New Clause 11 — Time

Part of Financial Services (Regulation of Derivatives) – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 15th March 2011.

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Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 9:15 pm, 15th March 2011

I am starting to be very concerned about the extent to which I agree with Mr Davidson. Indeed, the hon. Member for the Western Isles has done something remarkable this evening—he has led me to agree 100% with Mr Brown, which is a very rare occurrence. I could not have put it better—the new clause is sheer lunacy, and Members on both sides of the Chamber have set out why.

It is important to reflect on the findings of the Calman commission, which highlighted the importance of cross-border institutions and functions of the UK Government that bind the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK in a “social union”. It stated its view that a consistent British isles time zone was an important aspect of that. Of course, the SNP wants to destroy that social union. As has been said in the debate, having two separate time zones in the UK is one way in which it would seek to do so.

I think it was Mark Lazarowicz who pointed out the contradiction in the position of the hon. Member for

Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), who has spoken passionately against any proposal to change the time, but who has now tabled a new clause that makes the change that he says he opposes much more likely.

From the outset, this Government have said that they would not consider adopting single/double summertime, central European time or any variation on them without the agreement of all nations of the UK. The Prime Minister has been unequivocal in stating that having different times operating concurrently in the UK is not an option. On Second Reading of the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend Rebecca Harris, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my hon. Friend Mr Davey, made clear the Government’s opposition to the Bill. Additionally, as the hon. Member for the Western Isles will be aware, at the time of the publication of the UK Government’s tourism strategy on 4 March, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend John Penrose, reiterated the Government’s commitment that no change to current policy would happen without the approval of the whole UK.

Were the new clause to be accepted, Scotland would have the power to determine its own time zone. As the hon. Member for Glasgow South West pointed out, that would give the Scottish Parliament the capacity to make a change just for the sake of being different. The contribution to the debate that I thought was most illustrative was the one from Northern Ireland, from Sammy Wilson. He indicated that although the power in question was available there, nobody would wish to use it. That brings us back to the dogma of the SNP in making proposals, as I have said before, either because it sees them as a way of breaking up the UK or simply for the sake of having power.

If Scotland were to have a different time zone from the rest of the home nations, daily transactions between Scotland and the rest of the British Isles would take on an unwanted added complexity. Importantly, it could put Scotland at an economic disadvantage. It could certainly disadvantage my constituents, and those of the hon. Member for Dumfries and Galloway and the Secretary of State for Scotland, which should not be countenanced.

The new clause would be detrimental to the Union between the people of Scotland and those of the rest of the UK, which is clearly why it was tabled. It runs contrary to the spirit and effect of the Bill and the views of the Calman commission, which put at the heart of its work the retention of the United Kingdom. Anyone who has a commitment to retaining the UK should oppose the new clause.