Wednesday, 12 March 1986
Seanad Eireann Debate
Minister for Justice (Mr. Dukes): This order complies with the EC Third Council Directive on summer time arrangements concerning the harmonisation of the summer time period throughout EC member states. It is the third order of this type. The previous ones were the Winter Time Order, 1981, and the Winter Time Order, 1982, which the House approved on 11 March 1981 and 9 March 1983, respectively.
The principal effect of the order is that the summer time period will begin two weeks later in 1986 and one week later in 1987 and 1988 than prescribed in the Standard Time (Amendment) Act, 1971 (No. 17 of 1971). A minor consequence of the order will be that the time of change from winter time to summer time, and vice versa, will be 1 o'clock in the morning Greenwich mean time rather than 2 o'clock as provided for in the 1971 Act.
The order was approved in the Dáil yesterday. If this House approves it also, which I earnestly hope it will, It means that we will have a similar period of summer time in 1986, 1987 and 1988 as we have had for the past five years, that is from the last Sunday in March to the fourth Sunday in October. The actual summer time periods will be
The reasoning behind this order, and the two previous similar ones, is that the Commission considers that the harmonisation of the summer time period would help the efficiency of transport, communications, commerce and contacts generally between member states.
Discussions with a view to the standardisation of the “summer time” period have been going on for many  years. There are several problems, including of course the fact that natural time in the United Kingdom and here is substantially different from that of the continental member states. In the long term the commission would prefer that all member states share a common date for the beginning and ending of summer time. However, due to the success the commission has had with harmonisation to date it is prepared to continue as an experiment for a further three years the same system which operated in 1983, 1984 and 1985. This, in effect, means that the summer time period will end one month earlier in the continental member states that in the United Kingdom and Ireland, that is, on the last Sunday in September instead of the fourth Sunday in October.
This is a very favourable arrangement from our point of view as we have always favoured the longest possible summer time period and the public, when consulted about the provisions of the Standard Time (Amendment) Act, 1971, were in favour of having our period of summer time synchronised with that in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Lynch: For the record, I support the Minister and give approval to this order. There is a history attached to the reasons for the change in time. I heard a programme on the radio which was very interesting. People asked should it be reversed — that we have winter time in the summer period. There are arguments for both. When it all boils down to the finer points, the system that has been in operation is the proper one, especially for commercial and industrial reasons. In approving the order we are conforming with other member states of the EC. It is part of the ongoing process of becoming more and more in line with our European partners and being aligned to them in their way of thinking and in times. For transport and communication it is very vital that this is done and the time schedule the Minister has outlined  seems to be fairly reasonable and I certainly will approve it. As I said, there is very interesting history — I am not going to give it here — but various experiments were tried out down through the years between Ireland and England for a change in times and it would not work. What we have now seems to work. I hope this order will make it even better.
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