HL Deb 22 October 1990 vol 522 cc1135-6

Viscount Mountgarret asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to bring forward legislation to enable the United Kingdom to adopt European Central Time in view of the positive response to the Green Paper Summertime: A Consultative Document (Cm 722, 27th June 1989).

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, the Government have no immediate plans for legislation on this matter.

Viscount Mountgarret

My Lords, I find it difficult to thank my noble friend for that rather inexhaustive and incomplete reply. Is he aware that more than 96 per cent. of the people of England and Wales and of Northern Ireland have responded positively in favour of adoption of European Central Time? Despite the fact that on the other side of the coin 86 per cent. of those who live in Scotland take an opposite view, is he not aware that approximately 25,000 of those responses came from England and Wales and only 5,000 from Scotland? Should not the Government take note of those observations?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, of course we take note of such observations. The trouble is that views are held with a certain amount of keenness on both sides of the argument. Because of the strong feelings expressed against the idea in Scotland and other places the Government do not consider there is sufficient support as yet for an immediate change from the present system.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, will the Minister please take note of the fact that I am one of the small minority mentioned who is opposed to any change?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I shall take note; I have taken note.

Viscount Hanworth

My Lords, is it not a fact that we tried this out a few years ago? It was not universally popular and some people disliked it heartily.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, it is one of those situations where one will never do the right thing. A good many people are in favour of change and a good many people, as has been expressed today, are against it.

Lord Monson

My Lords, does the noble Earl agree that the main reason why we should not adopt European Central Time is that the United Kingdom, like Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, is not geographically situated in central Europe?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, that may be one of the reasons but I should not have thought that it was the most important reason.

Lord Vinson

My Lords, in view of the fact that some 500 deaths or very serious accidents would be prevented by adopting continuous British Summer Time, which is perhaps a better way of putting it, and as the Government have now taken us into the ERM, might this not be the right moment to adopt European Central Time?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I do not quite see the connection between the ERM and summer time. I can only tell my noble friend that road safety is one of the many aspects that have to be considered in the light of possible change. I quite agree with him.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that, however much one fiddles about with the time, there is not any more light? If one wants more light in the morning, one has to get up earlier.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, that is, if I might say so, another example of rare Scottish wisdom.

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