Last Updated: 30 December 2010
Created: 30 December 2010
This week I was delighted to support a bill to create an extra bank holiday for St George’s Day in England and for St David’s Day in Wales. Having bank holidays on these saints’ days will help us celebrate what makes our nation so great. These will be days on which we can be even more proud of all the best aspects of English and Welsh culture and society. Making St George’s and St David’s days official bank holidays celebrated by the nation will also go a long way towards reclaiming our symbols of patriotism from the fringe extreme right, who have attempted to hijack them in recent years.
Straight away, let’s tackle head-on the argument that’s often put forward against the idea of extra bank holidays: that it would be bad for our economy. For years I owned a small business in Swindon, and much of my work as an MP involves supporting and promoting our local businesses, so I would never do anything which I thought would harm the local economy. I totally reject the idea that having one extra bank holiday will affect our productivity. The whole concept of work has changed. For many people, it’s no longer about turning up at a particular time and then leaving at another fixed hour, so an extra bank holiday will have very little impact. Working people in all walks of life will get their work done regardless of a new bank holiday.
It would also give a welcome boost to our leisure and tourism industries, as well as to local pubs, who would no doubt attract many people who wish to toast St George and St David!
Let’s look at England’s position in the bank holiday league tables. We currently have only 8 bank holidays a year, as opposed to 11 in France and 12 in Germany. Even the notoriously hardworking Americans have 13 Bank Holidays a year. England and Wales are also lagging behind our closest neighbours. St Patrick’s Day has been a bank holiday in the Republic of Ireland since 1903, and St Andrew’s Day has been a bank holiday in Scotland since 2007.
A recent opinion poll has also found strong support for the proposal, with 68% of people believing that it would be appropriate for the UK to have at least 9 bank holidays a year. Additionally, of the various potential calendar occasions for a new bank holiday, St George’s Day was most popular.
Both Robert Buckland and myself are supporting the idea, so let’s hope enough fellow MPs do the same and we can soon be celebrating St George and St David in the manner they both deserve!