Clocks go back as row rages on

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The Independent Online

Science Correspondent

British Summer Time (BST) gives way to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) tomorrow morning at 2am when clocks go back an hour in order to make the mornings lighter and the evenings darker.

Lobbyists - such as the CBI, the tourist industry and road-safety campaigners - are in favour of abolishing GMT by extending BST through winter and having double BST in summer. They want Britain to come into line with the rest of Europe, which is an hour ahead of the UK for much of the year.

According to Peter Andrews, of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Cambridge, there is no scientific reason for changing the clocks. ''It is purely a social and economic phenomenon to do with shifting daylight hours to make life easier.''

Those in favour of putting the clocks forward an extra hour throughout the year believe it will cut road deaths, save energy, and increase the amount of leisure time by making evenings lighter. British business would also be on the same time as European companies.

However, those against the change argue that because Britain is further west and north than the rest of Europe, the Euro time would not suit people living in northern Scotland where dawn would break at 10am in the middle of winter.

BST was first introduced in 1916 as an energy-saving measure to move daylight hours from the morning to the evening, Dr Andrews said.

An added complication is that countries on Central European Time put their clocks back a month earlier than Britain. In an attempt to move towards co-ordination, tomorrow morning's extra hour has come a week earlier than in previous years. Dr Andrews said there is an attempt to ensure Britain changes its clocks on the same day as other countries.