And the Crackpot Idea of the Year Award Goes To…

The Kent MP Nigel Beard, for his proposal to allow England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be in different timezones. (More information in this BBC article)

I was told about the bill by a workmate who had heard it on Radio 4 on the way to work, and didn’t quite believe it. But then Garry talked about the same story on his weblog and linked to the BBC news item.

The basic proposal is that each of the devolved parliaments in each part of the UK will be able to vote to be in whatever timezone they wish. The reason is that on several occasions English MP’s have attempted to get the UK to align with neighbouring countries in mainland Europe such as France and Germany, changing UK time by one hour. However the measure has always been voted down by Scottish MP’s because of the limited daylight in Scotland during the winter months. The idea is that England and Wales could switch to European time, and leave the Scottish to stick with GMT (named after a place in England that wouldn’t be in the timezone any more!).

However, whilst it neatly solves the daylight problem and brings us into line with our European neighbours, it will cause all sorts of other problems for people who deal with time within the UK. Currently at work we are expanding a trading system to include Scotland into the England and Wales electricity trading arrangements. The idea is that it will simplify matters by trading electricity country wide, but all of that suddenly gets hideously more complicated if different parts of the system are in different timezones. Under the current plans for BETTA, anything that is different in Scotland, such as Bank Holidays, conforms system wide to what happens in England. Trading days are English trading days, and closed on English Bank Holidays. I expect that if Scotland went to a different timezone, then the whole system would be run on English time.

Anyway, that is just one small example of a problem that is created. The question is, what is more of a problem, having a different timezone from the rest of Europe, or having more than one timezone in the UK?

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