British Summer Time

British Summer Time

British Summer Time (BST) is the civil time during the summer months in the United Kingdom during which the clocks are advanced from UTC, also less precisely called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)[1][2] by one hour (UTC+01:00). The British Summer Time period begins on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October. Though initially popular after its introduction in 1916, the practice now divides opinion.


Instigation and early years

It 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.[3] At this time BST began on 21 May and ended on 1 October.[4]

Periods of deviation

During World War II, Britain retained the hour's advance on GMT at the start of the winter of 1940 and continued advancing the clocks by an extra hour during summer until July 1945. During these summers, Britain was 2 hours ahead of GMT and operating on British Double Summer Time. The clocks were reverted to GMT at the end of the summer of 1945. In 1947 owing to severe fuel shortages, the clocks were advanced by one hour twice during the spring and put back twice during the autumn so that Britain was back on BDST during the height of the summer.[5]

An inquiry during the winter of 1959–60 consulted 180 national organisations, and had 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.[6] A further inquiry during 1966–67 led the 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,[7] at a time when about 1,000 people a day were killed or seriously injured on the roads.[8] However the period coincided with the introduction of Drink-Driving legislation, and the estimates were later modified downwards in 1989.[7]

The trial was the subject of a House of Commons debate on 2 December 1970[9] when on a free vote, the House of Commons voted to end the experiment by 366 to 81 votes.[10]

Debates on reform

Campaigners, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and environmental campaigners 10:10, have made recommendations that British Summer Time be maintained during the winter months, and that a "double summertime" be applied to the current British Summer Time period, putting the UK one hour ahead of GMT during winter, and two hours ahead during summer. This proposal is referred to as "Single/Double Summer Time" (SDST), and would effectively mean the UK adopting the same time zone as central European countries such as France, Germany, and Spain (Central European Time and Central European Summer Time).

RoSPA suggests this would reduce the number of accidents over this period as a result of the lighter evenings. RoSPA have called for the 1968–71 trial to be repeated with modern evaluation methods.[11]

While 10:10 generally agree with the safety benefits, their Lighter Later campaign focuses on the potential energy benefits of Single/Double Summer Time, arguing that the change could "save almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to taking 185,000 cars off the road permanently".[12]

These proposals are opposed by some farmers and other outdoor workers, and many residents of Scotland and Northern Ireland,[13] as it would mean that, in northern Britain and Northern Ireland, the winter sunrise would not occur until 10:00 or even later. However in March 2010 the National Farmers Union indicated that it was not against Single/Double Summer Time and is in fact relatively neutral, with many farmers expressing a preference for the change.[14]

The journalist Peter Hitchens,[15] among others, proposes the abolition of BST entirely, favouring GMT all year round. Advocates cite in their support a lack of practical gains from the adjustment of time, arguing instead that changes in school and/or business hours would achieve similar results without disrupting a scientific standard.

Current statute and parliamentary attempts at change

The current arrangement is now defined by the Summer Time Order 2002 which laid down that it 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[16]

This period was required by a Directive of the European Parliament, 2000/84/EC, which required European countries to adopt a common summer time.[dubious ] This was first done in 1997 (97/44/EC).

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 United Kingdom 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[17] 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.[18] The Local Government Association has also called for such a trial.[19]

Academic analysis of stock exchange statistics shows that, on average, the FTSE 100 Index rises on the day that the clocks go forward in the Spring and goes down on the day in the Autumn when they return to GMT.[20]

The Daylight Saving Bill 2010

The Daylight Saving Bill 2010–11, a private member's bill by Conservative backbench MP Rebecca Harris, would require the Government to conduct an analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. If the analysis found that a clock change would benefit the UK, the bill requires that the Government initiate a trial clock change to determine the full effects.[21]

In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron stated he would seriously consider proposals in the bill. The bill is only likely to be passed with Government support. Despite initial opposition in Scotland to the move, Cameron stated his preference was for the change to apply across the United Kingdom, stating "We are a United Kingdom. I want us to have a united time zone."[22] A survey in late October 2010 of about 3,000 people for British energy firm Npower suggested that a majority of Scots may be narrowly in favour of this change, though the Scottish Government remained opposed.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Official text of the Summer Time Act 1972 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
  2. ^ Official text of the Interpretation Act 1978 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
  3. ^ Rose Wild "The battle for British Summer Time", The Times, 6 May 2010
  4. ^ Oliver Bennett "British Summer Time", House of Commons Library, p.3 (last updated 23 June 2010)
  5. ^ Lighter nights would keep youngsters fitter and safer, say doctors.... Western Mail. 27 June 2005. 
  6. ^ David Ennals "British Standard Times Bill [Lords]", Hansard, House of Commomns Debate, 23 January 1968, vol 757 cc290-366, 290–92
  7. ^ a b Bennett, p.4-5
  8. ^ Cited by Peter Doig, MP, Hansard, HC 2 December 1970, c1354
  9. ^ "British Standard Time", Hansard (HC), 2 December 1970, vol 807 cc1331-422
  10. ^ Bennett, p.6
  11. ^ "Press Release October 22, 2008 IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE TO SAVE LIVES AND REDUCE INJURIES". RoSPA Press Office. "British Summer Time (BST)". NMM – National Maritime Museum. 
  12. ^ Jha, Alok (29 March 2010). "Lighter Later Guardian Article". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ "'Time for change' call as clocks alter in UK". BBC. 30 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "NFU – Should We Change the Clocks". 
  15. ^ Peter Hitchens "Why should we be on Berlin time at all, let alone all the time?",, 29 March 2010
  16. ^ Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 262 The Summer Time Order 2002. HMSO. 20 February 2002. ISBN 0110393317. 
  17. ^ "Lighter Evenings (Experiment) Bill [HL]". Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  18. ^ "Lighter Evenings (Experiment) Bill". 
  19. ^ "Clock change 'would save lives'". BBC News. 28 October 2006. 
  20. ^ Stephen Eckett (2006). The UK Stock Market Almanac. ISBN 9781897597668. 
  21. ^ Oliver Bennett "Daylight Saving Bill 2010–11", House of Commons Library, (last updated 1 December 2010)
  22. ^ Kirkup, James (12 August 2010). "Give me sunshine: David Cameron considers double summertime". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  23. ^ "Scots back 'keeping' summer time". BBC News. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 

Further reading

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • British Summer Time — noun The time adopted in Britain during the summer, one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (to give extra daylight in the evenings) • • • Main Entry: ↑British * * * British Summer Time UK US a period of time from the end of March until the end of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • British Summer Time — n [U] BST the time one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time that is used in Britain from late March to late October →↑daylight saving time …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • British Summer Time — British Summer ,Time a period of time from the end of March until the end of October when people in the U.K. put their clocks one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, so that they can have more light in the evenings …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • British Summer Time — UK }} US }} noun [U] ► BST(Cf. ↑BST) …   Financial and business terms

  • British Summer Time — ██████████20  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • British Summer Time — noun (U) the time one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, that is used in Britain from late March to late October compare daylight saving time …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • British Summer Time — UK / US a period of time from the end of March until the end of October when people in the UK put their clocks one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, so that they can have more light in the evenings …   English dictionary

  • British Summer Time — (abbr BST) n [U] the time shown on clocks, etc. in Britain from March to October each year. It is one hour ahead of GMT, giving an hour more light each evening. * * * …   Universalium

  • British Summer Time — noun A form of daylight saving time, one hour ahead of UTC, used in the United Kingdom. Abbreviation: BST …   Wiktionary

  • summer time — (The spelling summertime is also used for meaning 1.) 1) N UNCOUNT: also the N Summer time is the period of time during which the summer lasts. It s a very beautiful place in the summertime. 2) N UNCOUNT Summer time is a period in the spring and… …   English dictionary