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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Should the UK have divided time zones?
Big Ben clockface
An MP is calling on the Commons to let the different nations of the UK decide independently whether to put the clocks back in the autumn.

Nigel Beard points to official figures which he says show that, if summer time was in force all year, fewer people would die on the roads, because more crashes happen on dark evenings than on dark mornings.

It could lead to England following continental time, but Scotland and Northern Ireland would do it if the wish.

What is your opinion on the MPs proposal? Should England follow the continental time? Would that save lives and money? Should Scotland and Northern Ireland do their own thing? Send us your views and opinions.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Dave Mailer, Bristol, UK:
Should the government abandon daylight saving hours?

Speaking as a Scot (and one who comes from the north of the country) I hate it when the clocks go back! I couldn't care less how dark the mornings are. Give us light afternoons, when it makes a difference to quality of life.
Robin, Edinburgh, Scotland

Do people realise that the Europeans change their clocks twice a year too? Otherwise we'd be two hours adrift for half the year instead of one? Sounds like they don't. Drop this stupid idea now - there's nothing wrong with the current system and this is the usual change for change's sake.
James King, Coventry, England

Although there are meant to be 4 countries in the United Kingdom, the states in America and in Germany have more independence than our countries. Whatever parliament decides to do with our clocks, let it be true for the whole of the UK.
Francisco, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Another unnecessary expense from the Government - Let the Europeans join us if they want but don't fix what is not broken !
Piers Catton, Blandford Dorset

This is the best idea that this parliament has ever come up with. As a cyclist I'm now grounded (during the summer I cycle to work) because of the lack of daylight. If we moved to Central European Time it would be fantastic. I love going to Brittany in France in summer, it's still daylight at eleven o'clock at night. Nigel Beard should take this to the general public in a referendum, he's guaranteed my YES vote.
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke, UK

It's clear that very few people really understand the reasons for clock-changing every 6 months
John, London UK

Reading the differing comments on this topic, it's clear that very few people really understand the reasons for clock-changing every 6 months. This is well worth the government re-examining the issues. What would give greater fuel savings?
John, London UK

It would be silly for England and Scotland to be on different time zones - what would happen, for example, to rail timetables? But I agree that we should adopt CET. The road safety argument in favour of lighter evenings is strong; people are more alert in the morning and more casualties occur on dark afternoons. By the way, the Europeans change their clocks as well; it's just that they are an hour ahead all the time. Don't turn this into another "little Englander" debate.
Geoff Kerr, Todmorden, UK

So if I lived on the border between England and Scotland. Say I worked in Scotland but lived in England would I end up working two hours more or less each day, more importantly how many hours would I get paid for? Nice to see the light hearted side of MPs wasting UK tax payer's money debating this, just proves what their job is.
Phill C, Sheffield, UK

I think we should be in-line with the continent.
Chris, Ashford, Kent

People seem to forget that Time Zones are usually determined by Longitude so the fact that Scotland is further North has no actual impact
Garry Ellis, Benfleet

What exactly is stopping Scottish schools from starting at 10am?
Andrew Marshall, UK

On the day that we're told that the new NHS IT system is going to cost 31bn, or 550 for every man, woman and child in the country, I think we've got more important things to worry about.
Mark Fulford, Southampton, UK

Tony Blair should just declare that it is daylight at 10pm in December... no-one would doubt him and all his MPs would vote for the motion.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

Why would we want to have a north-south time zone split, when every other time zone in the world is split east-west?
David Brown, Stirling, Scotland

Our time zone isn't a long standing tradition (it is less than 100 years old) and it is shared with other European countries. Still more countries in Europe are 2 hours ahead of us. I know it's popular to blame everything on the EU but lets try and be rational about this!
Craig, Birmingham

One more step closer to Europe - no thanks. Daft idea anyway, what with hunting and the Iraq war consuming all the MP's time and (our) money - its about time the MPs worked 48 weeks per year and did something useful for the country.
Tom, Ipswich, UK

BST all year please.
Stephen Rogers, Muswell Hill, London
BST all year please. People in England need to get behind this. Thank you Nigel Beard!
Stephen Rogers, Muswell Hill, London

When I was at school I used to think that lighter evenings would be better. But that was because I generally got home when it was still light. Now I work full-time, my opinion has changed. If we kept BST all year round, it would still be dark when I got home in the winter (so no gain there), and it would be dark for longer in the mornings (which is depressing and makes it so difficult to get up). So I don't really see what the point would be.
Katherine, London, UK

Even if you reorganised the words to read "Should Liam Gallagher be beatified?", the answer would still be no. Half the country being in the dark is what keeps politicians in power!
Ian, UK

Just do away with the silly idea of changing the clocks twice a year. It doesn't actually change the number of daylight hours, children rarely go to school on foot, and livestock can't tell the time. I would far rather be on par with Europe than US any day. But why divide the country?
Elaine, Letchworth UK

Yes let's change the time to CET for England and Wales and let Scotland keep the current arrangement
Ruth K, Warrington, UK

Surely people are in more of a rush in the morning, so there are likely to be more accidents if the mornings are darker?
Robert C, Sheffield, UK

To Diana, London, Danish farmers don't complain because, although they are at the same latitude as Scotland, they are further east, hence the sun rises much earlier there. In a way, I can see the point of view of the Scots, but since there are other countries such as Iceland, Sweden and Norway in similar boats, I don't see they have any reason to moan.
Paul, Isle of Man

I do feel that GMT is safer in the winter than BST
Gary Russell, Peterborough, England
It is not a question of being European or anti-European to want to be on GMT. Australia is one country and has multiple time zones; Europe can do the same. I do feel though that GMT is safer in the winter than BST as this is the period people are rushing around to get to places on time. There isn't so much urgency in the evenings and hence accident rates will be less.
Gary Russell, Peterborough, England

At the end of the day, during the Winter months, there are simply fewer hours of light to go around. If you abandon GMT in favour of BST all year round, true you may have lighter mornings, but the commute home in the evening will be darker. It makes no difference at all in the big scheme of things.
Dan, Wakefield, UK

Different time zones within the EEC is complete nonsense, we should all keep to the same time zone, I have business interests across Europe and lose several hours every day due to this silly and stupid system of changing clocks. It's very simple we have x hours of sunlight each day, this doesn't change no matter what we do with the clocks? Why don't MPs occasionally have something better to do with 'our' time rather than this?
Bruce Walton, London

In the winter I go to work in the half-light. Not great, but at least it's half-light. It gets dark by 4pm, so even if we change the clocks an hour forward it would still be dark when I left work at 5.30. So even if we got 'lighter evenings' I wouldn't benefit - it would still be dark before I left the office. The difference is I would go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Joy, joy!
KG, Glasgow, UK

By adjusting the clocks we will for once be in time with Europe. It will benefit us not only in winter but more so during the summer months. This business of putting the clocks backward and forward is a monolithic institution which benefits only a minority.
Tony, Hornchurch Essex UK

From one who lives in the South West of England, yes please. An extra hour's daylight in the evening will make a small, but significant increase to our quality of life.
Richard, Plymouth, England

England should follow continental time and let Scotland decide for themselves
Harvey Skipsey, Newcastle upon Tyne England

This new proposal would mean I would go to work in the light and go home in the dark, can Mr Nigel Beards promises that I won't have an accident on the way home? So why cause all the confusion? Why Split Britain?
David Stevenson, Merthyr Tydfil (Wales)

I am sorry but I have to agree with what Andrew Moore from Wednesbury has to say. This idea is simply ludicrous and what works in Europe is not necessarily good for the UK.
Claire Oswald , Scotland

The USA has many different time zones so why not the UK. At the end of the day what is good for the South of England is not good for everywhere and it would be ridiculous for Scotland to adopt CET meaning it wouldn't be light until lunchtime in winter.
Janie, Scotland

What's all the fuss about? Can't Tony Blair just ban winter?
Jim Kirk, Basildon UK

I found the UK incredibly dark when I visited London last December. Now devolution has occurred it seems illogical to be dictated by the edicts of Edinburgh.
Dominic Charles, Almaty, Kazakhstan

This is pure petty politics of the devolutionist kind and should be given the proverbial red card
Phil KIng, market harborough,UK
When I lived on Teeside, I can remember the 1969 experiment, and going to and coming home from school in the dark and having to wear reflective yellow jackets...it was scrapped as it was so unpopular and more dangerous. There is no real public desire for such a move, this is pure petty politics of the devolutionist kind and should be given the proverbial red card!
Phil KIng, market harborough,UK

'Pathetic'? 'Better things to deal with'? What better thing is there to deal with than the 300 road deaths a year that could be saved by keeping us at summer time. This is exactly the sort of stuff that MP's should be dealing with!
Katherine, London, UK

Isn't this just a premise for sneaking in even longer working hours through the back door?
Chris, Oxford

This nation is divided enough as it is over one issue or another. The last thing we need to tear it up even further with silly notions of two or more time zones. We need more unity in the UK, not more division!
Aaron David Hall, Worcester, UK

Why don't we just start work an hour later, or earlier or whatever it is - I'm confused
Steve, Swansea, Wales

Never have I heard of something so ridiculous!
Jon Haggis, WImbledon, London
Never have I heard of something so ridiculous! I understand a vast country like the US need different time zones, but the UK is not big enough to have it's varying time zones, after all it is called Greenwich Mean Time.
Jon Haggis, WImbledon, London

Here "on the continent" we still put our clocks backwards and forwards an hour - we're just one hour ahead of the UK to start with and remain so all the year round. We still have dark mornings and dark evenings - and we still try to "correct" the amount of darkness with these silly time changes. So by making "summer in force all year" you'd be in line with the European mainland for 6 months and 1 hour out for the other 6 months. At least the way it is at the moment the time difference is consistent!
Ellie, Germany

We face a pension's crisis. Our towns are overrun by drunken thugs. Children are being shot on our streets. People can't afford basic things like a home. Haven't our MP's got more pressing matters to deal with? This is just pathetic.
Andrew Moore, Wednesbury, England

About time too! I have been lobbying my MP, but have had no success. Have double summer time in the summer and summertime in the winter. Scotland can have its own time, whatever it likes to suit itself.
Colin Andrews, Cooden Sussex

The UK's adoption of a single time zone across the kingdom was so monumental that the reference point for world time is Greenwich, UK and the reference point for Satellite and Computer time is Universal Time Coordinate (UTC) - which is also GMT. Since the whole universe is now centred around our time zone, it'd be crazy for us to abandon it :-)
Julian Skidmore, Manchester, UK

We should do what is best for us and our people, if it saves lives then yes. Scotland can decide from them selves as they have done on many issues since devolution.
Steve, Horsham, England

Changing the time won't make the blindest bit of difference to the amount of time I'm stuck in the office so I don't really care!
Vik, UK

This is nothing to do with saving lives - it is just the ironing out of another bump in the road toward full integration with Europe. They will be trying to get us to adopt the Euro next!
Alan, Chichester UK

Why should we move to CET anyway? It's stupid. Things are fine as they are. If we move to CET, it won't be getting dark until near midnight in the summer, and will be dark past 9AM during the winter. Dark winter mornings will be just as hazardous as evenings- probably more so when you add school children, people who still haven't woke up and frost and black ice which won't have cleared up, there could be more deaths. Leave things as they are, there is no real benefit at all from going over to CET.
James Hadfield, Mansfield, England

Why should Scotland be penalised for the benefit of England?'
Buzz, Glasgow
I take it the woman who said 'why do the Scots have to differ?' isn't Scottish. I would ask 'why should Scotland be penalised for the benefit of England?' When I visit England I really notice how much earlier it gets darker. I don't want that for Scotland. And I don't believe accident statistics as they are always produced to favour the victims of accidents and never reflect the true situation. If England wants to change it can change, but the rest of us are intelligent enough to make up our own minds thank you very much.
Buzz, Glasgow

There are two different issues here: 1. should England and Wales follow continental time and 2. should the clocks change to BST every year. The clocks also change on the Continent! I suggest England and Wales move their clocks forward 1/2 hour and the Continent back 1/2 hour.
Kitty, Paris, France

I fully support the proposal. Lighter evenings greatly improve quality of life, something badly needed in London and England! I really hope it succeeds.
Patrick, London

I thought we had got over this old chestnut in 1969 when we tried the abandonment of daylight saving as a 3? 2? year experiment. It didn't work which is why we returned to our tried and trusted clock changing. My abiding memory is the misery of the long dark mornings, sitting at my school desk watching the sun rise at last and knowing that by the time I got home it would be dark again. And this was in London so how it was in the north I dread to think. People have such short memories.
Carol Metcalfe, East London / Essex

Obviously this man does not realise the huge financial implications of moving the clock forward and back to businesses. In Australia the cost of Western Australia staying put is substantially large especially on the money markets. But in the end the guy is a politician and they know what best for them.
Martin, UK

Britain should retain Greenwich Mean Time throughout the country
J.Burdall, Matlock, England
Surely this is a joke? Britain should retain Greenwich Mean Time throughout the country, the only reason for time zones is in situations where a country extends great distances on an East/West parameter not a North/South one. This country does not need to follow the continent on their time system and should get rid of the stupidity of 'SummerTime' which was only brought in as a temporary measure in the first place.
J.Burdall, Matlock, England

Does this finally mean I might see daylight during winter?... Not everyone works on farm's don't you know!... fantastic!
Louis, Manchester, UK

Why? I will still be late for appointments!
Rob Watson, Winchester, Hampshire

It seems that some people don't realise that more light in the evenings means more dark in the mornings. It's bad enough as it is getting up for work in the winter when it's dark. GMT is the natural time zone for the UK.
Jamie, Northallerton, England

Even though I start work at the normal time of 9am, living in Scotland means that for four months of every year I get out of bed in the dark, which is very difficult as I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. If Scotland was on European time, I'd be doing this for 6 months of the year or more and be permanently exhausted. In mid-winter it wouldn't get properly light up here until 10.30am, and that is just ludicrous. I don't mind if the English have a different time zone, but if Scotland follows its lead, I may seriously consider emigrating.
Anna, Glasgow

A comment to Bill of Great Dunmow: I think I'd prefer lighter evenings and 100 fewer deaths a year than the current system. If Europe has a simpler, safer system than our archaic arrangement, what possible arguments are there against change? Suggesting that we would be "bowing" to Europe by "losing" GMT is also incorrect; longitude 0 is *by definition* through Greenwich. Changing this would be akin to moving midday to 2pm.
Ben, Christchurch, UK

As a systems engineer doing away with B.S.T. would be a blessing.
Joseph Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK
As a systems engineer doing away with B.S.T. would be a blessing. You wouldn't believe the number of problems a clock change has. It would be OK if computers time stamped to GMT but customers insist on the clock time. As a result if your doing maths involving small time differences you have to factor in the clock change. The result is that a ten minute time difference in the period of a clock change can become +70 minutes or -50 minutes. As a result all time calculations have to account for this. Please, please, please do away with B.S.T.
Joseph Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK

It would be a completely ridiculous situation to have a country as (relatively) small as the UK to have two different time zones. Also, GMT is used the world round as a reference point for other time differences - what a ridiculous situation to be in if it ceased to exist at any point in the place it is named after!
Sue, Herts

I've never heard such a load of rubbish in my life. Fancy having to change your watch when you travel to Scotland or Ireland! Hasn't this MP got anything better to kick up a stink about?
Tracy, Hudds UK

Can't imagine why we plunge ourselves into stygian gloom for six months of the year - why not leave the clocks on BST all year round? As Nigel Beard points out, less road deaths - or would the politicians find this statistic unacceptable because it wasn't due to some grand road safety initiative...
David, London, UK

Why do we muck about with the clocks anyway? Surely those workers or institutions who need daylight should alter their working hours to suit. An additional benefit of this would be less traffic congestion, because the 'rush hour' would be spread over a longer time period.
Andy, Manchester, England

As someone living in Scotland I would be dead against any change to the status quo
Caroline Low, Glenrothes, Scotland
As someone living in Scotland I would be dead against any change to the status quo. Why should Scots children have to go to school in the dark? Aren't there enough dangers in walking to school already? I still can't let my 9 year old walk the 10 minutes to school on her own because the traffic congestion is so bad outside the school - in the dark it would be even more dangerous and there would be far more accidents. As for less road deaths, isn't it just switching the problem from the evening rush hour to the morning one?
Caroline Low, Glenrothes, Scotland

This discussion, bizarrely, is predicated on the abandonment of DST, something that no-one proposes. Some contributors - bizarrely - seem to believe that EU countries have no DST. Of course, they have a standardized system of which we are part. Where we differ is having our time, year round, one hour off the EU norm. This we should change, but the Scots dominance of UK politics will prevent it, even though statistics show how many English children die on dark roads because of it.
David A, Kent

Every year we get this, I for one would be quite happy to go to CET, but please just make a decision and stick to it, rather than bring the same old arguments every year.
Tim, UK

We have problems with the NHS, transport, crime, education and an ill-supplied armed forces but MPs seem to be bothered about something as minor as this.
Luke, Middx

It's not a bad idea, especially if you commute. You can get up when it's dark and return home in the dark - if you're stuck in an office or college all day then you may never get any exposure to natural sunlight. This can be very depressing. A little light in the evenings certainly shouldn't do too much harm.
Amy, Berks

If it leads to a decrease in traffic accidents and deaths then it would certainly be worth giving year-round summer time a trial, after all the summer time hours have been changed before - notably in the war I believe with double summer time for farming.
Chris King, Islington

This just sounds like it will confuse everybody
Caroline, Durham, England
This just sounds like it will confuse everybody and would probably be reversed in about a year anyway. I really don't see what point it would ever take, it's ludicrous! I'm waiting for someone to shout "April Fool!"
Caroline, Durham, England

I agree we should have the same time all the year round. We should have European time. Don't like altering the clocks.
Mr Andrew Trevor Clarke, Slough Berkshire

Scotland has her own legal system, her own education system and her own parliament and quite right too for what is good for England is not necessarily good for the other countries within the United Kingdom. So why shouldn't we have different time zones reflecting our different needs. It makes sense for London, which is close to Paris than it is to Edinburgh, to have the same time zone as the continent.
Richard Cotton, London, UK

Do Danish farmers complain - they are one hour ahead of us, just like the rest of Europe. Why should the Scots need to differ? Living in England, I think it's ridiculous for our hours not to match those of Europe and conformity is way overdue.
Diana, London, UK

Firstly BST is wrong surely if we want to live in a single time it should be GMT! Time is just an arbitrary measurement, if companies want people to start work at 10GMT let them start at 10 it's irrelevant what the clock says.
Rob, England

BST is a throw back to the first world war - why is it still in force anyway?
Dan, UK
BST is a throw back to the first world war - why is it still in force anyway?
Dan, UK

I never have understood why we bother changing times anyway. Why not leave the time alone and if you want to change the time you do something - like go to school, then just change that time. Why all this messing about with clocks in the first place?
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

That's a great plan. if England & Scotland are on different local times it'll make the journey times from Glasgow-London by rail appear less dire than they really are.
Peter, Nottingham (U.K)

No, and we shouldn't bow to Europe. Removing GMT removes more of British heritage. GMT is still used by many other countries as a reference point. Where will Latitude '0' go.
Bill, Great Dunmow

Oh yes. No disrespect for people in the northern half of the country who have to get up early but it is about time we were free to adjust our clocks to maximise the amount of daylight available when the majority of people are going about their business and pleasure. It will also minimise the amount of energy required for domestic lighting so it seems to be a win win scenario.
Julian Ziegler, Milton Keynes, UK

Lies, damned lies and statistics! The fatalities argument is a little spurious: the reason more people die on dark evenings is precisely because they are dark! Make the morning rush dark, and people will die then, too.
Tod, Barnstaple




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