Orthodox body fights daylight hours Bill
Proposal to make winter evenings lighter ‘will hinder prayer obligations’
THE UNION of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) is opposing fresh moves to change Britain’s daylight hours in winter because it would make it difficult for strictly Orthodox Jews to recite morning prayers while it was still dark.
Tim Yeo, the former Conservative environment minister, is sponsoring a private member’s bill to be debated next week which would mean a hour more daylight on winter evenings.
Lighter evenings would “save 100 lives a year”, Mr Yeo told the JC. “The evidence on accidents is compelling.” People who are travelling are more focused in the mornings and less attentive in the evenings, he said.
There would also be energy-saving benefits to the move because people would use less electricity and heating in the morning than in the evening, he added. “It would improve the quality of life for older people who are nervous about going out after dark.”
But the UOHC disputes the potential reduction in accidents, citing the assertion of the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors that there is “no convincing evidence”.
A number of other groups, including representatives of farmers and postal workers, are also opposed to darker mornings, the UOHC notes.
It maintains that later daylight would mean that the 45-minute daily morning service could not start until around 8.10am in London, making it hard to go to shul and get to work on time.
The proposed time change would also delay the recitation of the afternoon minchah service till after 2pm in winter, again making it difficult to go to a minyan during lunch-breaks.
Additionally, fast-days in summer would end an hour later — at 11.45pm in London, even later in the North.
Mr Yeo said: “The soundings I’ve got suggest that a majority of MPs are in favour, but that doesn’t guarantee the passage of a private member’s bill.”
Alex Goldberg, director of community issues at the Board of Deputies, said: “The Board is taking soundings from various religious authorities. We have been approached by the Union and we will be giving it due consideration.”
But he pointed out: “There are a number of individuals in the community who support Tim Yeo’s proposal. Road-safety campaigners would regard it as pikuach nefesh (saving life).”