Honestly, with all the economic and social problems going on in the UK, and now we’re debating time!
This weekend the change in the clocks heralding five months of depressingly dark evenings is a reminder of a huge missed opportunity. Giving us all an extra hour’s daylight all the year round is long overdue.
Sadly Vince Cable’s Department of Business has said that although this change is a good idea it can only happen if Scotland says yes, a cop out which millions of people will pay for in higher bills, shortened lives, lost jobs and reduced recreation.
A move to GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in the summer will bring our waking hours more into line with the hours of daylight with many associated benefits.
Approximately 100 lives could be saved and hundreds of other serious injuries prevented on British roads as the most dangerous period for road users and children is the dark evening rush hour when drivers are more tired and distracted.
While the South would benefit from an extra hour of daylight in the evening, for anyone north of Manchester it means dawn will not break until nearly 10am.
This proposal is not a new one. The debate around resetting the clocks has actually been ongoing since 1908 when the first Daylight Saving Bill was brought before the House of Commons.
Since then, there have been a number of other attempts including the Central European Time Bill which proposed England, Wales and Northern Ireland move to the new time but not Scotland, then there was the British Standard Time experiment which saw clocks fixed at summertime for 3 years between 1968 and 1971.
The 1968 experiment underlined that this change simply didn’t work for Scotland – it had a damaging effect on safety, health, energy consumption and commerce. So why would we want to go there again?
MacNeil rightly proposes
a more symmetrical changing of clocks either side of midwinter thus making the winter shorter and extending British Summer Time.
Moving to a timetable of 6 weeks either side of midwinter with a resultant 12 week period off BST rather than the current 22 or 23 weeks would allow would allow us some compromise between the two camps.
Late February is when light starts to increase noticeably prior to the Spring equinox. However, an independent time change is prohibited under EU Directive 2000/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on summer-time arrangements:
(2) Given that the Member States apply summer-time arrangements, it is important for the functioning of the internal market that a common date and time for the beginning and end of the summer-time period be fixed throughout the Community.
That said, there is something odd when the Mayor of London insists on abolishing Greenwich Mean Time. Increasingly, one gets the impression that Boris Johnson cares little about England or her history. Perhaps he is about playing to the interests of many EU residents living in London, I’m not sure. However, this debate over time change seems to be yet another example of things not being exactly what they seem. It’s not really about tourism, fewer CO2 emissions or more daylight but a closer integration with the EU via seemingly innocuous means.
In response to Boris, a few readers’ comments are worth noting. Here’s kgbarrett, Oct. 31, 08:37:
Why do politicians have to be so busy busy busy, annoying us? We don’t want this change, not even in the South, and we couldn’t care less about the illusions that the lying politicians and business leaders conjure up to persuade us it is all for our benefit.
We live by hours that are natural for us: that is why they are what they are. I’m surprised (although not much) that Boris should come out with this twaddle.
And rachel11, Oct. 31, 08:42:
What rubbish. There is a very simple solution. Keep Britain at GMT (Greenwich is, after all, based in London, Boris, so I’m not sure why you don’t want to be loyal to it) and change school and working hours if it’s too dark instead. It’s not rocket science. I don’t see why working times can’t be adjusted to say 8-4 rather than 9-5 rather than time itself. And then Scotland doesn’t need to change at all. One hour difference at each end of the day really won’t affect liasing with other places very much at all.
EU directives aside, if clocks are that big a deal, I still agree with this proposal by gwlincs, Oct. 31, 10:29:
I bet a referendum to move the date for clocks going forward to the end of Feb. would have universal appeal, including in Scotland, as it such a simple idea and makes eminent sense.
Accuse me of historical sentimentality, but I maintain ‘Hands off GMT!’
Where do you stand?