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Adopting Central European Time

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Roger HarrabinRoger Harrabin
An MP is bidding to harness the principle of devolution to allow England and Wales to move to Continental Time whether Scotland wants to or not.

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Hear Roger Harrabin's report (11/10/04).
Labour MP Nigel Beard

Nigel Beard, Labour MP for Bexleyheath & Crayford, believes changing the clocks would save lives.
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Shifting the clocks an hour forward is generally popular in England because it gives lighter evenings.

But previous attempts to switch time zones have been defeated by Scottish MPs whose constituents don’t want winter mornings to get any darker.

The Kent MP Nigel Beard says since devolution, Scots shouldn’t have the power to determine time for the English. He wants to give English and Welsh MPs the power to change the clocks independently - and allow the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly to follow if they wish.

Although the Scottish Nationalists say they are relaxed about being an hour behind England, in reality if England went Continental the rest of the UK would almost certainly be tugged along. The government is considering whether to support the bill. Without backing the measure will fall.

Mr Beard says a compelling reason for changing the clocks is a government study showing that it would save 100 lives a year on the roads. That is because people crash more on dark evenings than on dark mornings. The measure would particularly help children.

Similar research in the 1990s was rejected by the Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth who said Scottish Office statisticians believed the deaths savings only applied to England. Following this revelation Scottish MPs collaborated to sink a previous private member’s bill to change the clocks.

The BBC has been told that Scottish statisticians involved did not want politicians to make their misgivings public. They feared their technical scepticism would be used as a political weapon.

Now the Scottish Executive spokesman has confirmed in response to a BBC enquiry that the executive now accepts the changing the clocks would save Scots’ lives too. This is a significant change of view but it appears not to have been publicised.

A survey by the safety groups RoSPA earlier this year suggested that a majority of Scots would support changing the clocks if they knew about the deaths savings.


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