'Time bandit' angers Scots by daylight plan

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The Independent Online
COLIN BROWN

and JOHN ARLIDGE

The Scots were yesterday waking up with anger to the plans of a southern Tory MP to put them on a different time-scale from the rest of Britain.

Sir Hector Monro, a former Scottish Office minister, warned that John Butterfill's private member's Bill, which seeks to move Britain on to Central European Time ending the practice of putting the clocks back in winter, would threaten the Union.

"The 72 Scots MPs will vehemently oppose it. It will create tensions," Sir Hector Monro, Conservative MP for Dumfries, said.

Sir Hector rejected as "ludicrous" a compromise offered by Mr Butterfill to allow Scotland to continue putting the clocks back, creating two time zones in the United Kingdom. He said people living in the borders would not be able to cope with two separate times - one for Dumfries and another for Carlisle.

Scottish ministers are also lining up against the Bill, which would provide an extra hour of daylight in the evening but make winter mornings darker.

Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State for Scotland, who will announce on Thursday - St Andrew's Day - government plans for devolving more powers to Scottish MPs, said he strongly opposed Mr Butterfill's ideas.

In Scotland where, if Mr Butterfill's proposals were approved, most areas would remain dark until 10am, nationalist politicians ridiculed the Tory backbencher as "a time bandit threatening Scotland with daylight robbery".

But Mr Butterfill, MP for Bournemouth West, strongly defended the Bill. "It's not a Bill proposed by an English MP. It's backed by 130 organisations, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Police Federation, the Sports Council, Age Concern, the British Tourist Authority and the CBI."

He said it could save an estimated 140 lives in accidents each year, and pounds 250m a year in energy. "Both of those would be particularly important in Scotland because there are proportionately more accidents in the early afternoon and evening ... and they have much harsher weather." He said they would also benefit from an extra pounds 1,000m a year in tourism.

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