Wednesday, 8 March 1961
Seanad Eireann Debate
Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): The effect of this order is to fix the period from 26th March to 29th October as the period of summer time for 1961. This is the period already fixed in Britain and the Six Counties. Even if the present order were not made, we would, of course, have Summer Time as usual this year, as we have every year by virtue of the Summer Time Act, 1925, but it would be for a shorter period, namely, from 16th April to 8th October. The difference is six weeks altogether— three weeks at either end—and if this order were not made, the time here would be one hour behind that in Britain and the Six Counties during those two three-week periods.
Failure to synchronise our time with that of Great Britain and the Six Counties would certainly lead to confusion and would create serious difficulties for postal, telegraph and transport services. For these reasons, I recommend this order, which has already been approved by the Dáil, to the House.
Mr. O'Quigley: This is the kind of order, the form of which we must approve. There are quite a number of regulations which are authorised to be made from time to time under various statutes and which are laid on the Table of both Houses, but that is the last members of the Oireachtas know about them. I think the type of procedure which has been adopted here might be more freely and frequently adopted in relation to other statutes. The Minister has indicated that we are to have summer time this year three weeks earlier than usual. Those of us who have poetic souls will always welcome the hastening of spring and summer, but I do not know, poetry aside, that there is universal welcome for this. Very often, one hears complaints from those rearing young families that summer time interferes with the normal sleeping habits of the children. It is a question  of whether or not it is a good thing to have young children out of bed earlier for an earlier three-weeks period than is normal. I am told that it interferes to quite a considerable degree with the health of children. I do not know whether the Minister for Justice has ever made any inquiries into that matter of the effect of Summer Time on young children.
There is another question which arises and to which I have seen references in the daily papers. It is that the new Summer Time will not correspond with the opening periods of public houses authorised under the recent Intoxicating Liquor Act. I do not know whether that is so, but if it is——
Mr. O'Quigley: My view would be that if we are to follow Britain in considerations of this kind, to eliminate confusion, there does not seem to be any reason why the hours for the consumption of intoxicating liquor should not also follow the ordinary official Summer Time. I do not see any reason why that should not be done. It may cause a degree of confusion among the drinking public, particularly in view of the fact that these hours are to be so stringently and rigidly enforced.
The position may arise in which people will be disputing with the publican that they are entitled to remain on until 11.30 p.m. whereas, in fact, until a later date they must leave at 11 p.m. Perhaps the Minister, who is also in charge of the enforcement of the intoxicating liquor laws, might take advantage of this occasion to inform the drinking public, who form quite a considerable part of the population— and will form a more considerable part after Easter—that, in fact, the 11 p.m. hour will apply until whatever the date is. That might relieve the publicans of a lot of argument, and it would help in the enforcement and observation of the law by the Garda and the members of the drinking public.
Mr. Burke: I see two reasons why Summer Time should be extended and I think there is a very strong case which could be made for European time the whole year round, that is, one hour in advance of Greenwich Mean Time.
Many years ago, the farmers were the greatest opponents of Summer Time and, being our main industrialists, we listened to them. I was at an N.F.A. meeting about three weeks ago and I heard the opinion expressed that it would be better to have the hour advanced the whole year round. The reason given was that, as we know, most farmers are dairy farmers, and the cows could be milked even in the dark of the morning because rural electrification is available in most cases. By the time the cows were let out, natural light would be available. That would provide an extra hour's work in the evening or, if you like, an hour more for agricultural production for several months of the year.
There is another point which I have not heard mentioned before and which I think is very important. Road traffic is very much heavier in the evenings than in the mornings, because most heavy transport is loaded in the morning and is returning to different destinations in the evening. The extra hour would mean there would be an hour less every day in which lights would require to be used on motor cars and all forms of vehicles, with the result that, for most of the year, there would be an hour of safer driving. When we think of the statistics published today showing the further increase in deaths on the road, and the rise in the number of accidents, we should realise that anything that can be done to obviate the horrors that take place on the roads—many of them caused by blinding during the dusk and evening time—should be done. Full use of natural light should be made and of any device which will make for safety on the roads.
I presume we are allowed to voice our opinions on the length Summer Time ought to be in these islands. The extension should be provided, if possible, during the whole year round. I know that someone might shoot me  down by saying you cannot have Summer Time the whole year round because it would not be summer time then. I think an hour in advance of Greenwich Mean Time would be desirable and would be enthusiastically accepted by the agricultural community. It would also give more natural light for driving during the whole year.
Mr. L'Estrange: Listening to the Minister, I was reminded of the days of my youth when I heard people preach that if we could build a wall around this island, we could do without the rest of the world, and that if every British ship was sent to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for us——
Mr. L'Estrange: I stated that, in his opening remarks, the Minister said that the British had changed their time and that we must change our time and keep in step with them. Now we see that every time Britain changes her time or her tune, the arch-patriots who preached the opposite at one time change step along with her. Late conversions are sometimes welcome.
Mr. Traynor: Senator L'Estrange exudes politics and from that point of view, I suppose I can ignore his remarks. For good or ill, the position is that we must synchronise our time with that of Great Britain and the Six Counties. We could ignore it,  if we so desired. It would be a simple thing to do, but Senators and other individuals with commonsense will very easily realise the confusion that would be likely to cause to ourselves —not to Great Britain or the Six Counties, but to the people of this State—if, for some reason of our own, or some reason of Senator L'Estrange's we were to ignore the synchronisation of time.
We synchronise our time with Great Britain and the Six Counties to suit ourselves, to suit the business public and the State services, and for no other reason. As I said at the beginning, if we wished to do so, we could ignore it but, using commonsense, we do not.
Mr. Traynor: With regard to the question of licensing hours, the later licensing hours of the summer season are not affected in any way by the Summer Time Order. The later licensing hours are from June to September and were specified in the Bill, which is now an Act, and have no relation, good, bad or indifferent, to the Summer Time period of last year or the Summer Time period set out in this Order.
With regard to Senator Burke's suggestion of having an extra hour all the year round, there is again the question of synchronisation. If there was a suggestion that that would be useful or desirable, we should have to consider the effects if our opposite numbers were not synchronised with us. Again, I think we could not extend our time by an hour all the year round without careful inquiry as to how it would affect various classes of people—an investigation by a commission or something of that kind probably would be necessary. It should not be done just because we think it might help traffic or for isolated reasons of that kind. It must be done, if at all, in the first instance and in every instance, mainly in relation to the habits of the people and the commerce of the country, and to some extent the suitability of the  hours between ourselves and our opposite numbers on the other side would arise also.
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