Time Lord's Novel Scheme Can Only Split Union Wider; A Leading Commentator on Why We Must Not Encourage Separatism

Daily Mail (London), September 25, 1998 | Go to article overview

Time Lord's Novel Scheme Can Only Split Union Wider; A Leading Commentator on Why We Must Not Encourage Separatism


Byline: ALLAN MASSIE

JEFFREY Archer thinks we should have two time zones in Britain.

England and Wales could be on Central European Time, which is Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour in winter and plus two in summer.

The Scottish parliament, however, could choose to keep GMT in winter and British Summer Time - GMT plus one and doubtless to be renamed Scottish Summer Time - from March to October.

In this way, Lord Archer thinks everyone would be happy.

The south of England businessmen who apparently want to keep the same hours as their counterparts in the EU, and the Scottish mothers who don't want the kids to set off for school in the dark several months of the year.

The change might play havoc with the television schedules and go down badly in Berwick upon Tweed - but so what?

Even on its own terms the idea is daft. It would make little difference to the ease and efficiency of business, because there would still be different time zones within the EU.

Finland and Greece, for instance, are at GMT plus two in winter and plus one in summer, while the Republic of Ireland and Portugal keep the same hours as the UK.

However, more business is done between England and Scotland, which would then be in different time zones, than between England and Austria which would have the same time of day after the change.

But that's not all. Business hours are different even when countries keep the same time.

Banks i n France c l o s e between noon and 2pm every day - and often all day on Mondays - while banks in Germany shut for lunch between 1pm.

and 2.30pm.

In some countries, offices open at 8am and in others at 9.30am.

There are even differences within the same country. In Northern Italy most businesses are closed between 1pm and 3pm, but in Rome and the South they don't start work again till 4.30pm or 5pm, but don't knock off until 8pm.

Businessmen seem to manage to juggle these different hours and still get their business done.

Somehow or other we do a lot of business with the U.S.even though they are awake while we are asleep and vice versa.

On the face of it, all this might seem to suggest that Lord Archer's proposal is not so daft after all,, and that Scotland and England could accommodate themselves quite easily to a difference of an hour between then.

YET the f a c t that Lord Archer's suggestion is quite likely to be of some benefit to the SNP despite their derision of the scheme and should make those of us who value the Union tell him to shut up.

The truth is that the adoption of different time zones for north and south of the United Kingdom would drive the wedge that has already been inserted to separate Scotland from England that l i t t l e deeper.

The creation of the Scottish parliament is a recognition that Scotland has particular interests and concerns that may best be democratically decided here in Scotland. …

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