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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK


UK Politics

Time for a change?

Lord Archer: Plan to turn back time in Scotland

England and Scotland could end up in different time zones under a plan put forward by Tory Lord Archer.


Lord Archer: "People are fed up with leaving their work and going home in the dark"
He wants to give the new parliaments in Scotland and Wales the power to set their own time.

The peer and novelist is behind a bill which he hopes will go before the House of Lord's in October.


Valerie Jones: "Supporters of the idea say it's good for business"
The last time a proposal for the UK to adopt Central European Time was debated, it fell because of opposition from north of the border.

The move to an hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in the winter, and two hours on in summer would give the English an extra hour of daylight in the evening.


[ image: England v Scotland at rugby: Kick off times would be different]
England v Scotland at rugby: Kick off times would be different
But two years ago a Bill fell because of Scottish MPs who said the change would leave the Highlands dark until mid-morning in winter.

The idea had the support of the police, road safety campaigners, business and the tourism industry.

Now, the man who wants to be the new mayor of London says he has the perfect solution - self-determination.


John Nicholson looks at what would happen to England if Scotland became independent
Scotland's parliament could decide to keep the present system while the Welsh Assembly and English MPs at Westminster could alter their clocks.

Lord Archer's views on who would decide in Northern Ireland are reported by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, which says he believes the move would cut crime and benefit commuters.

But a Conservative colleague of the former Tory deputy chairman does not agree.


[ image: Alex Salmond:
Alex Salmond: "Stick to writing books"
The unnamed frontbencher told the paper Lord Archer was only interested in London and his plan would "drive a further wedge into the Union and stir up Scottish nationalism".

But the novelist, whose title Lord Archer of Weston Super Mare is firmly rooted in the south, disagreed.

"Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are on different time zones and the Australians don't give it a second thought.

"Why should Britain?" he asked.

He also told BBC Radio 5 Live listeners: "Londoners say to me 'Why should we go home in the dark every night?'"

He said a poll revealed 88% of people in the capital, and 68% of the English as a whole supported a change.

"Why should the French children and workers go home in the light?

"Why shouldn't we have the same as them?"


[ image: Railway passengers used to have to change watches]
Railway passengers used to have to change watches
Meanwhile, Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, did not seem to think it was an idea in keeping with Scottish nationalism.

"I don't think there's all that much that Jeffrey Archer supports actually comes off politically.

"Basically he should stick to writing the books and leave the politics and the time zone of Scotland to the Scottish people," he told BBC Breakfast News.

The idea of separate time zones in the UK would be nothing knew since the country has only shared a common time for just over a century.

Commuters either side of the border may like to reflect that it was originally the need to keep the trains running on time which meant GMT was adopted nationally on 2 August 1880.





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