Rebecca Harris, MP forEssex Castle Point, June/July 2010

rebecca-harrisRebecca Harris, Conservative MP for Essex Castle Point, has been awarded Parliamentarian of the Month by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line. In June this month, Rebecca tabled a Private Members’ Bill to get the Secretary of State to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits of introducing daylight saving time and then act on the results.

Daylight saving time means putting the clocks forward by one hour to make the days lighter. It would make journeys home from schools much safer for children during the winter months. It’s estimated that this could save 100 lives each year on our roads, and prevent many more serious injuries. [1]

Brake has been calling for action from policy makers to bring the clocks forward for years. During the winter, darkness may come as early as 3pm in some parts of the UK, meaning drivers, pedestrians and cyclists have no option other than to travel in the dark. Pedestrians and cyclists become harder to see, which puts them at much greater risk. Each year the number of deaths and injuries on our roads increases sharply as we put the clocks back at the end of summer and the evenings become darker earlier. A simple solution, like putting the clocks forward an hour could make all the difference to children walking home from school.

Read Brake’s fact sheet ‘Time to put the clocks forward’.

The environmental campaign group 10:10 brought together charities to campaign together on this issue under the banner of the ‘Lighter Later’ campaign. They have highlighted evidence that as well as improving road safety, putting the clocks forward has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of energy we use in the winter months, cutting carbon emissions by an estimated 447,000 tonnes, [2] and offer other social and economic benefits.

Rebecca Harris MP has been a supporter of putting the clocks forward for many years so she was very excited when she heard that so many charities had grouped together to move forward the campaign. Rebecca shared the public’s concern for children travelling home from school in the dark. Rebecca has used her influence as an MP to help her constituents to campaign for road safety improvements such as pedestrian crossings in her local area. As a mother herself, she understands other parents’ justifiable fears for the safety of their children on the roads. Rebecca is also committed to cutting carbon emissions and has supported the ‘Lighter Later’ campaign as an opportunity to both improve safety and help protect the environment.

Rebecca was one of a small minority of MPs who won a ballot to put forward a Private Members’ Bill. She seized this opportunity to sponsor a bill to introduce daylight saving hours. The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-11 had its first reading on 30 June 2010. Her bill and support for the ‘Lighter Later’ campaign has already had significant media coverage, boosting public support for the campaign.

The bill is due to have its second reading on 3 December 2010 and Rebecca is working hard to make sure that supportive MPs attend the reading and help to push the bill through to the next legislative phase.

Rebecca Harris MP said:

"I am delighted to be selected as Brake’s Parliamentarian of the Month. As a mother I want Britain’s roads to be as safe as possible. I am very proud to be putting forward a bill that has the potential to help save lives on our roads, as well as help us meet our commitments to cut carbon.

I encourage all those who support the cause to contact their local MP and encourage them to attend the Second Reading of my Bill on 3rd December".

Ellen Booth, Brake’s campaigns officer, said:

"We are delighted that the campaign to get the clocks put forward is taking off following years of campaigning on this issue. This is an opportunity to make a huge difference to road safety and carbon emissions through one and we are eagerly awaiting news of the success of Rebecca’s Bill’s second reading in December. Rebecca’s firm commitment to road safety and the environment are commendable and we are very pleased to award her with our ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ award for road safety."