Archer wants time zone for Celts

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND AND Scotland could be put into different time zones under proposals to be laid before Parliament.

Lord Archer of Weston- super-Mare, the millionaire novelist, has drawn up a backbench Bill proposing that the Scottish and Welsh parliaments should have the power to set their own clocks. Under the plan, MPs at Westminster would also be able to decide what the time should be in England.

If passed, the legislation would almost certainly mean that Scotland, where it gets dark earlier in winter, would be an hour ahead of England and Wales. Train timetables and television schedules would have to be adjusted.

The proposal is part of Lord Archer's bid to become mayor of London. The Tory peer believes it will be popular in the capital because it would give Londoners extra daylight in the summer evenings.

However, the move will infuriate his fellow Conservatives who will argue that such a change would encourage the break-up of the United Kingdom. It could also cause problems in the North of England where the time of dusk is more similar to that in Edinburgh than London.

But Lord Archer believes the change could help to reduce crime as most burglaries and muggings take place in the evenings rather than before dawn. "The people of London are sick and tired of going home in the dark," he said. "Each country should have its own system and not be influenced by this antiquated time zone. Just because we have done it for 100 years it's not a good reason to continue. The Australians don't give it a second thought . It is only nitpickers that argue this would break up the union," he said.

The police, safety campaigners and the CBI backed a similar bill introduced in the Commons two years ago. A Gallup poll found that 68 per cent of people were in favour of changing the clocks. Research showed that 660 deaths or severe injuries could be avoided every year if there was an extra hour of daylight, and pounds 250m in energy costs could be saved over 12 months.