“Never was so much denied by so few to so many…”

I think it was James Madison – a Founding Father of the United States – who first warned about the “tyranny of the minority”.

But was anybody listening back then in 17blah-de-blah?

Though a lot has changed since our ancestors – those worthy pilgrims and prospectors – set sail for the “land of coke and burgers”…much still stays the same.

James Madison Daylight Saving Bill

James Madison is not amused!

The democracy of Madison’s age was founded on “certain unalienable rights” such as, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – ahem, slavery and universal suffrage aside.

So, it is a touch discombobulating that several hundreds of years later a few elected representatives can still shuffle into the Palace of Westminster – arguably the world’s oldest and most respected organ of democracy – and easily and legitimately deny the will of the many.

On Friday, January 20, 2012, Rebecca Harris MP’s Daylight Saving Bill was effectively killed by a small band of MPs who, without any apparent pangs of conscience, decided to “talk it out of the House”.

They did this despite widespread popular support, the backing of the Government, and scores of MPs.

The Bill simply requested that the Government take a fresh look at how a switch to Single/Double Summer Time (GMT+1 in winter / GMT+2 in summer) would affect the UK.

If the evidence had proved compelling – and was accepted by all UK governments – it could have triggered a trial. No more, no less.

To put the perversion of these Parliamentary antics into some sort of perspective, here are a few stats to consider (courtesy of 10:10’s Lighter Later):

sunset Daylight Saving Bill

It is important that we do not allow the "sun to set" on RoSPA's Lighter Evenings campaign.

  •  Of 160 MPs present on January 20, 70 per cent of all words spoken were from 10 MPs
  • The same 10 MPs consistently voted to extend the debate
  • 146 MPs consistently voted to progress the debate
  • 25 per cent of all words (nearly an hour of talking) were delivered by one man, Christopher Chope (the Conservative MP for Christchurch), who consistently voted to extend the debate.

RoSPA has been campaigning for lighter evenings for decades. All the evidence suggests that an extra hour of evening daylight across the year would make the UK’s road users significantly safer. Figures cited by the Department for Transport show that by adopting SDST, about 80 deaths and at least 200 serious injuries would be prevented on our roads each year.

Despite this setback, we’re still hoping against hope. At the time of writing, there’s still a chance that Business Minister Ed Davey might commission his own review of the proposal.

Alternatively, we could try to get another Private Members’ Bill tabled at the start of the next session of Parliament in May.

Whatever the next step, we would like to thank RoSPA’s many thousands of campaign supporters who helped take this Bill to the brink of victory. It’s the closest we’d got since 1970.

For more information, and to register support for RoSPA’s campaign, visit www.rospa.com/lighterevenings/.

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s campaigns manager

One Comment to ““Never was so much denied by so few to so many…””

  1. When will the minority look to the wishes of the majority and stop dragging their feet? Action is what is needed now to secure the Daylight Saving Bill.

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