Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel Lambert Ward) starts this Debate, may I, on a point of Order, ask you, Mr. Speaker, for some information on this particular Bill? Is the date fundamental? If this Bill get a Second Reading, and goes to Committee, will the Committee be entitled to alter the starting and finishing time mentioned in the Bill?
Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD:
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I am afraid that the climatic conditions to-day are hardly in keeping with the Second Reading of a Bill in which the words "Summer Time" are as prominent as they are in this Measure. On the other hand, we are a bit more fortunate than last year, when a Measure similar to this received a Second Reading in a blinding snowstorm. I expect I shall be subject to a good deal of good-natured chaff and criticism. Only last night I was told that if, instead of putting forward a Measure to make Summer Time permanent, I would introduce a Bill to promote Summer weather in Summer Time, I should be assured of the hearty co-operation of all Members in the House. I am afraid a Measure of that magnitude is outside the scope of a mere Back Bencher The best I can do is to introduce and make permanent legislation which we already have, so that we can enjoy the summer weather to the full, and so that we can obtain that improved health and increased happiness which all the authorities assure us is the practical result of recreation and exercise in the fresh air and in the sunshine.
I cannot claim the virtue of originality in introducing this Bill. Legislation with a similar end to this has already been before the House on several occasions. If I remember rightly the idea of Summer Time originated with the late Mr. Willett. I well remember the ridicule with which the suggestion was greeted when it was first brought forward. I remember people saying that if anybody wanted to have an extra hour's daylight at the end of the day, all they had to do was to get up an hour earlier in the day. That, no doubt, is a counsel of perfection. It is simplicity itself. But in these days our civilisation has become so complex and we have become so interdependent, the one in the other, that for one person to attempt an improvement in this way is to strike out a line for himself that is likely to have very little effect. Merely to get up an hour before one's accustomed time to get on with the day's work is of very little use. Anyone who tries it will find that the transport facilities would require alteration, or that the people with whom one does business are not in their places. From a practical point of view it is very little use. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce into this Measure a mild form of compulsion or, as some people would call it, a Measure of deception, because it is necessary to make the people believe that the day is an hour further advanced than it is really. I cannot claim any virtue of originality in this Measure. On the other hand I am not asking the House to take a step in the dark, for during eight years the country has had the opportunity of giving a most searching trial to the working of this Measure, to discover its benefits and its disadvantages. And, all considered, there is a demand for its continuation, and for its extension, so urgent that perhaps the House will excuse the lack of originality, and agree that the time is now come to take this Measure away from the uncertainty which must necessarily surround the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and give it a place in the permanent legislation of this country.
Perhaps it might be well for the House not to have any misconception about the position which this Act creates at the present time. The original Act of 1922 expired on 31st December, 1922. Since then it has been renewed from year to year, I might almost say from hand to mouth by its inclusion in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, a most unsatisfactory state of affairs in my opinion, for it is always open to the opponents of the Measure, and, after all, "Summer Time" is the name of the Bill, to move that it be excluded from that Bill. It is not necessary for me to remind the House that it is much easier to exclude a Bill from the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill than it is to repeal legislation in the customary way. I am aware that this Bill is more likely to meet with opposition owing to the fact that it lengthens the period rather than makes permanent the principle of Summer Time. I admit at once that the question of dates, the question of when this Bill begins and ends, is a very difficult 'one. Many people are of opinion that the dates which I have included in this Bill are too early and too late—that Summer Time begins too early in the year, and ends too late. I quite agree that a good deal may be said on that score, but the dates I have included in this Bill are included so as to bring this country into line with France and Belgium, with whom an international agreement has been arrived at. I am aware that a good many people are of opinion that an international agreement is not in any way binding until it has been ratified by this House. There is a good deal to be said from that point of view. But I do suggest that the convenience of travellers and the organisation of travelling and postal facilities should be given full weight in considering whether or not we ought to co-ordinate with France in this matter.
Let me give one or two instances of how the present situation works. Easter, three years out of four, falls during the first three weeks of April. At that period of the year a large amount of travelling is done. The Easter mails and the Continental mails are particularly heavy. If France has adopted Summer Time, and we have not, it means, amongst other things, that the nine o'clock train from Victoria to the Continent will have to leave at eight to co-ordinate with the French services, which means a very considerable amount of disorganisation to the mail and postal services. I do not even regard these matters as vital, but I do suggest that they should be given due consideration in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of co-ordinating with France. The geographical position of Scotland accentuates the difficulty of finding a date which would be agreeable to all parties. No one pretends that the climatic conditions in Scotland particularly, during the months of April and September are identical with those of the South of France.
Also, I believe, there is less demand in the towns in Scotland for the extension of this Measure, Scotland having been provided by nature with a modified form of Summer Time of their own. Scottish farmers are, if anything, more strongly opposed to it thin their brethren in the South. In fact, I have carefully considered the possibility of excluding Scotland from the scope of this Bill, but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it would cause too much disorganisation of the railway services. All the same, if it comes to a question of leaving Scotland outside the scope of this Bill and co-ordinating with France, I unhesitatingly say it will cause infinitely greater inconvenience not to co-ordinate with France than it will to leave Scotland outside the scope of the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
Another reason for anticipating opposition to this Measure is the form in which it is presented to the House. It is a short Bill amending the existing Act. I shall probably be told that this is legislation by reference, and, in consequence objectionable. I agree that it is not the ideal form of legislation, but in this particular case is has been adopted for the sake of brevity alone, simply and solely for the sake of brevity. When one realises that in Committee, should this Bill ever get as far as that, an Amendment will probably be moved to every single word of the Bill, it is obviously an advantage to reduce the number of words to the minimum. The people who have benefited most by Summer Tine, and who press most strongly for its continuation and extension, are the workers in the towns. I submit that, could a plebiscite be taken in all our large towns and cities, an overwhelming majority would be shown in favour not only of its continuation but also of its extension. To many of the toilers in the great cities the Act gave the first chance of open air enjoyment. Thousands upon thousands of people who, prior to the passing of the Act, never had the opportunity of appreciating the health-giving properties of outdoor exercise, have now been able to join in sports and games to the immense improvement of their physical efficiency. Thousands of people to whom tennis and golf had hitherto been unobtainable, being looked upon as the amusements of the idle rich, have since then been able to participate in those health-giving pastimes. Thousands of people have taken advantage of this extra hour's daylight to work in their gardens and their allotments. The appreciation of these new opportunities of enjoyment has been shown by ever-increasing demands for allotments and gardens, and by the springing-up of tennis-courts and golf-courses in the vicinity of all our great towns, and by the thousands and thousands of happy people one meets during the long summer evenings walking and cycling along our country roads and lanes.
The people who have benefited most are the adult workers in the towns. Nevertheless, the children and the rising generation have also received enormous benefits from the increased hours of sunshine and the greater opportunities for outdoor games and exercises. Towards the end of 1921 the Board of Education issued a memorandum on the, effects of Summer Time on school children, and authorities responsible for the education of 5,000,000 children reported by a majority of more than two to one that the Act was definitely beneficial, and the minority, those who reported adversely, did so not on account of any inherent effect in the Act itself but because the parents did not know how to make the best of it. Among the many advantages enumerated in this memorandum I may mention just two or three. One is that morning school takes place in the cooler part of the day, and although afternoon school takes place when the thermometer outside is at its highest, the class-rooms themselves do not attain the maximum of heat and stuffiness until much later in the afternoon. Another advantage is that the children have had better opportunities for organised sports and games, and I need not dwell here on the advantage of organised games as compared with stump cricket in a back street. In addition to that, organised games, in congenial surroundings, do so much to inculcate amongst children the spirit of combination, the spirit of team work, which is so valuable to-day in our citizens.
Another advantage is that the children see more of their parents during the evening than they did before. I know, of course, that it is contended that the children tend to remain out of doors too long, that their parents cannot get them to bed, and that they suffer, consequently, from the lack of sleep. i agree that amongst the very poor, almost entirely owing to lack of adequate housing, and adequate accommodation, children do frequently suffer from lack of sleep, but in the opinion of those responsible for issuing this memorandum Summer Time does not accentuate that evil in any marked degree.
As opposed to all the advantages I have enumerated, we must set the determined opposition of one or two sections of the community, and in the van of the opposition I place the agricultural industry, and agricultural interests generally. I am not going to attempt to deceive myself, or anybody else, and I admit this Measure does not help agriculture, and here and now I would like to express my appreciation of the considerate, the tolerant and the helpful attitude which has been adopted by the vast majority of Members in this House who represent agricultural constituencies. Agriculturists say, and I agree with them, that this Measure does not help them, and they are not unnaturally adverse to a change which does not directly benefit them, but I do submit that the harm it does to them has been greatly exaggerated, and that, given good will on both sides, this Act can be operated so as to cause nothing worse than a mere passing inconvenience.
I am not attempting to minimise, the opposition of the agricultural industry. I know even to-day, in many rural areas, the time by the sun is called "God's time," and the time by Act of Parliament is called "Lloyd George time." It is not exactly a compliment to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) when we remember who the person is that is usually looked upon as the antithesis to the Almighty. One of the difficulties with regard to the agricultural industry is the question of overtime, particularly during the harvest months. Very often after rain or a heavy dew the crops are not dry enough to start carting until about 10 o'clock by the sun, and that will be 11 o'clock by Summer Time, and if the payment of overtime stops at 5 o'clock in the evening it means an additional hour of overtime has to be paid to get the same amount of work done.
That, I admit, is unfair, and I do not think that that was the original intention of the Act. That, however, is largely a matter of agreement between employers and employed, and once Summer Time definitely made permanent, and it is understood that it is going on, an adjustment will be made to reduce all friction and difficulty to a minimum. Another difficulty is the question of the early morning milking. We are told that in order to enable the townspeople to nave their milk at breakfast-time, the cows must be milked an hour earlier, and this is not good for the health of the cows and it is said that it interferes with the comfort of the milkers. May I point out that the milk we get in large towns is not that morning's milk at all, but largely the milk of the day before Not 1 per cent. of the milk arriving at Paddington, Marylebone or Euston is that morning's milk at all. That being so a later train in the afternoon would do to bring the milk in time for the breakfast of the citizens. If adjustments are necessary no doubt the railway companies will be ready to make them. I know the railway companies hitherto have not been too ready to meet the demands of agriculturists, but that is because they have never looked upon Summer Time as permanent, but rather as a war Measure and a temporary Measure. But once it is understood that Summer Time has come to stay, the railway companies will then see the necessity of changing or modify their arrangements in order to suit the general convenience.
Another section of the community which opposes the principle of Summer Time is the theatrical profession and the entertainment industry generally. The theatrical profession fear that these long summer evenings may tempt people to remain out of doors and not attend the theatres or the music-halls with the regularity which the proprietors might wish. I regretfully admit there may be something in what they say. I am one of the last to deny or even question the recreational value of the theatre, the music-hall or the cinema, but I do not think any sane person will contend that recreation in the stuffy and vitiated atmosphere of the theatre or the picture palace has the same healthy effects as exercise in God's sunshine in the open air. I notice that the rejection of this Bill is going to be moved by an hon. Member on the ground that it injures the fishing industry. I represent a fishing constituency where they really do fish, and where they not only earn their living by fishing, but they send their fish from one end of the country to the other to feed the people in the big towns. That is real fishing, and those fishermen to a man are solid in favour of the principle of Summer Time.
In conclusion, I commend this Bill to the House for two main reasons. One is that, unlike most modern legislation, it will not cost the country one farthing and it will throw no proportionate burden upon the taxpayer or the ratepayer. Secondly, it will give many hours of enjoyment to millions of people, while on the other hand it will inconvenience Comparatively few. In voting it is well to remember that the Government will very probably take the result of the Division as indicating the opinion of the country upon this important Measure, and therefore a defeat may well mean that this Act will not again be included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and consequently a Measure which has conferred so much benefit on the country will be lost for good and all. I therefore ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill, believing, as I honestly do, that it will improve the health of the community and, what is more important still, it will increase the happiness of the vast majority of the population.
I beg to second the Motion.
I appreciate that naturally there must be some opposition, because whatever project is brought forward in this House must receive some opposition from one quarter or another. I think, however that opposition is largely confined to this House because it seems to me there is very little opposition outside. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I did not expect hon. Members to agree unanimously to that argument. All the way through
this Debate the opposition of the agricultural industry has been referred to, and I would like very briefly to refer to the opinion of the Committee which sat in 1917 and was appointed by this House. Among other conclusions they came to in their Report, they say:
As might have been expected the opinion of farmers and those interested in agriculture have been more conflicting in this than in any other industry, and in many cases they hold totally different views as to the effects of Summer Time. In some districts, however the general opinion is that those difficulties may easily be overcome by organisation and the definite advantage of having an extra hour for carrying crops counterbalances any inconvenience.
I think it has been admitted by most people that all these difficulties can be overcome or, at any rate a great many of them, by organisation. Probably the opposition to this Bill would have been more successful if it had been better organised. We did not hear of any opposition until the Bill came before the House. At the last General Election I did not receive a single letter or a single Resolution in opposition to this Bill. I have had many letters from societies and different individuals urging me to make Summer Time permanent, and make it for six months in the year. If the House will allow me, I should like to read a letter which I have received this morning from a very successful farmer. It is very relevant, because it puts the point of view of a farmer who is very successful, who has seven different depots and farms, who farms 3,000 acres, and keeps 500 head of dairy cows. He says,
In answer to your letter"—
[Laughter.] I am perfectly honest about it. I wrote to this farmer to find out what his views were, and I have them bore. It is perfectly legitimate, though I do not say I would have read the letter out had it not been satisfactory to me. With the permission of the House, however, I will read it:
In answer to your letter forwarded to me, I write to say that personally I am in favour of the Bill, though many connected with the agricultural interest are not. This in my view, more because of the strongly established disinclination for any radical change that may affect them than because of real hardship or injury arising out of it. The only hardship is that imposed upon cowmen, and in that particular I can speak with some experience and say with confidence that those men have never shown any serious resentment. Once it is begun, then
it goes through as a matter of course. The men, in any rate, are not imposed upon in these days, as they are paid for every hour that they work, and at higher rates of pay for overtime. I also think it can be sustained that there are definite compensations. Certainly the potato harvest, winch comes late, is helped by the evening light very materially, while haying and harvesting can quite well be regulated between the hours that dew falls at night or remains on the crops in the morning. As to the cows, anything said as to them is mere "eye-wash." They do not study clocks, and provided hours are regular. they behave precisely the same, being unaffected by the change.
I think that that testimony, although it is not exactly unsolicited, is none the less valuable, coming as it does from a man who has been a farmer all his life, and, what is more important still, who is a very successful farmer, which shows that he knows how to do his job. You get a lot of farmers who grumble. They grumble about the weather, naturally, because there is a good deal to grumble about in this country, but, when you get testimony like this from a man who has been extraordinarily successful, I think it ought to carry weight with the House.
The cow, of course, is always trotted out every year in connection with this Bill, but I am told that the cow, like its confrère in the political arena, is a very patient animal, and is very amenable and very adaptable to any change after the first day or two. Therefore, I think that any of this reference to the cow is very much exaggerated, and probably very much resented by the cow itself. At any rate, I do not think those hon. Members who speak for the cow have really the justification they think they have. There is other opposition to this Measure on behalf of the children, and I am perfectly certain that the hon. and learned Member for Argyilshire (Mr. Macquisten) will have a lot to say about that. We shall probably have a harrowing picture of distracted parents pacing up and down the room all night trying to soothe a revolutionary baby who does not believe in Summer Time but I think the baby, like the cow, is very much overdone. Anyhow, we have it on the authority of the British Medical Association that not only has Summer Time, so far, failed to have any detrimental effect on the child, but, on the contrary, it has very much increased its health all round. I think that that is of importance, 'because I attended a deputation to the Home Secretary the other day, and we had evidence there from several distinguished members of the British Medical Association that this Measure has been of great benefit to the children of the country. This question of children not going to sleep is, like that of the farmer, one of organisation, and it is not for this House to tell fathers and mothers how to keep order in their own homes. If they cannot do it, that is their funeral.
Another question is that of artificial sunlight in hospitals. That involves a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds for the benefit of health. Surely, it is very much more sound economically if, instead of spending all this money in hospitals, we can get the natural sunlight for nothing out of doors, and that is another argument in favour of the Bill. Then we have had resolutions from local authorities all over the country, and even from electrical undertakings, expressing approval of this Measure. We had the other day a statement from a representative of a Local Authority which has its own electricity undertaking, and they say that, although the Summer Time Bill means a loss to them of a considerable amount of money, they are still in favour of it, because of the enormous benefit that it is to the health of the people. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are very patriotic!"] Yes, there are patriotic people in various parts of the country still.
With regard to allotments, which I think were not mentioned by the Mover of the Bill, the allotment holders all over the country will gain enormously by this extension, and after all, the allotment holders did an enormous amount for this country during the War. They increased our food production, and the work they are doing, which is increasing every day, and is going to help enormously in the question of food production, will be augmented by the adoption of this Bill and its being made permanent. I should also like just to refer to seaside resorts. I may, perhaps, be biased in that connection, but in seaside resorts all round the country, this will mean an enormous advantage to the proprietors of boats, bathing machines, deck chairs, and similar things. [A laugh.] It may be amusing, but, after all, this extra hour in the evening brings in thousands of pounds every year all over the country, and I do plead on behalf of these people for the extension of this time and for making it permanent.
Then there is what is the most important part of the whole thing, to my mind, namely, that we should synchronise with France and Belgium. We shall probably be told that Holland has decided not to adopt it. That. is so, hut the answer to that is that the Free State of Ireland has agreed to adopt Summer Time, so that you are all square at the turn. There are several hon. Members who want to bring out their annual opposition to this Bill, and I do not want to deter them in the least, but only to appeal, not to the minority represented in this House in the agricultural interest, the cinema interest, and other interests opposed to this Bill, but to appeal on behalf of the great majority of the people of this country. After all, we want an A.1 country, a healthier, a happier, and a, sunnier country. We do not get very much sunlight but, when there is a little knocking about, let us enjoy as much of it as we can get.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
this House, while approving the introduction of Summer Time, declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, unless it is limited to the months of May, June, July, and August, must inflict grave injury to the industry of agriculture.
I move this in no sort of general opposition to the Bill. I think a large section of the community want a Bill of this sort, but we do need to approach this subject from what one might call a national standpoint. This is a national question. The object of the Amendment is that we put into this Measure a moderate compromise which will enable it to be of practical benefit to the nation as a whole. Of course the agricultural position bulks very largely in the consideration of the House when we consider a question of this sort, and, therefore, I invite the House to consider the agricultural case. The farmer's aim and object at all times is to work in conformity with the laws of nature. Nature's laws are the farmer's master, and a knowledge of nature's requirements is essential if the farmer is going to make the most of his land. Therefore, it is essential that in
his operations he should not be obstructed by any Measure which prevents him linking up his efforts with the laws of nature. He desires that April should be cut out of the period of Summer Time. April is the seed month, but it is far more than a seed month. April is the creative period when forces unseen and inarticulate are in operation. They are forces that we have to defer to. Those forces are forces as certain as the law of gravitation, and the farmer's job is to handle the soil and to conduct his operations in the period allotted by nature's decrees. There is much misconception as to what the soil is. The soil is not dead matter. It is not like wood which a joiner can shape into any form desired. It is a living organism. It is inhabited by bacteria. In the surface six or eight inches of our soil there is a mass of bacteria in existence which are invaluable. Their existence is of enormous importance to the fertility and productivity of the land. In order to encourage the bacteria which are so valuable you must consider the texture and the tilth of the soil and treat it scientifically. I only hope my small knowledge of scientific agriculture may not bore the House, but the value of the texture of the soil and its tilth is great. It may be a common experience to all men that sowing the future and reaping I he past is a certainty, but with the farmer it is a daily and actual experience. If he in any way acts contrary to nature's laws in carrying on the operations on his land and in its management he inevitably suffers. This Bill comes along and it proposes to put the time forward on the 1st April or the last days of March. What results? We have frosty mornings at the beginning of April. If the farmer works his land when the dampness following frost is still on it, he immediately makes a crust or cake on the soil which afterwards is absolutely fatal to the full productivity of the land. For instance, the same thing happens after thunderstorms, and the damage which thunderstorms do to his land is that afterwards, when it dries, it forms a cake or crust on the surface which interferes with the aeration of the soil, and the pores of soil are thereby sealed up. If you work this laid after these morning frosts when there is moisture on the surface you create what is certain to result in reduced production.
The supporters of this Bill ignore all this and say, let him wait. If he does he loses time and the agricultural opinion is—with the most moderate estimate—that two hours per day will be lost. In the month of April every moment is valuable. If there has been a cold wet spring the operations must be hastened on. Unless the farmer conforms to nature's laws which I have referred to, and carries out his observations at the proper psychological moment, again the productivity of the soil diminishes.
Therefore, I hope in saying what I have said on that subject it will be recognised that the maximum production of our soil can only be obtained if we are not interfered with at this important period.: The great thing we are suffering from in the country at present is high prices, and we are going to have higher prices if you add to your cost of production by getting a smaller quantity produced. Therefore, this is not a farmer's question at all. It is a people's question. If the people want cheap food, or as cheap as it can possibly be produced, they must link up their action with the farmer and enable him to carry on his operations according to the decrees of Nature. Therefore, when I heard my two hon. Friends who moved the Bill, I was amazed at what I may call their innocent ignorance. The passing of a Bill such as this, bringing in Summer Time on 28th March or 1st April, is just like a man putting a spoke into that delicately constructed and divinely made structure which we have in our soil. If this proposal is adopted it will be followed, I am certain, by dire results in reducing the production of our soil and in adding to the cost.
My hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading said all that can be overcome by the farmers working the old sun time. We have had a series of Summer Time legislation for something like eight years. When particular questions are brought up we always have anticipations of trouble and difficulty brought forward, and we know that anticipation of troubles is generally worse than the reality. But we are not prophesying troubles at, all. We have had eight years' experience of this Measure, and we are speaking of what has been tried and found to be unworkable. We have found from experience that it is not possible. Children go to school according to the new official time. Other members of the family working on the railway or at some works do the same. If Summer Time is in operation it is impossible for a woman to give two breakfasts, to prepare two dinners, and, when night comes, two suppers. The whole thing is absolutely impossible. It has not been done and it cannot be done. The Prime Minister has appealed to the nation to do something to put agriculture on its feet. He has asked for something like one million acres more grass land to be put under cultivation. We want to get the maximum food from our land and to get as many more men working on the land as possible, so that they will not go into the cities, towns and villages and congest the labour market and add to the housing difficulties. How are we going to ensure that, if we take a step which drives men from the land and causes the land to be less productive than it would otherwise be? The Prime Minister has made a wise appeal to the nation on behalf of agriculture, but if he tells nature that the very first thing he is going to do in order to get the agricultural development which he wants, is to prevent the agriculturists from making the most of nature and of nature's decrees, what will be the result'? What sort of answer will he get from nature Will it not be an answer of absolute amazement at his ignorance of the laws of nature?
I have referred to the effect of Summer Time beginning at the end of March or the 1st of April. Let me say something with regard to the effect of Summer Time in September, especially in Scotland. September in Scotland is harvest rime. It is the month when the fruits of the soil and the fruits of 12 months' labour and expenditure are ready to be garnered. If this Bill operates in September, the result will be disastrous. September is the month when you have heavy morning dews. The corn cannot be cut when it is wet. The binders will not work. If you cut it when it is wet it moulds and goes bad. If you carry it in this condition it will not keep in the stack. Therefore, the proposal of this Bill is that the 12 months' efforts of the farmers are to be nullified to a very large extent. There is no one concerned with agricultural interests in Scotland who does not view most seriously the proposal to bring September into the Bill.
I have referred to the need for our growing more food and for the provision of cheaper food, and I do appeal to hon. Members who favour this Bill to realise the misery which results from dear food amongst hundreds of thousands of our people. I appeal to them that if we are to bring cheaper food to the doors of the people it is not wise that we should take, carelessly and stupidly, a step such as this which, by bringing in April at one end and September at the other, is going to do an enormous amount of harm and add to the sufferings of the people. We have been told that the farmers can get over the difficulty by working the old sun hours. That has been tried, and it had to be abandoned. I have spoken from the farmers' point of view, and I will now say something from the workers' point of view. The agricultural workers in Scotland are absolutely united against the inclusion of September in the Summer Time period. They realise, as practical men, that it is against the workers' interests. I should like to pay a tribute to the way in which the agricultural workers have carried on. Speaking for Scotland, which I know best, there is no body of workers there who have carried on more regularly and done their utmost to the very best of their power than the agricultural workers. We must consider their point of view, because they are entitled to be considered.
It is proposed that this Bill should come into operation on the 28th March or the 1st April. I am glad to see the Home Secretary present. I understand he is an enthusiastic supporter of this proposal. The time at which the agricultural work begins is, generally speaking, 6.30 in the month of April and 6 o'clock in September. When the Bill comes into operation the work in April will begin at 5.30. The man has to get his breakfast and the horses have to get their corn before work can begin at 5.30. That means that the man must get up, and the poor wife must get up to prepare breakfast, at 4.30. I wonder if my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill would like to get up at 4.30 in the morning. I do not think he would survive many weeks of it. I would not like to get up at 4.30 on a winter's morning on the 1st of April—because it is winter. Therefore we must consider the woman's interests and the woman's position in this question, as well as the position of the man. We must not decide this question without taking into consideration the real facts as to how the proposals will affect the workers, the men who are the busy-bees in the agricultural industry. If the women of our country districts were consulted and a plebiscite were taken they would give an overwhelming opinion in favour of moderation. Moderation is good in all things.
We do not move this Amendment in order that we may defeat Summer Time. We only move the Amendment in order that there may be a moderate concession which will fit in with national requirements.
As regards workmen in other occupations, it has the same effect on them as on the agricultural worker when they begin their work at a very early hour, as for instance miners and other workers who begin very early in the morning, and who carry on the industry of the country. They are the men who support the industrial structure of the nation. If you are going to compel them to rise at this early hour, if you are going to punish them by forcing them to get up at a time when the vitality of nature is at a low ebb, you are going to injure them, and, through them, injure the whole industrial structure. Therefore I ask the House to take into consideration the position of all early workers, and to recognise the hardships which it entails on them. I noticed this morning in a newspaper a reference made to some comments by one of my hon. Friends, the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Basil Peto), who had referred to this matter as one which had got to deal with an "infinitesimal number of people who milk cows." Suppose that the people who milk the cows were the only persons directly affected by this Bill, what about the number of people who drink the milk which the cows provide? We know that the milk which is supplied in the morning has been milked this morning but it is said that there is no difficulty in this because London gets milk which was milked the day before.
The real question from the agricultural side should be considered, but there is far more than that concerned, and in injuring agriculture we should inflict injury on the towns by causing people to leave the country and thereby producing congestion in the labour market in the towns and adding to the housing difficulty which already exist there. Agriculture is the mother of all industries, and unless you have got a flourishing healthy agriculture you have not that steady flow of healthy manhood from the country into the cities which is so essential to the industrial position of this country. Therefore this is a national question. My hon. Friend has quoted the position on the Continent, but he did not say anything about the general Continental position. He referred to France and Belgium. What about the other Continental nations? Germany, Hungary, Russia, Austria and Portugal have abandoned daylight saving after availing themselves of it. In Holland in the Second Chamber they have voted against it. Spain, Denmark—a competitor of ours—and Switzerland have never touched it. When we are told that France and Belgium have adopted it, I think that the other Continental countries may be quoted against the action taken by the French.
We are engaged in a most serious question when we are considering this matter. I would ask the House to view it not merely from a negative standpoint. I would ask the Home Secretary to consider the request which we are making. We are asking for a moderate concession which, if given in the Committee stage, would enable the Bill to be fitted in with existing conditions. The Bill as it is proposed is not a Bill which we can accept. Surely we can do something better. Had the Prime Minister been present this morning, I would have appealed to him to realise that we can do something far better. This Bill is inflicting all the injuries which I have attempted to describe, and I feel that the Home Secretary with all his power should do what we asked. I would ask that the month of April, which is so important to the nation from an agricultural point of view, should he eliminated from the Bill, and that the great harvesting month of September, which is so valuable for harvesting, not only in Scotland hut in the northern counties of England, should also be eliminated. All north of York and Doncaster harvest in September. In West and Central England also there are districts which are later than those which we have in Scotland, and they also have their harvesting in September. I appeal to the Home Secretary to modify this Bill in Committee so that no injury will be inflicted on the industry of agriculture, as will be the case if the Bill passes in the form of which my hon. Friend thinks so much. If we can wisely foster the industry of agriculture we can do much to add to our country's success in many other directions. I would ask the Home Secretary to give far more attention to this than to the remarks of my hon. Friend who seconded the Bill.
On a point of Order. The hon. Member for Forfarshire has moved an Amendment. I ask your ruling ay to what the effect of that Amendment if carried would be? In parenthesis it gives a kind of approval to the introduction of the Summer Time Bill, but in fact it appears to me that the effect of this Amendment on the Second Reading of the Bill would be equivalent to a rejection of the Bill.
I beg to second the Amendment.
This Debate is being held a month earlier than the Debate last year, but I think that we ought to congratulate the hon. Members who are supporting the Bill on the fact that the whether on this occasion has been considerably kinder than it was last year when we met to discuss Summer Time in a blinding snowstorm and a piercing wind. But the Debate last year was on 11th April, which, under the provisions of the Bill, would have been already Summer Time this year.
It seems to me that there can be no real argument for starting Summer Time at the beginning of April and continuing it right into September. I suppose that there are few, if any, Members of the House who are opposed to Summer Time, but there are many Members, myself included, who strongly oppose this Bill for providing so-called Summer Time dur- ing a portion of the year which certainly it not summer. After all, I suppose that there are four seasons in the year, and the period of summer certainly cannot be said to last for half the year. It is interesting to notice the way in which the support and the opposition to this Measure is divided. We find that the supporters of the Bill are for the most part those who live what one might call the sheltered lives of exotics in the hothouses of life, while those who are opposing the Bill are typically those horny-handed rustics, like myself, who are much more inclined to come in contact with the actual facts of nature, without being protected and sheltered in the way in which such people as the hon. Member who sits for the lodging-house and deck-chair industry are undoubtedly sheltered.
Those interests which come face to face with nature and whose concern is to wrest from the earth the treasures of the earth, naturally are opposed to such artificial make-believe as is included in the Bill. We find that, speaking generally—there are exceptions to every rule—the whole agricultural industry is opposed to this Bill. The whole mining industry is opposed to the Bill. We find, in fact, that all those who minister to the wants of the members of that essentially class organisation, the Early Closing Association, are opposed to the Bill. We have so far heard nothing in this Debate as to who are the real sponsors and backers of the Bill. Last year we were frankly told by the hon. Member who has since become a distinguishes ornament of the Treasury Bench, and who then was a beck-bencher moving the Second Beading of the Summer Time Bill, that he spoke on behalf of the Early Closing Association, admittedly a class organisation having no concern for anything outside its own members. But he failed and they failed to notice that those people who minister to the wants of the members of such an organisation strongly resent this imposition, and the fact that they arc compelled to rise an hour earlier than their already very early rising hour.
We find the strongest opposition to this Measure on the part of everyone connected with the production and distribution of milk. Although the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel Lambert Ward) states that we in London generally have the previous night's milk for breakfast, that milk has to be distributed in the early morning hours, and under this o Bill must be distributed an hour earlier. The newspaper trade, whether engaged in production or distribution, is strongly opposed to the Bill. The theatrical trade is strongly opposed to the Bill. In fact they have gone so far as to say that the provisions of the Bill would be even more disastrous to the theatrical industry than are the provisions of the Entertainments Duty. Yet we have seen a powerful organisation, both inside and outside this House, whose only object is to do all it can to defeat the Entertainments Duty on behalf of the entertainment industry, through some members strongly advocating this Measure. The chief people who will be benefited by this Bill would certainly be the shopkeepers and the shop assistants in London and other big towns. Obviously, those people could get all the benefits which they believe would accrue to them from this Measure by simply opening their shops one hour earlier in the morning and closing them one hour earlier in the evening. If they would all agree to do that, there would he no harm done to them by loss of trade and custom. Therefore, they have the whole of the remedy in their own hands.
In listening just now to the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Mr. Cooper Rawson) advocating this Measure one would have thought that he had discovered a means of bringing a 25th hour into the day, and that that 25th hour must invariably he an hour of bright sunshine. If that were in fact the case no one would think of opposing this Bill. He even said that the Bill would provide an extra evening hour for carrying crops on the farms. I think that shows he entirely fails to appreciate the position, because, even granting that this Bill provides an extra evening hour, which I for one do not admit, then one must at the same time admit that it abolishes one of the morning hours. Therefore, to repeat the colloquialism used by the hon. Member himself, you are "all square at the turn."
I do not presume to know whose words the hon. Member was using, whether his own or those of somebody else. I do not impute any guilt or blame to him for using those words. I merely said that the use of those words, whether by himself or by other people, shows a complete misapprehension of the facts of the position. This is particularly true with regard to the industry of agriculture. You cannot provide an extra hour in the evening for that industry, because in so doing you are bound to cut off an hour in the morning, the early hours of the morning being practically useless for agricultural purposes owing to natural causes. We have not yet had our attention called to the disadvantages which must result to the childhood of the nation by the adoption of this Measure. We know how necessary it is that children should have plenty of sleep while they are still growing, and we know how difficult it is in small house holds for the children to begin that sleep in the evening until the houshold labours are over, and they retire for the night, which they certainly will not do as long as daylight, lasts. Apart from any other disadvantages to the children, this means inevitably the loss of a complete hour's sleep each night, because they are not able to go to bed any earlier in the evening, although they have to rise an hour earlier each morning. That in my view—and it is a widely supported view—must be harmful to the rising generation. The hon. Member for Brighton told us ho wished to do all in his power to make this an Al nation. We all believe that is his aim and object, but I submit to him and to others that handicapping the child hood of the nation in this way, and making them lose an hour's sleep every night for six months of the year, is not likely to make for the efficiency of the nation.
What are we to think of the position of those who wish to do difficult brain work or study of any sort, and who are unable to concentrate their attention on their work while the clatter and noise of the street traffic continues? How is it possible to get that concentration of attention which the study of some difficult and complicated subject necessitates, before the traffic and hubbub of the streets is hushed by the oncoming of night? A very large number of people will be grievously affected by the provisions of the Bill, and as far as one can see from the arguments put forward, the only people to benefit by it are probably the members of the association so ably represented by the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), the bath-chair and deck-chair keepers, so ably represented by the hon. Member for Brighton, and the travelling public, about whom the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir Martin Conway) was so solicitous in a letter recently published in the daily Press. His argument is that the Bill is necessary as a measure of justice to the travelling public, who, without it, will have inflicted upon them six weeks of torture in spring, and six more weeks of torture in autumn. The argument is that this torture must follow on the existence of a different standard of time in this country compared with France and Belgium. If one is to argue on those lines, and to say that because France and Belgium have adopted a certain standard of time, we must do the same, why not go a step further and say that we shall do what has been done by the majority of the neighbouring countries? We find that the number of countries in Europe who have adopted and now use so-called Summer Time, is negligible compared with the number who do not use it.
Why should we be compelled to regulate our clocks by the practice in France or Belgium? Why not say Holland or Portugal, or any of the other countries which still use natural time. But why should we pay any heed at all to what any other country does or to the needs of any other country but our own? There is bound to be a dividing line between the standards of time used in the different countries of the world, and the actual sun time is not and cannot be the same for any two places in the world. Therefore, you have to set up a standard for a definite area, and that area has generally been a country. You have infallibly to have dividing lines between different areas which have different standards, and it matters little exactly where those dividing lines come. For many generations there is as a very considerable difference in the standards of time between ourselves and France, between France and Switzerland, between ourselves and Ireland even, but it did not present any insuperable difficulty, either to the travelling public or to anybody else, and it seems to me that the argument that we must conform to France and Belgium in the matter of time is entirely beside the mark.
For my own part, as I have said before in this House. I should like, if it were possible, to get rid of Summer Time, but, knowing that that is impossible and that a compromise satisfactory in most ways has been reached in this matter between the conflicting interests, which compromise has been embodied in the law of this country, I would like to see the existing law continued and in no way altered, with the possible exception of making the Summer Time Act, 1922, a permanent instead of a temporary Measure. Although I do not now oppose Summer Time or the making permanent of Summer Time, I strongly oppose the extension of the period of Summer Time at either end, and therefore it is that I so willingly second the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope) and shall, if possible, register my vote against the Second Reading of what I believe to be this iniquitous Bill.
On that point, might I make my own position, and, I imagine, the position of the Mover of the Amendment, clear, and that is that if we could get from the promoter of the Bill any sort of undertaking that he would not seek to extend the. present period of Summer Time, but would, in Committee, accept Amendments the effect of which would be to limit the period to that which is at present allowed by law, I for one, and I believe I am speaking for many others, would entirely withdraw my opposition to the Bill. We are not opposed to the making permanent of Summer Time, but we are opposed to its extension, and since the present Bill contains both the making permanent and the extension, we oppose the Second Reading of the Bill in its present form.
I have been egged on to make this premature delivery of my maiden speech by the protests, which have been very many, from my constituency, and the measure of the distinction of that constituency may be gauged by the fact that you, Mr. Speaker, are a member of it. The action which I take is urged upon me more especially by the medical members of that constituency, and it is as a medical man myself, and a hospital physician in London for twenty-five years, that I rise to support the fullest application of this Bill. I think the House of Commons little realises how much of a despot it really is, but it ought to realise it, and to rise to its opportunity and now and then be a benevolent despot. The form of despotism which I am now advocating is that the people of this country shall be really encouraged to change their habits very generally in the Summer Time. The opposition to the Bill comes largely from two sections of the community; more especially from the agriculturists, who are in the fortunate position of spending all their lives in the fresh air and who, I am sure, hardly realise how very selfish their action is in preventing some little opportunity to the classes who are not in that happy position—it is by no means a very confined class which will benefit by this Bill, but it is of a very extensive application—and, not least of all, to the professional classes. The opportunity of freedom early in the afternoon on a hot summer's day is prized by every class of the community. I want to urge from the medical standpoint another feature in favour of the Bill. We are only on the eve of very great extensions of knowledge on the properties of sunlight. My branch of medicine has o made some special study of its effects, and those hon. Members who are interested may visit any of the light departments of the great London hospitals and see, as I have personally seen, the transformation of a wreck of humanity into a reasonably healthy person as a mere result of sitting for half an hour, three times a week, in front of a very feeble imitation of sunlight which comes from a carbon arc lamp. The importance of sunlight cannot be overestimated, and the importance of fresh air cannot be overestimated, and both those advantages will be immeasurably increased to large numbers of our people by this Bill. I could almost wish that this Chamber could achieve some better measure of sunlight and fresh air than it does, but the confinement of very many persons by their occupation is something pitiful to contemplate, and that is going to be helped by this Bill.
I want to point out that the psychological effect also is very great. The properties of fresh air and sunlight have been much more closely studied of late, especially abroad, where the effects can be more readily ascertained than is possible in this country, and it is perfectly amazing what influence on nutrition is exercised by the application of sunlight and fresh air. The value of sunlight is so great, that one could almost wish another beneficient effect might accrue, and that we 'might wear less clothes than we do in the sunlight. We might then realise some of that happiness which is presented in the picture by Anatole France of "Penguin Island" before the discovery of clothes. But before doing that, let us, at least, go as far as we can in securing sunlight and fresh air. The farmers are making the greatest clamour against this Bill. They arc in the happy position of being always in close contact with nature, and their attempt to deprive other persons of the great advantage which would accrue from this Bill should not succeed. Anybody who sees the loaded omnibuses in the summer taking people for long-distance runs will confirm the justification for this Bill, and on all these grounds, medical and general, I hope the House will give a Second Reading to the Bill.
I desire to say a word in my private and personal capacity in relation to the proposal before the House, and, if I may say so, I am sure the whole House has welcomed the very valuable contribution which has been made by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. Many Members in the House will remember the Debate upon this Bill last year, and I think the first observation which should be made this afternoon is undoubtedly the very notable advance which has been indicated to-day, particularly by those who are opposed to this Bill. because their position to-day, as I understand it, is that they are not now opposing Summer Time being made the permanent law of this country, but what they object to is the period suggested.
There is the statement which, I think, every Member has received from the National Farmers' Union. In the communication they made to me, they say that they themselves, while opposed to Summer Time, realise that they constitute a minority of the community, and cannot override the wishes of the majority as expressed by Parliament. I have been one of those who have been very strongly in favour of this proposal, but, at the same time, I have endeavoured to put myself in the place of people who oppose it, and I do recognise the difficulties of those engaged in agriculture. I wish we could meet them in some way, and I think it may be possible, if we can be accorded the Second Reading of this Bill, to come to some arrangement. We cannot have everything we want in life. There are, I know, many people who believe in the six months' period, but, equally, I am impressed by the argument of the Mover of the Amendment, and I hope it may be possible, in conjunction with the Home Secretary, to come to a final agreement on this matter.
I think everyone will agree that the present position is unfortunate and undesirable. I looked up the other day to see what the position has been in the last few years, and I think in the eight or nine years since Summer Time has become the rule in this country it has always been a varying period, and that the opening date of Summer Time has ranged from 23rd March to 20th May, and the closing date from 16th September to 7th October. Nobody can regard that as a satisfactory state of affairs. Agriculture has a very genuine complaint as to the very variable periods, as they never know when Summer Time is going to begin or to end. Therefore, from the agricultural point of view, it would be a good thing if, in the first place, they accepted the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country desire a permanent Summer Time Act on the Statute Book, and, secondly, if that time was definitely fixed for all time hereafter, and if there were some give-and-take, as I hope there will be, I hope my hon. Friends behind me and those in front of me who oppose this Bill will, at any rate, on that understanding, not rote against the Second Beading of this Bill.
I am in considerable difficulty, as I am not in charge of the Bill, but I will endeavour to find out whether my right hon. Friend can make any suggestion; or, perhaps, it will be better to wait till the Committee stage for whatever indication the Home Secretary may give of the view of the Government. In any event, most Members will agree it would not be unfair to suggest that a vote should be taken at some stage of the Bill, say the Report stage, on various suggestions as regards the hour, and, speaking for myself, I should be quite prepared to accept, and regard as a permanent solution, the time which most commends itself to the majority of this House, and so get this thing definitely settled. I understood the hon. Gentlemen behind me would give some weight to our position in relation to other countries. It is perfectly true, as some hon. Gentlemen have indicated, that not every country has adopted Summer Time, but, having regard to conditions of climate in Spain, Portugal and some other countries, one appreciates why they have not done so. But the reason I was concerned, in the Bill I introduced last year, in the period of six months, was simply-because that was the period that had been agreed upon by His Majesty's Government at that time with France and Belgium, and the necessity of coming to some arrangement with them did make a very strong appeal to me. While it may not be possible, perhaps, to come to an arrangement with them as to the date for the beginning and the ending of Summer Time, we might, perhaps, be able to come to some arrangement, at any rate, by which at one end or the other we had the same arrangement as Belgium and France. Of course, everyone realises the -difficulty of the present situation.
I only want to say, in conclusion, that I do think all people ought to be reassured as far as the effects of this Bill are concerned, and I am sure they have been much reassured by the statement of the hon. Gentleman who has preceded me. It should not be put forward, for instance, that this Bill will really be harmful to the children of the country. I received a letter from the London County Council in relation to this matter, and there you have a body which has, I suppose, more opportunity of ascertaining how far these proposals affect the children than any other body in the country. This is quite a recent letter, dated 11th March. They say:
The London County Council has consistently supported the permanent adoption of Summer Time as providing additional opportunities for recreation for Londoners, particularly in the congested districts of the East End, without disturbing the operations of industry. That these opportunities have been taken advantage of has been shown by the increased use of the Council Parks on Summer evenings for games and general recreation. At one time, it was alleged that Summer Time had a detrimental effect on the health of children and young persons by tending to reduce their hours of rest, but the Council in 1921, after consulting the school medical staff and the authorities of elementary secondary and continuation schools and evening institutes, came to the conclusion that the consensus of expert educational opinion was that Summer Time was an advantage to school children and to young persons continuing their education beyond the school age.
That is not the verdict of a body which has taken one side or the other over this controversy. It is the considered opinion of the greatest educational authority in the world, and it is unhesitatingly in favour of the proposal. So far from saying that these proposals are detrimental to children—I am sure none of us would desire to put them forward if they were—they are strongly of opinion that they arc beneficial. I hope that it may be possible, as a result of the Debate to-day, that, in the first place, we may get Summer Time permanently on the Statute Book, and, secondly, that either now or later we may be able to come to some agreement as to the date, and by that means obtain, I hope, what the country really wants. I think the overwhelming majority of the people of this country are
satisfied, after eight years' experience of the late Mr. Willett's proposal, that it has proved itself desirable, and I hope, as a consequence of this Bill, that either now or later we may come to some agreement as to the date, abide by it, and by that means get rid of the differences which, unfortunately, have marked this proposal in the past. I am much indebted to the House for listening to me in this connection. I am, as the House knows, only speaking in my private capacity, and not as a Member of the Government, but I am very anxious to see this Bill on the Statute Book, and I hope by this means that we may achieve an object—a great object—which I believe will be of great value to the country.
I feel sure that the House will have been glad to listen to the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Sir K. Wood) who has just sat down, and I trust that the spirit of that speech will animate the House to-day in discussing the subject further and also in Committee upstairs. I, like him, speak on my own behalf and not necessarily on behalf of any of my Friends on this side of the House. I want to support the Measure for two or three reasons. There are several arguments brought to bear on this issue whenever it comes up for discussion. One of the chief arguments that I have heard from time to time is that the Bill has a detrimental effect on the health of the community and particularly of the children. Although I do not think that it is really as relevant to the subject as some people imagine I have looked up the figures of infantile mortality since Summer Time was adopted in 1916; and, although I want to make it quite clear that I do not think an argument of this kind is really a strong one it, ought, nevertheless, to be used because of similar but. opposite reasons brought before the House on the question of the health of the community. In 1915 the infantile mortality in this country was 110 per 1,000 births. That is to say, out of every 1,000 births 110 children died before they reached the age of 12 months. That was the last year prior to the adoption of Summer Time in this country. Strangely enough, in 1922, after seven years of Summer Time, that figure was reduced to 77, a net gain of 33 infant lives for every 1,000. I want to make it clear that this has not, of course, come about entirely because of the adoption of Summer Time; but, if the argument be used that Summer Time is detrimental to the health of the people, then I claim that my argument is good enough on the other side. There is another point which I think is very pertinent to the issues consequent upon the adoption of Summer Time.
No, but surely their mothers would. The other argument which I am going to use very seriously is this. There is no doubt in my mind, after some experience on a local authority and of the public health work of that authority, that health depends largely upon daylight and, of course, the sun. Let us, therefore, take for example the number of people who died from consumption in 1915, the last year prior to the adoption of Summer Time in this country. The number was 54,195. In 192.3, after nearly eight years of Summer Time, the number had decreased to 40,788. That was a saving of nearly 14,000 lives in one year; and of all the diseases that are affected by sunlight, consumption is the. one above all. I would agree to the continuation of Summer Time were it for that fact alone. But I go a step further. It seems to me that medical evidence is definitely in favour of more sun and daylight; otherwise, why should men go to the trouble of applying science to the actual manufacture of artificial sunlight? That is exactly what is happening now, because it is claimed that our people are not getting sufficient daylight. The medical profession has utilised science even to manufacture sunlight in order to cure certain diseases.
I wish the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope), who moved the rejection of the Bill, were in his place, because he outlined an argument which caused me some little surprise. He said, if Russia and Spain have not adopted Summer Time, why should we do so This is the first Lime that I have ever heard an argument from those benches that this country should emulate Russia in anything. The reason, of course, is the difference in climatic conditions. We differ in climatic conditions from most other countries. I want now to say one word on the international issue. When I had something to do with this question at the Home Office I was impressed by the difficulties that were encountered because of the difference in time between France, Belgium and ourselves. Strangely enough, the interests that demand the continuance of Summer Time in France are the very interests that oppose Summer Time here. It is the agricultural interests in France that want Summer Time, and, strange as it may seem, it is the agricultural interests in this country which oppose it.
Let me just say a word if I may respectfully to my hon. Friends behind me. We on this side of the House are proud to speak of internationalism. We naturally want arrangements with other countries; but. the only method of securing those arrangements with other countries is by compromise and reciprocity. You have to give away something if you want anything at the hands of other countries. It is no use arguing about internationalism in this fashion. "We will agree to an international scheme with France or with Belgium provided we can get it all our own way." There is no international agreement possible in that way. We must compromise in order to meet the claims of other countries in this respect.
I happen to represent a division which is predominently mining. I know the attitude of the men who work in the pits. I have had an experience, too, which has helped me, I hope, to look at this problem of Summer Time in a little different light to most Members of the House. I happen to have been a farm worker, a coal-miner, and a shop-worker—rather a varied experience. From my experience of farm life we used to get up when the sun came out and go to bed when it went down. I was astonished, therefore, when I read the arguments put up against the first Bill to establish Summer Time here. The chief opposing argument then from the agriculture interests in Scotland was that, with the introduction of Summer Time, there was the fear that the farm labourer would want more overtime pay than hitherto. That argument apparently has disappeared with other foolish arguments against the Measure. I have every respect for the interests of agriculture; but there is no doubt that in this country a very large population outside agricultural and mining is touched by this Measure.
The Act of Parliament which now operates has helped them considerably. I refer to the 1,000,000 odd shop-workers and shop-keepers in this country and to the very large number employed in offices and warehouses. In my own city the additional hour in summer makes all the difference in the world for those people who must get home after their day's work to have a meal and then to the playing fields provided for them by the municipality. After all, recreation does play a great part in our lives to-day; it ought to play a very much greater part still. In fact, if I know the municipalities at all, they are not only catering by way of tennis courts and boating lakes, but for golf courses too. Golf is becoming, in fact, more and more within the reach of the ordinary citizens of this land. Were it only on the ground that about two million persons employed in offices, shops and warehouses will be able to have the opportunity of recreation in the evening I would support this Measure.
My last word is to note what happened when the War was proceeding. We then reduced considerably the hours of labour in shops. There was one great advantage which accrued to the people of this country during the War—that was the reduction in the hours of labour for the vast majority of workers. Having got that reduction, they hope they will be able to retain it. They secured that reduction of hours because there was a desire for economy in the upkeep of shops and offices. In those days shops used to be opened to 11 and 12 o'clock at night, and customers used to purchase goods as late as that hour. The War altered all that. The first Summer Time Act made a great, difference in that connection.
If these reforms were brought about for war purposes; if they were good even for the agricultural interests at that time; and if this particular Measure was necessary for war purposes, I claim it ought to be retained in peace time. I support this Measure, not because I agree with every line of it. I hope the Second Reading will be given to-day in order that the Bill may go upstairs to Committee, where we can hammer out our differences, and where some hon. Members who feel inclined may get a chance of gaining experience in the art of obstruction. But I trust obstruction to this Measure will not be adopted in future, and that we may come to an understanding in order that this Measure may be made permanent, that doubts will be removed, and that once and for all we shall establish something permanent in this connection.
I have been exceedingly glad to hear the speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. He certainly tendered the olive branch to the opponents of the Bill. What we want is to get the offer he made put into some more definite terms. I think there is a great measure of agreement already in the House. I think that in the first place we are all agreed that the present state of affairs is a nuisance. It certainly is a nuisance to Members of this House that this matter should come up once a year, and that they should get diametrically opposite and very forceful resolutions from bodies of their own constituents asking them to take opposite coursee upon the Second Reading of the Bill. We want to get the question settled once and for all. Therefore, I do not think that there is any section of the House who would wish to oppose that part of the Bill which makes the settlement of Summer Time permanent. Where the difference of opinion does come in is as to when Summer Time should begin and when it should end. I hope that those who are enthusiastic supporters of the Bill will realise that Summer Time does mean not only inconvenience, but definite pecuniary loss, to the farmers. But the farmer recognises that he has the general opinion of the country against him on the subject of Summer Time existing at all.
There is no doubt, I think, that on the whole Summer Time is popular in the country. But it does mean, as I have said, a definite pecuniary loss to the farmer. That is a point of view which ought to be taken into account before a final settlement is arrived at. We want to get the proposal a little more definite than what has been said by the Parliamentary Secretary. We want some rather more definite undertaking given to us by the Home Secretary when he comes 10 speak, as to what concessions will have a favourable consideration from the supporters of the Bill. I cannot think that we can be blamed for being just a little cautious on this matter. It must be remembered that the Bill of 1922 was a compromise. The dates then fixed—I am speaking of what I know—were fixed as the result of a compromise between the agricultural interest and those who were enthusiastically in support of Summer Time. It is no good making these compromises if once they are made one party wants to go back upon them. That having happened once we do not want it to happen again.
I have no doubt that the majority of this House are in favour of the principle of this Bill. There is no doubt that the Second Reading can be carried. I think it is probable that if the promoters of the Bill want to stand out for their whole pound of flesh, they could carry the Clause as to the times when the Bill is in Committee. But I would say to them, "As you are strong, be merciful," and I would suggest to the promoters of the Bill that, if they can come to a reasonable compromise on this matter, it will make the passage of the Bill which they have at heart very much easier. There was experience last Session of the difficulties of getting even a short Bill like this through, when then, is determined opposition to it; and as a mere matter of business it would be very much to the interest of the promoters of the Bill that they should do something definite now to meet us in a reasonable spirit on the question of dates. I should not, in any case, support the Amendment that has been moved, because I want the Second Beading to go through, but I hope the promoters will give us as definite an assurance as they possibly can that on this question of dates they will meet us in a reasonable manner in Committee
Unlike my colleague who spoke from this box a few moments ago, I am very much in opposition to this Measure, and if there is no definite assurance such as has been asked for by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I shall certainly vote for the Amendment. In this House we hear a great deal of talk about agriculture, but it is a moot point whether this House ever does anything for agriculture. Here is an opportunity, because agriculture, both on the workers' side and on the farmers' side, is unanimously opposed to this Bill. I congratulate my hon. Friend who moved the Bill on his admirable speech, but, if it is weighed up, we shall find there are more arguments against the Bill than for it in that speech. lie was very fair to the opponents, and admitted to the full the arguments against the Bill, so far as agriculture is concerned. We have an opportunity here to do something for agriculture, and if we are to have Summer Time at all, and personally I am opposed to it in every shape and form, why not decide definitely on the position to-clay while the spirit of compromise is existent, and not go either farther back at one end or the other of the year.
Before I came to this House I was a miner, or at all events, I was working for the men at, a colliery, and I had some experience of the Act when it was on the lines proposed by my hon. Friend in his Bill to-day. Though the miners of this country are not, perhaps, unanimous about it, a great majority are opposed to the idea contained in this Bill. At their annual conference each year the Miners' Federation pass a resolution against the Summer Time Bill, and having had practical experience of the operation of Summer Time, I agree with that view. In 1918, before I came here, Summer Time came into operation about the 1st April. Like many thousands of men working in industry, I had to go some miles to my work, and I used to cycle. In the ordinary way I could take off my bicycle lamp, because daylight had come in the natural order of things, but because Summer Time had come into operation I had, after experiencing a week or two of daylight, to go back to my bicycle lamp for another short period, until daylight came again in the unnatural order of things brought about by Summer Time. In starting Summer Time at the beginning of April and continuing it to the end of September, you are injuring the best interests of all those engaged in the most useful occupations, the producers. After all, it is not those in offices, or those in distributive shops, who are doing the most useful work, but the men who are engaged in agriculture, in mining, and in other productive industries, and you are attempting to turn day into night for them, or night into day, and shortening the amount of rest and sleep for men who have to get up in the early hours of the morning. Statistics have been quoted, but statistics can be used on all sides; we have only to sit through a Debate to hear a very contradictory use made of statistics in support of one point of view as against another. Believing it is against the interests of the miners in particular, and against the interests of the productive workers, I am opposed to this Bill.
Let me take another point of view. It is only a week or two since we were discussing on a Friday a Bill to give votes to young women and to equalise the franchise. You consult young mothers upon the operation of a Bill of this sort. Most of our people live in cramped conditions in crowded streets, and most working-class wives have children. Some who are under the age of 30 have two, three, or even four children, and I am satisfied that if they were given the vote, there is nothing they would be more in opposition to than a Bill of this kind to extend the period of Summer Time. A young mother wants a little rest after the tortures of the whole day, or after being pestered the whole day with her children, and she wishes, also, that her children should be able to go to bed and get a complete rest. If you lived in an ordinary house, as I do, and amongst the people, you would see the effects of Summer Time upon the children when they go to the elementary schools in the morning. They have not had the sleep they ought to have. It is most important for the development of young life that children should have full and complete rest. Knowing that agriculture is unanimously against it as are nearly all the productive workers in this country, particularly the miners, and believing that most working-class mothers are opposed to it, in the interests of their children, I am opposed to any extension of the period of Summer Time. I know that shopmen, clerks, and men of that sort are more vocal, and perhaps have more influence with Members of this House, than some other sections of the community, and I do not want to minimise the importance of recreation, or to stand in the way of our getting more sunlight, which was a point dealt with by an hon. Member who spoke just now. It would be a great blessing to us if there were more sunlight, and if we were discussing a project which would provide more sunlight in place of the scores and scores of rainy and cloudy days we had last summer we should be serving a very useful purpose in adopting it; but we are not doing that. We are simply considering a Bill which, in my opinion, is in the interests of only a certain section of the community, not an unimportant section, but not the most important. That being so, I hope we shall get a clear definition from either the Mover or the Home Secretary, who, I understand, is going to speak. as to what they mean by a compromise. Let us have a definition as to how far they want to extend the period. If they simply want to make permanent the position we had last year on this subject, there will be no opposition; but if there is to be any extension, I can promise hon. Members that there will be on the part of many hon. Members of this House a very determined opposition in the Committee Boom upstairs.
Mr. R. W. SMITH:
As a new Member addressing the House for the first time, I claim the indulgence of the House. The reason I intervene in this Debate is because, I represent a thoroughly agricultural constituency, and one that is situated in the northern part. of this country, which is very seriously affected by the Summer Time Act. We have been asked from, the Treasury Bench to vote in favour of this Bill. I would like to point out what that really means. It does not mean that we simply approve of the theory of Summer Time, but it ties us down to the principle of lengthening the period. Therefore, there is nothing left for me to do hut to vote for the Amendment. and oppose the Second Reading of this Bill.
I want to say a word or two on the general question. Of course I approve of the period being fixed because no advantage can accrue to anybody by uncertainty. I admit that the proposal for Summer Time, and even for the longer period, appeals to a very large section of the people of this country, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that you are going to create a hardship for a certain section of the community, and not only that, but you are going to seriously affect agricultural production. I do not propose to take up the time of the House in proving what those hardships are, and what agricultural production will suffer by the adoption of this Bill. I think that is admitted on all sides. Some people say that the loss is great, and some say that it is small, but I think it is an admitted fact that there will certainly be a loss to the agricultural community, and it is also an admitted fact that certain sections of the community will suffer from the introduction of Summer Time, and the longer the period the more they will suffer.
For these reasons I think the agricultural industry is entitled to very special consideration at the present time. It is an admitted fact that at the present time the agricultural industry is far from being in a healthy state. It is also agreed that the country requires an increased production of foodstuffs. We want our agriculture to supply more food in the country to ensure the life of our people. If we need these things is it a good thing to put handicaps of this kind upon the industry at the present time? Furthermore, it is necessary to encourage the agricultural industry to retain, and if possible to increase, our agricultural population. How can you expect to achieve that if at the same time you are going to place this handicap upon the industry? For these reasons I shall oppose the Second Reading of this Bill.
The argument has been used that the minority in this country must suffer the hardships inflicted by Summer Time, because it is our duty to consider what is good for the majority of the people. What is the advantage in regard to this question which the majority claim? It is really nothing more nor less than that they want to get a few more hours for recreation. Of course I know that those in favour of this Bill will say "Oh! but recreation means health." I admit that it does, but I want to put the question what is the price you are going to ask the country to pay for this extra recreation for a certain section of the people? The price to be paid is inconvenience to a minority of the people of this country as well as hardship. You are going to ask the mining population to put themselves to a certain amount of discomfort and inconvenience in order that the town people may have a few hours more recreation. You are doing the same thing with regard to agriculture, in regard to which it is admitted that it will cause a serious financial loss, and consequently this minority is being asked to pay for the extra hour of life that the town people are asking for.
With regard to agriculture it is admitted that the industry is not in a flourishing condition, and what is being proposed seems to me to be summed up in the words, "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." That is my view in regard to this matter. Hon. Members have been talking about this extra recreation, but what is to happen to the unfortunate people in the agricultural industry? Is their health not to be considered at all? I think that is very unfair. Milk is required for breakfast, and we have been told by one hon. Member that the milk delivered in the morning is not that morning's milk. At any rate that is not the case in Scotland, and consequently the people in my constituency will he called upon to suffer this hardship. I do not think that by this Measure you are treating the agricultural industry fairly.
For the reason that I consider it is very much against the interests of agriculture, and for the reason that the advantage to be obtained is only a question of a few hours' recreation, I shall oppose this Bill. It may be said that it is only a small burden that we are being asked to bear, but I appeal to every section of the representatives of this House, and especially those who represent agricultural constituencies, to oppose this Measure. I know that in discussing this question hon. Members representing constituencies south of the Midlands are rather luke-warm about Summer Time, but in the North, and certainly in Scotland, it is considered to be a very serious matter indeed. In the constituency which I represent we have early frosts in the autumn and later frosts in spring, and I think it is only fair that these people should be considered. It has been suggested that Scotland should be left out of this Bill, and I regret that some hon. Members prefer to co-operate with France rather than with Scotland. That does not seem to me to be quite the way to look at this large question. I think that certainly we in Scotland should receive from Members representing English constituencies a little more friendly feeling than has been shown this morning.
I appeal to the agriculturists in the southern parts of the country to remember their brethren in the north, and to give them a chance. We have not as good a climate as they have, we have to work harder to grow things, and we have to contend against more severe conditions. Surely, we are not asking too much when we ask those who represent southern constituencies to bear these things in mind and remember us in the north. I also appeal to those who represent mining constituencies. I am certain that the shorter period is what their constituents would wish. Further, I would appeal to those who represent towns. They are asking us to do things for them, and, surely, they might do a little for us. I ask those who represent districts with shops, or factories, or whatever they may be, to think of us. They are asking us to produce more food and bring about a better condition of things in the agricultural industry. We ask them to give us in exchange, not money, but merely to give up their few hours of recreation in order that we in the agricultural industry may be able to produce more food for the country, and so benefit the country at large.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:
I am sure I express the feelings of the House in offering congratulations to the lion, Member who has just spoken, and also to his constituency on the very able way in which he has voiced their views. I do so the more sincerely because I disagree with the matter of his speech, but I do appreciate its form. It is undoubtedly a clash of interests, and I suppose the House, as usual, will determine in favour of the majority, but, apparently, it is seeking after compromise. We know that, as Englishmen, we love a compro- mise, but I would appeal to the supporters of the Bill not to give away too much. Peace is too dearly bought on some occasions, and it is essential that the wider interests of the community as a whole should be considered in this matter. For the teeming thousands in our industrial areas, I would plead that their interests should not be jeopardised in a matter of this sort.
The hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) spoke as though the industrial producers were all against the Bill. I venture to suggest, however, that he has much exaggerated the position. It may be true, as he says, with regard to agriculture and mining, but, even with regard to agriculture, I venture to suggest that agriculturists as a whole are not united. The labourer, in many cases, is in favour of Summer Time. Although I happen to represent an industrial constituency, I live in the country, and I know that the farm labourers there are only too glad to have extra time to look after their own allotments, and to have the advantages which come from extended Summer Time. Therefore, I submit that even the agriculturists are not united as a body against this proposal. When you come to the towns, you have the shipyard workers, the ironworkers, the steelworkers, the engineers—all of them producers as much as the agriculturists and the miners; and they are practically united in favour of the advantages which this Measure would confer.
Reference has been made to the need for increased agricultural production, and the fear has been expressed that this Summer Time extension would detract from agricultural production. If that be so, I would submit to our agricultural friends that against that we have the increased production which will come from the allotments in our industrial areas through the added time which this Bill will give them. There has been no more striking feature during the last lo or 15 sears than the extension of the allotment movement in our industrial areas, and the extra hour which this Bill provides makes all the difference in the world to the many thousands who are engaged in adding to the produce of the land by means of allotments. On the question of health, as the hon. Member for London University (Dr. Little) so well put it, we do need greater sunshine, we do need more fresh air; and, if I may, I would repeat what he said in appealing to agriculturists to remember that, while they are living all their time in the fresh air, and getting all the sunshine that there may be, their fellow-workers in the smoke-ridden atmosphere of the towns, working in workshops and factories, are denied that access to fresh air and healthy conditions which their fellow-countrymen in the agricultural districts have. Therefore, there is a special need that we should not do anything to take away from those added advantages which are so necessary.
We want to improve the health conditions of our people. Speaking as a member of a local public health authority, I am satisfied that there is nothing this House could do that would more improve the health conditions, and reduce the mortality and sickness rate in our large towns, than this added Summer Time. We have seen far too little of the sun lately; we are hoping for more this year; but for Heaven's sake do not let us deny to the town workers the added advantage that would come from an extension of this Measure. Therefore, I appeal to the House and to those who support this Bill that, although, as Englishmen, we dearly love a compromise, some compromises are too dearly nought, and we must not give way to the extent of what is foreshadowed in the Amendment. If it is to be a compromise, let it be a compromise—let both sides give something: because there is no doubt that a real and permanent settlement would have its advantages, and that, in itself, is worth making some concession for. I hope. when we are weighing up the pros and cons, that the claims and the needs of big industrial areas to improve their health conditions, to their own well-being and that of the community as a whole, will not be lost sight of, and that we shall get the maximum extension from the proposed Bill.
Like a good many others who have spoken on behalf of this Amendment, I do not do so because I oppose. the main principle of the Bill, which, I take it, is to make Summer Time permanent in this country; but I object to the extension of time which it is suggested should take place under the Bill as it stands. I do so because I believe it will inflict very serious loss on the agri- cultural interests of our country. The hon. Member who seconded the Bill said that during the course of the last Election he had not had a single protest against the Bill from anyone in his constituency. I can only say that that is a very different position from my own. I found that one of the subjects which excited the greatest interest in the agricultural areas and amongst the farmers was their opposition to this Summer Time. It is the one thing on which they were all absolutely united. Whenever I go to my constituency, I am always being asked by farmers, at any meeting I address, "What are you going to do about this Summer Time? Do whatever you can, at least, to prevent its being made any longer." The feeling is very great, and I can assure the Seconder that, if he has not met with opposition in his part of the country, there are, at any rate, other parts where the opposition is very strong indeed.
I should like to call the attention of one or two hon. Members to the climatic conditions of many parts of the country which are rather further North than the City of London. Perhaps I may take the opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member for Central Aberdeen (Mr. Smith) on the way in which he put some of the difficulties from which we people in our part of the world suffer. I should like people like the hon. Member who has just sat down, who urge the claims of city people with so much vehemence, to remember that in other parts of the country the climate is very different from what. it is here. In the early mornings in April, when it. is bitterly cold and very often wet, it is very hard for the farmer to get to his work early enough even under present circumstances. He very often has to put off the commencement of sowing for an hour in the morning, and if you are going to alter the time, as you are proposing to tie, it will mean the loss of two hours and not one.
It was said the last time the Bill was discussed that you can put men to doing other jobs. There are all sorts of odd jobs which have to be done by the farmer, not only in seed time but in harvest time, and you can utilise your labour on that sort of job in the first place. The only result of that is undoubtedly loss of efficiency, because the farmer cannot always arrange the night before exactly what he is going to get his men to do, and the consequence is very likely that a good deal of valuable time is lost in making arrangements in the morning, and disorganisation, as I know to my cost, always means lack of efficiency and consequent financial loss. Not only that, but every moment that is really available at seed time is of the utmost value to the farmer, and every opportunity you lose at that time of the year means that you are going to make the harvest later when harvest time comes. The result in the district which I represent is that you may miss the only opportunity you get during the course of a wet and stormy autumn. Not only so, but, to add to the difficulties of the farmer, you are going, by extending the Summer Time to the end of September, very likely to handicap him in exactly the same way in the autumn as you are proposing to do in the spring, because you are going to make him again have to curtail the day, not only by one hour, as he often has to do at present, but by two, and, I understand, even in some cases by three hours, if you prolong this Summer Time, simply because he will not be able to get on to his work on account of the climatic conditions in the early morning. Not only is this objected to by people actually engaged in arable farming, but it is also. I understand, objected to by people who are dealing with afforestation. Foresters are apt to wax very eloquent about the disadvantages which will accrue from this extension of Summer Time. In fact, everyone whose work takes him out in the early morning, or in the open air, is almost unanimous in opposition to any such extension.
I suggest that the Bill is put forward mainly in the interests of the urban people in order to enable them to get more recreation. We have heard that expressed very fully by many Members who have supported it. I want them to think for a minute of the effect upon their fellow beings whose duty takes them out in the early morning in the colder and harder climate of the North. It is all very well for people who begin their day's work at eight or nine in the morning who want their extra hours in the evening, but let them remember that by doing that they are compelling many people to get up at half-past four on the cold, bitter mornings in April, when it is very likely snowing, as we discovered
last year, and in the mornings of September when the mist is lying over the country. I am not speaking for the moment of the real Summer Time, the months of May, June, July and August. I am confining my remarks to the extension which is proposed in the Bill. Let them remember that the extra benefit they are going to get for their pleasures must certainly be bought at the bitter expense of those whose work calls them forth early in the morning. I often recall the words of a popular song by Harry Lauder, when alluding to the benefits of early rising in June
When the snow is snowing and it's murky overhead.
It's nice to get up in the morning, but it's nicer to lie in your bed.
I do not think Harry Lauder, on this occasion, is speaking for the sluggard. I am certain he is speaking the very genuine and legitimate feeling of ail those whose work takes them out in the early hours. There is one point about children I should like to mention. We have heard a great deal about how the Bill is to help the health of children. In many parts of the country, in the hillier parts particularly, in April the mornings are cold, there is often snow on the road, and little children not more than five years old have sometimes to walk three or four miles to school. It is not for the benefit of those children that they should have to start an hour earlier than is absolutely necessary in the bitter cold mornings of April or in the cold foggy mornings in September. That is a point of view which hon. Members might well bear in mind when they think of the good and evil which is going to accrue to the childhood of the country, whom we all have so much at heart.
It has been put forward that the Bill will benefit industry because it is going to reduce the cost of lighting and so on, and therefore we shall be in a better position to compete with other countries which are adopting somewhat similar Measures. "You are handicapping agriculture because you are going to adopt a system which is not adopted in many of the principal agricultural countries of Europe. Germany has frequently been put forward as a country whose example we should follow in her efforts to stimulate agriculture. Germany has not gone in for Summer Time. Holland is another competitor, and Holland has just defeated a Summer Time proposal. Denmark, another agricultural centre, has never attempted it either, and I suggest, when you are putting forward the interests of the industries of the towns being benefited by this, you should remember that you are handicapping agriculture as compared with her competitors in other countries by the very same Measure by which you think you are going to benefit your city industries. There is talk about the disadvantages of having a difference between the time of this country and of Belgium and France, but surely the principal thing is that we should get a definite assurance when the time is going to begin and when it is going to end. The confusion which arose last year in the matter of overseas communications was very largely due to uncertainty as to when our Summer Time and when the French Summer Time began. This year I and many others must have seen the Southern Railway notice many weeks ago announcing the train service arrangements which are going to come into force during the period when the times of France and this country differ. I believe if you get these matters fixed you will get over a lot of this difficulty of which we have heard so much, and I do not believe in any case the inconvenience which will be caused by them will be anything like the inconvenience and great loss which will be incurred by our agriculture if the Measure is passed in anything like its present form.
I would say to Members for urban constituencies and others who do not see eye to eye with us that a flourishing agriculture is one of the most important things for the future of our country. Most of us will agree that one of the first things we want is to get a feeling of confidence in the rural districts if you are going to get your farmers to put their full force into the development of the land and produce as much food as they can from it. If you are going to do that, you will have the farmers once again feeling that whenever there is a conflict of interest, apparent or real, as between the towns and themselves, the weight of the House is always going to be on the side of the urban population. I appeal very earnestly to all Members of this House, either now or at some future opportunity when it arises, to meet us in this respect and thereby to encourage agriculture, and not once again to cause the unfortunate impression, which now so widely exists, that this House will always support the towns in any case where they happen to be in conflict with the country. If hon. Members adopt the course which I suggest, they will be taking one of the most important steps that can be taken at the moment to revive agriculture and to put it on the footing on which we all so earnestly desire to see it placed.
In supporting the Bill I think that one of the strongest possible reasons why we should fix Summer Time permanently is that we may avoid the annual discussion of grievances and dissatisfactions that exist amongst a certain section of the community with regard to the operation of Summer Time. If these grievances are perpetuated by annual debates, all sections of the community will the less easily settle themselves and accommodate themselves to the necessities of Summer Time.
I have heard many agriculturists, particularly the farmers when they have been busy increasing production by attending two or three markets a week, express their opposition to Summer Time in very lurid and sometimes in sanguinary phrases. So far as the agricultural labourers are concerned, all those with whom I have discussed the matter appreciate to a very large degree the additional advantages and liberties that Summer Time brings to the agricultural workers. I represent a constituency which is mainly industrial, and in spite of what has been said as to the importance of the miners and agriculturists, I suggest that there is a very strong claim from the industrial workers for the continuance of Summer Time. The men in engineering factories, who work long hours under most difficult and trying conditions, go to their allotments when Summer Time comes, and get into touch with nature, thereby getting a sort of set-off against the difficulties of life in the modern engineering works. The claims of these men are just as much entitled to consideration as the grumblings of the farmers.
I want to support the Bill on behalf of a body of men and women who have probably got greater advantages out of the
Summer Time Act than any other body. I refer to those employed in the distributive trades. The shop-worker and the shopkeeper have got very great advantage out of the operation of Summer Time. As a result of the Summer Time Act, a new world has been opened to this class of people, and a totally different environment from what existed 25 years ago. It is now possible for those engaged in sedentary occupations of that kind to enjoy some of the amenities of physical recreation in the evenings, and I am sure that that body of men and women are equally as important in modern society as people who get coal or people who produce food. In a sense, they are equally as much producers if they distribute the things that are produced in the quantities in which the people want to get them and in the place where the people want to get them. In that way, they are fulfilling an equally useful purpose in the social organisation. I would like to quote to the House a statement from the Report of the Committee which was set up to inquire into the working of the Act in 1917—
Suggestions were made during the Summer Time period that advantage was being taken of the extra hours of daylight by shopkeepers to keep their shops open an hour longer. The matter was raised in the House of Commons, and to some extent it was discussed in the Press. The allegation was a serious one, particularly in view of the fact that shop assistants are clearly amongst those who stand to gain most by Summer Time. We think that a watch should be kept on the matter by the Home Office and the local authorities.
That is the particular point which I should like to stress. As a result of the effective organisation of the distributive workers, and the growth of a new spirit among the more enlightened and sympathetic employers, it has been possible by agreement to get earlier closing hours in many of the provincial towns, and these hours have operated quite well in the winter, when the employers have had the incentive to cut their expenses down by saving light, heating and so on. These hours have been fairly regularly observed, but in certain parts of the country it has become a practice for the, shopkeepers to extend the hours of labour when Summer Time comes in, and thus to rob their assistants of the advantage of the extra hour.
In a great many cases, even where the old hour of closing is conformed to, and where the shop is not actually open, the assistants are still kept at work behind closed doors and are thus robbed of the advantage of the Act. As was pointed out in the Report of the Committee who examined the working of the Act, it is necessary that the Home Office and the local authorities should endeavour to counter attempts of that kind on the part of unscrupulous employers. Some employers are equally as keen as the shop-workers in maintaining the advantages of Summer Time and seeing that the hours are not increased when the change of Summer Time takes place. I could quote cases where employers have actually freed their assistants for the purpose of picketing shops that were trying to destroy the general agreement that has been reached.
My point is, that under the existing legislation, under the Shops Act, and under the general Closing Order, it is not possible for a local authority to make the closing hour compulsory earlier than 7 o'clock. Even then it can only be done when substantial agreement has been obtained in the trading community. The difficulty is that when the time is changed, obviously if one individual in a particular trade decides to keep open half an hour later or an hour later, his competitors are unfairly handicapped, and before very long another individual, who complains of unfair competition on the part of the man who keeps open, begins to keep his shop open. Finally, the action of one person whose main object is' to take an unfair advantage of competitors is to destroy the general agreement that exists with regard to 99 per cent. of the people in the trade. As a consequence it is not very long before the managers of the multiple shops, which employ in many cases a considerable number of assistants, receive instructions from their head offices to extend the hours of opening to those which other people are observing.
If this Act is to be made permanent, and if the benefits are to be secured both for the shop keepers and the shop assistants, it is essential that the Home Office and the local authorities should be given the power to make an obligatory Closing Order earlier than seven o'clock. If the Bill reaches the Statute Book, I trust that the Government will pay some attention to that particular point.
I am one of those unfortunate individuals who represent a constituency which sees both sides of this question. There is a very large portion which wants Summer Time put into force, and there is another which does not want it. I have just received two telegrams asking me to support, the Bill. Therefore I feel rather in the position of being between two opposing fires, and, like the Kilkenny cats, I do not know what is going to become of me when I go back. I cannot do what both sides want. But my division is in a county which is in the happy position of producing the largest amount of milk in the country. Therefore, I feel that the farmers have a very special call on me that I should say something on their behalf. It was acknowledged by the Mover of the Bill that the farmer had a real grievance, and I think that every speaker has realised this. If there are any who think that it is an imaginary grievance, I can assure them that, when going through my constituency, I have not met one farmer who does not realise that it is a tremendous inconvenience to have Summer Time coming into force.
Such being the case we have got to recognise, and I ask the House to recognise, that the minority have a right in this matter, and I do not think that this House should attempt to override in a high-handed manner the rights of that minority. They can do it for a short time, but they cannot disregard the rights of the minority for any long time without, by so doing, injuring the rights of the majority. I ask the House, before it commits itself to voting for this Bill, to think of what it is doing. Allusion has been made to what is done in other countries. One of the most interesting is the case of Holland. One hon. Member led us to believe, I took it, that Holland had retracted her previous decision. That is not so Holland, as we know, has vetoed Summer Time, and the case of Holland is of great interest to us, because we know what a great agricultural country she is. A great deal of the produce that comes into this country comes from Holland, and the people there realise the tremendous inconvenience which Summer Time
causes. Such being the case I have decided against it. Hon. Members who think that this is a fancy grievance on the part of the farmer should realise that that is not so. The National Farmers' Union, with regard to this Bill, say:
Summer Time ever since it was enacted as a War-time measure has imposed a definite burden upon home food production.
Further on they say:
The already grievous handicaps from which the industry is suffering would be increasing by the imposition of Summer Time.
I will not go further into the details of that, because they have been pointed out, but I do wish to emphasise that we are affecting the produce of the country in which we live by imposing Summer Time. Farmers realise as a minority that they have got to accept Summer Time, but the proposal now is that Summer Time shall be extended further than it was under the old Act. Under the old Act, Summer Time was in force during the months of May, June, July and August. Under this Bill it is to be extended in both directions, so as to take in practically the whole of April, and the whole of September. That is what the farmers naturally object to, because it is making their grievance still more grievous.
Allusion has been made to the entertainments industry. I have a letter from that industry in which they claim that this proposal is going seriously to affect indoor entertainments, and they point out that, by curtailing the industry, thereby we shall curtail the revenue to a certain extent. I have some difficulty in this matter, and I should like to have heard from the Government that they would, either in Committee, or at some other stage, indicate that they were going to leave Summer Time as it was before. I want to make it quite clear that I am not against Summer Time. I am supporting it, but, on account of the minority in my Division, I am voting against a Bill which says definitely that Summer Time is going to be extended. We are placed in a very difficult position, because Mr. Speaker has ruled that those who vote for this Amendment are killing the Bill, and I realise that, but there is one alternative. If this Bill is defeated, I believe that I am right in saying, Summer Time will continue to be on the Statute Book under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. I would like to know if I am correct on that point. It is very important, because I feel that, in voting against this Bill, I am not voting against the old Summer Time, such as we have had, as that will continue under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. I would like to have your assurance on that matter, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Meanwhile, I am glad to have had the opportunity of saying these few words on this subject.
I am prepared to go much farther than many hon. Members and to say that rather than have Summer Time permanent in this country, I would wish that it should not again be adopted. This proposal was first introduced by Mr. Willett and later by Mr. Pearce. It was then ridiculed on all hands as a frivolous intervention in the laws of nature. It would have had no prospect of adoption had it not been for the War. During the War many specious claims were put forward for new legislation, and one of the claims put forward for this Measure was that Summer Time would have a very beneficial effect in reducing fuel consumption. It was then known as the Daylight Saving Bill. I do not know whether I am entitled to suggest that the promoters of this Measure were practical jokers. The late Mr. Willett and Mr. Pearce, I dare say, were serious in their views, but if they had lived to this moment and had witnessed the very trifling effect of all the promises which they made, I am sure they would have come to an agreement with many people who believe that this is the greatest spoof perpetrated on the country.
Hon. Members are sitting here for hours to-day seriously contemplating the permanence of a piece of legislation for which not a single word has been said in demonstration of its advantages. The Seconder of the Motion for the Second Reading did claim that he spoke for one farmer. He had solicited the opinion of the farmer, and had received a letter that this farmer was in favour of the continuance of the Bill. But his evidence is altogether destroyed as testimony by the fact that he said that this farmer was a successful farmer. We would have preferred to have had the testimony of a representative farmer on this question. Having elicited that amount of support for the Bill, I fail to find any other evidence that will carry me away from the determination to oppose this Bill and to speak against its reintroduction in any form. Something has been said about the advantages to certain classes of workers. I have not witnessed the advantages, and I have not met a single industrial worker the greater part of whose work is done in the earlier hours of the day who has advocated the per-petuation of this Bill. I challenge any hon. Member to produce one resolution from a body of organised workers asking for the continuance of this Bill. I can bring resolutions representing the wishes of some millions of workers who have constantly protested against this proposal from the time of its inception. Their protests have not been attended to because, unfortunately, their influence in this House has not been strong enough.
I suggest that the view of this House is not the view of the industrial workers of the country in the main. I have heard previous Debates in this House, and I am astonished to find so many opponents of the Bill absent from to-day's Debate. I remember that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, the Noble Lady who represents Kinross and West Perth (Duchess of Atholl), made a roost successful speech—I think a maiden speech—against this Bill last year. I do not know whether the hon. Member has changed her mind, but she is not here to-day. I notice the absence of other people who very strongly opposed this Bill last year. The agricultural community is, perhaps, the one which is most affected. I represent a division where there are farm workers, miners and other industrial workers. The agricultural people have made their complaints, and I notice that in the last two days they have forwarded their views to members of this House. This great body of the community is entitled to much more consideration than it has had in this House in previous Debates. The agricultural community is the backbone of this nation, despite its dwindling numbers and relative lack of organisation.
Members of the agricultural community cannot fix their hours of work. They have to be moving about in the early hours long before the proverbial milk- man has disturbed the slumber of the town dweller. They have to send away the milk, and the milkman knocks at the doors of the town villas not till four or five hours later. The argricultural community have to depend upon the habits of the animals which provide us with food, milk and other commodities. A great deal of fun has been poked at the farmer's cow, but no one can deny that Irregular habits, irregular times of feeding, of milking and of sleeping, affect the farmer's cow to a serious degree. I think it is true to say that the cow and the other beasts are not able to sustain the dissipations which human beings inflict upon themselves at so much pains. The animals suffer, and the yield of milk or other produce is affected. Not only that, but the farmer himself is seriously inconvenienced by having to commence his day earlier. Having done his morning chores, and having attended to the feeding of the cattle and the milking, he finds that because the mist and the dew lie on the ground he has to wait an hour or two and has his tasks diverted because of the interference of Summer Time.
I can speak with more authority of the mining community, and I want special consideration to be given to them. I have lived that life and I want Members who have not been industrial workers to try to appreciate, as I do, the very great hardships attending the need for commencing work at a place of employment that may be two, three or four miles from home at six o'clock in the morning. A man gets up in the winter months at 4.30 or 5 o'clock. There are hundreds of thousands, who have to do that every day. They get up, have a very hastily prepared breakfast then without overcoats and wrappings have to wend their way over dark and rough roads through wind and rain for a distance of two, three, four, five, or even six miles in many cases. All that has to be done in the dark. Towards the end of March the man who does that would find daylight coming back to help him on his way. It is hard to appreciate the joyful welcome that the sun gets when a man goes to his work under these conditions. At the end of March he gets daylight to guide him on his path. We in this House who, in very large proportion, have no cognisance or understanding of these difficulties of Life, pass a law which does not save daylight, which does not add to the hours of sunshine, but which does add an hour of darkness to the life of those people in the country.
It has been said that what you take away in March you give back in September, but you do not do any such thing. All that you do is to restore the clock to the rightful time—to the point at which it would have been, had you not interfered with it at all. There is no compensation for the mining population, the agricultural population and all industrial workers who start their day at six o'clock in the morning. It will be a bad day for this country if we cease to have regard for the interests of these people. It will be a bad day for this country if we ever do anything to prejudice their comfort. We have no right to impose this disadvantage on them, despite the fact that it may prove convenient to those people who start their day at 10 o'clock in the morning by giving them an additional half hour on the tennis court or an additional hour on the golf links. A dintinguished fellow-countryman of mine has pointed out that this Bill would give certain people an additional round of golf. I think too much attention is paid to games in these days. I think we could do with less golf, that there should be less time spent on it and other games, and that the interests of this House and the country can best be served by providing for the physical and mental efficiency of our industrial people.
Something has been said about the children. The President of the Board of Education is in his place and I am sure he has received intimation from school teachers and others associated with the instruction of children in regard to this matter. I know throughout the part of the country where I reside the testimony given by a large number of teachers is that the children, because they get insufficient sleep during the period of Summer Time, are incapable of applying themselves to study. That testimony has been given to me independently by numbers of teachers who have had experience of the operation of this system. It is also a very bad thing for the parents. Not only are they compelled to commence their day early and not only do they find their period of darkness extended, but they have this difficulty—they have to wait for the children to go to bed at the fall of day. Those who have been village boys themselves know that you cannot get children home to bed an hour before the sun sets.
Working-class parents with large families in the villages cannot get that measure of control over their numerous progeny which would enable them to regulate the hours of going to bed in this way. The children will not, so to speak, come home to roost until the sun has set, and the man or woman who has to get up at half-past four o'clock in the morning cannot on this account get to bed before half-past eleven o'clock at night. The result is that the heads of the family get up next morning in a bad temper because they have had insufficient sleep, and they are worried throughout a trying day by the want of adequate rest. If I were to hazard an opinion as to the effect upon the industrial community of this period of interference with nature and of humbugging with time, I should say that our people's health is being undermined and prejudiced to a serious extent by the unnatural conditions which we seek to impose upon them. I want the Bill to be opposed, and I hope those who take the same view will vote for the Amendment, I hope no one will be led away by suggestions of compromise which will lead to nothing but a confirmation of the Bill as it stands, and I hope we shall get the support of the majority in this House to-day, because I believe our view represents the opinion of the majority outside this House.
We have at last got real light on this subject in the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. We listened to the artificial speeches of the Rover and Seconder of this Bill dealing with a state of affairs which does not at all represent the life of the real strenuous worker of this country. The last speaker got down to the hard facts of life and to the lot of the labouring man. The great Napoleon said he did not respect the bearers of burdens as much as he respected the burden itself. I respect the burden of the working man and the hard toiler, and I bitterly regret this privileged addition to his burden, for it is nothing but a privileged addition. What do we hear in support of the proposal except talk about tennis and golf and other forms of recreation. No regard seems to be paid to the poor fellows who have to tumble out of bed before day has broken or to their wives who have to turn out to make meals for them. There is also the point that the children cannot be got to bed any earlier at night. They will not go, and we have not now the stern disciplinarians of a past generation.
I have listened with interest to hon. Members who have spoken about the town dwellers. This is a contest between what may be called the soft-handed classes and the hard-working classes. The people who really toil and sweat and swink in the mills, the farm labourer, the miner, the factory worker—all that large class as well as the postman, the milk dealer, the newspaper vendor, and the domestic servant will be called out of their beds on hour earlier in order that the constituents of the hon. Member for West Houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies) may play tennis and golf. If they want an extra hour, why cannot they do as we all used to do when we lived in the country—get up an hour earlier in the morning? There is nothing better than the sun at dawn and the refreshing air which one gets in the morning. HON. MEMBERS: "Why oppose the Bill?" I Because people can enjoy that voluntarily. It is the compulsion to which I object. I am opposing this Bill out and out because I think that probably the country will recover its sanity in regard to this particular Measure. The seconder of the Bill read a letter and I will read another. This gentleman says:
The members of our Government have the mentality of institution attendants otherwise it would be worth while telling them that the extra cost of food production caused by faking the clock is paid for by the urban population whose champions they masquerade as. The Wembley Exhibition cannot possibly pay with such a handicap as 'daylight saving.' No tired City man is going off there to find stalls and exhibits closed at seven by the sun, or fireworks let off in daylight. I hope to take my holiday in Holland—where they have got some sense—this year.
The whole thing is so utterly artificial. You start disorganising your life twice a year, you have bother of working yourself into the new system, and it is all done in order that shop assistants may have an extra hour of daylight. Is the whole country to be run for the benefit of shop assistants? This whole campaign of propaganda is run by the Early Closing
Association, which is the Praetorian Guard of the profiteers of this country. With their early-closing movement during the War they got a stranglehold on the people of this country which they have not let go. They are working this because their organisation must have some bare to hunt in order to justify the subscriptions which they get from the large shopkeepers and combines which run them under the guise of doing their best for the shop assistants when they are really more responsible for the enormous profiteering and the high cost of living than any other body in the whole community. If you are going to afflict the workers on the land, which, after all, employs the largest part of the population of this country, how do you expect that you will get people back to the land and settle them there? You want to treat these people with respect and care and to foster and not discourage them. What is the good of idle jokes about what would happen to the cows, whether they are milked early or not? I know decent dairy people who rise at 3 in the morning to supply Edinburgh's milk, and now they are to get up at 2 in the morning. It means they will have to sit up all night. They might as well be Members of Parliament! I feel sure this proposal will die a natural death. It was a Coalition proposal, originally made at a time when we tried to make believe that two and two 'in some mysterious way would make five, when people lost grip of the eternal verities and started tampering with the clock and with time.
I have a proposal here that you should have a short Amendment to provide that
when British Summer Time begins, usually in winter or early Spring, the freezing point of the thermometer shall be placed at 15 degrees Centigrade, or 59 degrees Fahrenheit. By this means British Summer Time and British Summer temperature will be brought into line, and the practice of lighting fires or piling on clothing at the time of year be discontinued. The beneficial result of an adjustment in the opposite direction in hot weather has also been suggested, hut this is still under consideration.
I have a letter from another gentleman, who says:
There is a class of people who do not think of retiring to bed on a fine summer's evening so long as there is daylight or twilight, and, in fact, many prolong the evening until 11 o'clock at night (true time),
including those who royster about after bed. On the other hand, numbers of men have to rise at 5 or 5.30 (true time) to travel, partly on foot in many cases, to distances of some miles, to work, to commence at 8 o'clock (really 7 o'clock) by this summer time.' The time during which a quiet night's rest is possible is thus reduced to about six hours, as not only are these men on their way to work, but there is the rattle and noise of lorries and carts and the banging of milk churns and pails, making sleep out of the question after 5 a.m. (true time). And what for? So that a lot of young men and girls may career about after tea on motor cycles and tri-cans. I knew Willett in 1887 and two or three following years. He used to call at the office where I was to borrow large sums on houses he had built. His object in this daylight saving ' was probably to wring more work out of the men employed in building. I should say that he had no sympathy with those who want to fool about on motor cars and similar vehicles.
I have a lot of letters here. I represent the fishermen, and I will say, in regard to my fishermen, that they are real fishermen, not trawlers which go out to destroy the fish. Generally the trawler belongs to the local licensed grocer, but my men are real line fishermen, who go out and fish in the seas, and they find, when Summer Time comes, that the steamers have gone and they cannot get their fish to market. There are hundreds of fishermen about Campbelltown and other places who are affected by this Bill, as well as the whole of the agricultural classes in this district. You have the miners, and the fishermen, who are perhaps the gallantest class in the community, men who take their lives in their hands in their daily work, with a smile, more than almost any other class. And you have got the whole of the agricultural labourers, and yet. you are going to listen to the claims of a number of people who start business at 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock in the morning. It is enough to make one feel, as the national poet says, that
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn.
It is one of the most inhumane and discreditable proposals that could possibly be put forward. It reflects very little credit on the humanity of those who insist upon it, and who ought to have some greater sympathy for the humble, hardworking, perspiring brother who takes the hard work of the community upon his back.
I desire to express, on behalf of those much maligned retail traders, their support of this Measure, and may I say that in expressing the views of the retail traders, who are organised up and down the land in some hundreds of thousands, and who have expressed in resolutions, time after time, support of this Bill, they not only speak for themselves, but they are well able to speak for the great mass of the people. The opportunities presented to them, day by day and week by week, of meeting the great mass of the people, who are their customers, and of ascertaining their views and wishes, are perhaps greater than those of any other class, because it is the retail distributor more than any other class which comes in daily contact with the great mass of the people. It is common knowledge—and after the experience we have had, I am surprised that anybody is found to oppose this Bill—that the overwhelming mass of the people have learned to support this Bill, and would be deeply disappointed if by any means it was not continued.
The Amendment is of a subtle character, and I hope the House, and those who are going to vote this afternoon, are not going to be by any means misled into believing that the Amendment is merely a modification, when it is really an attempt to destroy the Bill entirely. It is all very well for our amusing friend from Scotland to introduce jokes into the discussion, but, to my mind, it only demonstrates the weakness and poorness of his arguments in opposition to this Bill. Up and down the land it is common knowledge that the people have benefited to a marked degree as a result of this Bill, and the medical evidence that we have had this afternoon from the hon. Member for the University of London (Dr. Little) clinched the point, I think, as regards the statement that has been made that daylight saving is detrimental to the health and welfare of the children and their parents. It has already been said in Debate, and it is well that it should lie repeated, because contrary statements have been made, that the overwhelming opinion of the school teachers of the London County Council, who are in close touch with London and its industrial population, has been expressed in unmeasured terms in approval of this Measure, and that in no sense does it have any serious effect on the lives and health of the children.
Comments have been made about the hard-handed toiler rising at 5.30 or 6 a.m., but I suggest that it is quite a minority of the industrial workers who get up at that hour. The great mass of the workers commence at a very much later hour than that in all our cities. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, that is my opinion, and a very large proportion of them now commence at eight in the morning, and to suggest that the promoter of this Measure, Mr. Willett, was animated by a desire to get more labour out of his workers is very absurd and should never have been made. That sort of argument, to my mind, not only demonstrates the weakness of the opposition, but should result in converting anybody who has any idea of voting against the Bill.
It has been said that the opponents of this Bill are falling off and not prominent in the Debate. Anybody who was an opponent two or three years ago has a right to change his opinion and to abstain from speaking to-day or from supporting the Bill. We all live and learn, and if the opponents of the Bill, who have by experience and acquaintance with the subject learned that the great mass of the people desire this Bill, have withdrawn their opposition, it only proves that as time progresses all people can learn and change their minds. Happily there has been a great change of opinion on the subject, and those who at one time opposed Summer Time are gradually coming to realise the value of the Measure. The suggestion which has been put forward today, that. a slight compromise might be arrived at 'with regard to the period during which Summer Time should operate, is one which, I think, should, and will, meet the feelings of those promoting the Amendment this afternoon. Speaking as a retail distributor, and speaking on behalf of both employers and employed, and the public with whom I come into contact, I venture to suggest that no great difficulty will be found in adjusting the time between those promoting the Bill and those promoting the Amendment, and that a compromise may be reached, in which we can all agree in promoting this great Measure, which has done so much for the health, welfare and happiness of this community.
I am one of those who desire to see this Bill passed into law unamended, unabridged and unattenuated. I am a passionate and wholehearted believer in Summer Time. It seems to me that this House has a real opportunity of placing upon the Statute Book a Measure which, without imposing a single farthing of charge upon the Treasury, will bring in a constant revenue of good health, of good cheer and of public economy for the community as a whole. The hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten), in his very amusing speech, spoke of this Measure as contrary to the fundamental verities of nature. I take exactly the opposite point of view. I say this is a Measure that is founded on the fundamental verities of nature. Who are the opponents of this Measure? There is only one opponent of this Measure. Every organised being on this planet is in favour of this Measure, except the cow, and I suggest that it is not for an intelligent community to accept its political direction from not the most intelligent of animals.
It is true, of course, there have been arguments adduced in this Debate against the Bill. We have heard of the hard case of the miner who will be called upon to get up in the early hours of the morning. I do not want to disparage the force of that argument, but that objection can be met in the simplest of all possible ways, that is to say, by the regulation of the clocks in the mines. There is not the slightest objection to the mines keeping their own time, if it is convenient for them to do so, and that is the way of meeting that particular objection. Then, again, we have had the argument based upon the supposed harm to be inflicted upon children. When I was at the Board of Education, I instituted an inquiry as to the effects of Summer Time upon the health of the children. A very influential departmental committee was set up. It examined the question from the medical and hygienic point of view with very great care, and it produced a report, which, I hope, has been generally read by Members of this House, entirely dissipating the arguments of those who believe that Summer Time is injurious to the health of children. As the hon. Member for London University (Dr. Little) pointed out to the House in a very interesting speech, children, like all the rest of us, benefit from sunlight, and we have not too much sunlight to look with suspicion upon a Measure which is intended to enable us to enjoy a larger revenue of that commodity.
But my object is not so much to argue the general case. The general case is very well known to Members of this House. Some Members, indeed, like the hon. Member for Argyllshire and the hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Amendment, are opposed to Summer Time altogether. As I listened to those arguments, I could not help being reminded of Pope's "Dunciad":
She comes! She comes! The sable throne behold
Of Night primæval and of Chaos old!
If we fail to pass this Bill, and fail to adjust our chronology to that which prevails on the Continent, we shall, indeed, have chaos, as well as an additional dose of primeval night. But my main purpose in rising was not to argue the general case, but to put a question to the Government. I am anxious to know what course the Government intend to pursue in the event of this Bill receiving a Second Reading this afternoon. I venture to urge very strongly upon the Home Secretary, that, in the event of the House voting for the Second Reading this afternoon, the Government should make itself responsible for the further stages in the Bill's progress through this House. I say so because vividly recollect the fate of this Measure in the last Parliament. It was argued with very great skill by the hon. Member for Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), and by many others who share his views. There was a great body of public opinion in favour. The Bill went upstairs, and it was obstructed by the Members who take the opposite view. The Bill wasted itself in the sands. All our efforts were in vain, and I hope the House of Commons will not be called upon to undergo a similar ordeal on this occasion. If there is a sufficient feeling in favour of this Bill to secure for it a Second Reading this afternoon, I very much hope
that His Majesty's Government will take over the Bill, and make themselves responsible for its passage into law.
I welcome the speech of the right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher). He has shown. to the House why he is a believer in the Bill as it stands, without any reduction at the beginning or the end of the period laid down in the Bill. I venture to intervene in the Debate, not as representing a University constituency, but as one representing a frankly agricultural constituency, who is in favour of the Bill, and the whole Bill. We listened, just before the right hon. Gentleman rose, to a very humorous and entertaining speech from the hon. and learned member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten). I am sure that the House was grateful for the intervention of the hon. and learned Gentleman on an early Friday afternoon. It would be difficult for me as a layman to contravert any argument that so learned a gentleman might put forward, but I can say this: He helps the supporters of the Bill enormously by so ridiculously and at the same time so humorously overproving his case. He quoted, as apparent proof, one or two letters which he had received from his constituents. They were obviously couched in phraseology intended only to amuse, and they could not possibly convince anybody seriously. He divided the whole of the community into two classes: The horny-handed sort of people who, he said, were opposed to the Measure to a man, and those more pampered classes who commence work at 9 or 10 o'clock in the day. I suppose he referred to the great body of clerks, who are in favour of the Measure in order that they may be able to have an extra hour of lawn tennis in the afternoon. That is a traversity of the facts of the case.
I am told that the mining community is opposed to the Measure. Only about an hour ago I had an opportunity of consulting the hon. Member for Bosworth (Captain Gee) who sits near me—if anybody can speak for the working classes he can do so—and he told me that he had taken the opportunity of asking the miners in his constituency to come and meet him, and tell him what was their view of this Bill. He told me that they were practically unanimously in favour of it. When you get statements from an hon. Member who takes the trouble to get into contact with, his constituents in a particular trade, and you find that they are absolutely opposed to these sweeping statements made in this House about this or that body of the community being opposed to the Measure, you must take the humorous arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman with a grain of salt. [HON. MEMBERS: "A barrel!"] I accept the correction. The Amendment before the House was moved by the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope). He argued as if the Bill was one to compel the farming community to cultivate that top bit of land—the bacteriology of which he so eloquently explained to the House—an hour before it could possible be cultivated. A Bill of that nature would not need five hours on a Friday to argue it. It would never be introduced into this House. There is no compulsion in the Bill at all. As a matter of fact, the strongest argument in answer to these agricultural representations is this. The Bill is one to render permanent Summer Time as institution in this country. All these little difficulties about the agricultural labourer's wife and the two breakfasts and all the rest of it, that the hon. Member for Argyll and others have been holding up as insuperable will melt like the dew which they talk about as being on the grass in the early autumn morning. I am convinced that, once this thing is permanent, we shall not prove so utterly devoid of any power of adjusting things to the law in this country that it will be impossible, for instance, to arrange in the remote villages of Argyllshire that the children's school shall commence at an hour which will agree with the hour that the parent goes to work. That does not seem a very difficult proposition. It hardly seems necessary that the millions of people in our great industrial cities should be deprived of the only chance that they have of healthy recreation and of cultivating gardens and allotments because we cannot possibly adjust the hour of commencing school in the villages to the hour of commencing work on the farms.
Hardly anything has been said in this Debate about the origin of the Measure, and why we really passed it in the War. I was intimately concerned with the initiation of the Measure or gather with pressing it upon the Government. Sir Henry Norman, who was then a Member of this House, a much respected Member, was actively engaged in finding out what was going on in Paris. He was in constant correspondence with me, and he was pressing Summer Time on the French Government as being a War Measure to economise fuel and to give us an industrial advantage over the enemy. He suddenly heard a rumour that the enemy had adopted it also, and he sent word over to me to that effect. I went to see the then Home Secretary (Sir Herbert Samuel), and he said, "If we get proof of that, we will pass the Bill." I only mention this bit of history in order to draw this conclusion. We are not at war, we are at peace; but we have a great industrial conflict at the present time, and I say that the state of industry in this country does not permit us to make a present to anybody, not to France or to Belgium. We have got to deal with the same conditions of affairs with regard to the sun as obtain in France and Belgium, from where our great competition comes in many of our industries, and I say that we cannot afford to give anything away now any more than we could in war.
I would like to deal for a moment with these agricultural arguments. The only thing that would really weigh with me would be if there were a vast number of people in this country who were compelled to get up at half-past four in the morning, and walk to their work in the dark, when otherwise they might walk in the daylight. That would be a very strong case, and one which this House would have to consider. There may be some such people, but I venture to think that there are very, very few who will suffer additional inconvenience and hardship of that kind, compared to the vast majority who will gain socially and industrially and in health, and who will be able to meet and live with their families in the sunlight, such as we know is the fact with regard to all the dwellers in our towns. But when hon. Members were on these agricultural questions they were not on strong ground. I venture to think that a good deal has been made of the hardship to the farmer and the agricultural labourer. The point which really under lies this Amendment, the omission of April and September, as you, Mr. Speaker, pointed out, cannot possibly be considered at the present time, because the Amendment which has been proposed means the rejection of the Bill. On that question I wish to say that to the mass of the community April and September are vital and important months; to the agricultural labourer they are months of great importance. Many of us, looking to the future of the agricultural labourer. consider that we see that what is necessary in order to make life more possible and better for him is that a vastly greater number of them should have their own piece of land which they can cultivate. Even now the mass of them have got garden. Some have got allotments. Some have got a bit of land in connection with the farm. They have to get their potatoes into the ground and have to get them out, as these are the main things upon which their families live. I say that April for planting and September for harvesting their little crop is vital, and that the hour then is worth anything.
Let us remember, when we are considering about the agricultural labourer, that only a small minority are engaged in milking the cow. I do not mind saying again, that it is an infinitesimal minority, even of the agricultural labourers, who are going to suffer any hardships at all. The vast majority of agricultural labourers will benefit by the Measure. In regard to the larger question of the farmers, I say this Bill is going to help them by making the thing permanent. When the thing is permanent you will find the little difficulties in regard to the hours at which the labourer should commence and leave off work will necessarily be adjusted, and adjusted locally, for what is suitable for Scotland is a totally different thing from what is suitable for the South of England. The common sense of the community, once it knows what is to the interest of the great majority of the community, will conform to it and adjust these little difficulties. I am a whole-hearted supporter of the Bill. I hope there will be no compromise. I represent an agricultural constituency, and I am not in the least afraid what my vote may do for me to-day. I should just like to tell the House one thing that may be of interest. I have had only one letter—and that is a postcard!—and that was from a farmer who is also a butcher. He is a very good farmer, and he is also a very good butcher. He writes to me strongly and wholeheartedly in favour of the Bill. It shows, so I conclude, that even a farmer when he touches any other industry or trade sees the enormous importance of this Bill. In regard to those who are interested in seaside resorts and so on, it is ridiculous to talk about the thing as being in the interest of bathing machine proprietors and that sort of thing. What this Bill really means is that. it will bring a permanent extension of time during which the great mass of our people take their summer holidays and their recreation, and they will enjoy more fully the only opportunities they get for the recreation of themselves and their children.
My father and three brothers used to go to the mine, and they went at six o'clock in the morning. I used to go to a mill, and I went at six o'clock in the morning. We have had these changes. The textile people now go at eight o'clock, and I believe the miners can change their hours if they wish. What is the position of the textile workers? I used to be going to the factory, after dinner, when my brothers were coming home, having done their work. It has been pointed out that. die Miners' Federation have decided against the Bill, but all the other labour conferences have decided in favour of the Bill, and the Labour Party and the other federations are stronger than the Miners' Federation, and I say at. once that I am going to stick to the Labour Party's national decision.
I want to say, further, that it is a libel on young mothers to say they want to get their children out of the way so that They can have a rest. I have a fair knowledge and experience of the women in the textile industry. [Laughter.] I do not think this is a frivolous question, and I say they would not be opposed to any proposal for giving more sunshine to the working people. I say, with my knowledge and experience with regard to the women of this country, derived from my association with an industry where 75 per cent. of the workers arc females, that they are strongly in favour of this Bill, and I hope the Government will support it.
I think it will be convenient if I take this opportunity to state to the House the view the Government hold on this Bill, I should like to say, in regard to the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope), that I was an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill, that that is not quite accurate. The Home Secretary can never be much of an enthusiast about anything, at any rate after he has been long in office, and has come in for every kind of brickbat from both sides of every subject. He is a man who, if he has an open mind, must be prepared to give a great deal of consideration to arguments on both sides of every question. The one thing I am enthusiastic for is to get some settlement of this question which will prevent the constant uncertainty which has existed during the last few years, and which will also enable us to work in unison with the two nations on the other side of the Channel, France and Belgium, which at present have Summer Time. I agree with what was said by several Members, that other nations in Europe do not have Summer Time—Denmark, the North of Russia, and places of that. kind, where they have almost midnight sun, and Portugal, too, where they have, I imagine, so much sunshine that they would like to get a little less. The countries with which we are most associated by our trans-Continental traffic are, however, Belgium and France, and if it were possible to get and maintain a permanent arrangement which would suit the views of Belgium and France, I am perfectly certain, from inquiries I have made from our commercial quarters here, that it would be very greatly to the advantage of the commerce and the international comity with these nations.
I do not found my case for the Bill on that, but that is a point which ought to be considered and ought to have some weight with this House. It is with a view to getting a decision that I want to get this Bill, or this Bill in some form or another, placed on the Statute Book. Ever since my right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer made, I think, the first speech from the Treasury Bench in favour of Summer Time in 1909, we have had an agitation in regard to Summer Time. Ever since the Bill was first put on the Statute Book in 1916, the country districts and the town districts have never known quite from year to year whether there would be Summer Time, and, if so, when Summer Time would begin and when it would end. There was a unified period from 1916 to 1918 which, as I think my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple said, was invoked by the exigencies of the War. It was desired by the Allies. It was an Allied operation, which enabled us to win the War. That was for 26 weeks in each year. Then it was extended, as the House knows, for one year, in 1920, right through to the end of October, in order to save coal during the period of the stringency which there was at that particular time.
Then there was a conference held in 1921 between ourselves, Belgium and France, in order to try to arrive at some arrangement for Summer Time. It is quite right to say that France and Belgium wanted even a longer extension for Summer Time than is proposed in this Bill. I think they would be prepared—of course, I cannot guarantee it—if we got a really definite Bill put on the Statute Book, to meet us in another conference, and, I hope, settle the time in agreement with ourselves.
It is my duty as Home Secretary to consider what are the wishes of the country in regard to this matter. I do not quite take the view that as Home Secretary I should be enthusiastic on the one side or the other. It is my duty to try to ascertain what the views of the people of this country are in regard to this question. I will mention in a moment or two the point of view of agriculture, but I am bound to confess that the information in the possession of the Home Office is that this Bill is desired by a very large majority of the urban population. The City of London Corporation is in favour of the Bill, the London County Council is in favour of the Bill, and so are 17 Metropolitan borough councils, 151 municipal corporations, 221 urban district councils, 45 rural district councils, 52 Scottish burghs, 260 trading organisations, and a considerable number of sports organisations, which would naturally be in favour of the terms of this Bill. That shows—
We had a very big deputation at the Home Office, which I was able to receive, at the beginning of this week, and I was assured that it is a six month's term which all these organisations now favour. In fact, the London County Council wrote so late as the 9th of this month that they favoured the proposal that the period of Summer Time should be fixed from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October. We may assume that if the London County Council took that view, the metropolitan boroughs and a number of municipal corporations would take that view. The Association of the Chambers of Commerce, in a letter of the 17th referring to these proposals, is strongly in favour of the permanent establishment of the Daylight Saving Bill from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October.
Therefore, I must ask the House to take it that the majority of these great representative bodies are strongly in favour of the Bill as it is at present before the House, and it is my duty to put before the House the information I have received. Rather curiously, a resolution came in last year to the Home Office, in the time of my predecessor, from the National Union of Agricultural Workers in the Isle of Wight, giving whole-hearted support to Summer Time for six months, beginning on the first Sunday in April and ending on the first Sunday in October. That is a rather remarkable thing to come from an Association of agricultural workers themselves.
There is another fact that it is right to mention. Remarks have been made by some of the opponents of the Bill in regard to the question of children, and, of course, if it could be established that this Bill was really bad for the health of the children, I should have very grave difficulty in supporting it or speaking in favour of it in any degree, because the interest of the well-being and health of the coming generation is really of vital importance to the well-being and health of this country in the future. The medical organisations are, I think, unanimously in favour of the Bill. The British Medical Association expresses regret that last year's Summer Time was curtailed, and is of opinion that Summer Time is beneficial to health and efficiency; the Council of the Society of Medical Officers of Health recently passed a resolution in favour of Summer Time being perpetuated for a period of six months in each year; and, at the deputation which met me at the beginning of this seek, there were two speeches by representative medical men. I call the attention of the House to this because those speeches dealt with the very point which, to my rind, is really of greater importance than the mere question of enjoyment, or sport, or anything of the kind, namely, the health of the children.
Dr. Turner, of the British Medical Association, emphasised from his experience, which brought him into contact with a large number of children, the complete falsity of saying that Summer Time was bad for children. He may be right or he may be wrong, but that is a very strong opinion that was put before me, and it is my duty to put it before the House. The additional fresh air, said Dr Turner, which it gave them, was a definite benefit to their health, and there was the further advantage that they were able to see more of their fathers. That may not be an unmixed advantage—it depends entirely on the father; but, generally speaking. I think we may assume—
I quite agree. I must confess I have often thought that the life of a married Member of the House who has children is a very bad, thing indeed for his wife and children. Perhaps we may come to the time when nobody but bachelors will be elected to the House. I think I ought to mention, also, that the County Medical Officer of Health for Hampshire, Dr. R. A. Lyster, was also present at the deputation, and he declared that medical officers of health and school medical officers throughout the country were enthusiastic supporters of Summer Time, because the evidence of the benefits to health derived from it was overwhelming. Those are two very strong statements from representatives of the British Medical Association and of the medical officers of health, and I must confess that it seems to me that these two statements dispose of the remarks that have been made in this House this afternoon in regard to the danger that would follow to the health of children if the provisions of this Bill are carried into law.
I am quite prepared to admit, however, that there is a very strong feeling in the agricultural community against the Bill. I received also a deputation—and, as I have said, one cannot be enthusiastic, because one has deputations from both sides—I also received a very important and powerful deputation from the Scottish agriculturists only a week or two ago with regard to this question, and they put before me very strongly the arguments which have been put before the House to-day by my hon. Friend the Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope). I am bound to say that I think, in regard to the Scottish farmers, there is a very grave difficulty, and I am not quite sure that I can answer the arguments that were put before the House and before me at that deputation by my hon. Friend. But I am going to put this to him. I do not think it applies with the same force to farming in this country—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I can only say that I happen to have had the privilege of farming for the last four years in Norfolk, and there I must confess I have had no difficulty, either with my foremen or with my men. When summer time came round they worked it quite loyally. I was only amongst them at week-ends, but most of my men were friends of my own, and I talked to them on all sorts of subjects and they never made trouble about Summer Time. [Interruption.] It was half arable and half grass. [Interruption.] I cannot carry on farming in Norfolk and carry on my work at the Home Office at the same time. I will tell my hon. Friend confidentially, if he likes, that it is a great regret to me that I am ceasing to farm, as I can no longer live on the returned Income Tax of my farming losses. But I also confess that if he could find me a nice farm within 40 miles of the House, I would go in for farming again.
I admit that there are great difficulties from the farming point of view. I am not going to minimise them, but I believe the greatest advantage of the greatest number in the country is in favour of the Bill being passed. That is my belief. The House knows the attitude the Government takes up. We have agricultural Members in the Government as well as town Members. This is not a party question in any sense of the term. We leave the matter entirely and absolutely to the free vote of the House. I think it only fair to go a step further than that. If the Bill passes its Second Reading I propose to take it up as a Government Measure and give it the necessary facilities for passing through the House, but at the same time I think it is only fair to those sections of the community who do not agree with the whole peroid—but I would appeal to hon. Members in all quarters that there should not be anything like organised obstruction, as we have heard of—I was not there upon the last occasion—in the Committee upstairs—that if the matter is debated reasonably in Committee it would be better that the decision as to the time of beginning and the time of ending should not be taken in Committee, because after all that cannot always represent the views of the House. I propose to arrange on the Report stage for a free division without the Government Whips, first as to the date of commencement, and secondly as to the date of conclusion of Summer Time. I hope that will appeal to all sides of the House. It is the desire of the Government to meet the whole question fairly and let the nation itself, by its representatives in Parliament, decide. I earnestly hope that if the Bill passes through Committee and Report stage and is sent to another place it will take its permanent place on the Statute Book and that we shall have no further quarrel as to Summer Time and that we may be able to get in touch with our friends on the other side of the Channel and come to some permanent arrangement with them which would make Summer Time a permanent Measure, to the interest, as I think, of the well-being of the community.
I rise to make a few observations in support of the Second Reading. Perhaps in view of the speeches which have been made on these benches, it is not necessary for me to say that I am speaking only in my own personal capacity We have in our ranks, just as there is and always has been in the ranks of other parties, on this subject divided opinion, but I want to see the Bill placed upon the Statute Book without any modification whatever of the dates set forth in it. I have been associated with Debates on this subject from the first Session when the Bill was presented. During the Session of 1908 the late Mr. Pearce, who then represented the Leek Division of Staffordshire, brought in his Simmer Time Bill. We had a most, interesting Debate, but I am afraid it must be admitted that in those days the discussion of the Bill excited a consider able amount of amusement, in fact it would not be unfair to say the number of Members who voted for it did not take it quite seriously. One very interesting fact emerged from the Division in the Session of 1908. I think I am right in saying that we had two votes given against the Bill on that occasion, one by the present Lord Banbury, and the other by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh 'Cecil). It will not be generally known that the present Lord Banbury was so determined in his opposition, that he announced to the House that he would not obey the law and alter his watch. For about a week he came into this House an hour late. He was the most practiced hand that we had in obstruction in those days, as I think everyone will admit who sat in this House with him, and when he found out that as a result of his week's experience the then Liberal Government was getting on so well with its work in his absence, what he was unprepared to do in so far as the law was concerned he was compelled to do in order to carry out his effective obstruction to Liberal Measures in this House.
We are to he congratulated that we discuss this matter to-day in an entirely different spirit and atmosphere from that which obtained in 1908, when the Bill was first introduced. Summer Time is now an institution in this country. There can be no mistake about that. I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said, that this institution is being supported year after year with an increasing volume of public opinion. All the arguments that we have listened to to-day with regard to the miners and the agricultural interests we have had every time the subject has been debated, but there is a striking difference, and it is revealed in the Amendment before the House. The agriculturists: began by contesting the principle. They no longer contest the principle. The Amendment does not contest the principle. The Amendment is a tremendous advance as far as the agriculturists arc concerned, and I want to give them credit for it. They are prepared to concede the application, I believe the permanent application, of this principle to four months in the year. In doing that, it seems to me that they are giving the whole case away. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] We will see.
I think there are many agriculturists who would be prepared to say, "If you concede the principle for four months in the year, it does not matter very much to us if you go a couple of months further. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Hon. Members say, "No." I remember receiving a deputation last year at the Home Office, and they went even further than This Bill, once the principle was admitted. A section of the agricultural representatives appealed to me to go to the end of October in order that it might include the potato harvest. If that position is challenged, I think that my right hon. Friend will have with him probably in his dossier the actual resolution that was carried on that point. Once the principle was conceded in law, they were prepared, in order to include the potato harvest, to go to the end of October.
The only difference between us is the month of April and the month of September. One of the reasons why I strongly support this Bill—and I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that if it got a Second Reading, the Government: were prepared to give all facilities to pass it into law—is that it will terminate, so far as agriculturists are concerned, the existing position of uncertainty. The uncertainty which has obtained during the last nine years, has been one of their greatest difficulties. I have here the dates that have obtained since the first Act was passed in 1916, and there are not three years in the nine years in which the dates are exactly alike. The agriculturists have said: "We want to know what our position is. We want it made certain how we have to work, whether it he one way or the other."
The other reason why I want to support this Measure is that I think that there is much more in the point put forward by the Home Secretary, with regard to the essential need of having an agreement with France, Belgium and ourselves, than many hon. Members are prepared to admit. Hon. Members on these benches say that no Labour organisation is supporting this Measure. How far that represents the position of Labour is perhaps not for me to say, but the Labour Government was unanimously in favour of it, and, as Home Secretary last year on behalf of the Government I gave it our support, and we did our best, with my hon. Friend, who was in charge of the Bill, the hon. Member for Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), to get it through Committee, and had we got it through Committee it was our determination to try to place it on the Statute Book. But one of our strong reasons was that we had been partly instrumental in setting up a conference which represented France, Belgium and our own country. They came to an agreement, and we were exceedingly anxious to honour that agreement.
I believe from what the right hon. Gentleman said that the position is the same to-day. France, Belgium and ourselves want to get a uniform agreement, and we believe that it will suit the interests of all three countries if that uniform system, whatever the date may be—and I prefer it to be the six months stated in the Bill—be once decided. The position should not be as it is now, one of uncertainty of going under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, but should be dealt with by a definite Measure on the Statute Book. That would have the advantage of getting rid once for all of these Debates year after year. An attempt has been made to make out that the people are not concerned with the passage of this Measure. I beg to differ. With the exception of some of the agriculturists, some of the farmers, very few in my opinion of the labourers, and perhaps with the exception of some of the miners—even all the miners are not against this Measure: I do not refer to the Miners' Federation—the general feeling of the people is in favour of this Measure.
I was asked only yesterday by a very influential miner to pair him for this Division. I asked, "Which way am I to pair you?" He replied, "I want to vote for more sunshine." I thought that that was a very good answer, and I paired him for more sunshine. I repeat that all the miners are not against the Bill. Apart from the miners, I believe that the great bulk of the urban workers have valued the experience for nine years of the blessing et Summer Time, and that once any serious attempt is made to rob them of that benefit, there will be such an agitation amongst the urban workers as will be a very great surprise. I hope that the House will be alive to the situation in the coming Division. I will give the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope) credit for having produced a very clever Amendment. But I appeal to all supporters of the Bill to remember that in voting for that Amendment they are killing the Bill. I hope that we shall reject the Amendment and vote for the Bill as it stands. Then if the right hon. Gentleman takes the responsibility of doing what he suggested on the Report stage, we can sea to it—those of us who believe in Summer Time—that we stand by the dates in the Bill.
I am extremely disappointed with the statement made by the Home Secretary. I intend to vote absolutely against the Bill. At. the same, time I want to make it quite clear that in doing so I am not voting against Summer Time. I am definitely voting against an extension of Summer Time. It must not be said in future that those who voted against this Bill have voted against Summer Time, because it is within the knowledge of all of us that the present Act can be included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, thus carrying on the present status and continuing Summer Time as hitherto without extension. If we voted for this Bill we should be told that we voted for an extension and not for the continuation of Summer Time. The Home Secretary referred to the deputa- tions which he had received and to the resolutions passed by various organisations. I am confident that the bulk of those organisations passed the resolutions before this Bill was printed, on the assumption that Summer Time would be continued on the old basis. That is the basis on which we should vote.
I oppose this Bill, not as one who is hostile to the principle of Summer Time, but rather as one who is opposed to an extension of the Act now in operation. I was a convert to the principle of Summer Time from the day when Mr. Willett first advocated it. But I have had experience. Before coming to this House, I happened to be in an establishment where there were quite 1,000 employés. It was just outside the London area, and it was no uncommon thing for those men to have to do an hour's journey before they reached the establishment to start work at 7.30. They had to get breakfast before going to work, which meant that these men and their wives had to be up at half-past five or a quarter-past five in the morning. This Bill is not going to give us summer weather. The argument behind it is that by putting back the hands of the clock one hour, you are automatically introducing summer weather. It is no uncommon thing to have a fall of snow during April in this country, and my experience during the operation of the Act has been that on two, if not three, occasions, when the hands of the clock had been changed to Summer Time, we had snow on the ground on the second or third morning after the change has been made. I assure the House that the men with whom I was associated at that time in my own constituency did not appreciate the attempts of this House to force upon them conditions of that kind.
It would be quite reasonable to cut out the month of April and allow the month of September to remain. Then you would have five months during which Summer Time would operate. The argument has been advanced that there is a deside to come to an agreement with Continental countries in this matter. I believe I am correct in stating that France is desirous of having a change only to the extent of one half-hour which immediately offers difficulties in that connection and I suggest it would be equally easy to come to a compromise—and it is only compromise that is going to help in this matter—in respect of cutting out the month of April. Arguments have also been advanced to show that this change does not affect the health of school children. We are told that educational authorities and medical authorities have stated that this law does not affect the health of the school children. I venture to disagree I have observed its effect upon my own children in my own home. My wife has obtained the heaviest and darkest blinds it is possible to obtain, in order to shut out the sunlight, but the sunlight will not be shut out and the children do not go to sleep. The result is that in the morning you have to rouse them to go to school and when you effect that purpose you find invariably they are too late to have time for a reasonable breakfast. Thus they go to school without having the proper food to sustain them for the remainder of the morning and no medical authority will convince me that this is not injurious to their health. On those grounds, briefly, I want to offer my opposition to this Bill, and not to a Bill embodying the principle of Summer Time extending possibly over a period of five months, and not six.
I too am extremely disappointed with the statement made by the Home Secretary. The only issue before the House now is not whether we should have Summer Time or not—practically everybody is in favour of the principle of Summer Time—but the only issue on which we are going to vote in five minutes' time is this: Are we in favour of the extension from the present days to an extra fortnight in either direction? That is the sole issue. In what the Home Secretary has told us to-day he has made no concession, and he has given no reason for an extension, and all that he has offered to us is that, on the Report stage of the Measure, we shall have a chance of voting against the extension. Why did not the Home Secretary tell us why it is that he is going back from the compromise that was made? In 1922 a Committee was appointed, under the Chairmanship of Mr. James W. Wilson, which sat and heard evidence from all parts of the country, and as to all industries. Having had all this evidence before them, they decided that Summer Time should, in the best interests of everybody concerned, commence on the second Sunday in April and finish on the third Sunday in September. A Bill was brought in, in 1922, to carry out the decisions of that Committee. Discussion took place on a Friday, such as we have had to-day, and the Home Secretary of that day, Mr. Shortt, admitted that a case was made by the opponents of the Bill for those particular hours. The Bill went to the Committee, he undertook to try to meet the opposition, he did meet the opposition on the Committee stage, and the present dates were fixed and agreed to as being fair all round. That was, that they should commence on the third Sunday in April and finish on the third Sunday in September. Not one single reason has been given by the Home Secretary for departing from that compromise, which was made in the light of all the facts, only two years ago. Having regard to this position taken up by the Home Secretary, I ask every representative of a rural constituency to support us in voting for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Forfar (Sir H. Hope), which means that we are voting against the principle of any extension of summer hours.
I thought I had done that earlier. The original question was "That the Bill be now read a Second time." The Amendment is to leave out all the words after "That," in order to insert other words. Of course, if the words be left out, then the Bill is not read a Second time. If the Amendment be carried, the Bill is not read a Second time.
I want to make one or two points that have not been touched upon in this Debate. Take the suggestion that there has not been a single Resolution from the workers in support of this Bill. I want to say I have had not a single Resolution from my constituents, who are wholly industrialists, against this Bill. They comprise dockers, miners, railwaymen and engineers, who are the four sections of the industrialists of this country who carry the greatest burden, at any rate, of the industrial work of the country. The researches that have taken place into the question of industrial fatigue have shown that not only has the alteration of hours of the workers in favour of the lighter periods of the day produced greater health among
the workers but there has been a greater product resultant. It has beers my privilege very carefully to go through the whole of those researches, and I say without hesitation that this House will do a disservice to industry competitively, and a disservice to the workers themselves, if they do not support this Bill. If it is possible to meet the views of the agricultural workers, we should do so, but there should be no question about this that we are not prepared to give class legislation for one section of the workers alone. The well-being of the whole community must be the consideration of this House.
|Division No. 39.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Calne, Gordon Hall||Fermoy, Lord|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Campbell, E. T.||Finburgh, S.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.|
|Albery, Irving James||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hilisbro')||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Alexander, E. E (Leyton)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Ciarry, Reginald George||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Clayton, G. C.||Gates, Percy|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Cluse, W. S.||Gibbs. Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gillett, George M.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Grace, John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Cooper, A. Duff||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cope, Major William||Greenwood. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Balniel, Lord||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)|
|Barnes, A.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Grettan, Colonel John|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Craik. Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Crawfurd, H. E.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Groves, T.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Hall. Lieut.-Col, Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bethell, A.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hall, Capt. W. D. A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Dalton, Hugh||Hanbury, C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Hannon. Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Harland, A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Dennison, R||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Hastings, Sir Patrick|
|Brass, Captain W.||Drewe, C.||Hawke, Jahn Anthony|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Duckworth, John||Heyday, Arthur|
|Broad, F. A.||Duncan, C.||Hayes. John Henry|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Bromley, J.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Ellis, R. G.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Elveden, Viscount||Henderson, Lieut,-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Burman, J. B.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst.)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Morris, R. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Naylor, T. E.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Nuttall, Ellis||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Owen, Major G.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Pease William Edwin||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Penny, Frederick George||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Storry Deans, R.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Perring, William George||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon. Barnstaple)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Philipson, Mabel||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Pilcher, G.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Kennedy, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Taylor, R. A.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Power, Sir John Cecil||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Price, Major C. W. M.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Radford, E. A.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Lansbury, George||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Lindley, F. W.||Remer, J. R.||Thurtle, E.|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Remnant, Sir James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sury, Ch'ts'y)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Loder, J. de V.||Ritson, J.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Lord, Walter Greaves-||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Lowth, T.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wells, S. R.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Rose, Frank H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|McLean, Major A.||Rye, F. G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield. Attercliffe)|
|Macmillan Captain H.||Salmon, Major I.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Samuel, A, M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Sanderman, A. Stewart||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Sandon, Lord||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Mason, Lieut.-Colonel Glyn K.||Savery, S. S.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Meller, R. J.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Merriman, F. B.||Scrymgeour, E.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Scurr, John|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Montague, Frederick||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Lieut.-Colonel Lambert Ward and|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Mr. Cooper Rawson.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grundy, T. W.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hartington, Marquess of||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Batey, Joseph||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Berry, Sir George||Huntingfield, Lord||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hurd, Percy A.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Viant, S. P.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berko, Newb'y)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Lamb, J. Q.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Lunn, William||Wignall, James|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Macquisten, F. A.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||March, S.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Windsor, Walter|
|Connolly, M.||Paling, W.||Wood. Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Crook, C. W.||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Dunnico, H.||Shaw. Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Sir Harry Hope and Mr. D. R. Grenfell.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|