The debate rages each year, like clockwork. On the last Sunday of October, the clocks wind back an hour; more light in the morning, more gloom at night. In London, darkness falls at 4pm. Although Britons get an extra hour in bed, the glee turns to anger, as the more southerly English, and the Welsh, endure longer, darker nights until March, largely so that children can go to school in daylight, northern farmers can plough fields in sunglasses and denim cut-off jeans, and Scottish dairy farmers can see what they are milking. This year's debate proved spicier, with southeast London MP Nigel Beard tabling a bill to force England and Wales on to European time (Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour in winter, GMT plus two hours in summer - that is, double summer time). Mr Beard claims there would be many benefits: more business from standardised trading times with Europe, Britain's biggest market; a 1-2 per cent saving in energy bills; more time for after-work leisure (cricket at 11pm?); and more tourists. Lobbyists back him, as do 80 per cent of the public, prompting the Liberal Democrats to include the idea in their manifesto. Motoring groups say that 450 fewer people a year will die in accidents - more may die in the darker mornings, but it is more than offset by fewer deaths at night, the extra light guiding home safely adults tired from work or children playing after school. There are cash savings, too - insurance would not rocket with November's annual 40 per cent surge in crashes. Welfare groups say the elderly can venture out later, without fear of cars or muggers, while police say lighter nights deter car thieves. It is also a fillip to the 500,000 Seasonal Adjustment Disorder sufferers depressed by the dark and who buy weird baseball caps that shine a light on their face. In the past, Britain was even darker, save for Norwich, in the east, which was an hour ahead before the railways standardised times for train timetables. Britain only saw the light during the first world war, bringing in daylight saving for health reasons. Intriguingly, from 1968-1971, the UK tried Mr Beard's idea. But it was doomed, because Edinburgh had no sun until 10am. Things have changed. Fewer children walk to school now, while farming has shrunk. More important, however, devolution means that Scotland has its own parliament. As Mr Beard pointed out, his reform is for England and Wales only. It may seem odd to have two UK time zones, with all the timetabling problems, but for those in London - for whom Paris is nearer than Edinburgh - why not? Sadly, the bill was blocked: there was too little parliamentary time to read it. Perhaps it is MPs who need to sort out their clocks.