Shock horror! The commission of the European Union has proposed to abandon summer time in the European Union. The council and parliament have supported this move and proposed 2021 as the date of introduction. As the UK will have left the EU by 2021 we will not be bound by this decision but may have to consider it. (Source Wikipedia.org).
So, enjoy British Summer Time (BST) while you can as its future appears to be in doubt. This year BST commences on Sunday 31 March and will end on Sunday 27 October. The effect of advancing time one hour forward of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is that evenings have more daylight and mornings less.
British Summer Time was first introduced in 1916 with the passing of the Summer Time Act. During the Second World War the UK adopted British Double Summer Time. In other words the UK was two hours ahead of GMT during the summer and one hour ahead during winter. This was brought about by not putting back the clocks by an hour at the end of the summer of 1940. The following spring the clocks were advanced a further hour to British Double Summer Time. At the end of the summer of 1941 the clocks were put back one hour so we were still one hour ahead of GMT. In subsequent years clocks continued to be advanced by one hour each spring and put back by one hour each autumn. We returned to GMT at the end of summer 1947. Between October 1968 and October 1971 the UK was on British Standard Time. This was introduced by one of our greatest statesmen, Harold Wilson. British Standard Time was GMT +1 all year round. I can imagine the election slogan – ‘vote for Wilson the man who gave you summer all year round’.
In 2005 Lord Tanlaw introduced the Lighter Evenings Experimental Bill into the Lords. This would have re-introduced British Standard Time for a three year trial period but gave the devolved bodies (Scotland and Northern Ireland) the option not to take part. The bill received its second reading but did not pass into law. The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-2012 was the last attempt to change British Summer Time. The private members bill introduced by Rebecca Harris MP would have required the government to undertake a cost benefit analysis of advancing time by one hour for all or part of the year. If the analysis indicated it was beneficial the bill required a trial to determine the full effects. David Cameron, Prime minister, supported the bill. The bill reached committee stage and was debated again in 2012 but ran out of time and did not proceed any further.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has recommended the reintroduction of British Double Summer Time as used during the Second World War. This proposal is now referred to as ‘Single/Double Summer Time’. RoSPA has suggested that this would reduce the number of accidents as a result of the lighter evenings. Environmental group 10:10 has highlighted the potential energy benefits of Single/Double Summer Time arguing that the change could ‘save almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
These proposals are opposed by many farmers and other outdoor workers and by many residents of Scotland and Northern Ireland where winter sunrise would not occur until 10.00 or even later.
Another proposal is to abolish BST completely and remain on GMT all year. So enjoy British Summer Time while it lasts and let’s hope it’s a good one like last summer.
The photograph of Big Ben, in its current scaffolded state, reflects perhaps the current status of the House of Commons and how that could also do with support. Not sure how deserving the occupants are …. (Ed)