Ed Davies quotes: > # Lord Howie of Troon: I do not want to irritate my noble friend, > # but I am under the impression that the state of Arizona has a time > # zone which might be called eastern mountain time or some such, but > # the Navaho reservation, which consists of something like 20 per > # cent. of the top right-hand corner of Arizona has its own time > # zone. So it can be done. However, I mention this point only to > # confuse the issue! All I am saying is that it can be done--but > # it should not be done in this case.
A clarification from a resident: Arizona lies within the Mountain time zone (the mountains in question are the Rockies which extend N-S from Mexico into Canada). As is likely clear to the rest of the world given the current administration, a key issue in American politics is states rights. In regards to this issue, the 50 U.S. states (and several territories and such) retain jurisdiction over questions of time. There would be no discussion in the U.S. Senate corresponding to the fascinating discussion from the U.K. House of Lords because the "devolution" question is already settled. In particular, individual states decide what time zone(s) they occupy and whether to observe Daylight Saving. About a third of the states are split in two by time zones and a few such as Arizona do not observe Daylight Saving. (The last thing we need to save in Arizona is daylight :-) Lord Howie is correct that the Navajo Nation maintains its own jurisdiction over time separate from Arizona. I'm resisting the impulse to interpret the Lord's remarks out of context - there does appear to be the suggestion that legal precedents from the American southwest are unworthy of note. The precise situation is that Arizona and surrounding states are in the Mountain time zone. The majority of the Navajo Reservation lies within Arizona, but it also extends into Utah and New Mexico. Arizona, quite reasonably I might add, chooses not to observe Daylight Saving. The Navajos, quite reasonably, do choose to observe Daylight Saving such that the entire Reservation keeps the same time. The situation is actually more complicated than this. The Hopi Reservation lies entirely within the Navajo Reservation (and entirely within Arizona, as well). The Hopi and the Navajo rarely see eye to eye, and time is no exception. The Hopi - again quite reasonably - choose NOT to observe Daylight Saving. Whether this is because Hopi interests align more with the states's than with their immediate neighbors - or whether this is because time simply has a different meaning when sitting on top of a mesa - it is just a fact that all three of these local jurisdictions have made different choices about their own usage of civil time. What is the underlying timebase for each of these legal entities? The notion of time-of-day, embodied by Greenwich Mean Time, is so ingrained in the population that I doubt you would be able to find an individual working within any of the three governments who would even understand the question without a large amount of discussion. > # Lord Sewel: I am glad that the noble Lord agrees with me that > # what is good for Arizona is not necessarily good for the United > # Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Exactly! That being the case, please tell me how well a unilateral decision to stop delivering time as an approximation to GMT will be received by the hundreds and thousands of local authorities who will suddenly be faced with a worldwide mess caused by an obscure technical standards committee. > 1. At least some of the lawyers have a quite reasonable > understanding of the time scale issues - in particular, > they know the problems with GMT. An educated lawyer is more dangerous than an ignorant one. Lawsuits related to any change in UTC will not just be some effect of an ignorant public - they will occur because of sincere and well educated differences of opinion. Did Ma and Pa die on the same day (or month)? Was a contract null and void because some deadline wasn't met? Did a lame duck president sign a bill before or after vacating his authority? Did the governer's stay of execution arrive in time? Note that these questions are not necessarily tied to a few second (but growing) window at midnight. It wouldn't be too hard to come up with a situation that wraps around a full 24 hours because some midnight deadline has to wait for the next midnight. "You have until midnight today to count the butterfly ballots." "But, yer honer, by the timebase adopted by the county supervisors, it was 13 seconds past midnight when your decision was delivered." A few years ago this might even have seemed absurdly unlikely... Address the full breadth of issues *before* attempting to ram through a distinctly non-unanimous "technical" change in UTC. > 2. The law (1978 Interpretation Act) only sets a default time > scale for use when no other is specified. If you want to > use TDB in writing your will then that's fine. I suspect this is a feature of the law that has never been tested. Imagine a contract that specifies not only a particular obscure timebase, but even a specific clock that must be used to time some contract. English Common Law (the basis for American law we are given to understand) has always seemed to value reasonableness. How will a judge tend to interpret a contract with trivial provisions that might well be seen as corresponding to a public nuisance? > 3. If the government thought the issue was worth dealing with > they already have the outline bill to hand. Somehow I don't find that very comforting. If the proponents of a change to UTC believe such issues to be trivial, then they must believe that it would be trivial to dispose of them. Do us all a favor and invest the trivial amount of effort necessary to convince yourself otherwise. Rob Seaman National Optical Astronomy Observatory