Re: [LEAPSECS] BBC - Leap second talks are postponed

From: David Harper <>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 09:07:42 +0000

Rob Seaman wrote:
> Contrarily, in Britain you have chosen to call your civil standard
> time "Greenwich Mean Time" and your civil daylight saving time
> "British Summer Time", rather than (for instance) British Standard
> Time and British Daylight Time.
> ...
> Perhaps folks can comment on international usage broader than my
> parochial fixation on the United States?

There *was* such a thing as British Standard Time between 1968 and 1971,
when Britain experimented with keeping its clocks permanently one hour
ahead of GMT all year round. This was called British Standard Time, even
in the summer.

The purpose of the experiment, apparently, was to determine whether
there was any commercial advantage in keeping British clocks in synch
with those of our European neighbours. This was before Britain was a
member of the European Common Market.

The experiment was abandoned in October 1971, when the clocks were put
back to Greenwich Mean Time, and we have kept daylight saving time each
summer since then. The dates of the start and end of daylight saving
time were set by Parliament each year, until the early 1990s, when the
start/end dates were harmonised across the European Union.

It's true that the GMT/BST naming scheme does not conform to the
Standard Time/Daylight Time pattern, but GMT is equivalent to Western
European Standard Time and BST to Western European Daylight Time.

However, it would be a brave and foolhardy M.P. who proposed in
Parliament that the names GMT and BST should be abolished and replaced
by WEST/WEDT. That would generate a far greater furore in British
politics than any discussion about leap seconds :-)

David Harper

Dr David Harper
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute,  Hinxton,  Cambridge CB10 1SA,  England
Tel: 01223 834244 Fax: 494919
Received on Fri Nov 18 2005 - 01:18:53 PST

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