Britain may reconsider a switch in time zone

Backers see a longer tourism season. Opponents say sunrise would come later.

Posted: October 30, 2011

LONDON - Britain's government may reconsider long-touted proposals for a switch to Central European Time, a move that advocates insisted Saturday would bring lighter evenings and possibly offer the country's sluggish economy a boost.

Campaigners say a lawmaker's proposal made this year to permanently switch Britain's clocks 60 minutes ahead of current settings would extend the tourism season, cut road deaths, and help promote outdoor activities.

Debate over the change, which would synchronize British clocks with those in continental Europe, has rumbled for years, and legislators have made repeated attempts to press forward the case for reform.

However, opponents insist that northern regions would be badly affected, with darker mornings across northern England and Scotland. Some critics say the sunrise in Scotland could come as late as 10 a.m. during some winter months.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking during a visit to Australia, said he continued to be interested in the idea of changing the country's time zone - but stressed that semiautonomous authorities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland would need to agree.

"Discussions are under way across Whitehall and with the devolved authorities but that's the key, you can only do this if there is real national consensus and pressure between all the nations of our United Kingdom," Cameron said.

Clocks in Britain go forward one hour in the spring when daylight saving time takes effect and are turned back in the fall, a regime adopted in 1916 and known as British summer time.

During World War II, summer time was set two hours ahead, and the country has previously experimented with year-round summer time from Feb. 18, 1968, to Oct. 31, 1971, drawing protests in Scotland.

Scottish Nation Party lawmaker Angus MacNeil said that northern parts of Britain would likely oppose any changes.

Any reform "would have massive implications for the safety and well-being of everyone living north of Manchester," MacNeil said, referring to the city in northwestern England.

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