City & Business: Continental drift

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ANYONE doing business with Continental Europe knows the problem of telephone communication. By mid- morning your opposite number in Paris or Dusseldorf or Milan has gone to lunch. You head for the trough just as they come back. And you have to be quick back from lunch yourself before they start heading for home.

I exaggerate only a little. The hour's time difference between the UK and the rest of Europe is enough to reduce the overlap of conventional business hours to just four. Going on to a Continental clock would make life a lot easier. It would also give Brits a better hope of reaching Asian counterparts.

This week, a new campaign for lighter evenings and darker mornings is launched by an alliance which includes the Confederation of British Industry, the Police Federation, the British Tourist Authority and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Strange bedfellows. They'll need to be doughty fighters to outmanoeuvre the traditionalists, led by the farmers.