MPs support campaign to brighten up the evenings: Fresh drive to put clocks forward

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The Independent Online
A CAMPAIGN to transfer an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening is said to have gained support from more than 30 back- bench MPs willing to table a Private Member's Bill on the measure.

A further 65 MPs support the campaign and would consider making it the subject of a Bill if they came near the top of November's ballot to decide who might put one forward, according to lobby group Daylight Extra Now.

The group yesterday launched a campaign to maintain British Summer Time through the autumn and winter and advance clocks an extra hour in spring and summer to make evenings lighter throughout the year.

The lobbyists argue that the measure, which they want in place by 1996, would reduce crime, improve tourism, help the financial services sector in its dealings with Europe and the Far East, and increase sport and leisure time.

More than 130 businesses and groups support the move, including the Automobile Association, British Airways, BT, the British Medical Association, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Tourist Authority, the Police Federation and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

Research by the Government Transport Laboratory indicates it could prevent 140 deaths and 1,820 injuries in road accidents annually. The Child Accident Prevention Trust estimates that 59 per cent of child pedestrian deaths would be avoided, while government figures suggest pounds 200m a year could be saved by reducing road accidents and pounds 250m a year on heating and lighting.

The Policy Studies Institute has also estimated that lighter evenings could add pounds 1bn to income from tourism, and lead to more jobs in related industries.

It is argued that the move would particularly benefit London as a financial centre. The UK's working day currently overlaps much of Europe's for only four hours, taking lunch breaks into account.

Mayer Hillman, whose research inspired the 1989 Home Office Green Paper on the subject, argues the change would increase efficiency. Clocks were changed four times a year during the Second World War to maximise the use of daylight. But the measure tested by the Government between 1968 and 1970 was not adopted partly because Scots expressed their dislike of the change.

Yesterday, Angus Crichton- Miller, Daylight Extra Now's campaign chairman, said Gallup polls showed increasing public enthusiasm for bringing Britain's clocks into line with the Continent. Between 1989 and 1992, support rose nationally from 62 to 68 per cent.

Sally Greengross, director general of Age Concern England, said the measure would be welcomed by elderly people, who regarded hours after dark as an involuntary curfew - many felt it was unsafe to go out after dusk.

The farming and construction industries, traditionally opponents of the change, appear to have softened their stance. While the Building Employers' Confederation remains against the move, the Federation of Master Builders is neutral, and the National Farmers' Union is opposed but sympathetic to the safety concerns.