[Mr. JAMES BROWN in the Chair.]
(1) The time for general purposes in Great Britain shall, during the period of summer time in each year, be one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time, and wherever any reference to a point of time occurs in any enactment, Order-in-Council, order, regulation, rule, bye-law, deed, notice or other document whatsoever, the time referred to shall, during the period of summer time, be deemed, subject as herein after provided, to be the time as fixed for general purposes by this Act:
Provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the use of Greenwich mean time for purposes of astronomy, meteorology, or navigation, or affect the construction of any document mentioning or referring to a point of time in connection with any of those purposes.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, the period of summer time shall be the period beginning at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in April, or, if that day is Easter day, the day next following the last Saturday in March, and ending at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in October.
Amendment moved: In Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "during the period of summer time in each year," and to insert instead thereof the words "from the date when this Act begins to operate in any year, until the day following the third Saturday of May."—[Major Colfox.]
Question proposed, "That the words 'during the period of' stand part of the Clause."
Mr. COOPER RAWSON: May I correct a slight mistake in the OFFICIAL REPOET of the last meeting of the Committee? I am credited with having seconded a Motion to adjourn for a fortnight. What I intended to do, and what I did, was to 1706 second a Motion that we adjourn for a week. I would like to mention the matter now, as otherwise I might be taken as one of the many obstructionists who were present at the last meeting of the Committee.
Mr. CLARRY: On a point of Order. I would like to enter my protest against the thinly-veiled methods of intimidation which we have seen throughout the country during the last week in letters emanating from Captain Larking, of the Early Closing Association. I am very strongly in favour of this Bill, but were I lukewarm, there would be nothing more likely to make me side with the opposition than this sort of correspondence, which has been spread throughout the country.
Major COLFOX: On that point, I was about to rise to call attention to certain letters which have appeared in the Press, and which, I submit, constitute a breach of privilege of the House of Commons. They are letters—in my opinion they are very impudent letters—signed "A. Larking, Secretary of the Early Closing Association." They are a savage attack upon the conduct of this Committee. The letters start by mentioning the lack of a quorum, and criticise those of us who strongly oppose this Bill because we do not consider it our duty to come forward and assist in the formation of a quorum and so help the Bill to get passed. Of course, we did not, and we have no intention of doing so.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member is on a point of Order. Let him make it as short as possible.
Major COLFOX: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn." This Motion will bring me within the rules of order and enable me to discuss this point. The letters of which I complain, two of which I have before me, criticise the fact that we, who oppose the Bill, do not consider it our duty to assist in the formation of a quorum. Of course we do not, for the very simple reason that by helping to form a quorum for a Government starred Bill we help to defeat our own object. Our object is not to assist but to defeat the Bill. By adopting the method that we have adopted, and that we intend to pursue, we are doing what we consider to be best calculated to serve the interests of those whom we represent. Therefore, 1707 these letters are a gross breach of privilege. I will quote from one of them: "It was apparent that Major Colfox held a brief to obstruct the Bill being passed in Committee." I have not the least idea what "holding a brief" means. The only brief I hold is to represent my constituents. In so far as that is a brief, I admit it.
Mr. J. HOPE SIMPSON: On a point of Order. Are we not entitled to have the whole letter read?
Mr. MONTAGUE: Is there a Motion before the Committee in reference to a breach of privilege?
Major COLFOX: The Motion is, "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. RAWSON: If a breach of privilege has been committed, is it not in order to refer it to another place rather than discuss it here. If any one's conduct is complained of, should it not be reported to Mr. Speaker? Otherwise we might go on discussing the matter for an hour and a half.
Mr. SIMPSON: Are we entitled to discuss a question of privilege here?
The CHAIRMAN: I understand that the hon. and gallant Member will come to that point.
Major COLFOX: I had not intended to read the whole letter, but I can see the point made by the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Simpson), and I realise that it is strictly in accordance with precedents on these occasions, and, therefore, I will read the whole letter. The letter is headed:— "Summer Time Act in danger." The Summer Time Act is not in danger. It is the Summer Time Bill, an entirely different thing, that is in danger. The Act is on the Statute Book, and unless we repeal it we cannot alter it or touch it. This is not in any sense an attack upon summer time. It is an attack upon this extra Bill, which extends summer time long beyond the limits of the summer season. The letter is as follows:— "Sir, It is as well for those who are looking forward to the Summer Time Act being made a permanent Measure to realise that there is an organised opposition to obstruct such a Measure being placed upon the Statute Book." 1708 Of course, that is an entire travesty of the facts. We are not in any sense attacking the Summer Time Act. The letter is, therefore, completely inaccurate. We are attacking, and there is an organised opposition to, this iniquitous Bill. But that has nothing whatever to do with the Summer Time Act. The letter goes on:— "At the North Riding County branch of the National Farmers' Union at York this week, the Chairman stated that 'The Central Council will be able to kill the Bill.' The Opposition of the farmers, then, is no longer a question when summer time should begin or terminate, but one to kill the Bill for all time." I have not the least idea what is in the minds of the North Riding county branch of the National Farmers' Union. But the object of most of those who agree with me is not in any sense to kill summer time, but to kill this wretched Bill. It may be true to say that the opposition of the farmers is no longer a question when summer time should begin or terminate, but it is not true to say that the opposition in this Committee is no longer a question of when summer time should begin or terminate. That is not the point. The opposition in this Committee is confined strictly and solely to opposition to this Bill. We do not seek to alter or obstruct or fight the existing Summer Time Act, which has been on the Statute Book for two years or so.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member really must take one line or the other. We cannot have a discussion of this kind. He must either read the letter and allow the Committee to decide whether his charge stands, or he must get on with his argument.
Major COLFOX: Perhaps I was wrong in interpolating my argument between sentences of the letter. Perhaps it would simplify the procedure if I were to read the letter first and then to make comments upon it.
Mr. W. ROBINSON: On a point of Order. This matter is not really brought forward with any serious intention. It is merely another species of opposition. Why do not hon. Members who oppose the Bill put their cards on the table and let us fight the matter out on its merits? Surely they have some respect for people who give their time to the work of these committees. We do not want our time wasted by this sort of stuff.1709
Mr. G. EDWARDS: This is the first time I have been to this Committee, and I would like to ask if it is in accordance with the rules of Debate for an hon. Member, whether he be speaking in opposition to the Bill or in favour of the Bill, constantly to repeat himself? We have had constant repetition this morning. I should think the same words have been used a dozen times. Is that according to the Rules?
The CHAIRMAN: I will keep the hon Member's point in mind. The hon. Member is right, but I am the judge of that.
Mr. WESTWOOD: Has the position always been taken up by supporters of the Liberal Party or supporters of the Conservative Party that only sensible arguments are to be used to kill a Bill?
The CHAIRMAN: We hope, on a Bill of this kind, that we shall have sensible arguments.
Mr. BLUNDELL: Surely it is almost impossible to put forward any argument without repeating certain words a dozen times or more?
The CHAIRMAN: Words, of course, have to be repeated, but not arguments.
Major COLFOX: I should be the last to wish to repeat myself in any way whatever. Probably there is no man in the House of Commons who hates the sound of his own voice more than I do, but I would point out that, in trying to get ahead with my argument, and with the reading of this—as I think—most impertinent letter, I have been so frequently interrupted, that it has been necessary for me, in order to keep the thread of the argument clear, not only in the minds of hon. Members, but in my own mind, which, I may say, with all humility, works rather slowly, to start my reading at the place I left off. The letter goes on: "It was apparent that Major Colfox held a brief to obstruct the Bill being passed in Committee. First of all, he spent some time outside the Committee Room trying to prevent Members entering and making a quorum, and, when he failed in that, he did his utmost, by discussing unimportant Amendments and points of Order, to obstruct the progress of the Bill. During the two hours the Committee sat, one and a half hours were taken up by Major Colfox. Lieut.-Commander Cooper Rawson, Member for Brighton, and other Members, protested 1710 against the organised obstruction, but no real progress was made. Major Colfox, on leaving the room, triumphantly exclaimed to another Member, 'Well, we have had some fun this morning.' But, Sir, we do not pay Members of Parliament £400 a year to get fun in obstructing important Measures! If this beneficient Measure is to be placed permanently on the Statute Book, the 1,000 organisations throughout the country, and other bodies who have passed resolutions in its favour, should make it very clear to their Members of Parliament that the desire to prolong the time period to the end of September this year is very real. Otherwise the holiday season, all outdoor sports and provincial excursions to the British Empire Exhibition, will be seriously curtailed. Yours, etc., A. LARKING, Secretary, Early Closing Association. 34–40, Ludgate Hill, London, E.C.4." That is the letter of which I complain most seriously. I have voiced my complaint of the early part of it, and, as I hate repetition, I should not think of going over that again, but I may say that the sentence which states that I spent some time outside the Committee Room trying to prevent Members entering and making a quorum is, of course, perfectly true. I did, and have done so again this morning, and I intend to do so on every future occasion. I do intend, as far as in me lies, to make the formation of the quorum a duty on those who support the Bill.
The CHAIRMAN: Then of what does the hon. and gallant Member complain?
Major COLFOX: I complain that this is an impudent criticism of the perfectly well-recognised means of opposing and defeating a Bill to which one takes serious objection. Then the letter says that I occupied one and a half of the two hours. As a matter of fact, that is strictly inaccurate. To begin with, the Committee did not sit for two hours, for the simple reason that the supporters of the Bill did not take sufficient interest in it to provide a quorum until very considerably after the time at which the Committee was advertised to start. Even supposing you admit that one fallacy, it is incorrect to say I occupied one and a half hours. I have taken the trouble to find out exactly how much time I did occupy. It is impossible, of course, from the printed record—1711
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member is not talking now to a question of privilege, on which he has moved the Adjournment. He is now calling the letter an impudent letter, which it may or may not be, but the Question before the Committee is: "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Major COLFOX: May I suggest that I moved that Motion for two reasons? One was to call your attention to this letter, which, after what you have said, I will not pursue any further, and the second reason was to call the attention of the Committee to the entire misconception of what this Bill sets out to do, because the right hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones), whom I am sorry not to see here to-day, stated at the last meeting of the Committee: "I suggest it is high time that the country should know what summer-time is; that it should know when it begins and ends. We should settle once for all what is to be the period of summer-time in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee c), 22nd July, 1924; col. 18.] I suggest that that speech shows a total misapprehension of the meaning and scope of this Bill. That speech suggests, that unless this Bill be passed, we shall not be able to have summer time in the future at all. It suggests that those of us who are trying to kill this Bill are trying to stop the functioning of summer-time in future years.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member must know that he is not talking now of his Motion. I must put the Question.
Mr. SIMPSON: Before that Motion is put, may I ask one question? The hon. and gallant Member did not inform us in what paper the letter was published. A great deal of the importance of the letter would depend upon the particular paper in which it appeared.
Major COLFOX: I think it is probable that the letter appeared in a number of papers. I have it here as a cutting from the "Lancashire Daily Post," and also from the "Northern Echo." I think it extremely likely other papers also received this impudent letter, and published it.
Mr. BLUNDELL: I should like to ask you, Sir, whether you have any informa- 1712 tion that this letter has been sent to any Member of this House, because it seems to me that publishing a letter in a newspaper, or a number of newspapers, does not necessarily cause a breach of privilege.
The CHAIRMAN: I understand the hon. and gallant Member has withdrawn the question of privilege, and says it is merely an impudent letter.
Major COLFOX: I have no intention or wish to withdraw. What I said was that, having regard to what you have ruled and said, I did not wish to pursue that subject any further; but I do not in any sense withdraw anything I have said.
Mr. BLUNDELL: I should like to ask whether you, Mr. Brown, consider this would be a breach of privilege if sent to any Member of the House? I take it from what you said in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend, that you did not consider it would be a breach of privilege from the mere fact of it having been published in a number of newspapers.
The CHAIRMAN: I did not make any such suggestion. As far as I know, I am not cognisant of any letter, and, therefore, it does not arise here.
Major COLFOX: I have no wish to press my Motion to a division. As I said when I moved it, I only did so formally, in order to put myself in order.
Mr. WESTWOOD: Is it in order for hon. Members opposite, after listening to such a serious speech as the hon. and gallant Member has given to this Committee, to suggest that he is deliberately wasting time?
The CHAIRMAN: I hope the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) does not press such a question.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Question again proposed, "That the words 'during the period of' stand part of the Clause."
Major COLFOX: As I stated at the close of the last meeting of this Committee, this Amendment is really one of a series of four Amendments embodying one great principle, namely, that we should have a period of what might be termed half summer-time between the seasons, and that in the height of summer, namely, from the day following the third Satur- 1713 day of May until the day following the last Saturday of August we should have full summer-time. So that if this Amendment be incorporated in the Bill, we shall, from a date which is to be fixed in a later part of the Bill, until the date following the third Saturday of May, have this period of half summer-time, that is, by altering the clock by half an hour, and then, from the day following the third Saturday in May to the day following the third Saturday in August, we shall have the full hour, and then from that day, until a date which is as yet unspecified, we shall once more have the half-hour alteration. This is a most important principle, because, from whatever angle we approach the consideration of this Bill, it is obvious, even to the honourable parent of this Bill, the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), that the sun does not rise so early before the third Saturday in May as it does after that date, and that the very great inconvenience which is caused to a considerable section of the people by this alteration in the relativity of time would be considerably minimised if the alterations were to take place in two stages rather than all at one fell swoop. Feeling strongly that this is a bad Bill, but that if it is going to be passed by the bludgeoning majority of the townsmen and middle classes, we must do all that lies in our power to improve the Bill, I submit that this Amendment—shall I say this series of Amendments which I have on the Paper—would, if the Bill were ever passed into law—which I sincerely hope it will not be—very considerably minimise the disadvantages of the Bill, and, therefore, very materially improve it from the point of view of those somewhat inarticulate, but enormous, masses of the people who are dealing direct with elemental nature and are not living the semi or totally sheltered lives which we—I was going to say, enjoy—but which we endure, and the hon. Member for West Woolwich enjoys, I therefore do most earnestly commend this Amendment, and hope in their wisdom the Committee will adopt it in order to safeguard the position which would be created if this Bill became law. I should not then withdraw my opposition to the Bill as a whole, although I realise that it would be very considerably improved.1714
Mr. BLUNDELL: Might I ask my hon. and gallant Friend to point out which are the consequential Amendments to which he refers.
Major COLFOX: I am sorry not to have made myself quite clear. The only reason why I did not refer to them was simply because I was endeavouring to curtail the time I was taking.
The CHAIRMAN: I think the hon. and gallant Member made the matter quite clear to most of us.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I support the Amendment. I rather resent the suggestion on the part of some hon. Members of my own party that I am trying to play a silly game—
The CHAIRMAN: Order. We need not go into that matter.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I say that I am not. I support the Amendment which has been so ably moved, and I am quite serious in my opposition, because I do not believe we so want summer time in the month of April. We are having too much tinkering with the clock, for the purpose which the Under Secretary has explained, namely, to try and keep an international agreement. The Act we are seeking to amend was an Act before foreign countries sought to impose summer time. I cannot see how any altering of the clock will make summer time come in earlier here than it does now. I support the Amendment because there has been no expressed desire on the part of the people of this country for the change. This deals with the time when the Bill really seeks to change the clock. There is no real demand for it. Speaking from a working-class point of view, may I say that when we hold international labour conferences we hold them really when they suit the people on the Continent and when the weather is suitable for our international May Day demonstration. So far as the 1st May is concerned, I do not want to change the Act. The agricultural community are prepared to make a compromise, and to accept things as they are whilst they are really opposed to the Act. I am hostile to any attempt to impose upon the British people—and particularly on the agricultural community, and certainly the mining community for which I speak 1715 —summer time in the month of April. It is absolutely absurd. It may be all right for members in industrial constituencies to try to give us this extra hour of so-called summer time. I do trust, too, that in any opposition we put up that hon. Members will at least give me the credit that I am prepared to give them of looking after the interests of my constituents, who, everyone of them in Midlothian, with the exception of the shopkeeping fraternity, are opposed to this Measure. [Interruption.] I have not the slightest doubt that my hon. Friend who interrupts me knows more about Scotland than I do. A good many English Members are under the impression that they know more about Scotland than some others of us.
Major COLFOX: What know they of Scotland who only Scotland know!
Mr. WESTWOOD: The reason that I support the Amendment is because it will make the proposals a little less obnoxious than they are at the present time.
Mr. BLUNDELL: As one who represents a constituency almost entirely consisting of agricultural labourers and miners I agree with everything the hon. Gentleman has just said, except his support of the Amendment. If this Amendment were carried, it would make confusion worse confounded. On the Second Reading a most eloquent plea was put in by an hon. Member on the Labour Benches on behalf of the cows. It was pointed out with great force and sincerity that the cow was disorganised twice a year by the proposals of this Bill. If the Amendment be carried the unfortunate cow will have to undergo that disaster four times annually. I feel sure that in opposing this Amendment I shall have the support of the hon. Gentleman who made this plea, for it was a moving appeal that he made. However, it is not a question of the cow but of other animals. I myself feel the ill effects of changing my ordinary method and the ordering of my daily life twice in a year, and many hon. Members also feel worse for some time until they have become acclimatised to the new conditions. If we are to live our accustomed, though perhaps rather artificial, life we feel these extra changes, and, therefore, what must be the feeling of the un- 1716 fortunate animals who have not anyone to explain it to them, even if it were capable of explanation. [Laughter.] It sounds rather amusing, but when you think of it from the right point of view, there is nothing amusing about it. These constant changes must make a serious diminution in the milk yield of the country. My hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, if carried, would increase these various difficulties.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Rhys Davies): I do hope the Committee will come to a decision on this very simple issue. Perhaps I might be allowed to explain exactly what the several Amendments mean. When summer time comes into operation the clock would have to be put back or forward half an hour.
Major COLFOX: Is it backward or forward?
Mr. DAVIES: Then in about two months the clock would be moved another half-hour, and in another month or so it would be moved again a half-hour. Consequently we must oppose these series of Amendments, because a grading system of bringing about summer-time is an impossible thing. It would be impossible not only in this country but impossible for the posts and telegraphs as between ourselves and foreign countries.
Mr. SIMPSON: I am not going to support this Amendment, because I think there is a great deal in what the Under Secretary has just said. I would point out additional objections to it. It is not only because of our agreement with France, Belgium, and other countries, but once in the course of spring and once in the course of the autumn the Railway Companies have to exercise their ingenuity to change the times of every train in England, and under this Amendment they would have to do it twice. It would disorganise not only the posts and telegraphs, the dairy maid and the cow, but also the whole of the railway traffic of the country on four occasions in the course of the year. However much one dislikes this Bill, one does not want to make summer time a more appalling burden on the community by the acceptance of this Amendment. So I propose, if the Amendment goes to a Division, to vote against it. I sympathise, however, with the hon. and gallant Member (Major 1717 Colfox), because there are some of us who have to rise in the dark and trudge through the slush and snow to our schools, or business, or the Houses of Parliament, and such an extension of that we should resist with our whole heart.
Mr. EDWARDS: While I do not claim to know anything about Scotland, I claim that my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian Peebles (Mr. Westwood) does not know everything about England. Some of us do know. I do not know a more absurd course to adopt than that suggested by the mover of the Amendment. You are going to put the clock on half an hour, put it on another half an hour; put it back again a half-hour, and then put it back another half-hour. I know something of agriculture and I am going to support the Bill.
Major COLFOX: Hear, hear.
Mr. EDWARDS: Yes, but I did not say that I was going to support the hon. and gallant Gentleman's amendment. I am not. I am going to oppose it for all I am worth. By the adoption of the Amendment, you will throw agriculture into a greater state of chaos. If you are going to have summertime, let the clock be altered at a given time and put back at a given time, so that we may know where we are.
Mr. FALCONER: I want to put another point of view. We had six years' experience before the compromise was arrived at and it was accepted by all classes—agricultural, mining, and industrial communities, the shop-keepers and everybody. That compromise was embodied in the Act of 1922. My view of this situation is that we should adhere to that compromise. No reason whatever has been shown to me why we should depart from it. Therefore, I am against any Amendment which would encroach upon that compromise. I represent a constituency which is largely agricultural, but which includes a great many industrial people, and, if we are going to ask on behalf of the agricultural and industrial people not to go beyond the compromise arrived at, we must on the other hand, be prepared not to do anything that will take us outside that compromise. I believe that the country as a whole agrees that the 1718 existing Act is a right settlement. It is not in issue at the present time. It will be continued under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act. Whatever the fate of this unhappy Bill, Summer Time will remain part of the existing law. For that reason, I do not propose to support any Amendment which would involve a breach of the compromise, to which effect is given by the law as it exists at present.
Mr. RAWSON: It has been suggested that there is not any wide demand for this extension of Summer Time. Hon. Members who have spoken to that effect cannot be aware of the fact that a very large meeting was held in the City of London earlier in the year attended by representatives of all classes of the community from all over the country, including representatives of 43 different municipalities, 41 trade and other associations, and also of the British Medical Association—
Major COLFOX: May I ask your ruling as to whether what the hon. Gentleman is now saying is in order on this Amendment? As I understand it, he is arguing as to whether there is a wide demand for the extension of Summer Time. This Amendment has nothing to do with that point, and therefore I suggest that the hon. Member is entirely out of order.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member is in order.
Mr. RAWSON: I am obliged to you, Sir, for your ruling. I maintain that as those who spoke in favour of this Amendment said that there was not a wide demand for the extension of Summer Time, I am in order in replying and showing that there is. There were also at that meeting representatives of shopkeepers, shop assistants, workers in industries generally, railway companies, and the Federation of British Industries and also of farmers.
Mr. BLUNDELL: What organization?
Mr. RAWSON: I did not say any organisation. I said a farmer. I am referring now to people who spoke from the platform in favour of this Bill, and from what this farmer said we gathered that the cow was not such a sleepy, stupid person as the Mover of this Amendment believes.1719
Mr. BLUNDELL: I did not move the Amendment.
Mr. RAWSON: I did not suggest that you did.
Mr. BLUNDELL: I was the only person who mentioned the cow.
Mr. RAWSON: The cow possesses considerably more intelligence than—I will not make any comparisons. The cow can adapt itself to different situations, which some people do not seem to be able to do. There is an enormous demand all over the country for the extension of the existing Act.
Duchess of ATHOLL: I am extremely anxious to see this Bill modified, as I think that it is a most inconsiderate Bill as it stands. It is supported by certain interests in the country, but its promoters seem to ignore how very seriously it affects the interests of other people in the country, particularly of our great producing industry. I am sorry not to be able to support the Amendment. I agree with those hon. Members who have pointed out that the suggestion to have an intermediate period of a half-an-hour summer time seems to be impracticable. For that reason, I do not feel able to support the Amendment, but I would like to say, in reply to the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Falconer) that if the Scottish farmers—and they have taken some trouble to acquaint me with their views during the past few months—were officially a party to the compromise represented by the present Act they have found the compromise to work out very injuriously to their interests. It is almost surprising to find among farmers in Scotland, the consensus of opinion as to the injury inflicted upon agriculture in Scotland even by the present time allowed under the existing Act, and it would be impossible for me, from the information given to me, to take up the position that the present Act is satisfactory. If they were a party to the compromise when it was made, they have found that it has worked out otherwise than they expected. It has been made clear to me that the Scottish farmers, though they dislike Summer Time altogether, recognise that a certain measure of Summer Time has come to stay, and therefore they are ready to acquiesce in Summer Time for the months of May, June, July and August, but they deplore 1720 any suggestion to extend it beyond that period, and I shall use my utmost endeavours to get the Committee to reduce the period provided for in this Bill to even below the period provided for under the existing Act, because the Scottish farmers have given the present Act a trial, and have found it work injuriously, and they cannot regard themselves as being bound by or agreeing to the compromise that was arranged.
Mr. SIMPSON: The meeting referred to by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Rawson) was a meeting organised by the gentleman who wrote the letter to which my hon. and gallant Friend (Major Colfax) referred at the commencement of this sitting. The figures quoted were doubtless impressive, but when he mentions 41 Associations, I would like to know what percentage of associations is represented by those 41? He also mentioned 43 municipalities, but how many are there in the United Kingdom? Of course, it is the Early Closing Association. Everybody knows that the Early Closing Association is entirely in favour of the extension of Summer Time. In a sense the hon. Member supported the Amendment, because he pointed out that the cow was more adaptable than the hon. and gallant Gentleman. May I suggest that those who referred to the unadaptability of the cow were using it as an argument against the Amendment, and, if he desired to support the Amendment, the adaptability of that domestic animal would be an argument in favour of the Amendment.
Mr. HOFFMAN: The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Rawson) stated that at the meeting to which he referred there were representatives not only of shopkeepers but also of shop assistants. What shop assistants were represented at that conference?
Mr. BLUNDELL: A shop assistant.
Mr. HOFFMAN: And who was the shop assistant who spoke in favour of the Bill?
Mr. SIMPSON: And was the farmer who spoke in favour of the Bill a dairy farmer?
Mr. VIANT: I oppose the Amendment. I have been in favour of the principle of summer time from its inception, but before the Committee accepts the principle of extending the Summer Time Act 1721 it should take into consideration the attitude of those men and women who have to get up exceedingly early in the morning. I am speaking as one who, before being elected to this Parliament, was accustomed to get to work reasonably early every morning in an establishment in which there were about 1,000 employés, and I tell the Committee candidly that there was strong resentment at the change of the clock at such an early period of the year, and during the War, when it was invariably snowing when we changed the clock, the expressions of those concerned were by no means favourable to an additional early period of the year. I appeal to the Committee in considering this matter to bear these points in mind, and to consider not merely those who are thinking of the advantages that might accrue from the long evenings, but also the interests of those who have to get to their employment early in the morning when they really meet with the brunt of the weather. For that reason, I rather support the principle of the status quo.
Major COLFOX: As the proposer of this Amendment, I feel somewhat like the pelican of the wilderness, because, with the exception of the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood), I find myself alone in the support of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Forfar (Mr. Falconer) states that he stands for the status quo, for the compromise which was effected when the Summer Time Act was passed, and therefore any proposal which would alter the status quo cannot receive his support.
Mr. FALCONER: Precisely, under this Bill, but experience may show it to be necessary later on.
Major COLFOX: I appreciate the point of the hon. Member. I wish to maintain the status quo. I have no desire to defeat the principle of summer time, which I regard as having come to stay, but this Bill does not respect the status quo, and there is in this Committee apparently a majority of Members who would like to override the wishes of what I believe to be the majority of people in this country, who are in favour of maintaining the existing state of affairs. That being so, when I put down this Amendment, I assumed that the bludgeoning majority of this Committee was likely, by sheer force of numbers, to 1722 defeat our somewhat ineffective and very inarticluate opposition. Therefore, I put down this Amendment as being a considerable advance upon the proposals contained in the Act. I agree with the hon. Member for Forfar that my Amendment contains proposals which are inferior to the existing Act; but I submit that my Amendment is superior to the proposals of the Bill. That is my reason, if not my excuse, for moving it. Feeling, as I do, great sympathy for his point of view, I would ask him to reconsider the matter and to decide whether he cannot support the Amendment for the reason which I have given. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. G. Edwards) said that if this Amendment were carried it would introduce chaos into the industry of agriculture. His speech seemed to me to be a powerful indictment against the whole Bill and not merely against the Amendment. I agree with him that summer time, in whatever form it is introduced, must inevitably bring temporary chaos into the industry of agriculture, and not in agriculture alone, but in all industries which are face to face with unadulterated nature. Nature does not alter her time according to the whims of man, and the mere fact that we are altering the clock does not alter the time. Therefore, whatever alteration you make, whether it is half an hour, as I suggest, or a full hour, as suggested by the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), you are inevitably introducing chaos into the industry of agriculture. I was hoping that the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Rawson) would have answered some of the questions put to him in order to substantiate his argument that the meeting to which he referred, which was loudly advertised and very vocal, really represented any considerable body of opinion outside the shopkeepers' organisation. There is no doubt whatever that the shopkeepers' organisation, so ably represented in this House by the hon. parent of this Bill, does earnestly desire, for the purpose of enjoyment and recreation for its members, that there should be an extended period of summer time. It is a purely selfish and one-sided desire. They seek to sacrifice on the altar of their own personal enjoyment the interests of the vast majority of the people of this country, who put the earning of a liveli- 1723 hood and the work of life before even pleasure. When the hon. Member for Brighton was describing this meeting at the Mansion House I could not help feeling what an artificial meeting it was, representing no one except the few adherents of the man who wrote the grossly impudent letter to which I have referred.
Mr. RAWSON: On a point of Order. Is it in order for the hon. and gallant Member to refer to a meeting at which he was not present in a grossly inaccurate way? The meeting was a very crowded meeting and was representative of different classes. I did not reply to questions because I wanted to get on with the Bill. The meeting was representative of interests all over the country, and if the hon. and gallant Member had been there he would not have made the remark that he has made.
Mr. SIMPSON: Did the hon. Member say it was a rowdy meeting?
Mr. RAWSON: No, a crowded meeting. It was unanimous in its decision, which is the most important part.
Major COLFOX: I was not present at the meeting, but the hon. Member on his own showing has proved that the meeting was in no sense representative of the majority opinion in this country. He said that there was a farmer present. But one farmer was hardly representative of the thousands of farmers all over the country. We know that the organised opinion of all three sections of the farming community is entirely opposed to this Bill in its present form. To say that a farmer can be found to support this Bill at a packed meeting is ridiculous. We all know that there are black sheep in most flocks. On most subjects it is very easy to get an opinion from a man who is, by some, at any rate, considered to be an expert—an opinion on either side. Take what happens in the case of the medical profession.
The CHAIRMAN: Order. The hon. Member must keep to the Amendment.
Major COLFOX: I do not mean to enlarge on that subject, which I was merely taking by way of illustration. Sufficient to say, that it is notoriously easy to get an expert opinion on either side on any subject from an individual here and there. Therefore, the one 1724 farmer who voiced the opinion of British agriculture at the Mansion House cannot be taken very seriously. The hon. Member also told us that more than 40 municipalities were represented at the meeting. That may be, I do not know how many municipalities there are in the country, but it must be hundreds of times 40. What about the county councils and rural district councils? I understand they were not represented. If you want the real opinion of a rural district you do not go always even to the rural district council; you ask the respective and respected opinions of the various parish councils and parish meetings. Were they represented at this Mansion House meeting?
Mr. RAWSON: I shall be pleased to read out the list if my hon. and gallant Friend wishes me to do so.
Mr. SIMPSON: May we not have that list?
The CHAIRMAN: Certainly not.
Major COLFOX: It was in order to elicit information as to who was there and who was not, that I asked my hon. Friend various questions. I earnestly hope that before hon. Members give any sort of weight or authority to the expressed opinion of the Mansion House meeting, they will very carefully consider who was there and whether they were really representative of the opinion of the majority of the people of the country, or whether the meeting was in fact merely a packed meeting, consisting of the members of the organisation which adheres to the principles of the writer of these infamous letters. I come to the speech of the Government spokesman on this Amendment. He told us, without any elaboration or argument, that the Amendment is impossible. Such a statement requires some substantiation by argument or reason. It is not sufficient for any one, even of the exalted rank of an Under-Secretary, merely to state that a thing is impossible. We require to know why it is impossible. Therefore, I ask him, even at this eleventh hour, to bring forward some real answer against this Amendment. Finally, I appeal once again to that eminently respectable member of society, the honourable parent of this Bill, who is the man, I understand, responsible for this infamous proposal, this wretched Bill—1725
The CHAIRMAN: I think hon. Members will agree that we have had enough on the point. We are discussing an Amendment and not the parentage of the Bill.
Mr. SIMPSON: I understand that there is no question before us as to the quality of the parentage of the Bill.
The CHAIRMAN: The arguments on that subject might be relevant once or even twice, but not for the fiftieth time.
Mr. BLUNDELL: Is my hon. and gallant Friend not in order in pressing for some statement from the other side?
Mr. RAWSON: Surely there is no question of legitimacy in this case?
The CHAIRMAN: That is not being contested at the moment.
Major COLFOX: There is no question, of course, on the point of legitimacy with regard to this Bill; but, equally, there is no question of the paternity of this Bill. Therefore, I would suggest it is most im-
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.|
|Astor, Major||Gardner, Mr. Benjamin||Robinson, Mr. William|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hoffman, Mr.||Sandeman, Mr.|
|Blundell, Mr.||Lee, Mr. Frank||Stephen, Mr.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Martin, Mr. Frederick||Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-|
|Davies, Major George||Millar, Mr. Duncan||Viant, Mr.|
|Davies, Mr. Rhys||Montague, Mr.||Wilson, Mr. Robert|
|Edwards, Mr. George||Morrison-Bell, Sir Clive||Wood, Sir Kingsley|
|Falconer, Mr.||Rawson, Mr. Cooper|
Mr. BLUNDELL: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "summer time," and to insert instead thereof the words "daylight saving." When my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender) asked me to move the Amendments which stand in his name, of which this is one, I was very glad to have the opportunity of doing so. With some I agree, and with some I do not agree. The one you, Sir, ruled out of order, namely, to leave out "May" and insert "April" in the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend, I did not agree with, for the reasons I gave in the discussion just concluded. Therefore, I have no complaint to make of your ruling that Amendment out of order, though, possibly, some of my hon. Friends, although not convinced by the arguments of the1726
portant that the hon. Member for West Woolwich should really give us the benefit of his reason for feeling, as I suppose he does feel, that this Amendment would not be good for his Bill. I ask you, Sir, if you could not use your influence to persuade the hon. Member to give us an answer.
Mr. MONTAGUE: Is it in order for the business of this Committee to be conducted on the principle of a kindergarten? I am a business man, and not here to fool away time.
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid there is no point of order in that.
Mr. MONTAGUE: There ought to be.
Mr. SIMPSON: Is it necessary for a member of this Committee who feels that this Committee is a kindergarten to remain here?
Question put, "That the words 'during the period of' stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 23; Noes, 1.
hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox) on the question of making his intermediate summer time begin in May, might have agreed with it if it began in April; but as you have ruled it out of order—
The CHAIRMAN: I did not rule it out of order; it ruled itself out.
Mr. BLUNDELL: The Amendment I am now moving is one of the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Grantham with which I am in complete agreement, and I feel sure I can count on the support of the hon. Gentleman who told us just now that he is a business man. I am also a business man, and on that ground I do like to call a spade a spade. Why you should call this alteration of the clock "summer time," when 1727 you have no guarantee whatever that it will be summer time, I cannot for the life of me imagine; whereas, if you call it "daylight saving," you will put in the Bill what does actually happen, namely, that you save a certain amount of daylight. Those of us who are opposed to this Bill, and are doing our best to prevent it becoming law in the interest of our constituents, do not consider that the daylight saved early in April and late in September is of much value to anybody, and we also consider that it is a serious detriment to those whom we represent. At a meeting that took place in a mining area in my Division, I was asked whether I intended to vote for the Daylight Saving Bill, and I said I did not, whereupon a miner in the audience got up and said, "That is right; have mercy on those who have to rise early." That, really, is the point of view of those of us who oppose this Bill, that we do wish to have mercy on those who have to rise early. However much we may disagree with the Bill, and however much we may agree or disagree on other points, I do not think anybody will seriously contest the statement that "daylight saving" is a far more accurate description of the object of this Bill than "summer time." Really, when one considers that the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) actually introduced this Bill in a snowstorm, it shows the total inaccuracy of the term.
Mr. SIMPSON: On what date?
Mr. BLUNDELL: On the 11th April, which is some time after the so-called summer time under this Bill.
Mr. RAWSON: We had a very severe hailstorm last week in London.
Mr. BLUNDELL: The hon. Member is more accurate in that statement than in most of the others. We certainly had a very heavy hailstorm. I was obliged to shut my window to keep out the hailstones.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member must get on with his argument.
Mr. BLUNDELL: I beg pardon. I was drawn away by the interruption of my hon. Friend. It is, really, a pure matter of accurate nomenclature. We shall have to deal later in the Clause with astronomy, meteorology and navigation, 1728 which are all exact sciences, and I think it would be a great mistake if we prejudiced our consideration of those exact sciences by very inaccurate nomenclature in the earlier part of the Clause. I am sure everybody will agree that the proper way of describing the effect of this Bill is to say "daylight saving" and not "summer time." After all, who are we to speak as if we were capable of making summer, winter or spring? All we can do is to describe the effect of what we can do, and not the effect of what we cannot do. We can make some attempt to save daylight. Personally, as I have already explained, I do not consider the attempt is very satisfactory in the way it is being extended by this Bill, but, at any rate, whatever we do, we can call it by its proper name. Therefore, I beg to move this Amendment.
Major COLFOX: On a point of Order. Might I ask your ruling, Sir, on this matter? The marginal note to this Clause is "Advance of time during certain period." I have not called attention to this before, because now, I submit, is the proper stage when it comes into consideration. I should like to know whether that title is really accurate, or whether it is a pure fiction, and, further, if you rule it is inaccurate, whether it is competent for an hon. Member to move an Amendment to it?
The CHAIRMAN: The marginal note is not part of the Bill. It is merely explanatory, in order to assist Members.
Mr. SIMPSON: I do not see why this Amendment should not be accepted. After all in this Bill, and in all our legislation we have got to get accuracy as far as possible. This Bill was introduced on a winter's day; but by putting the clock forward an hour you do not turn a winters day into a summer's day, any more than the fact that a farmer is at a meeting turns it into a farmers' meeting, or that one swallow in the sky will turn that day into a summer day. This Bill will not make summertime. The first of April never is summertime, or very rarely. I appeal, but I hardly know which hon. Gentleman to appeal to, whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) who has been described as the parent of the Bill, or the Under-Secretary, the foster father, who sits next to him, but whoever is in charge. I appeal to him to accept the Amendment 1729 which is a perfectly reasonable one. It has not been put down with any idea of obstruction, but in the cause of accuracy. It will describe the Bill what it really is, a Daylight Saving Bill, and not what it really is not, a Summer Time Bill. If the Amendment be not accepted, then I suggest that it should be pressed to a Division.
Mr. DAVIES: There have been three suggestions as to the title of the original Act. One was that the Act should be called the Willett Time Act, in memory of the gentleman who propounded the idea of daylight saving. That was ruled out. The next suggestion was that it should be called the Daylight Saving Act. Ultimately, there was a concensus of opinion, and nearly everybody is now accustomed to the notion of the Summer Time Act. I live in Manchester, and I can tell the Committee that there are some days in Manchester which you cannot make look like summer time; you do not, in fact, save any daylight at all by adopting this Act in towns of that kind. I think the Committee can now come to a decision on the whole to follow what was incorporated in the original Act, and call this the Summer Time Act.
Mr. SIMPSON: May I point out that there was more reason for calling the original Act the Summer Time Act than there is going to be for this Bill. Then summer time was supposed to begin in the middle of April, now it is proposed to begin it on the 1st of April. That is spring, not summer. The previous position was different; this title does not now apply at all.
Major Sir CLIVE MORRISON-BELL: I do not quite see why the Amendment should not be accepted, for the name would not take away a single minute from the time of the Bill.
Major COLFOX: I must confess that when I saw this Amendment on the Paper I immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was a purely drafting Amendment, and nothing more. It did not seem to me that anybody in charge of the Bill could possibly resist it because it is so obviously good, and it does call the thing by its right name. Really, it is astounding to me to note what enormous antipathy, if I may say so, there is in Committees to call things 1730 by their right names. Many people seem to think that if you call a thing by some other name you immediately alter the nature of the thing so described. We no longer call a pauper a pauper; we call him "a poor person." You say there is a great difference between accepting Poor Law relief and uncovenanted benefit. There is not. It is merely a difference in the name.
The CHAIRMAN: This Committee is not concerned with that aspect of affairs.
Major COLFOX: I was just using what I have been saying as an illustration
Mr. W. ROBINSON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
Major COLFOX: I was using it as an illustration of my statement that nowadays the people are so anxious to call things by names which are not their own, and apparently think by altering the phraseology they are altering the nature of the fact. [An HON. MEMBER: "What shall we call you?"] I cannot quite catch some of these irrelevant observations or unruly interruptions. Therefore, I treat them with the contempt which they deserve. You do not alter the fact by merely altering the words with which you describe that fact. This is a serious question. It is whether it is competent and possible for the supporters of this Bill to place the facts and phraseology in complete agreement with each other. For some unaccountable reason they are resisting this Amendment. The Under-Secretary gave us no reason whatever why this Amendment should not be accepted. He referred to the numerous suggestions of the past for a title for this so-called Summer Time Bill. When the first Act was passed the hon. Gentleman said that many people would have liked it to have been called the Willett Act. I for one should like it to be called the Wood Act or the Woolwich Act, or something of that sort. But that would merely be out of deference, respect and courtesy to the hon. Gentleman who is the parent of this infamous Measure. We might also call it the Willett or the Wood or the Woolwich Act or the Willett-cum-Wood Act if it comes to that. If we described it in that way, we should be merely paving a mead 1731 of respect to those who in the first place originated the Bill, and in the second place those who are attempting to perpetuate and enlarge upon this scandalous proposal. Therefore, I do most strongly support this Amendment, which seeks to describe a fact by words which convey their meaning, and I would strongly urge that the very stupid and misleading expression summer time, starting in April, in some cases even in March, and going on to October, and in some cases even into November, should be ruled out of this Bill, which is right through a very stupid
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.|
|Astor, Major||Lee, Mr. Frank||Stephen, Mr.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Millar, Mr. Duncan||Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-|
|Davies, Mr. Rhys||Montague, Mr.||Viant, Mr.|
|Edwards, Mr. George||Rawson, Mr. Cooper||Wilson, Mr. Robert|
|Gardner, Mr. Benjamin||Robinson, Mr. William||Wood, Sir Kingsley|
|Hoffman, Mr.||Sandeman, Mr.|
|Ainsworth, Major||Colfox, Major||Morrison-Bell, Sir Clive|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davies, Major George||Simpson, Mr. Hope|
|Blundell, Mr.||Martin, Mr. Frederick||Westwood, Mr.|
Whereupon the Chairman declared that the Question was not decided in the affirmative, because it wag not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Orders 47 (5) and 27.
Question again proposed, "That the words "summer time" stand part of the Clause.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I want to add my appeal to those already made to the Under-Secretary to accept this Amendment. It seems to me—
Mr. HOFFMAN: On a point of Order. Has the Closure not been carried?
The CHAIRMAN: No, the majority was not sufficient.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I do trust that after, shall I say, the expression of opinion on the part of the Committee that the Under-Secretary will accept the Amendment. The purpose of this Bill has been said to be to extend, daylight for an hour, but I certainly have been amazed to learn it has a more sinister purpose as well, not only to extend the time an hour in which one can enjoy oneself, but even to change the seasons. My education at school—and I must admit that I learnt most in the night time, and not in the day time—taught me at least that spring was the months of March, April and 1732 and foolish Bill. This Amendment would make the Bill slightly less ridiculous and slightly less foolish. I therefore urge upon the hon. Member for West Woolwich who sits opposite with a Sphinx-like passivity on his face—
Mr. W. ROBINSON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 17; Noes, 9.
May, and Summer the months of June, July and August. Here is a Bill which seeks to make summer time in the month of April. That is absolutely absurd. It is spring time in April. We are simply making a fool of the English language when we seek to give a name to a Bill which really conveys nothing even to those of us who have only got an elementary education. I want further to protest against the way in which this Committee is being treated. The father of the Bill is here. I know he has not lost his tongue. I know that on other Committees he can spend three times the amount of time which everyone has spent already on various Amendments here. He is the only one who can really explain what is the purpose of this Bill. He ought to be able to give an explanation to this Committee. The Bill may not pass the Committee stage, and the expression of opinion here is such that it looks as if it were not going to pass. I do trust that we are going to have this Amendment accepted; otherwise, it is obvious we are going to get no further, because we have not got 20 members to support the Closure. I understand that according to the Standing Orders you must have a vote of 20 to carry the Closure, so far as this Amendment is concerned.1733
I trust that we may hear something from the hon. Member for West Woolwich as to why he is trying to change, not only the hours of daylight, but also actually to change the seasons, and to get the English people to understand that the month of April is summer time, when we know that it is not. It is only spring time, and it is said that poets and fools are made in spring time. I am inclined to think that this Bill is a very foolish one. I do not make up my mind definitely on anything until I hear both sides of the question, and, if the hon. Member for West Woolwich can prove that April is summer time, I am quite prepared to be convinced. I trust we are going to hear from the author of what, according to a letter that I have just opened, is, "this diabolical piece of hobby horse legislation," something in reply, and that he will explain why summer time is inserted here instead of Daylight Saving.
Mr. G. EDWARDS: Until I listened to the last speech, I was undecided as to how I should vote. Having heard that speech, I am convinced that the object of the Mover of these Amendments is not to improve the Bill, not to make it as the last speaker said, accord with English common-sense, but to wreck it by preventing it from becoming law.
Major COLFOX: Hear, hear!1734
Mr. EDWARDS: I am glad to hear that admission, but I would suggest that there are other words in the English language besides "common sense." There are such words as "common fairness," and we are not getting that. The sarcastic laugh of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Colfox) is no argument. I am convinced that if the gentleman responsible for this Bill were willing to call it Daylight Saving Time instead of Summer Time, there would be some other obstructive Amendment to make it Summer Time again. In view of the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. Westwood) I would call this a most absurd and idiotic Amendment.
Major DAVIES rose—
Major COLFOX: May I call your attention to the clock. What time do you propose to adjourn?
The CHAIRMAN: That is in the hands of the Committee.
Major COLFOX: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn until Tuesday next, at Eleven o'Clock."
Question put, and agreed to.
Committee adjourned accordingly at Three Minutes after One o'Clock until Tuesday, 5th August, at Eleven o'Clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:
Brown, Mr. James (Chairman)
Atholl, Duchess of
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas
Conway, Sir Martin
Davies, Major George
Davies, Mr. Rhys
Edwards, Mr. George
Gardner, Mr. Benjamin
Lee, Mr. Frank
Mansel, Sir Courtenay
Martin, Mr. Frederick
Millar, Mr. Duncan
Morrison-Bell, Sir Clive
Rawson, Mr. Cooper
Robinson, Mr. William
Simpson, Mr. J. Hope
Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-
Williams, Lieut.-Colonel T. S. B
Wilson, Mr. Robert
Wood, Sir Kingsley