Daylight saving report on clock change concludes that Scotland would benefit


On 3 December, there was a full 4½ hour debate in the House of Commons on the Second Reading of Rebecca Harris' private member's bill on daylight saving, the contents of which were largely drawn from Mayer Hillman's 1988 and 1993 PSI reports on the subject, and his most recent publication in October, Making the Most of Daylight Hours: the Implications for Scotland (see below).

Parliamentary procedure weighs heavily against the chance of a private member's bill making it on to the statute book. Firstly, because private member's bills are only debated on Fridays - an impractical day as many MPs prefer to return to their constituencies on Thursday evenings. Second, the 100 or so ministers in any government are almost invariably required not to vote in favour if the government does not support a bill, as in this instance. Third, a quorum of MPs must register a vote for the bill to move forward.

In this case, a quorum was reached and at the end of a highly spirited debate, the motion to proceed to the Committee Stage was approved by 92 to 10!

Mayer Hillman's reports establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the advantages of putting clocks forward by an additional hour, both in summer and in winter, would far outweigh the disadvantages: the loss of an hour of daylight on winter mornings only. The principal benefit would be the improved health and quality of life of the UK population that would result from the extra hour of evening daylight on every day of the year.

The new report

Switching Scotland to Central European Time (CET) would reduce road casualties, improve the quality of life and boost the economy, according to research conducted by Dr Mayer Hillman of the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster.

The report is the first to examine the impacts of the clock change with a specific focus on Scotland. It concludes that shifting the clocks forward by one hour all year round would:

  • Save lives on the road.
  • Increase opportunities for outdoor leisure and social activities in the evenings.
  • Improve the health and quality of life of the great majority of the population.
  • Widen opportunities for people fearful of being out after dark, especially the elderly, to go out in the evenings.
  • Enable parents to extend the hours they allow their children to be out of doors.
  • Boost the leisure and tourism industries through increased revenue and job generation.

The report concludes that advancing the clocks by an hour (to GMT+1 in the winter and GMT+2 in the summer) would be beneficial for Scotland precisely because of the limited number of daylight hours it receives in the winter. Indeed, parts of Scotland receive as little sunshine as some places in the Arctic Circle which makes it imperative that the limited number of daylight hours are used as efficiently as possible.

In Scotland, the change would mean that adults in 9-to-5 employment would enjoy a yearly total of almost 300 additional hours of daylight, with more than half of these falling on working days. For Scottish children, there would be a yearly increase of about 200 daylight hours, with roughly half of these falling on school days.

“Advancing the clocks by an hour, in real terms, would bring a further fifty hours of ‘available’ sunshine for children and seventy-five hours for adults in Scotland each year” the report’s author Dr Mayer Hillman said.

PSI Director, Malcolm Rigg, said: “The case against making the clock change in Scotland was never very strong and has weakened over time as a consequence of social and economic change and, even more so, of our better understanding of the benefits of daylight.”

The report is available for download here.