Digby Jones has vowed to be an independent voice for business in the House of Lords, after leaving Gordon Brown’s government.
Lord Jones of Birmingham, a former head of the CBI, began his new role by calling for Britain to put forward the clocks permanently by an hour, bringing us into line with European countries.
Speaking in the Lords, he said the reform would help British industry by putting it on the same time zone as customers and business partners in Europe.
It would also save lives on the roads, by making it lighter on winter evenings, he said.
Lord Jones was made a peer for life when he joined the Government as a Business Minister last year. But he is under no obligation to attend Lords debates or remain active in Parliament now he has left Government.
However, Lord Jones said he had resolved to become a champion for business in the Lords and would continue to speak out.
Although he never joined the Labour Party, he did sit as part of the Labour group in the Lords while a minister. He has become an independent peer – a crossbencher.
Lord Jones said: “I want to take a very active role in the Lords. I want business to have a voice in the legislature. It should be heard. There is already a role for trade unions, for representatives of health and education when laws are made.”
Speaking to peers, Lord Jones called for Britain to move to Central European Time, which is used in European nations including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The clocks would still go forward in summer and back in winter, just as in Europe. British time would be an hour ahead of what it is currently.
He said: “For many years at the CBI, businesspeople got increasingly frustrated with so many billions of pounds being put into the infrastructure of the nation, in airports and the Channel Tunnel, to enable the productivity of the economy to integrate fully with European rivals and markets, only to find they had to get to Paris, Frankfurt and Brussels on the night before meetings because we have to put our watches forward by an hour before we start work.”
Answering for the Government, Climate Change Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said the Government would review the case for changing Britain’s preferred time-zone but indicated he had doubts about the need for change.