Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Friday, 3 December 2010

MPs call for scrutiny of daylight saving proposals

MPs have voted to approve a bill calling on the government to conduct a full analysis of the likely benefits of giving Britain more hours of daylight in the evenings.

On 3 December 2010, Tory backbencher Rebecca Harris said that moving clocks forward by an hour throughout the year, which would mean lighter evenings but darker mornings, could save up to 80 lives a year, mainly among children.

Ms Harris's Daylight Saving Bill would require the government to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of shifting the clocks forward by an hour for all or part of the year.

That analysis would also consider the best dates during the year for the clocks to go forward and back for summer time, and would then be assessed by an independent commission.

If the commission considered that the move would benefit the whole of the United Kingdom, a three-year trial would follow.

Ms Harris explained: "My bill does not enforce an immediate change, it does not seek to enforce the view of myself or my colleagues on anyone.

"I'm asking that the government should take an objective, informed decision based on the best available evidence so all these questions can be properly looked at before any decision is taken."

But Eilidh Whiteford, SNP MP for Banff and Buchan, said she had not been persuaded by Ms Harris's arguments.

"In the far north, it becomes clearer to me that getting up in the middle of the night is not pleasant - it's not good for our well-being, it's not good for our health, it's not good for our happiness," she said.

"It will just lead to danger and misery for people living in the north."

Shadow business minister Gordon Banks said Labour would not try to block the bill's second reading, although he believed the measures in it needed further scrutiny.

Business Minister Ed Davey said the government opposed the bill, although he acknowledged there "could be" reductions in road accidents and a potential benefit for some businesses.

The evidence on reducing energy usage and cutting emissions was "not clear cut", he warned.

He added: "One thing we remain convinced about, and which must lead us to oppose this bill, is we cannot make this change unless and until we have consensus on this matter throughout the UK."

That consensus did not exist, Mr Davey told MPs.

Despite the government's opposition, the bill was given a second reading with 92 votes to 10, majority 82, and now proceeds to committee stage.

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