HL Deb 22 March 1934 vol 91 cc403-5

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Lamington, who unfortunately is ill, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether the British Broadcasting Corporation have started to test the twenty-four-hour system, what methods have they used, and whether they can state what results have been obtained. I am sure that this question is one which must interest the vast majority of the people, because, while in a way it is relatively unimportant, on the other hand it does affect a great deal of our lives, though it does not in any way change our habits. I understand that the British Broadcasting Corporation propose to commence their experiment for the testing of this twenty-four-hour system on April 22, when summer time comes in. As a strong supporter of the twenty-four-hour system, I welcome that as a good augury, because for a considerable number of years summer time was vehemently opposed by many people, including myself, whereas now that it has been in operation for some years I find that it is a great boon and a great improvement on the old non-summer time system. I hope, therefore, that this twenty-four-hour system, which will be inaugurated on April 22 next by the British Broadcasting Corporation, will be so successful that it will be adopted as a national time measure very shortly. I beg to put the Question to the Government.


My Lords, the noble Lord has lessened my task in answering this Question, for he has to a very large extent answered it himself. That is to say, he has reminded us that the British Broadcasting Corporation have already made an announcement—it was made on March 15—to the effect that they will commence this experiment on Sunday, April 22, the day when summer time commences. As your Lordships will recall, when the noble Lord, Lord Lamington, raised the question only a very short time ago, on March 7, I stated that they would use the twenty-four-hour system both externally and internally, both in the programmes printed in the various journals published by the Corporation and in their microphone announcements. I understand that the noble Lord wishes to know for what period the experiment is to last. At present it is undecided.

The method employed will be the four-figure method. That is to say, 2.5 a.m. will be printed as "02.05" and an nounced over the microphone either as 2 hours 05 minutes or 2.05 hours. Similarly 2.5 p.m. will be printed as 14.05 and announced as either 14 hours 05 minutes or 14.05 hours. The noble Lord said he was strongly in favour of the twenty-four-hour system but I wonder whether, with that announcement, there will not be certain confusion existing in the countryside. For the time being, however, they will announce simultaneously both the twenty-four-hour system and the ordinary time as we know it. to-day, so that the public can have an opportunity of getting used to the new system. The Government propose, after the experiment has been given a thorough trial, to ask the Corporation for a report on the matter, with particular reference to the attitude that the public have taken towards the innovation. I trust that that is sufficient explanation to please both the noble Lord who has asked the Question to-day and the noble Lord, Lord Lamington, who asked it only a short time ago.


I did not quite understand the noble Earl. May I ask him how you use this system internally?


I think that the explanation of using it internally is in relation to the staff of the British Broadcasting Corporation in their arrangements and notices on boards.