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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 09:25 GMT
Fresh attempt to change UK time
The National Farmers Union does not oppose moving the clocks forward
Moving clocks forward an hour in the UK would cut crime, boost tourism, improve health and reduce accidents, according to House of Commons research.

The only drawback mentioned is the possibility that schoolchildren might not be able to get a good night's sleep if it stays light until 11pm in summer.

The House of Commons Library research comes ahead of an MPs' vote on Friday.

Tory MP Tim Yeo's bill proposes clocks be moved forward an hour in England, initially for a three year trial.

His Energy Saving (Daylight) Bill would lead to the time in England being brought into line with continental Europe. It would also give the powers for politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to do likewise.

Winter would be one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and summer time would be two hours ahead of GMT. This would mean it would get lighter an hour later than at present in the morning, and darker an hour later than at present in the evening.

A trial from 1968-71 saw summer time maintained all year. It was not extended, but it did result in fewer road accidents. There have been a number of parliamentary attempts to move the clocks over the years, but they have all failed.

Health and wealth

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is supporting the bill - which unlike the previous trial would move summer time forward an hour as well as the extra hour in winter.

They say research showed there would be 450 fewer road deaths and serious injuries.

Traditionally there has been opposition from the agricultural sector, but the National Farmers' Union says it supports the RoSPA's view.
Crime: Reduced
Road accidents: Reduced
Tourism: Increased
Leisure time: Increased
Health: Improved
Energy consumption: Minimal reduction
Children: Sleep problems increased
Source: House of Commons Library research paper

The research paper says technology now means the issue of darker mornings was no longer as big an issue for farmers.

Previous suggestions of moving the clocks forward have also been opposed by construction workers and postal workers especially. In Scotland there has also been opposition.

Mr Yeo said he wanted to introduce the bill to reduce road accidents and cut electricity consumption "and thereby address the threat to climate change by cutting carbon emissions".

Research from Cambridge University's centre for technology management said Britain could save 485m a year by using lights less in the evenings, and cut carbon emissions by 170,000 tonnes.

The Commons last debated lighter evenings in 2004 when Nigel Beard put forward a private member's bill, but it ran out of Parliamentary time.

The House of Commons Library research paper says lighter evenings would encourage higher activity levels and increase time for gardening - the most common outdoor leisure activity - and outdoor sports, while tourism would reap an extra 1bn in turnover.

Sleepy Portuguese

In terms of business, a time change "would almost certainly increase communication with the rest of the EU since more of the working day would coincide", the research paper said.

Portugal, which has the same time as the UK, tried moving forward for an hour to Central European Time, but abandoned the experiment after four years in 1996.

The research paper says that in Portugal in summer the change meant it did not get dark until at least 2200, which the Portuguese said made it difficult for children to get to sleep, leading to repercussions with school performance.

The school children also had to get up in complete darkness for longer periods of the year, the research paper said.

It quotes Lord Sainsbury, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry, saying during a debate on an earlier attempt to move the clocks forward that in Portugal "it was concluded that the small energy savings could not justify the inconvenience the change created".

He said the impact on school children became a big issue in Portugal, and contrary to expectations insurance companies in Portugal reported a rise in the number of accidents.

Government satisfied

The question of changing the clocks was raised during questions in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Lord Truscott, the current Under-Secretary of State for Energy at the DTI, said the current British time system was a satisfactory compromise between those who preferred lighter mornings and those who favoured lighter evenings.

The government had no plans to change it, he added.

He said issues such as road safety, activity levels and tourism could all be improved through other specific policies, while business had not made any requests to the government to bring British time in line with European time.

The second reading of Mr Yeo's bill is due to take place on Friday in the Commons. As a private member's bill it stands little chance of becoming law unless it is adopted by the government.

Farmers no longer need extra hour
28 Oct 06 |  Guernsey
Peer fights for longer daytimes
23 Mar 06 |  UK Politics


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