Ministers have time for ‘time zone shift’ review

By Alex Stevenson

Britain could scrap GMT by moving clocks forward by an hour throughout the year, ministers have conceded.

The government has agreed to hold a review into the case for having an extra hour of daylight in the evening. If the review backs the proposal it could lead to a three-year trial.

Campaigners have argued that the move could reduce the number of deaths on the roads, cut carbon dioxide emissions and improve health.

The Lighter Later campaign claims that an extra hour of daylight in the evening could create up to 80,000 new jobs in leisure and tourism, bringing an extra £3.5 billion to the economy each year.

But the move would only take place if it was agreed to by the devolved administration in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, diminishing the likelihood of it becoming reality.

Business minister Ed Davey said the government was prepared to look at the "possible benefits" of the move, but remained cautious.

"This is an issue which affects everyone across the country so we cannot rush head first into this," he said.

"It is only right that we at least look at what the potential economic and social benefits of any change might be."

Conservative backbencher Rebecca Harris had sought support for a private member's bill which called for a "cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour".

She had initially received no support from the government, but only limited opposition from groups like postal workers and farmers' unions who have previously opposed the move may have helped change ministerial minds.

Ms Harris said she was "delighted" by the government's interest. "There are so many conflicting arguments on both sides of the daylight saving lobby," she said.

"I believe we need a comprehensive and objective assessment of them."