Posts tagged ‘morning’

2 February, 2012

“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

17 January, 2012

Help us to champion the case for lighter evenings

Time is running out – it’s official. On Friday, January 20, MPs will vote in the House of Commons on whether to back the Daylight Saving Bill. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents believes that a “yes” vote could bring benefits to all. So what are we waiting for?

clock ticking down the minutes Daylight Saving Bill

The clock is ticking on the Daylight Saving Bill

A move to Single/Double Summer Time (GMT+1 in winter / GMT+2 in summer) would certainly be a good place to start in helping to make the UK’s road users significantly safer. Extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists, by making them more visible to motorists. And at the end of the working day, motorists’ concentration levels are often a lot lower, so a bit more afternoon/early evening light – especially in the winter – would help to lower the risk of an accident. It is therefore credible to suggest that any increase in casualties in the morning during the winter months would be outweighed by the reduction in casualties in the evenings – thanks to an hour of extra daylight.

Friday marks the third reading of the Bill, which passed its second reading in December 2010 with a huge majority. This feat means the push for lighter evenings is closer to succeeding now than at any time since 1970 – and our recent online opinion poll showed that 92 per cent of respondents supported the call for lighter evenings. The most recent research carried out by the Department for Transport showed that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 200 per year. There are also a host of other benefits to be had as a result of the proposed changes, with independent studies showing that a move to SDST would:

  • Cut CO2 emissions by 447,000 tonnes a year by reducing the need for electric lighting in the evenings
  • Provide a £3.5bn boost to British leisure and tourism, creating up to 80,000 new jobs in the sector
  • Reduce levels of obesity by allowing for more outdoor sport in the evenings
  • Relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and similar conditions
  • Reduce crime and the fear of crime (especially among the elderly).

    Sunset over House of Commons Daylight Saving Bill

    The all important vote will take place in the House of Commons on January 20, 2012.

This whole debate begs the question: What would you do with an extra hour of evening daylight? You could kick-start that exercise regime, go cycling, open up your business for longer, enjoy a family moment, mow the grass – and that’s just for starters. It is also worth mentioning, that at this stage, RoSPA is calling for more evidence for giving the UK its extra hour of evening daylight. The world has changed a great deal since the last experiment, which ran from 1968-71, when British Standard Time (GMT + 1) was employed all year round. Now it’s time to gain a fresh perspective for the 21st century. Tourism chiefs in the Lake District are the latest to champion the Bill which they say will boost business, allowing attractions to stay open for longer and providing an opportunity to extend the tourism season. It’s a win-win!

So, over to you MPs – the ball is in your court. The nation is talking (and debating) on this matter. Is it not time to take a leap into the light? Whatever your view may be, here are a few thoughts and feelings from staff and students at the University of Birmingham to get you thinking:

 

To find out more and register support for RoSPA’s campaign, visit www.rospa.com/lighterevenings/

Charlotte Hester, RoSPA’s press officer/web editor

11 October, 2011

Lighting Up Time

Since I started to learn about the daylight saving issue some five years ago, I have racked my brain to think of any other government measure that would improve the lives of everyone in the UK, at no cost, and I just can’t think of one. It would make us:

  • Healthier – because we would have more evening daylight to take exercise and be outside
  • Wealthier – because we would save money on electricity, inject £3billion into the economy through tourism and create 60,000 new jobs (if ever we needed that fillip, now is the time)
  • More secure – because our elderly would have an hour shorter winter “curfew” and evening crime would fall
  • Safer – because 80 lives would be saved on the roads per year and 212 serious injuries avoided
  • Greener – because we would reduce our carbon emissions by 450,000 tons per year, equivalent to 85 per cent of all the renewable energy we currently generate, enough to power two-thirds of Glasgow
  • Happier – because it is uplifting to have more evening daylight, just as it is depressing to have less.

Never has an idea offered so much potential to benefit so many and yet been repeatedly stifled by so few. Even in Scotland, where opposition is traditionally strongest, public opinion is no longer against it – and yet it still does not happen.

Lighter evenings are good for all

At a time of extraordinary government spending cuts, you would think that politicians would read the 2009 Department for Transport report which showed that the implementation of this measure would cost the department £5million but save £138million that year and every year thereafter. Multiplied across government departments and local authorities, we could surely be shaving billions off the public budget, and saving many jobs.

And yet Rebecca Harris’s (MP for Castle Point) Private Members’ Bill, which seeks to define that impact (just measure the costs and benefits within government and only implement the changes, on a trial basis, if the evidence supports it), is grinding through Parliament as though the machinery of the state is deliberately thwarting its progress.

The truth is that no UK party seems willing to risk its Scottish vote by promoting this issue, not least because there is clearly some goading from north of the border. Try to impose this on Scotland, they imagine, and the nationalists will whip up anti-English/Union fervour such that the three “main” parties would have an unwelcome fight on their hands, which may weaken their share of the vote, especially while talk of a referendum is rife. Leave well alone, they assess, and their political foes will have one less divisive issue to trumpet.

So we may as well say it for what it is: A political calculation at a senior level taking away these potential benefits from 60million people, so that party electoral stability, and the (notional) strength of the Union, can be protected, or at least not put to the test.

For us in the 60million and for the 128 MPs who voted for this Bill at its second reading (bravo to them and if it ever came to a truly “free” vote, that number would probably quadruple), it is just shameful evidence of a hidden hand of manipulative control at the top.

And if I read angry, it’s because that deliberate obfuscation has cost the lives of more than 5,000 people and resulted in the serious injury of more than 30,000 people in our country, since the 1968-71 experiment proved that it would work. The word “shameful” seems incredibly measured and desperately inadequate.

Surely the cohesion of the Union, a far more strategic issue, should be decoupled from this simple, straightforward attempt to improve the quality of life of everyone in the UK? The Prime Minister laudably argued in Manchester last week that the most important quality in politics is leadership. Here is an opportunity for him to show us what it looks like.

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive

For more information about our lighter evenings campaign, visit our campaign website – and please sign up to support the cause! http://www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/lighter-evenings/default.aspx

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