History of legal time in Britain

Introduction

Before the railways, local mean time was the time kept by clocks and used for general purposes in the UK, insofar as people kept time by clocks rather than by the sun. (Mean time, as shown by sufficiently accurate clocks, had largely replaced apparent time, as shown by a sundial, from around the end of the eighteenth century.) With the coming of the railways, it became a significant problem for timetables that the time at one end of a railway line should differ significantly from that at the other. For this reason, in the 1840s the railway companies started to keep London time consistently at their stations and on their trains; on 22 September 1847 it was recommended by the Railway Clearing House that all the railway companies should adopt Greenwich time, and by January 1848 this had generally been done. Over the next few years the rest of the country followed the railways, but in the 1858 case of Curtis v. March it was ruled that the time for legal purposes must be considered to be local mean time. In 1880 the legal time for Great Britain was made Greenwich mean time by Act of Parliament; that for Ireland was made Dublin mean time. For a more detailed history of events up to this point, see Derek Howse, Greenwich Time and the Longitude (National Maritime Museum / Philip Wilson Publishers, 1997).

Having established a simple, uniform timescale of GMT (the time for Ireland was changed in 1916 to also be GMT), it might be expected that this would have sufficed to establish the legal definition of time until the development of atomic timescales in the 1950s. However, successive governments have proved incapable of avoiding tampering with the clocks, leading to the story described on this page, while the legal definition is still based on GMT, even though time signals have been giving more uniform timescales for decades—UTC, with leap seconds, since 1972.

The form of governmental tampering has generally been the institution of Summer Time, advancing the legal time by one hour during the summer months in order to promote greater efficiency in the use of the daylight hours and of artificial lighting; originally introduced as a wartime measure in 1916, this has been continued through peacetime as well, with occasional variations such as double summer time (advancing the clocks by a second hour for part of the summer) in World War 2—the government files on which in the Public Record Office (now National Archives) having, when the closure period was first set (probably late 1960s), been deemed so sensitive as to merit a closure period of 100 years—and the experiment with British Standard Time from 1968 to 1972, by which the time was advanced by one hour from GMT throughout the year. In addition, the precise start and end dates and times for Summer Time have been the subject of a great many individual orders detailed below. Adjusting the clocks has been an extremely effective way of really changing the times at which most people work (as measured on a uniform time scale), while giving the misleading impression that they are not changing the times at which they work, but rather an act of government has changed the times at which the sun rises and sets. (In February 2000 I requested a review of the extended closure period of the World War 2 summer time records, and in May the Home Office concluded that they could now be opened to the public.)

Every so often, someone tries again to institute the keeping in the UK of a time one hour ahead of GMT in winter, and two hours ahead in summer. Apart from arguments concerning notional convenience in dealing with Europe, the arguments for this seek lighter evenings (say, after work), the arguments against lighter mornings (say, for children going to school); and either side may quote statistics on accident rates that suit its cause. My personal view is that we should do away with the twice annual changing of clocks and maintain UTC as legal time for the whole year. Those people wishing for lighter evenings could arrange with their employers to start and finish work earlier—with changes in working practices, this type of arrangement becomes increasingly practicable—without causing everyone’s hours to change as they would by default under a change of the legal time. People for whom dark mornings would be a problem need not go to earlier hours. It would be appropriate for governments to try to generally encourage changes in hours where those changes have benefits in the particular circumstances, for example through tax incentives for seasonally varying opening hours, for flexible arrangements allowing hours chosen by the individual, or more directly for energy efficiency; and if needed a greater degree of coercion could be applied in wartime. I would consider the value of the honesty of being clear that the aim is to change working times, rather than hiding it behind changes of clocks, to out-weigh the advantages that may arise from such changes.

The strongest argument for doing away with Summer Time might however be that it could help deal with certain misconceptions that changes to the clocks can create “extra daylight”. Some years ago this idea came up in a Private Member’s Bill, the British Time (Extra Daylight) Bill of 1995–6 introduced by John Butterfill MP. While this attempt failed, it appeared that the idea that politicians could create extra daylight by legislating for it was unfortunately widespread.

While I believe that Summer Time should be done away with, the study of how politicians have managed to fiddle with such a simple matter (simple legally, not technically) as how to define the time of day has turned out to be fascinating, showing how governments can make such a mess of a simple matter, with over seventy relevant pieces of legislation in a little over a century, along with the oddities of the incompleteness of preservation of the record of published twentieth century secondary legislation.

Below, I attempt to present the details of every piece of legislation, primary, secondary and European, relating to Summer Time and legal time in the UK; along with such details as I have been able to uncover of the relevant legislation for the Crown Dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). The area that is now the Republic of Ireland is not covered after its independence, though it is thought to have followed mostly the same times except during World War 2, and the details for the Crown Dependencies have gaps. Texts of legislation may eventually be provided here and be linked to below.

Much of this is based on the work of Peter Ilieve for the public-domain UNIX timezone database distributed from elsie.nci.nih.gov (commonly referred to as the Olson or tz database). In 1998 I tracked down various of the more elusive orders and filled in many of the gaps in this information; since then I have, as time permits, sought further details from the files in the National Archives (formerly Public Record Office) and elsewhere.

None of the information provided here is official, and it should not be relied on for any purpose. The nearest there is to an official source of summer time history is probably a table in the 1989 government consultation paper Summer Time: A Consultation Document (Cm 722), but that table has errors in it. Information on summer time dates, including an accurate historical table of dates (but not times), is available from the National Physical Laboratory. Summer Time has been the responsibility of several government departments, including the Home Office Liquor, Gambling and Data Protection Unit, then the Department of Trade and Industry Employment Relations Directorate, then the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, but dates are nowadays set to accord with European directives.

For those interested in further study of this subject, a list of references of National Archives files relating to Summer Time may be of use; this list is somewhat of out date regarding records transferred in the past few years.

Constitutional background

To understand the legislative history below, it may be useful to bear the following in mind. (IANAL, this information simply reflects my understanding of the relevant law and may not be precise in all circumstances.)

The legal information here only relates to the period from 1880 to the present.

Names and abbreviations

The laws discussed do not prescribe a specific name for the times zero, one or two hours ahead of GMT. The UK laws refer to “Greenwich mean time” and “Dublin mean time”; the European directives use different capitalisation, “Greenwich Mean Time”. Exceptionally, the 1968–71 experiment with time one hour ahead of GMT throughout the year had the name “British standard time” specified by law. The name British Summer Time (abbreviated BST) is in common use; the name British Double Summer Time (abbreviated BDST) seems to have been used in World War 2, as was Double British Summer Time (DBST); both names appear in official archives (a letter from Sir Stephen Tallents, K.C.M.G., C.B., C.B.E. of the BBC to Sir Alexander Maxwell, K.C.B., K.B.E. of the Home Office about this and the reply from the Home Office are available, both from photocopies supplied by the Public Record Office (now National Archives) of records held in the National Archives in HO 144/22703, by the kind permission of the BBC for their letter and the general waiver of Crown Copyright in public records unpublished at the time of transfer to the National Archives for the Home Office letter). I do not know what name was used for the time used in Ireland in summer 1916, one hour ahead of Dublin mean time.

Gaps in the history

I do not have the following information or documents; sources would be welcome.

Legislative History

Unless otherwise indicated, Acts listed here are Acts of the UK Parliament; orders with S.I. or S.R.&O. references are published in the UK series of Statutory Instruments and Statutory Rules and Orders. This list does not include those laws mentioned above as ones that I have not been able to obtain.

Statutes (Definition of Time) Act, 1880 (43 & 44 Vict. c. 9)

This Act replaced the ruling in Curtis v. March by a statutory definition of legal time in Great Britain as being Greenwich mean time and in Ireland as being Dublin mean time. This replaced local mean time, which had been held to be the legal time since Curtis v. March in 1858.

Loi (1898) réglant l’heure officielle (Jersey Law 3/1898)

This defines the legal time in Jersey to be GMT (“l’heure moyenne de Greenwich”), with effect from when the law was proclaimed. It was proclaimed in the Royal Square at around 4pm on Saturday 11 June 1898 (thanks to Geraint Jennings for this research).

Ordonnance réglant l’heure légale, Guernesey, 1913

This defines the legal time in the island of Guernsey to be GMT (“temps moyen de Greenwich”). It was approved by the States on 18 June 1913, with no specific commencement date so suggesting (in the view of the staff in the Greffe, Guernsey) that it came into effect immediately that day (thanks to David Cranch for this research). The text, without the date of being passed by the States, may be found in Recueil d’Ordonnances de la Cour Royale de l’Ile de Guernesey (Tome V, 1901—1931). This followed a Requête from ten members of the States in 1909 to pass a law not just adopting standard time but also adopting a time one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time “from the hour of 2 a.m. on the third Sunday in April to the hour of 2 a.m. on the third Sunday in September”; however, the adopted law did not include that provision, only the adoption of GMT.

Isle of Man (War Legislation) Act, 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5. c. 62)

This Act gave the power to extend wartime emergency legislation to the Isle of Man by Order in Council (i.e., by secondary legislation). It was used to provide for Summer Time in the Isle of Man.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1927 (17 & 18 Geo. 5. c. 42).

Summer Time Act, 1916 (6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 14)

This Act provided for the first introduction of Summer Time in the United Kingdom. It applied to the year 1916, and to such subsequent years during the continuance of the then present war as it might be extended to by Order in Council (the Order in Council needing to be made during the year in question, and during the continuance of the war, though the period of Summer Time might end after the end of the war). It provided for the time to be advanced by one hour (from Greenwich mean time in Great Britain; from Dublin mean time in Ireland) during a specified period each year; for 1916 that period was specified as from Sunday 21 May to Sunday 1 October, each at 2am GMT in Great Britain and 2am Dublin mean time in Ireland; and for subsequent years the period was to be specified by Order in Council.

After the Act had expired, it was in due course repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1927 (17 & 18 Geo. 5. c. 42).

Time (Ireland) Act, 1916 (6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 45)

This Act changed the time used in Ireland to be the same as that used in Great Britain, both during Summer Time and at other times. This change took effect from 2am Dublin mean time on Sunday 1 October 1916. This was the time at which the change back from summer time would have happened; Great Britain had already gone back 25 minutes earlier, so Ireland had just one time transition that morning, where the time that would have been 3am according to the Summer Time then in operation in Ireland became 02:25:21 GMT.

This Act remains in force; parts not required for the continued effect of the same time in Great Britain and Northern Ireland were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1927 (17 & 18 Geo. 5. c. 42).

S.R.&O. 1916 No. 382 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Isle of Man (War Legislation) Act, 1914, extended the Summer Time Act, 1916 to the Isle of Man, creating an object known as the “Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916”, with retroactive effect from the date on which the Summer Time Act, 1916 took effect in the United Kingdom. Note that the date of this order is actually two days after Summer Time is deemed to have started.

Ordonnance Provisoire Portant Modification à l’Heure Légale, Auregny, 17 Mai 1916

This provides for the time in Alderney to be advanced by one hour between end dates and times specified in 1916, which are the same as those in Great Britain. My copy is a photocopy of a manuscript to be found in the National Archives file HO 45/10811/312364; this same file is where I found the other 1916 Channel Islands orders listed.

Acte avançant l’heure officielle pendant les mois d’été. Aux Etats de l’Ile de Jersey. L’An 1916, le 13e jour de Mai

This advances the official time of Jersey by one hour over GMT, from midnight on Saturday 20th May to midnight on Saturday 30th September, 1916; it is not specified whether the second time is in GMT or in GMT plus one hour, so presumably GMT plus one hour. Though this is not the same time as that of the transition in Great Britain, it also says that the States (the parliament of the island) will determine the times for similar advances in subsequent years so as to keep the local official time always the same as the time in Great Britain. In the debate on this law in the States of Jersey the Bailiff said that there were (unspecified) “raisons sérieuses” for the UK to use 2am, while midnight was presumed in the debate to be the natural time for the change (thanks to Geraint Jennings for this research).

Ordonnance Provisoire portant Modification à l’Heure Légale, Guernesey, le 13 mai 1916

This order has essentially the same wording as the Alderney one, and makes the same provision for the advance of time in Guernsey in 1916.

S.R.&O. 1917 No. 362 (Time—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1917, with start date Sunday 8th April and end date Monday 17th September, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time (so capitalised). Note the unusual start on Easter Sunday and end on a Monday.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

S.R.&O. 1917 No. 358 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force in the Isle of Man during 1917, with the same start and end dates and times as in the United Kingdom.

S.R.&O. 1918 No. 274 (Time—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1918, with start date Sunday 24th March and end date Monday 30th September, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time.

S.R.&O. 1918 No. 429 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force in the Isle of Man during 1918, with the same start and end dates and times as in the United Kingdom.

Ordonnance Provisoire portant Modification à l’Heure Légale, Guernesey, le 9 mars 1918

This provides for the legal time in Guernsey to be advanced by one hour during the specified period in 1918, which is the same as that in the UK. The wording is very similar to that of the 1916 order. I found this in the National Archives file HO 45/10892/357138, where I also found the other 1918 Channel Islands orders listed.

Ordonnance Provisoire portant Modification à l’Heure Légale, Auregny, le 9 Mars 1918

This makes essentially the same provision for Alderney in 1918 as the previous order listed did for Guernsey. The copy in the National Archives file is a typescript with manuscript amendments.

Serk, le 15ême Mars 1918

This typewritten extract from the Registers of Sark states that it was decided, at an extraordinary assembly held on the 15th of March, to advance the legal time for one hour for a specified period in 1918. The start and end dates are the same as in the UK; both times are given as 2am, the start “temps de Greenwich” and the end in an unspecified scheme.

Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act, 1918 (8 & 9 Geo. 5. c. 59)

This gave power for an Order in Council to be made specifying what date was to be taken as the termination of the war, in which fighting had recently ceased, for the purposes of emergency legislation and such like providing powers for the duration of the war only; it provided that “The date so declared shall be as nearly as may be the date of the exchange or deposit of ratifications of the treaty or treaties of peace”. The date of termination was declared, by Order in Council dated 10th August 1921 (S.R.&O. 1921 No. 1276, see below), to be 31st August 1921. Separate Orders could be and were made concerning the dates of termination of the war with specific countries, but only the date of termination of the war generally is relevant here.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1978 (1978 c. 45).

S.R.&O. 1919 No. 297 (Time—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1919, with start date Sunday 30th March and end date Monday 29th September, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time.

S.R.&O. 1919 No. 366 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force in the Isle of Man during 1919, with the same start and end dates and times as in the United Kingdom.

S.R.&O. 1920 No. 458 (Time—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1920, with start date Sunday 28th March and end date Monday 27th September, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time.

S.R.&O. 1920 No. 573 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force in the Isle of Man during 1920, with the same start and end dates and times as in the United Kingdom.

S.R.&O. 1920 No. 1844 (Time—Summer Time)

This order modifies both the previous two orders to change the end date for Summer Time in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man in 1920 to Monday 25th October, the time of day being unchanged. This is reported by the 1989 consultation paper as being because of a coal strike.

War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Act, 1920 (10 Geo. 5. c. 5)

This Act, among other extensions of various emergency laws, extends the power to make Orders in Council under the Summer Time Act, 1916 for a period of twelve months after the termination of the war (i.e., to 31st August 1922, given the date of termination that was eventually set but had not been set by the time of this Act). The extension of powers covered the extension of the 1916 Act to the Isle of Man.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1978 (1978 c. 45).

S.R.&O. 1921 No. 363 (Time—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1921, with start date Sunday 3rd April and end date Monday 3rd October, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

S.R.&O. 1921 No. 364 (Isle of Man—Summer Time)

This order, under the Summer Time (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force in the Isle of Man during 1921, with the same start and end dates and times as in the United Kingdom.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

S.R.&O. 1921 No. 1276 (Termination of the War—General Date of Termination)

This order, under the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act, 1918, declares that 31st August 1921 is to be taken as the date of termination of the War (at midnight on that day).

S.R.&O. 1922 No. 264

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1916, declares the Act to be in force during 1922, with start date Sunday 26th March and end date Sunday 8th October, both at 2am Greenwich Mean Time. The power to make such orders under the 1916 Act, extended by the War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Act, 1920, would finally expire on 31st August 1922, but this order would still determine the end date of Summer Time in 1922. Note the reversion to Sunday end dates.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes. I have not found a copy of it in the form in which it was published in the series of Statutory Rules and Orders; a copy in the form of an Order in Council (indeed, one copy with a seal affixed, and an envelope with about ten ordinary copies) may be found in the National Archives file HO 45/11079/418515. I have not found any copies of the matching Isle of Man order (S.R.&O. 1922 No. 290) in any form.

Summer Time Act, 1922 (12 & 13 Geo. 5. c. 22)

This Act provided for the first non-emergency provision of Summer Time in the United Kingdom. It specifies a time one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time, applying to Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, from 2am Greenwich mean time on the day following the third Saturday in April (or, if that day is Easter Day, the day following the second Saturday) until 2am Greenwich mean time on the day following the third Saturday in September. It explicitly did not affect the operation of the Summer Time Act, 1916, or any Order in Council made under that Act, so that the end date in 1922 remained as determined by S.R.&O. 1922 No. 264 (and presumably corresponding orders for the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, though no such saving for the Channel Islands in mentioned). It expired on 31 December 1923 unless Parliament determined otherwise. It made no provision for variation of Summer Time dates by Order in Council.

S.R.&O. 1922 No. 1205 (Isle of Man—Withdrawal of Emergency Legislation)

This order, under the War Emergency Laws (continuance) Act, 1920, revoked various orders under the Isle of Man (War Legislation) Act, 1914 extending emergency laws to the Isle of Man. One of these was the order (S.R.&O. 1916 No. 382) that so extended the Summer Time Act, 1916.

Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1923 (13 & 14 Geo. 5. c. 37)

This Act extended (among other laws) the operation of the Summer Time Act, 1922 (which would otherwise have expired on 31 December 1923) for one year, to 31 December 1924. The extension did not apply to Northern Ireland in regard to matters, such as this, where the Parliament of Northern Ireland had powers to make laws.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1950 (14 Geo. 6. c. 6).

Expiring Laws Continuance Act (Northern Ireland), 1923 (13 & 14 Geo. 5. c. 25 (N.I.))

This Act of the Northern Ireland Parliament provided the same extension of the Summer Time Act, 1922 until 31 December 1924 for Northern Ireland. (Further renewals would not be needed because of the Time Act (Northern Ireland), 1924.)

This Act was repealed by the Industrial Assurance Act (Northern Ireland), 1924 (14 & 15 Geo. 5. c. 21 (N.I.)) and the Statute Law Revision Act (Northern Ireland), 1952 (1952 c. 1).

Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1924 (15 Geo. 5. c. 1)

This Act further extended the operation of the Summer Time Act, 1922 for another year, until 31 December 1925.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1950 (14 Geo. 6. c. 6).

Time Act (Northern Ireland), 1924 (14 & 15 Geo. 5. c. 24 (N.I.))

This Act of the Northern Ireland Parliament provided that all future Acts of the UK Parliament and Orders in Council relating to the time for general purposes in Great Britain should have the same application to the time for general purposes in Northern Ireland. It remains in force. The link is to a consolidated version, but the Act has not been amended.

Summer Time Act, 1925 (15 & 16 Geo. 5. c. 64)

This Act made the Summer Time Act, 1922 permanent, so that Parliament did not need to renew it each year, with a change of end date to the day after the first Saturday in October.

Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939 (2 & 3 Geo. 6. c. 62)

This gave wide-ranging powers for the making by Order in Council of such regulations as seemed to be necessary or expedient “for securing the public safety, the defence of the realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community”. It required annual renewal, but I haven’t attempted to check the details of renewals.

This Act was repealed by the Emergency Laws (Repeal) Act, 1959 (7 & 8 Eliz. 2. c. 19).

The Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 (S.R.&O. 1939 No. 1379)

These regulations, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, changed the end date of Summer Time to the day after the third Saturday in November.

S.R.&O. 1940 No. 172 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939, to change the start date of Summer Time to the day after the fourth Saturday in February (with, therefore, no saving needed for Easter).

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1940 (3 & 4 Geo. 6. c. 20)

This Act extends the powers given by the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, and extends the initial date for its expiry to two years after the 1939 Act was passed (leaving the requirement for annual renewal after then). It provides for citation with the 1939 Act as the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1950 (14 Geo. 6. c. 6) and the Statute Law Revision Act, 1953 (2 & 3 Eliz. 2. c. 5).

Emergency Powers (Defence) (No. 2) Act, 1940 (3 & 4 Geo. 6. c. 45)

This Act makes further provision for emergency powers, and provides that it is to be included among the Acts cited together as the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940.

This Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act, 1953 (2 & 3 Eliz. 2. c. 5).

S.R.&O. 1940 No. 1883 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 to make the time be one hour in advance of GMT throughout the year.

S.R.&O. 1941 No. 476 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 to provide for double summer time, during which period the time was two hours in advance of Greenwich mean time, starting on the day after the first Saturday in May and ending on the day after the second Saturday in August, both at 1am Greenwich mean time (rather than the previously used 2am). The time for the rest of the year remained one hour in advance of GMT. The order provided savings for certain contracts with agricultural workers and concerning the production of milk: for those purposes, the time was to be taken to be one hour in advance of GMT throughout the year, unless the parties to the contract agreed otherwise.

S.R.&O. 1942 No. 506 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 to change the start date of double summer time to the day after the first Saturday in April.

S.R.&O. 1944 No. 932 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 to change the end date of double summer time, for 1944 only, to the day after the third Saturday in September.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

S.R.&O. 1945 No. 312 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Summer Time)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, amended the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939 to change the start date of double summer time to the day after the first Sunday in April, and the end date to the day after the second Saturday in July, both for 1945 only. The start on a Monday was because it was felt necessary for double summer time to operate from the beginning of April, but the 1st of April was Easter Day. (See Hansard, Oral Answers, 1 March 1945, columns 1559–1561.)

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

S.R.&O. 1945 No. 1208 (Emergency Powers (Defence)—Defence (General) Regulations—Amendments)

This order, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, 1939 and 1940, revoked among other things the Defence (Summer Time) Regulations, 1939. Thus the time was now one hour in advance of GMT, being Summer Time rather than the year-round time one hour in advance of GMT used previously, and would revert to GMT at the time specified by the Summer Time Acts, 1922 to 1925, 2am GMT on 7 October.

Summer Time Act, 1947 (10 & 11 Geo. 6. c. 16)

This Act amended the Summer Time Acts, 1922 and 1925, to change the period of Summer Time in 1947 and introduce double summer time in that year, and to provide the power for Orders in Council to vary the dates of Summer Time in future years (from those specified by the 1922 and 1925 Acts), and to introduce double summer time in those years. It applied to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; Orders in Council under the Act could make different provision for them and for the United Kingdom. The dates specified for 1947 were Summer Time starting on 16th March and ending 2nd November, both at 2am GMT, and double summer time starting on 13th April and ending on 10th August, both at 1am Greenwich mean time. (The power to have double summer time was not used in future years.) This Act was registered in Jersey (this registration including the full text of the Act).

The Summer Time Order, 1948 (S.I. 1948/495)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1948 a start date for Summer Time of 14th March, and an end date of 31st October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

The Summer Time Order, 1949 (S.I. 1949/373)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1949 a start date for Summer Time of 3rd April, and an end date of 30th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

The Summer Time Order, 1950 (S.I. 1950/518)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1950 a start date for Summer Time of 16th April, and an end date of 22nd October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

The Summer Time Order, 1951 (S.I. 1951/430)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1951 a start date for Summer Time of 15th April, and an end date of 21st October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

The Summer Time Order, 1952 (S.I. 1952/451)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1952 a start date for Summer Time of 20th April, and an end date of 26th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time. This order is the last of this run of Orders, so for 1953 to 1960 dates were set by the 1922 and 1925 Acts.

This order is omitted from the annual published volumes.

Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland), 1954 (1954 c. 33 (N.I.))

Section 39(1) of this Act provides for references to times in Northern Ireland legislation to be interpreted as referring to Greenwich mean time, subject to any legislative provisions for a different time to be used in Northern Ireland. This Act does not repeal the Time (Ireland) Act, 1916 or the Time Act (Northern Ireland), 1924. It came into effect on 1 January 1955. The link is to a consolidated version; the relevant section has not been amended.

The Summer Time Order, 1961 (S.I. 1961/71)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1961 a start date for Summer Time of 26th March, and an end date of 29th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time. This is the first in a new run of Orders.

The Summer Time (1962) Order, 1961 (S.I. 1961/2465)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1962 a start date for Summer Time of 25th March, and an end date of 28th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

The Summer Time Order 1963 (S.I. 1963/81)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1963 a start date for Summer Time of 31st March, and an end date of 27th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

The Summer Time (1964) Order 1963 (S.I. 1963/2101)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1964 a start date for Summer Time of 22nd March, and an end date of 25th October, both at 2am Greenwich mean time.

The Summer Time Order 1964 (S.I. 1964/1201)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1965 a start date for Summer Time of 21st March, and an end date of 24th October; for 1966 a start date for Summer Time of 20th March, and an end date of 23rd October; and for 1967 a start date for Summer Time of 19th March, and an end date of 29th October, all at 2am Greenwich mean time.

The Summer Time Order 1967 (S.I. 1967/1148)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, gives for 1968 in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands a start date for Summer Time of 18th February, and an end date of 27th October; and for 1968 in the Isle of Man a start date of 7th April, and an end date of 27th October, all at 2am Greenwich mean time.

The Summer Time Order 1968 (S.I. 1968/117)

This order, under the Summer Time Act, 1947, changes the dates of Summer Time in the Isle of Man for 1968 to be the same as those in the United Kingdom and Channel Islands.

Explanations for the different dates for this Isle of Man, and the change by this Order to the same dates as in the UK, may be found in the debates on this Order and the previous Order in the House of Commons. In Commons Hansard, volume 750 column 2692, 21 July 1967, The Minister of State, Home Office (Miss Alice Bacon) stated that “they [the Isle of Man] wanted their summer time to begin in April”. On 14 December 1967, volume 756 columns 757–8, The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr David Ennals) stated that “The Isle of Man Government have now reversed their earlier decision”.

British Standard Time Act 1968 (1968 c. 45)

This Act provided for an experiment with a time one hour in advance of GMT throughout the year (this time being, unusually, given a name in the Act—“British standard time”—that name having been found, in public surveys, to be more popular with the public than several other names that had also been proposed). The experiment began on 27th October 1968 (time unspecified; probably, following existing law on interpretation of statutes, at the start of the day according to the time previously in force, which was British Summer Time, one hour in advance of GMT; though a comment of Lord Stonham on 23 November 1967 (Lords Hansard volume 286 column 1188) suggests GMT, this point of the wording does not seem to have been considered in any of the Parliamentary debates on the Bill), effectively continuing Summer Time throughout the year, and ended at 2am Greenwich mean time on 31st October 1971, unless it was directed (which it was not) by Order in Council approved by both Houses of Parliament before the end of 1970 that it be made permanent. It applied to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man unless they made other provision by their own laws. According to the 1989 consultation paper (Cm 722), a review of this experiment was published as Cmnd 4512 in October 1970, the issue was debated in the Commons on 2 December 1970, and the experiment discontinued by a vote of 366 to 81.

It repealed the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act, 1880; the Time (Ireland) Act, 1916; the Summer Time Act, 1922; the Time Act (Northern Ireland), 1924; the Summer Time Act, 1925; the Summer Time Act, 1947; and section 39(1) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland), 1954. However, it specified that, on expiry of the experiment, these enactments would all revive, subject to a reservation that if the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands had made contrary provision, the terms revived would not affect them; and an amendment changing the start of Summer Time to the day following the third Saturday in March (or, if that day is Easter Day, the day following the second Saturday), and the end to the day following the fourth Saturday in October, both staying at 2am GMT.

Manx Time Act, 1968 (17 & 18 Eliz. II, c. 23)

This Act of Tynwald (the Isle of Man Parliament) provided that the time in the Isle of Man should be the same as in Great Britain. It provided that it “shall come into operation when the Royal Assent thereto has been by the Governor announced to Tynwald and a certificate thereof has been signed by the Governor and the Speaker of the House of Keys, but shall take effect on such day as the Governor may by order appoint”. I have not seen the order that is mentioned in this quote.

Time (Jersey) Law, 1968 (Jersey Law 10/1968)

This provided for the time in the Bailiwick of Jersey to be one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time throughout the year (to be known as “Jersey Standard Time”) from 27 October 1968 until 31 October 1971, the time of day being unspecified in both cases.

Summer Time Act 1972 (1972 c. 6)

This Act consolidated the provisions of previous Acts relating to Summer Time, from the Summer Time Act, 1922 to the changes in dates operational on expiry of the British Standard Time Act 1968. Summer Time, with an advance of one hour from Greenwich mean time, was to operate between those dates, remaining at 2am Greenwich mean time. It made the same provision for change of dates and times (and for the possible introduction of double summer time, which provision was not used) by Order in Council as the Summer Time Act, 1947. It applied to the whole of the United Kingdom (subject to the Parliament of Northern Ireland retaining its power to amend the law in this area—included in this and other Acts by a statement that “For the purposes of section 6 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 this Act in its application to Northern Ireland shall be deemed to be an Act passsed before the appointed day”), and applied to the Isle of Man and to the Channel Islands unless other provision was made by a law of the States of Jersey or of Guernsey or by an Act of Tynwald, with the same provision as in 1947 that Orders could specify different dates for each of these and for the United Kingdom. It repealed the Summer Time Acts 1922 to 1947 and the British Standard Time Act 1968, leaving untouched the other enactments revived by the expiry of the British Standard Time Act 1968. It specifically did not affect the Manx Time Act, 1968. It came into force “at the expiration of the period of one month beginning with the date on which it is passed”. This Act, as amended, is the current law on Summer Time in the UK. Orders under it were used to change the dates and times to accord with the European Directives, from 1981 to 2001. In 2002 it was amended to implement the European rules on a permanent basis. The exclusion of Easter Day no longer seems to be a factor.

Summer Time (Jersey) Law, 1972 (Jersey Law 6/1972)

This provided for the time in the Bailiwick of Jersey to be one hour in advance of GMT between the day following the third Saturday in March and the day following the the fourth Saturday in October, both at 2am GMT, with provision that the States might vary this period in future years or institute double summer time for part of it. Unlike the law in the UK, no provision is made for avoiding Easter Day, but for Easter Day to be the day following the third Saturday in March it must be on the earliest possible date, 22 March, which last happened in 1818 and will next happen in 2285.

European Communities Act 1972 (1972 c. 68)

This Act provided, in subsection 2(2), for legislation to be amended by Order in Council to implement European directives.

Interpretation Act 1978 (1978 c. 30)

Section 9 of the Act provides for references to point of time in Acts of Parliament to refer to Greenwich mean time, subject to the Summer Time Act 1972, unless the Act in question specifies otherwise. Section 23 and Schedule 2 provide that this applies to Acts and subordinate legislation whenever passed, and to “deeds and other instruments and documents”. It extends to Northern Ireland (whose own Interpretation Act is limited to interpretation of Northern Ireland legislation). It repeals the whole of the Statutes (Definition of Time) Act, 1880. It came into force on 1st January 1979.

Council Directive of 22 July 1980 on summertime arrangements (80/737/EEC)

This first European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates only (no agreement having been reached on common end dates). It specified an advance of 60 minutes during Summer Time, a common start time of 1am Greenwich Mean Time; and a start for 1981 of 29 March and for 1982 for 28 March.

The Summer Time Order 1980 (S.I. 1980/1089)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1981 a start date for Summer Time of 29th March, and an end date of 25th October; and for 1982 a start date of 28th March, and an end date of 24th October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This, including the change to the 1am times, implements the first European Directive. It applies in the United Kingdom and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but not in the Bailiwick of Jersey or the Isle of Man which the Explanatory Note to the order says have their own legislation on the subject.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act, 1980 (Jersey R & O 6865)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1980 did for the UK.

Second Council Directive of 10 June 1982 on summertime arrangements (82/399/EEC)

This second European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1983, 1984 and 1985 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time. For the end dates is specified two different sets of dates, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time. For Member States not in the zero (Greenwich) time zone, the dates were 25 September for 1983, 30 September for 1984, and 29 September for 1985. For Member States in the zero (Greenwich) time zone, the dates were 23 October for 1983, 28 October for 1984, and 27 October for 1985.

The Summer Time Order 1982 (S.I. 1982/1673)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1983 a start date for Summer Time of 27th March, and an end date of 23rd October; for 1984 a start date of 25th March, and an end date of 28th October; and for 1985 a start date of 31st March, and an end date of 27th October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the second European Directive. It applies in the United Kingdom and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act, 1983 (Jersey R & O 7139)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1982 did for the UK.

Third Council Directive of 12 December 1984 on summertime arrangements (84/634/EEC)

This third European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1986, 1987 and 1988 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time. For the end dates two different sets of dates are specified, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time. For Member States not in the zero (Greenwich) time zone, the dates were given by rule as the last Sunday in September, listed as 28 September for 1986, 27 September for 1987, and 25 September for 1988. For Member States in the zero (Greenwich) time zone, the dates were given by rule as the fourth Sunday in October, listed as 26 October for 1986, 25 October for 1987, and 23 October for 1988.

Council Directive of 20 December 1985 amending Directive 84/634/EEC on summertime arrangements (85/582/EEC)

This Directive amends the third European Directive, following the accession of Spain and Portugal to the EEC, so that the October end dates were specified for Ireland and the United Kingdom only, rather than for states in the zero (Greenwich) time zone, since Portugal was in that zone but was going to use the September end dates. The dates and times were not changed.

The Summer Time Order 1986 (S.I. 1986/223)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1986 a start date for Summer Time of 30th March, and an end date of 26th October; for 1987 a start date of 29th March, and an end date of 25th October; and for 1988 a start date of 27th March, and an end date of 23rd October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the third European Directive. Note the 1986 start on Easter Day. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act, 1986 (Jersey R & O 7475)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1986 did for the UK.

Fourth Council Directive of 22 December 1987 on summertime arrangements (88/14/EEC)

This fourth European Directive on Summer Time specified a common start date for 1989 of Sunday 26 March, a common end date for countries other than Ireland and the United Kingdom of Sunday 24 September, and a common end date for Ireland and the United Kingdom of Sunday 29 October, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time. Peter Ilieve suggests that this only covers one year because 1989 was a year when the UK rule of the Sunday after the fourth Saturday in October differed from the previous EC rule of the fourth Sunday in October.

The Summer Time Order 1988 (S.I. 1988/931)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1989 a start date for Summer Time of 26th March, and an end date of 29th October, both at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the fourth European Directive. Note the start on Easter Day. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Amendment) (Jersey) Act, 1988 (Jersey R & O 7760)

This law amends the Summer Time (Jersey) Act, 1986 to make the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1988 did for the UK.

Fifth Council Directive of 21 December 1988 on summertime arrangements (89/47/EEC)

This fifth European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1990, 1991 and 1992 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and listed as 25 March for 1990, 31 March for 1991, and 29 March for 1992. For the end dates two different sets of dates are specified, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The main dates were given by rule as the last Sunday in September, listed as 30 September for 1990, 29 September for 1991, and 27 September for 1992. Ireland and the United Kingdom, however, were permitted but not required to use October end dates; those dates were given by rule as the fourth Sunday in October, listed as 28 October for 1990, 27 October for 1991, and 25 October for 1992.

The Summer Time Order 1989 (S.I. 1989/985)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1990 a start date for Summer Time of 25th March, and an end date of 28th October; for 1991 a start date of 31st March, and an end date of 27th October; and for 1992 a start date of 29th March, and an end date of 25th October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the fifth European Directive, using the October end dates. Note the 1991 start on Easter Day. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act, 1989 (Jersey R & O 7960)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1989 did for the UK.

Sixth Council Directive 92/20/EEC of 26 March 1992 on summertime arrangements

This sixth European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1993 and 1994 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and listed as 28 March for 1993, and 27 March for 1994. For the end dates two different sets of dates are specified, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The main dates were given by rule as the last Sunday in September, listed as 26 September for 1993, and 25 September for 1994. Ireland and the United Kingdom, however, were permitted but not required to use October end dates; those dates were given by rule as the fourth Sunday in October, listed as 24 October for 1993, and 23 October for 1994.

The Summer Time Order 1992 (S.I. 1992/1729)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1993 a start date for Summer Time of 28th March, and an end date of 24th October; and for 1994 a start date of 27th March, and an end date of 23rd October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the sixth European Directive, using the October end dates. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act 1992 (Jersey R & O 8450)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1992 did for the UK.

Seventh Directive 94/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on summer-time arrangements

This seventh European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1995, 1996 and 1997 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and listed as 26 March for 1995, 31 March for 1996, and 30 March for 1997. Common end dates had been agreed upon from 1996. The end dates were all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The main dates were given by rule as the last Sunday in September in 1995, and the last Sunday in October in 1996 and 1997, listed as 24 September for 1995, 27 October for 1996, and 26 October for 1997. For Ireland and the United Kingdom, however, a different end date for 1995 was given; that date was given by rule as the fourth Sunday in October, listed as 22 October (this time not following the traditional rule of the Sunday after the fourth Saturday).

The Summer Time Order 1994 (S.I. 1994/2798)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1995 a start date for Summer Time of 26th March, and an end date of 22nd October; for 1996 a start date of 31st March, and an end date of 27th October; and for 1997 a start date of 30th March, and an end date of 26th October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the seventh European Directive. Note the 1997 start on Easter Day. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It explicitly revokes several previous spent orders: The Summer Time Order 1980; The Summer Time Order 1982; The Summer Time Order 1986; The Summer Time Order 1988; and The Summer Time Order 1989.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act 1994 (Jersey R & O 8701)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1994 did for the UK.

Eighth Directive 97/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 1997 on summer-time arrangements

This eighth European Directive on Summer Time specified common start dates for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 as the last Sunday in March, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and listed as 29 March for 1998, 28 March for 1999, 26 March for 2000, and 25 March for 2001. Common end dates were also specified, as the last Sunday in October, all at 1am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and listed as 25 October for 1998, 31 October for 1999, 29 October for 2000, and 28 October for 2001.

The Summer Time Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/2982)

This order, under the Summer Time Act 1972, gives for 1998 a start date for Summer Time of 29th March, and an end date of 25th October; for 1999 a start date of 28th March, and an end date of 31st October; for 2000 a start date of 26th March, and an end date of 29th October; and for 2001 a start date of 25th March, and an end date of 28th October, all at 1am Greenwich mean time. This implements the eighth European Directive. It applies in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It explicitly revokes two previous spent orders: The Summer Time Order 1992 and the Summer Time Order 1994.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act 1997 (Jersey R & O 9101)

This law makes the same provision for time in Jersey as the Summer Time Order 1997 did for the UK.

Directive 2000/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on summer-time arrangements

This ninth European Directive on Summer Time placed the common dates and times for Summer Time on a permanent footing. It specified a common start time, from 2002 onwards, of 1am Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday in March, and a common end time, from 2002 onwards, of 1am Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday in October. It provided that a timetable of the dates this gives for the next five years should be published every five years.

This Directive says that it is to be implemented by 31 December 2001, but the UK implemented it late.

Summer Time (Jersey) Act 2001 (Jersey R&O 172/2001)

This law specifies start and end dates, for 2002 only, of 31st March 2002 and 27th October 2002, both at 1am GMT.

The Summer Time Order 2002 (S.I. 2002/262)

This order, under the European Communities Act 1972, implemented the ninth European Directive by amending the Summer Time Act 1972. It removed the power to vary the period of Summer Time, or provide for Double Summer Time, by Order in Council. It changed the rules for Summer Time to agree with the European rules on a permanent basis, starting on the last Sunday in March and ending on the last Sunday in October, both at 1am Greenwich mean time. It applies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland; unlike previous orders, it does not apply in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Summer Time (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2002 (Jersey Law 22/2002)

This law amends the Summer Time (Jersey) Law 1972 to agree with the European rules, starting on the last Sunday in March and ending on the last Sunday in October, both at 1am GMT. Unlike the 2002 UK Order, it does not remove the powers to vary the period of Summer Time or to provide for Double Summer Time. It came into effect on 1st January 2003.


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Contact: Joseph Myers (jsm@polyomino.org.uk)
Last updated: 4 October 2012