Following a lengthy debate in the House of Commons on Friday, the Daylight Saving Bill has been initially approved with MPs voting by 92 to 10 in support.
The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-11 is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Rebecca Harris MP. It requires the Government to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. If this analysis found that a clock change would benefit the UK, the Bill requires that the Government initiate a trial clock change to determine the full implications. The Bill has cross-party support.
Rebecca Harris MP set out her reasons for sponsoring the Bill saying “I believe there is enough evidence in support of putting the clocks forward an extra hour throughout the UK to warrant a comprehensive study by the Government, and that the possible benefits are too important and too numerous to ignore”.
The potential benefits of putting the nation’s clocks forward by an hour include:
- Saving 80 lives and preventing hundreds of serious injuries each year;
- Creating 60,000–80,000 new jobs in leisure and tourism, bringing an extra £3.5–4.5 billion into the domestic tourist economy each year;
- Lowering electricity bills by maximising the available daylight and flattening the peak in evening demand;
- Improving the quality of life for older people;
- Helping to make people healthier and tackle obesity by giving people more time to exercise and play sport outside in the evening;
- Cutting 447,000 tonnes of CO2 helping meet out international commitments to cut the UKs carbon output at minimal cost;
- Reducing insurance premiums by decreasing the number of road accidents and incidences of burglary;
- Reducing opportunist crime and the fear of crime in the evenings; and,
- Making the nation happier – including reducing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The Bill is supported by a large number of MPs, individuals, businesses, charities and other organisations through a campaign group known as 10:10 Lighter Later.
Other organisations and individuals however, are not convinced by evidence supporting a change, or believe that more information is required before a decision can be supported. There are particular concerns in Scotland due to the shorter winter day length in more northern latitudes—a change would mean that the sun would not rise until 09:42 in midwinter in Edinburgh, although sunset would be delayed to 16:40 from 15:40.
Business Minister Ed Davey for instance said that the Government opposed the Bill because the "necessary consensus across all parts of the UK does not yet exist to justify a change, or the passing of any legislation on the matter".
However, he offered to publish a review of the available evidence concerning the likely effects of moving to Central European Time. He also stated that Government would propose talks with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland about the issue.
The Bill will now go to Committee Stage in the House of Commons to be discussed further.
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