics about road accidents have been given to support the change proposed by the Bill. Extravagant claims such as 20,000 deaths would have been prevented if CET had been introduced in 1971 are based on flawed statistics. They are Department of Transport hypothetical estimates that have been extrapolated from marginal results in the 1967–71 period. When politicians start to use statistics, matters become hazy, and I am afraid that there have been examples of that in the debate.

There is a clear contradiction in the extra daylight road safety claims based on the 1960s figures. The daylight extra claim is that there was a 5 per cent. fall in Scottish accidents". However, I bring to the attention of the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West the more up-to-date Strathclyde regional council roads department report which points to a discernible increase in road fatalities". The report also states: these years interrupted a general downward trend in road accident casualties". We are being told that fewer accidents and more fatalities and casualties occurred during the experimental years.

It is clear that light is only one factor in explaining road accidents. For example, in Strathclyde in 1986, 62 per cent. of accidents happened on dark and wet roads compared with 40 per cent. in daylight. Were the dark and wet conditions the determining factors, or was it purely the daylight? The influence of daylight on road accidents is uncertain and small compared with that of other major factors. Major and fatal accidents have generally been falling since that experiment.

The accident statistics that have been quoted do not prove the case for CET. The figures used by the. Department of Transport do not take into account other factors such as wet roads, safety improvements such as compulsory seat belts, breathalyser tests and improvements in car, road and street designs since the experiment. The Strathclyde region report shows that the combination of dark mornings and light evenings produces greater road casualties among children. That is exactly the combination proposed in the Bill, and it poses great safety hazards for children. I recommend that report to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West.

Mr. Butterfill

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the analysis by the Transport Research Laboratory was based not just on the experimental period but on current information about what was happening? Is he not aware that it specifically used as one of its research areas central and southern Scotland? Does he suggest that Strathclyde council, however eminent it may be, has more experienced officials than the Transport Research Laboratory?

Mr. Welsh

Yes. It runs half of Scotland and deals daily with the practical effect of road accidents. Unfortunately, time does not allow me to give the hon. Gentleman the details of the research, but I encourage him to find them. The research proves that darker mornings combined with lighter evenings cause more accidents among children. That is an argument against the Bill.

It is claimed that an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon or evening would benefit elderly men and women who, because of crime and violence, are driven back into their houses and are too frightened to go out in the dark. The time when pensioners would benefit most from an extra hour of evening daylight is in the winter, and that is the time of year when weather conditions are most likely to keep them in their homes. Many hon. Members from outside Scotland fail to realise how dreich a Scottish afternoon can be when they talk about measures affecting sunlight. An extra hour of daylight in the evening would not remove the fear of the elderly.

I shall deal now with quality of life and tourism. Sunset would occur before the end of the working day for most of the winter. The cold would be a greater disincentive than darkness for later activity. Only half of the top 10 sports are daylight-dependent. The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West presented an image of thousands of tourists pouring northwards to enjoy the Edinburgh tattoo in broad daylight—when it cannot be seen! The experiment was tried in the late 1960s and it failed. That is why Parliament rejected it by a massive majority.

In 1992, Portugal was persuaded by the same arguments used in promoting the Bill. It changed from GMT and it found that exactly the same thing happened there as happened to us—not in theory, but in practice. Portugal had to leave its clock alone when all the other western European countries moved ahead by one hour, and it accompanied them when they switched hack in September. Ever since the Government decided that Portugal would have the same time as its neighbours on the continent—for economic gain, as it was claimed—there have been more critics than supporters of the measure.

The Portuguese Government have asked for an investigation into the effects. Some early replies conclude that working people suffer from the unnatural clock time in January and December. Health research has found that people showed greater need for sleeping pills because their normal rhythms had been disrupted—a sort of minor but continued jet lag. We say "No thanks" to that in Scotland. Children were said to have greater difficulty in concentrating at school because they tended to go to sleep later when daylight continued well into the evening. There were economic and environmental costs—for example, increased electricity consumption.

A Portuguese newspaper—I shall give the House the English translation—recently referred to Portugal's likely return to GMT". That is at a time when Britain is debating the possibility of changing. The Portuguese found in practice the evils that were found in this country the last time the experiment was tried out. If we do it again, the Portuguese experiment shows what would happen in practice. We have made a mistake once, and it has been repeated in Portugal. Let us not make that mistake again.

1.41 pm
Sir George Gardiner (Reigate)

It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) because I agreed with every word he had to say—and that is rare. The previous two speeches have made the points against the Bill with such vigour that I do not need to repeat them; therefore, this will be a brief speech.

Like many hon. Members, I think that there is a heavy air of deja vu hanging over the debate. As has been pointed out frequently today, we have been through this experiment in 1968–70, and we have heard all the arguments before. We have put them to the test and we have seen the public reaction, but here we go again. There cannot be many hon. Members who recall those debates in 1968 and 1970. I certainly have not been a Member of Parliament for that long, but I heard the debates. In those years, I was serving as a political correspondent for regional newspapers, and all my papers and all their readers were keenly interested in the experiment and how it worked out.

Like others, I have gone back to Hansard and reminded myself of the speech made by the late David Ennals, the then Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, when introducing the British Standard Time Bill [Lords]. He commended the Bill, although a free vote followed. In his speech, he mentioned the many benefits that would accrue to our commercial transactions with the continent. Not so much was made then of tourism, but we were told to expect greater convenience in travel. He told us, too, of the best expert assessment that the Bill would bring a reduction in road accidents.

When I re-read that speech, I realised what great gains we were promised in the quality of our lives and what joy it must have been to be alive on that glad evening when, rather lethargically and by a majority of 118, that Bill was passed. Most of the speeches made in that first debate were against it, but the Government and a majority of the House were prepared to listen to so-called expert outside organisations.

At the time of the debate on 2 December 1970, there was a different Home Secretary, Reggie Maudling, who kicked off the debate on whether the experiment to add a further hour of darkness in the morning should be made permanent. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) said this morning that he thought that that experimental period had perhaps been too short. The feeling at the time was that it had gone on. for far too long, and the sooner it ended, the better.

The late Reginald Maudling, in introducing that debate, took a neutral stance. He said that the pros and cons of the arguments were still pretty balanced. As has been noted by other hon. Members, he certainly treated with great reserve the road casualty figures advanced at the start of the experimental period and offered again at the end. He also referred to a surprising and sad increase in the number of child casualties between 6 pm and 7 pm—a subject that has been dealt with by previous speakers today.

The mood in the country had swung against the experiment. During the debate in December 1970, a Harris opinion poll from that morning was quoted showing that 57 per cent. of the population wished to return to the old system, 30 per cent. wished to stay with the experiment and 6 per cent. did not know. The matter was put to the vote: 81 voted in favour of making the experiment permanent, 366 voted against—a staggering majority of 285. The experiment was halted.

What was the result of halting the experiment? Was there a massive increase in road casualties? Certainly not. Was there any great diminution in business opportunities on the continent or anywhere else? No, there certainly was not. Did the tourist industry have to make cuts? No, it certainly did not—from those years it has gone on from strength to strength. Yet we are now hearing the same arguments repeated.

We hear from the Transport Research Laboratory its estimate that passing the Bill would save, I think, 110 deaths on the road and 450 serious injuries. I cannot understand how any responsible organisation can utter such precise forecasts; they must be guesstimates—it does not make sense. Do they take into account, as my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) asked, the accidents that occur on footpaths in the hours of the morning and the evening? One might go on to ask whether they take account of those who suffer heart attacks on arriving at work having coped with the dark and icy morning conditions. The best advice that we have received today from several contributors is that the road casualty argument is neutral and does not incline one way or the other.

We have also been told—again with great precision—of the extra revenue that will come to the tourist industry. We were given precise figures earlier today, although I cannot remember them. I cannot understand the basis of such guesstimates. If we allow the Bill to become law, the travel agencies will be quids in. They will certainly benefit during the winter months, when many more of the populace will decide to take a winter holiday to get away from the terrible dark mornings that they have to endure.

We have been told yet again about the disadvantages to British industry and commerce of being in a different time zone, quite apart from the fact that obviously our business and commerce must deal with different time zones right across the world. According to the recent evidence of our export performance, that does not seem to have held our businesses back in the least. Australia and, in particular, the United States have been mentioned, where commerce and industry manage to operate effectively. The United States eastern seaboard works well with the western one despite the fact that three different time zones have to be crossed. That does not seem to have held American industry hack. All experience gives the lie to the claim about the disadvantages suffered.

We are part of a global economy. To be honest, if business men cannot afford to get up a little earlier to make their telephone calls from home—they all have telephones at home, paid for by their companies—they do not deserve to be in business.

I come from Reigate, and it is not up to me to express the views of those who live in the north of England or in Scotland, because their views have been eloquently expressed today. We have a duty, however, to pay great regard to the social needs of people in all parts of the United Kingdom and not, in my case, to the social convenience of my mother-in-law, who happens to live in Bournemouth.

If the Bill gets through all its stages—one has to say that it is obviously going to face formidable opposition even if it gets its Second Reading—my prediction is that public dissatisfaction will mount as it did before, and that hon. Members will come under even greater pressure again to repeal the legislation. For those reasons, I shall certainly vote against the Bill.

1.51 pm
Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock and Burntwood)

I had a vision of the Prime Minister making his new year resolutions. I could just see him saying, "Send me a measure that would save lives, cut crime, conserve energy, boost business and promote health. As a bonus, could it be one that enables me to watch cricket later into the evening and, if possible, could it he cost-free?" Then, as if by magic, number one in the ballot for private Members' Bills went to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill), who delivers such a measure.

I am afraid that the Government are in such a mood, and have been for some time, that, when they see an unpopular measure they grasp it like a drunk reaching out for his first drink of the day. When they see a potentially popular measure, however, they step around it as though they have seen something unpleasant in the park. It is not my job to help them, but it is rather extraordinary to observe what is going on.

For example, the Secretary of State for Scotland has been given some kind of freelance licence to subvert the Bill, whose passage would be greeted with approbation by almost every organisation representing all the interests that we have discussed today. Its rejection will be greeted with incomprehension by those very organisations.

Mr. Gallie

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Wright

I cannot give way, because other hon. Members want to speak.

We have a range of annual rituals, including losing test matches, sacking football managers, watching royal marriages break up and seeing Prime Ministers being relaunched. One of the worst is the annual, masochistic ritual in October, when, as the days close in and people start feeling it is the end of the world and take themselves to their doctors in vast numbers, we respond by changing the clocks so that the days get even darker.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

So would the hon. Gentleman.

Dr. Wright

We set off a syndrome called seasonal, affective disorder by way of unhelpful response.

I do not speak for the north; I do not speak for the south. This should not be that type of debate. I speak for the middle. [Laughter] I speak for middle England. I speak for Staffordshire.

Three years ago, Staffordshire county council road safety and accident investigation units conducted an exhaustive analysis of road accident figures around the clock at 32 sites in the county. It found that the danger time was between 4 pm and 7 pm and said emphatically, on the basis of that research, that the end of British summer time posed a special problem and that a measure such as we are debating was sensible.

If there is informed opinion in support of change, why do we not move? Not—as some hon. Members suggested earlier—because there are physical laws that prevent our doing so. I believe that it was my good friend the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) who, conjuring up dark fears, said that the change was profoundly unnatural.

Those are absurd arguments. It is like saying that, because it must rain, we shall not invent umbrellas or occasionally use them. We take measures that make life more tolerable in relation to the elements that confront us. We can do something to ensure that the precious few hours of daylight, especially in winter, are used to our maximum advantage, not our maximum disadvantage.

The Bill does not, for me at least, concern Europe. I know that some hon. Members believe that it does, which is why they turn out on these occasions, frothing at the mouth, hearing the mention of Europe. I always enjoy the speeches of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), appearing in fluorescent mode. I especially enjoyed her rallying call to all loyal Conservatives, which I thought was a nice intervention.

The Bill is not about the interests of business. If the convenience of business were the sole consideration, I would not be attached to the issue. I am here because I have lived through the present arrangements, witnessed what happens and considered the evidence. The evidence says that the Bill would prevent death and injury on the roads, that it would help to reclaim the streets, especially for the elderly and for women, and that it would prevent a night-time curfew for those groups of people. It would give more play, more sport, more recreation and more health. It would, incidentally, help business, boost tourism and save energy.

Mr. Butterfill

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Wright

I would rather not.

If we are confronted with such an issue, the question must be, "What, on balance, would do more to promote the quality of life of the majority of people—moving in that direction or not moving in that direction?" The evidence is overwhelming, and the House has a responsibility to consider, and respond to, it.

I have discovered during the debate that this is not the place or the moment to search for statistical illumination. We shall not make progress on that front. We nevertheless have a duty to consider the available evidence, ransack our experience, reflect the opinions and judgments of people outside the House and reach a balanced view. Knowing all that, we must concern ourselves with why such a measure has never been implemented before.

Mr. Home Robertson

It has been—20 years ago.

Dr. Wright

I am speaking about the past 20 years. The measure has always been thwarted—it has become obvious today that this is the reason—because it is always possible to assemble a collection of vested interests and special pleaders who, together, will triumph over the public interest. I take the rather old-fashioned view that it is the duty of the House to make a judgment about the public interest. I particularly want to hear what Scotland has to say. I recently had the temerity to say on television that, when the Scottish Parliament is established—I am committed to that objective—we might have to revisit the issue of Scottish representation in this place.

The following night, I happened to share a taxi with two Scottish colleagues, both of whom were generously proportioned and mildly lubricated. They asked whether I wanted to reduce the number of Scottish seats in the House and I replied, "Only in a general way." They then asked, "Who in particular do you have in mind?", and I said, "I have to get out at the next stop."

I believe that Scotland matters. Before I leave Scotland—I shall leave it all in a moment—I refer hon. Members to the best article that I have read on the subject. Writing in Scotland on Sunday in December, Joyce McMillan said: the idea that Scots gain some special advantage from GMT is preposterous; no power on earth can increase the measly amount of daylight in northern Scotland in midwinter, or save its children from making dark journeys to and from school. But for reasons of pride, ignorance and stiff-necked daftness, we allow our public representatives, whenever this subject comes up, to prate about the 'Scottish objection' to CET in terms which strongly suggest that for special reasons—no doubt to do with the unsatisfactory terms of the Union—Scotland is the only place on earth where an hour of light can be lost in the morning without being gained in the afternoon". Parliament has a duty to examine, assess and make a judgment about the matter. I do not think that the Bill is bad news for Scots in general, but the House must make the final decision in that regard. Some groups of workers will be inconvenienced and adjustments will have to be made. It will be appalling news for masochists and muggers, firework freaks and couch potatoes, but it will be good news for the vast majority of people.

I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) who said that the proponents of the Bill were making "extraordinarily extravagant claims". I do not make "extraordinarily extravagant claims" in support of the Bill. I simply reiterate the argument put by George Bernard Shaw, who said that progress does not occur through great leaps forward; it occurs through what he called "paltry instalments of betterment".

The choice before the House today is whether, by looking at the evidence and reaching a judgment on that basis, it wants to make a "paltry instalment of betterment". It will be a sad day if it decides not to. Such a decision would prove incomprehensible to people all around the country and it would show that Parliament is suffering from seasonal affective disorder to a high degree.

2.2 pm

Mr. Bill Walker (North Tayside)

I have listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright). He said that he wanted to listen to Scottish voices, so I trust that he will listen to what I have to say. Although I am older than he is, like him, I have old-fashioned values—and I have probably held them for a lot longer.

Mr. Duncan Smith

That is because my hon. Friend is older.

Mr. Walker

Yes, that must be why.

The Bill is misnamed: it is called the British Time (Extra Daylight) Bill, but I would prefer it to be called the British Time (Extra Daylight, Bournemouth) Bill.

We have listened to a wide-ranging debate—I shall touch on each of the points in turn—bout issues including children, road and pavement safety, road casualties, farming, forestry, the banking and financial sector, industry, tourism, aviation, landing slots, religious community problems, crime, and the postal, construction and utility workers. Something good has come from the debate—we probably all agree that the date at which we change the clocks should be harmonised throughout Europe. No one would argue about the benefits to be derived from changing the clocks on the same day.

Certain factors have not been properly understood by those who feel that, because we are a minority, the Scottish dimension should not be taken into account fully, properly and adequately. There is no doubt whatever that there are logical and sensible reasons for having time zones that are based on geographic location, latitude and longitude. The further north and west one is, the greater is the impact of the proposition in the Bill.

Neither my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) nor anyone else has addressed another critical factor—altitude. No one has mentioned the relevance of height above sea level, yet it is probably the most critical factor in temperature change. My hon. Friend said that the United Kingdom benefited from the Gulf stream. It is no secret that I have spent most of my life involved in aviation matters. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) understands my point because, in our younger days, we experienced the problem of carburettor icing.

It is not always remembered and understood that height produces temperature loss. Not only does Scotland have the problem of being further north and further west, but many of the communities that would be most adversely affected by the changes proposed in the Bill are high above sea level.

The impact of the Gulf stream was mentioned. Because the Gulf stream comes down the west coast of Scotland and because the Atlantic brings in much moist, warm air, Scotland has relatively high humidity. That cannot be changed, whatever we do with the clocks. It will continue to affect us every day.

It is important to remember that Scotland suffers the problems of temperature reduction that occur with altitude. In my constituency, the difference in height between Scone—which is relatively low—Glenshee and Rannoch is considerable, and there are substantial communities in higher and lower places. I could mention Drumochter pass and other glens in my constituency. Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and Dunkeld are all variously affected by altitude.

If the Bill becomes law, school buses in parts of my constituency and throughout northern Scotland will be affected by sudden sharp drops in temperature an hour or and hour and a half before dawn that frequently occur in mountainous areas. They are caused by many other factors, including wind direction and contours, and I could talk about that for hours, but I shall not bore the House with the details. If the Bill were enacted, it would be dark until about 10 am and school buses would have to operate on highland routes from about 7.45 am. In the conditions that I have described, black ice forms quickly and without warning, and anyone who thinks that gritting vehicles and snow ploughs can cover all the routes used by school buses has never been to my constituency.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

Do schools in Scotland have the ability to determine their start times?

Mr. Walker

Schools in Scotland are the same as those everywhere else. The City of London can start its day whenever it wants, as may any industry. Any school can begin its day when the local authority determines. However, we are creatures of custom in this country. We think that we all belong to the United Kingdom. We fondly believe that we should do things at the same time and in the same way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) took a bit of stick from the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood, but she was right. As humans, we react and respond to circumstances in the same way that animals do. Of course we could change everything in Scotland and be different, but we want to be part of the United Kingdom—most of us—and most of us believe in unitary activities, including Parliament making decisions affecting Scotland.

That is why so many Scottish Members are present. The majority of them have said passionately, "Listen to us. I am from the Western Isles. I want you to hear what I have to say, because I represent a remote, scattered community." Minorities are vital and important.

Scots account for less than 9 per cent. of the population. The vast majority of them live in Strathclyde, and that region's report was vital and important because it covered the majority of Scots, including those in the Western Isles. We must carefully consider the claims made by the Bill's supporters, including those relating to accident statistics in relation to children and road safety. I am all for having statistics properly assessed and evaluated.

The Scottish Office realised that Parliament must be seen to acknowledge that there is such a thing as a Scottish dimension. The Scottish Office figures clearly show that the Bill does not offer the big pluses that its supporters claim. If anything, the Scottish Office said, "Be careful. Don't make a change when the extravagant claims being made cannot be substantiated."

We can all play with statistics. I love doing so, because it is great fun, but this matter is too important. My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) said that we are talking about possible deaths. He probably did not watch the television programme last Sunday in which my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West said that the 1970 vote went the way that it did—

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

Did not that programme and subsequent programmes this week reinforce the fact that, the more people hear the arguments against change, the more they rally to oppose to change and the more they realise that the case for change has been based on misrepresentation and, in some cases, downright dishonest disinformation?

Mr. Walker

There is no question but that we have blown a huge hole in the credibility of the figures and statements that have been made.

I was about to say, before the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) intervened, that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West said on television that the House voted in 1970 in the way it did because the media—you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, those nasty people up in the Gallery and elsewhere—created a huge campaign because one school bus in Scotland had an accident. If we are foolish or unwise enough not to listen to the voices of caution and enact this legislation, can one imagine what the media will do the first time a bus in Scotland goes off the road as a result of black ice? Hon. Members can imagine what would happen to their postbags. I am convinced that the measure proposed by my hon. Friend could produce such a situation quickly because of black ice and the meteorological conditions to which I have referred.

Hon. Members who have driven petrol-powered cars in mountainous areas in winter might have wondered why sometimes the vehicle stutters and gives them problems. That happens because of carburettor icing, a problem of which aviators also have experience. The meteorological conditions that produce black ice also produce hill fog, which is actually low cloud. My constituency gets hill fog all the time, and that provides the ideal conditions for a bus to skid off the road. I shall leave the subject of the meteorological conditions, because I have probably given the House enough to think about on that matter.

I wish to refer to the alleged advantages that the Bill is supposed to create for tourism. The House knows that the largest employer in my constituency is the tourist industry, and we are blessed with very long summer days.

If they all turn out to be like last year's, they will be long hot summer days. Therefore, juggling with the clocks will not change the potential for tourism in summer, spring and autumn in my area. While any change will have a massive impact on other things in Scotland, I do not see that it will make a difference to tourism.

The Bill's provisions could cause problems for airlines, particularly those that fly to tourist destinations outside the UK and those bringing tourists back into the United Kingdom. Those airlines may have great difficulty in renegotiating their slots throughout Europe if the change is made.

One advantage that comes from changing the clocks on the same day, incidentally, is that it helps airlines with their schedules and helps airlines that operate package holiday tours. But there will be huge problems for the UK tourist industry if we accept the proposals in the Bill.

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)

I understand my hon. Friend's point about the charter airline industry, but is he aware that the industry generally, and scheduled airlines in particular, take an entirely different view? While the arguments that my hon. Friend used apply to one part of the industry, they do not apply to the other.

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend must know that I am a chairman of the Conservative parliamentary aviation committee, and it would be astonishing if I did not know what the airlines were saying. Nothing I said suggested that the airlines supported my view. I merely drew attention to the problems of negotiating slots. If my hon. Friend does not think that airlines are constantly twisting my arm and bending my ear about slots, he does not know what is going on in the aviation industry.

Mr. Wilshire

I understand my hon. Friend's point. I hope that he will accept, however, that someone who represents Heathrow might know a little about aviation as well.

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend makes his own point in his own way. I am happy that he should. I was merely saying that I was surprised that he should think that I do not know what the airlines are saying. It is an astonishing thing to say to a chairman of the Conservative parliamentary aviation committee. I am constantly lobbying Ministers on behalf of the British aviation industry.

Problems would be faced by local authority workers throughout Scotland, because there would be extra darkness. It is suggested, however, that that would not cause problems. The reality is that it would cause huge problems for those involved in road clearing, including those who grit our roads. It would also present massive problems for those who want to get ahead with repair work. There is no doubt that the Bill, if enacted, would present Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom with problems. It would be a measure that we would all live to regret.

Road problems can be resolved in other ways. The business, banking and other financial sectors can find answers to their problems and increase their business. It is nonsensical to pretend that all the advantages lie with the arguments of those who support the Bill. The Bill is not what is claimed of it, and we should reject it.

2.21 pm
Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

I have been in my place throughout the debate. I have been convinced that the balance of argument in the House is that those who are opposing the proposed move have overwhelmingly commanded support and have marshalled fundamentally the strongest arguments. The supporters have made major assertions about the benefits that would flow from the Bill, but in almost every instance they have been unsubstantiated by facts. In other instances, the facts presented have been extremely questionable and controvertible.

It remains a simple fact of fundamental geography that the British isles are nowhere near the European central time zone. If the arguments for moving us into that zone were as overwhelming as the Bill's proponents suggest, every time zone round the world should move one hour to the east to achieve the benefits that are claimed. It is preposterous nonsense.

The hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman), in a colourful speech, touched on the most fundamental point. There is a natural rhythm of life and mankind is a diurnal creature. We like light and we do not like dark. That is what the argument is about.

If we force people to get up in what is effectively the middle of the night, they will be non-alert, much more prone to make mistakes and low in productivity. We would disrupt their psychological well-being. That has been proved in Portugal. That was the evidence when we had an experiment in the 1960s, as it was in the war.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) has seriously underestimated the effect of having sunset in parts of the United Kingdom at 11.30 pm or 11.45 pm in midsummer. In such circumstances, people of all ages would not go to bed at what anyone would regard as a sensible time. They would then have to get up having had an inadequate amount of sleep. Children would not concentrate, students would not study and the general state of alertness would be affected.

What I find particularly offensive in the argument about accidents is that although, of course, road accidents are important, they are not the only form of accident that can be affected by daylight or people's state of health or alertness. There is no evidence whatever about research into construction-related accidents—

Sir Peter Lloyd

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 93, Noes 82.

Division No. 30] [2.24 pm
Ainger, Nick Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Alexander, Richard Campbell-Savours, D N
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery)
Austin-Walker, John Carrington, Matthew
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cohen, Harry
Bayley, Hugh Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Betts, Clive Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Boateng, Paul Cox, Tom
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Burden, Richard Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)
Butterfill, John Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Dykes, Hugh Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Fabricant, Michael O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Olner, Bill
Fishburn, Dudley Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Foulkes, George Pendry, Tom
Gale, Roger Pike, Peter L
Gerrard, Neil Purchase, Ken
Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs) Rathbone, Tim
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Rendel, David
Hampson, Dr Keith Roche, Mrs Barbara
Hannam, Sir John Ruddock, Joan
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Sedgemore, Brian
Hayes, Jerry Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Henderson, Doug Sims, Roger
Hicks, Robert Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Timms, Stephen
Hodge, Margaret Touhig, Don
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Tyler, Paul
Jessel, Toby Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Viggers, Peter
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Walden, George
Key, Robert Whitney, Ray
Khabra, Piara S Wicks, Malcolm
Livingstone, Ken Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Mackinlay, Andrew Wilshire, David
McNamara, Kevin Wright, Dr Tony
MacShane, Denis
Maxton, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Mellor, Rt Hon David Mr. David Atkinson and
Mr. Paul Flynn.
Adams, Mrs Irene Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Kirkwood, Archy
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Knox, Sir David
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Liddell, Mrs Helen
Beith, Rt Hon A J McAllion, John
Bell, Stuart McAvoy, Thomas
Bendall, Vivian Macdonald, Calum
Body, Sir Richard McFall, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy McKelvey, William
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Maclennan, Robert
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Madden, Max
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Maddock, Diana
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Mandelson, Peter
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Canavan, Dennis Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Chisholm, Malcolm Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Clapham, Michael Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Corbyn, Jeremy Neubert, Sir Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cunningham, Roseanna Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Dixon, Don Raynsford, Nick
Duncan-Smith, Iain Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Dunn, Bob Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Salmond, Alex
Etherington, Bill Shersby, Sir Michael
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Skinner, Dennis
Fyfe, Maria Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Gardiner, Sir George Spearing, Nigel
Godman, Dr Norman A Stern, Michael
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Stott, Roger
Hain, Peter Strang, Dr. Gavin
Hoey, Kate Sumberg, David
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Hunter, Andrew Twinn, Dr Ian
Illsley, Eric Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Wallace, James
Wareing, Robert N Wise, Audrey
Welsh, Andrew
Wigley, Dafydd Tellers for the Noes:
Wilkinson, John Mr. Phil Gallie and
Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld) Mr. John Home Robertson.

Whereupon MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER declared that the Question was not decided in the affirmative because it was not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Order No. 36 (Majority for closure or for proposal of question).

It being after half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Following the acquittal this afternoon of Kevin and Ian Maxwell and Larry Trachtenberg on all charges, is it not right for the Attorney-General to come to the House and explain how the disastrous decision to prosecute them at enormous public expense was taken, and to take responsibility for that disastrous decision?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

That is not a matter for the occupant of the Chair.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. On a procedural motion, the House must accept the result, but the country may feel that to lose another 2,000 lives over the next 10 years—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has already made one speech today.