HL Deb 14 March 1922 vol 49 cc470-7

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself in Committee.—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL of DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Application to Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

2. This Act shall apply to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in like manner as it applies to Great Britain, and the Royal Courts of the Channel Islands shall register this Act accordingly.

THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH (THE EARL OF ONSLOW) moved, at the end of the clause, to insert the following new subsection— (2) For the purposes of section six of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, this Act in its application to Northern Ireland shall be deemed to be an Act passed before the appointed day.

The noble Earl said: The application of the Bill to Northern Ireland is made at the request of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He tells me that the Cabinet of Northern Ireland are unanimously in favour of retaining the same time as the rest of Great Britain throughout the year, but owing to the fact that the. Northern Parliament does not meet till April 4 the passage of this Bill would be delayed if we waited until that meeting, and Sir James Craig has asked me to put in this clause. The Parliament of Northern Ireland, of course, will, at any time hereafter, be able to modify the hour, if they so desire. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 24, at end insert the said new subsection.—(The Earl of Onslow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

Interpretation, short title and application.

3.—(1) For the purposes of this Act the period of summer time shall be taken to be the period beginning at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the last Saturday in March, or, if that day is Easter Day, the day next following the last Saturday but one in March, and ending at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in October.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Summer Time Act, 1922.

THE MARQUESS OF CREWE moved, at the end of subsection (1), to substitute "September" for "October." The noble Marquess said: Lord Bledisloe, I understand, is unable to be here to-day, and I am willing, therefore, in his absence, to move this Amendment which is down in his name. As the noble Earl will remember, I raised the point in the debate on the Second Reading. I do not wish to repeat what I said then, except to enforce the view that it would make a very marked difference to the agricultural community in the greater part of England, and of course equally, or even more so, in Scotland, if the date in October could be struck out of the Bill.

It is during that month, which is the month when the harvest north of the Trent is taking place, that agricultural operations are so heavily interfered with by dew. Dew, of course, pays no attention to lets of Parliament, and the result is that the morning hours are very often entirely wasted, and the men have to kick their heels about the farm instead of getting to work in the fields. If it were possible to change the farm hours in the way which the noble Earl seemed to think possible, the difficulty might to some extent be met so far as harvesting is concerned, but the practical difficulty, as I am sure the noble Earl knows, is that you cannot, in farming, make overtime under present conditions take the place of the regular hours. The workers very often will not undertake it. They have a distinct distaste for working overtime, which has become a rather novel feature in agricultural life, because, as those of us who are getting on in life remember, the agricultural hours were very loosely interpreted in former years, particularly during harvest time.

There is the further difficulty, which I mentioned to the noble Earl on Second Reading, presented by the dairy districts. There the operations of the farm have very largely to be governed by the times at which the trains run, and it is impossible, where milk has to be sent a long distance, to get the hours of the trains altered in a manner which will suit the operations of milking, cooling the milk, and sending it straight off by train. Those are regarded by a great many farmers in many districts as insuperable difficulties, and if it were possible for the noble Earl to meet the very large number of people who are affected by this, even as regards this one month, I can assure him it would give very great satisfaction.

The noble Earl mentioned in his speech on Second Reading that this Bill was designed to suit arrangements in France, but some of your Lordships may have noticed that there is a great deal of disagreement in France on the subject, and, I take it, on precisely the same grounds. It is a question of the interest of the country as against the urban interest, as here. I see that on March 8 the French Chamber voted, by a majority of five—205 to 260—against the adoption of Summer Time, thereby following the lead of the Senate, which did the same thing last December. The Government were enabled apparently —I do not quite know by what method of procedure—to introduce an Amendment which allowed the introduction of Summer Time for the current year, pending a final decision, in order to fulfil the arrangements made with this country and with Belgium. That was carried by about 70 votes, and there will be Summer Time in France for the current year. After that the whole question will be considered again.

According to the newspaper reports the question seems to have excited much more interest in the French Parliament than it does here. It is said that the House and Lobbies were thronged, and that as much excitement was shown as if some great national question was on foot. No doubt there are a great many people who do regard it as a national question, and I hope the noble Earl will be susceptible to some persuasion on this point. The noble Earl, Lord Ancaster, knows that some concession would give the utmost satisfaction to a class of the community who are not having at all a good time just now.

Amendment moved— Clause 3, page 2, line 8, leave out ("October") and insert ("September").—(The Marquess of Crewe.)


I hope the noble Marquess will not press the Amendment, and that he will agree to a suggestion which I have to make. As I mentioned in the debate on the Second Reading, the times in this Bill have been agreed upon between His Majesty's Government and the Governments of France and Belgium. As the noble Marquess has mentioned, considerable opposition developed itself in France to Summer Time, the existing Law was repealed by a small majority, anal the proviso was introduced by the Government that for the current year Summer Time should be in existence between the dates agreed upon by the three Governments. We are this year bound to carry out our agreement with France and Belgium and commence Summer Time on March 26 and end it on the first Saturday in October. It is possible to do this without legislation. It can be done by an Order in Council; and in view of the fact that it may not be possible to obtain the passage of a Bill by March 26 it is proposed to issue an Order in Council for the current year fixing the dates as specified in this Bill.

It is a matter of common consent that it is desirable to affirm the principle of Summer Time in an Act of Parliament, and I hope your Lordships will agree to the passage of the Bill in its present form, including the month of September as agreed upon with France and Belgium—and as will be laid down An the Order in Council—subject to the understanding (and this is the suggestion I have to make) that when the question is raised next year an alteration in the dates shall again be considered, and before coming to a decision on the matter His Majesty's Government will carefully review the interests of all sections of the community, including the views of the agricultural industry.

The question may be put to me as to why it is necessary in these circumstances to pass a Bill at the present moment. My answer is that while it will be possible next session to bring in an agreed Bill amending the dates, if necessary, there will be serious difficulty in getting through a substantive measure next session in time to enable Summer Time to begin at the end of March. It is essential, if Summer Time is to continue, for a Bill to be passed through Parliament this session. That is quite clear. It is, however, difficult to get this Bill through Parliament before the time at which it is proposed to introduce Summer Time this year.

It is not necessary for me to refer to the advantages of Summer Time in the month of September. The disadvantages to the agricultural community have been set forth with great ability by the noble Marquess who has moved the Amendment on behalf of Lord Bledisloe, and although I do not agree that many of the difficulties cannot be met, yet it is accepted that the adoption of Summer Time in September is unpopular with the agricultural community, more especially in the North. At the same time, the extra hour of daylight in the early autumn is of great benefit to holiday makers, allotment-holders, and all those not directly connected with agriculture. There is no doubt that on grounds of general hygiene, public convenience and welfare there is everything to be said for the extra hour in the month of September. In addition to this, its expediency may be urged on the ground of economy, because the saving of light in September is substantial. This was recognised in the year of the coal strike when Summer Time was extended to October 25 for the purpose of saving coal and light. I hope the noble Marquess will not insist upon the Amendment and that your Lordships will agree to the clause as it stands.


I am sure the noble Earl has done his best to meet the objections which have been raised and I am sorry that he cannot give way on this point. I own, too, that I am not convinced by his desire to pass a permanent Act of Parliament including this particular provision. It is far more difficult to repeal an Act than to re-enact it, if its re-enactment is proved to be necessary, and I should have thought that if the Bill bad been passed for the current year and the whole matter left subject to re-consideration a year hence, it would have met the particular case of foreign countries.

The noble Earl spoke of an agreed Bill. You will not get an agreed Bill on this particular subject. There are some people who would like to see Summer Time lasting through October, and so far as our own personal convenience is concerned, Summer Time is no doubt a very pleasant feature.

But I ask the noble Earl to consider seriously whether, if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament solemnly affirming that Summer Time is to last till the end of September, it would not be extremely difficult, in this Parliament or in any forthcoming Parliament, to alter the dates? If the noble Earl persists in his view the agricultural community will feel that they have been played rather fast and loose with, and will not be consoled by the promise of reconsideration which the noble Earl has given. I rather hope some other noble Lord who appreciates the objection to the continuance of Summer Time to this particular month may say a word. I do not want to put your Lordships to the trouble of a Division if it can be avoided.


I cordially agree with the noble Marquess opposite, not merely as a resident in the North, but from the general point of view of the inconvenience to agriculture, and I cannot help commenting—as it is quite appropriate to what I may have to say presently—upon the very different way in which this subject is treated in France and in England. In France agriculture, is recognised as an important industry, and is supported in Parliament, where, as may be judged from the quotation made by the noble Marquess, a very large number of members obviously considered it their duty to do their very best to protect the interests of agriculture. I am afraid we cannot claim the same sense of duty in this country.

On Question, Whether the word "October" shall stand part of the Clause?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 19.

Canterbury, L. Abp. Harrowby, E. Aberdare, L.
Birkenhead, V. (L. Chancellor.) Lichfield, E. Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)
Lucan, E. Askwith, L.
Argyll, D. Malmesbury, E. Avebury, L.
Marlborough, D. Morton, E. Bearsted, L.
Sutherland, D. Onslow, E. Blyth, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Pembroke and Montgomery, E. Carson, L.
Curzon of Kcdleston, M. Scarbrough, E. Chwyd, L.
Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.) Strafford, E. Colebrooke, L.
Cottcsloe, L.
Normanby, M. Bertie of Thame, V. Crawshaw, L.
Burnham, V. Desborough, L.
Ancaster, E. Clilston, V. Gorell, L.
Bradford, E. [Teller.] Churchill, V. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Chesterfield, E. Devonport, V. Hylton, L.
Chichester, E. Knollys, V. Islington, L.
Clarendon, E. Peel, V. Killanin, L.
Dartmouth, E. Pirric, V. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)
Eldon, E. Ullswater, V. Lamington, L.
Lawrence, L. Raglan, L. Stuart of Wortley, L.
Lee of Farcham, L. Rathcreedan, L. Sudeley, L.
Loch, L. Redesdale, L. Sumner, L.
Marshall of Chipstead, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L. Swaythling, L.
Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.) Rotherham, L. Terrington, L.
Meston, L. Sackville, L. Treowen, L.
Newton, L. St. Audries, L. Walsingham, L.
Oranmore and Browne, L. St. John of Bletso, L. Wavertree, L.
Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.) Shandon, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) Somerleyton, L. [Teller.] Ystwyth, L.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Denman, L. Lyell, L.
Crewe, M. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Monk Bretton, L.
Monson, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Ernle, L. Muir Mackenzie, L.
Gainford, L. Pentland, L.
Harris, L. [Teller.] Trevor, L.
Ampthill, L. Hemphill, L. Wyfold, L.
Chalmers, L. Leigh, L.

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 3 agreed to.