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British Summer Time

Volume 174: debated on Thursday 14 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further representations he has received in respect of proposed changes to British summer time.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Mr. Peter Lloyd)

Representations covering all shades of opinion continue to be received in response to the Green Paper on summer time. The results of the consultation exercise—[Interruption.]

Order. Let us settle down. This question is about British summer time, and it is Mr. Martyn Jones's question. Did the hon. Gentleman hear the answer?

I thank the Minister for repeating his answer. When the results of the consultation exercise are made known, I hope that the Government will continue to resist any changes to British summer time. Does he accept that such changes would badly affect rural workers in my constituency and in many other constituencies further north?

The Government are well aware of opinion in Scotland and the north because of the responses to the Green Paper and our regular contacts with the relevant Department at the Scottish Office. We shall, of course, bear all shades of opinion in mind. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will be publishing the results of the consultation exercise and the Government's decision will depend on the general debate that follows.

Is my hon. Friend aware that if that change were to take place and we had summer time in the months of December, January and February, it would be absolutely disastrous for the construction industry? Is he further aware that I wrote the building industry's brief on this matter before the debate in 1971? I have not changed my views. The proposal should be strongly resisted.

We are very much aware of the views of the construction industry. What it urges is quite different from what other respondents have urged. The benefits and disadvantages of each aspect must be weighed carefully and then a judgment made.

Will the Minister explain the Government's difficulty over this matter? The Home Office has been considering this for more than two years now and the consultation period ended several months ago. Is the Minister aware that the dubious benefits of double summer time are outweighed by the undoubted inconvenience and possible danger to many people who live in different parts of the country?

The hon. Gentleman gives one view, but, as the results of the discussion paper will show, there are many different views depending on which element the respondent thinks is important. Difficult and detailed issues are involved, which is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has given them careful thought over a considerable period. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we intend to publish those results before the longest day in the year.

Will the Minister take into account the fact that people involved in business and agriculture in Northern Ireland believe that he should resist any pressure to change the present practice? Will he also take on board the fact that not only is that belief shared by people in Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland, but that the original question was tabled by an hon. Member from Wales?

We shall take all those points into account. The right hon. Gentleman has underlined yet again the fact that there is a great variety of views on this issue, each of which has some validity.

Is my hon. Friend aware that a significant number of people believe that if we are to take the single European market seriously and compete in Europe, we should have the same time frame as Europe?

Yes, I am aware of that view, which some people hold strongly while others believe that it is less important.