>> 22 June 2010

Gordon MSP Alex Salmond has criticised comments made in the Westminster Parliament by the UK Tourism Minister, which have given hope to those who wish to reform British Summer Time to Scotland's detriment.

The campaign to adopt ‘double summer time’ as it is sometimes called, would see the UK run on Central European Time, placing the country in the same time zone all year as much of continental Western Europe. In summer, this would mean that the UK was one hour ahead of the existing British Summer Time (GMT+2), and instead of returning to GMT in winter, the UK would revert to the current British Summer Time (GMT+1).

The proposal, which has in the past been opposed fiercely by farmers and other outdoor workers, and many residents of Scotland and Northern Ireland, would mean that the winter sunrise would not occur until 10:00 or even later. This has significant safety implications for children who would be travelling to school in the hours of darkness if such a change were to take place.

Mr Salmond’s comments follow an exchange between Tobias Elwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, and Tourism Minister John Penrose MP, who represents Weston-Super-Mare. Asked what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on the introduction of single and double summer time, the Minister responded:

“I am delighted to confirm that, in line with my Honourable Friend’s long campaign and, indeed, with the support of both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party when it was in government, we are committed to examining this issue tremendously carefully, and I have already had conversations with my opposite numbers at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.”

Mr Salmond said:

"When David Cameron and Nick Clegg said they wanted to ‘change’ the country, I’m sure that this wasn’t what people had in mind.

“I can understand the attraction of Double Summer Time to someone in Bournemouth or Weston-Super-Mare. However, the implications of this for the North of Scotland would be simply unacceptable.

“If enacted, nowhere North of Manchester would see sunlight before 9am in winter. In terms of those who need early light for their work, such as agricultural workers, or those who rely on light for their safety, such as children going to school, the proposal is very dangerous indeed.

“It had been suggested that the coalition takes us back to the dark days of Tory rule, but I had not expected this to so literally be the case!

"A far more sensible idea would be to move to a more symmetrical changing of the clocks either side of midwinter, thus making the winter clock period shorter and extending the British Summer Time period.”

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