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Leading article: May Day on the move

A proposal by the tourism minister to abolish the May Day holiday and replace it with a free day earlier or later in the year has naturally been received with hostility by trade unions and others for whom 1 May has special significance.

That there may be a political aspect to the suggestion, however, should not obscure the desirability of spreading statutory holidays more evenly through the year. This spring, because of a late Easter and the royal wedding, has an even greater concentration of holidays than usual, but the lack of any free days between late August and Christmas has long made the year unbalanced.

The minister's case is that a mid-autumn holiday could have the effect of extending the tourist season, so helping the economy – though half-term surely does its bit, along with the All Saints' Day holiday on the Continent which brings visitors to Britain. The chief benefit, however, would be to provide a more than welcome pause in the long haul from September to late December. Let's ready the flags for Trafalgar Day 2012.