As the chimes of Big Ben rang out and the cheers of the crowds in Trafalgar Square heralded another New Year, the Government’s little publicised plan to reduce Greenwich Mean Time by 1 minute per hour came into immediate effect. The Effective Time Initiative which was hidden away at the bottom of some very boring legislation means that every hour of 2011 will last only 59 minutes instead of the full imperial 60 minutes.
Coalition ministers have justified the change as being in the best interests of the nation. ‘In real terms, this is only a cut of 1.66%,’ said Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, ‘but the benefits are huge as we will save considerably on our energy usage for the whole of the year. These savings will be passed on to consumers who will be able to offset the saving against the 5% increases in fuel bills planned by the utility companies.’
The change was treated with caution by opposition spokesman, Meg Hiller. ‘Whilst I acknowledge that there is an apparent saving in our energy usage,’ she said, ‘I am deeply suspicious of any measure that the Tories has pushed a Liberal Democrat into announcing. It has to mean there is something very wrong going on here.’
Reveller Amy Morrison, who was also celebrating her 19th birthday, put her finger on the issue. If this scheme goes ahead surely we are going to lose 24 minutes a day. If so I might miss my entire birthday next year. That’s really mean.’
A closer examination of the legislation confirms Ms Morrison’s fears. ‘Is has been calculated that the net effect of the Effective Time Initiative is the annual period designated as 2011 will consist of 359 days,’ states the text. ‘As a result Christmas Day will be the last day of the year and re-branded New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day 2012 will start six days earlier than usual on Boxing Day 2011.’