Yes, that time has come round again – tomorrow, Sunday 25 March 2012, at 1am, we have to put our clocks forward by 1 hour, turning 1am into 2am, as we leave Greenwich Mean Time behind to enter British Summer Time.
That means we’ll all be getting out of bed an hour early, so what better excuse for a longer than usual lie-in?
Actually, after the hot, sunny spring weather today (Saturday) it feels like summer is here already, so maybe British Summer Time is here on time after all.
Don’t forget to re-set your clocks, watches, mobile phones and car clocks – unless they’re radio or internet controlled, in which case they should do the job for you!
But what IS British Summer Time or BST?
British Summer Time
BST was first established by the Summer Time Act of 1916, after a campaign by builder William Willett. His original proposal was to move the clocks forward by 80 minutes, in 20-minute weekly steps on Sunday in April and by the reverse procedure in September. At this time BST began on 21 May and ended on 1 October.
The outbreak of the Great War made the issue more important primarily because of the need to save coal. Germany had already introduced the scheme when the bill was finally passed in Britain on 17 May 1916 and the clocks were advanced by an hour on the following Sunday, 21 May, enacted as a wartime production-boosting device under the Defence of the Realm Act. It was subsequently adopted in many other countries.
This was not the first time that the idea of adapting to daylight hours had been mooted, however. It was common practice in the ancient world, and Benjamin Franklin resurrected the idea in a light-hearted 1784 satire. Although Franklin’s facetious suggestion was simply that people should get up earlier in summer, he is often erroneously attributed as the inventor of DST while Willett is often ignored. Modern DST was first proposed by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson, although many publications incorrectly credit Willett.
The current arrangement is now defined by the Summer Time Order 2002 which laid down that henceforth British Summer Time would be:
“…the period beginning at one o’clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the last Sunday in March and ending at one o’clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the last Sunday in October.”
—The Summer Time Order 2002
British Double Summer Time
In 1940, during the Second World War, the clocks in Britain were not put back by an hour at the end of summertime, and clocks continued to be advanced by one hour each summer until July 1945. During these summers therefore, Britain was 2 hours ahead of GMT and operating on British Double Summer Time (BDST). The clocks were brought back in line with GMT at the end of summer in 1945. In 1947, due to severe fuel shortages, clocks were advanced by one hour on two occasions during the spring, and put back by one hour on two occasions during the autumn, meaning that Britain was back on BDST during that summer.
An inquiry during the winter of 1959–60, in which 180 national organisations were consulted, revealed a slight preference for a change to all-year GMT+1, but the length of summer time was extended as a trial rather than the domestic use of Greenwich Mean Time abolished. A further inquiry during 1966–67 led the Labour government of Harold Wilson to introduce the British Standard Time experiment, with Britain remaining on GMT+1 throughout the year. This took place between 27 October 1968 and 31 October 1971, when there was a reversion to the previous arrangement.
Analysis of accident data for the first two years of the experiment indicated that while there had been an increase in casualties in the morning, there had been a substantially greater decrease in casualties in the evening, with a total of around 2,700 fewer people killed and seriously injured during the first two winters of the experiment, at a time when about 1,000 people a day were killed or seriously injured on the roads. However the period coincided with the introduction of Drink-Driving legislation, and the estimates were later modified downwards in 1989.
The trial was the subject of a House of Commons debate on 2 December 1970 when on a free vote, the House of Commons voted to end the experiment by 366 to 81 votes.
Should BST continue?
In part because of Britain’s latitudinal length, debate emerges most years over the applicability of BST, and is the subject of parliamentary debate. In 2004, English MP Nigel Beard tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons proposing that England and Wales should be able to determine their own time independently of Scotland and Northern Ireland. If it had been passed into law, this bill could have given the UK two different timezones for the first time since the abolition of Dublin Mean Time (25 minutes behind Greenwich) on 23 August 1916.
In 2005, Lord Tanlaw introduced the Lighter Evenings (Experiment) Bill into the House of Lords, which would advance winter and summer time by one hour for a three-year trial period at the discretion of “devolved bodies”, allowing Scotland and Northern Ireland the option not to take part. The proposal was rejected by the government. The bill received its second reading on 24 March 2006; however, it did not pass into law. The Local Government Association has also called for such a trial.
Information courtesy Wikipedia, for more detail follow this link.