Scots win day over daylight

Euro-time debate: Government scuppers bid to bring Britain in line with continental hours
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Indy Politics
The Cabinet yesterday bowed to strong Scottish opposition by deciding to withhold government backing from a Private Member's Bill seeking to give the United Kingdom an extra hour of afternoon daylight, writes Donald Macintyre.

In a severe blow to John Butterfill, the Bournemouth West Tory MP who yesterday introduced the Bill, the Cabinet agreed yesterday not to give the Bill the extra government time it would almost certainly need to become law. The Bill will be taken on a free vote but now looks increasingly doomed.

Scottish hostility was based on the fact that it would have meant an extra hour of morning darkness in the winter-which has a particularly adverse impact on adults going to work and children going to school, especially in the North. There was also opposition in Northern Ireland.

The decision amounts to a victory for Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State for Scotland, who had lobbied hard against a powerful coalition of Cabinet opinion in favour of bringing the UK into line with European time. He is understood to have had the backing of both Malcolm Rifkind and Ian Lang, both of whom have Scottish constituencies.

Other ministers - including, it is believed, Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, Michael Heseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Michael Howard, the Home Secretary were strongly in favour.

The decision illustrates the increasing sensitivity of Scotland as a political issue for the Government. An alternative proposal - that Scotland should be kept on a separate time zone - was also strongly opposed by Mr Forsyth on the grounds that it could be seen as undermining the Government's commitment to the Union.