Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A weighty issue

Lots of talk today about imperial measurements being 'saved', which I thought I would just clarify. It's not the most simple of topics and, being rather new to the debate, it's taken me a bit of time to gather the information. The main point it that it is still illegal to sell goods in imperial measurements. Your butcher cannot sell you a pound of sausages, he has to sell you it in metric.
The claims in the papers are regarding a derogation on supplementary indicators. From 31st December 2009 it was going to be illegal for shops etc. to include the price of things in imperial as well as metric, but now that has been dropped, although the Commission and the DTI are yet to make an official statement on it.

What has rather irritated me, as I pointed out in the post below, is the Tories jumping up and down about how they are the St George to the imperialist virgin. They aren't.

If we have a little look at Hansard from the 11th April 1989 we can see that it was none other than the current Conservative Party Chairman St Francis of Maastricht who brought in yet more measures about metrification.

European Community (Weights and Measures)

10.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Corporate Affairs (Mr. Francis Maude) : I beg to move

That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 4102/89 on units of measurement ; and welcomes the proposals as providing adequate transitional periods to enable businesses and consumers to adapt and become used to the new measurements. In 1965 the then Government announced their support to encourage the adoption of metric units as the primary system for weights and measures in the United Kingdom.

That was a decision taken for purely domestic reasons, in response to urging by the CBI and others ; it had nothing to do then with possible membership of the European Community. In 1971 the then member states of the Community adopted a directive which established the sole use of the metric system throughout the Community. When the United Kingdom and Ireland acceded to the Community the Government accepted that eventually the metric system should be the only system to be used.

In consequence, a White Paper on metrication was published in 1972. It stated that all practicable progress towards the full use of the metric system should be made within the next few years, in the interests of economic prosperity. This led to the education system moving to the use of metric units in 1974. As a result, 11 million children since then have been taught only in the metric system.

he goes on:
Under the present weights and measures legislation, which has been in existence, subject to amendment from time to time, for a long time, it is, and has been for many years, a criminal offence to sell goods in measures which are not authorised under the legislation

Which does rather make a mockery of the statement by Giles Chichester MEP that:
The threat to miles, yards and pints is off the agenda after Giles Chichester MEP, Conservative Industry Spokesman, got confirmation from Industry Commissioner Verheugen that "dual marking" of goods in imperial and metric will 'continue indefinitely'.

I'm still smelling that anyone else?
Giles Chichester says: "After saving the crown on the British pint, I am happy the Conservatives have persuaded the Commission that it is good not only for international business but for the British people that traditional measurements are kept. I just hope there won't be any more need for metric martyrs and that the government will avoid forcing metrication down the public's throat."

But you don't mention that it's still illegal to sell in imperial? Still trying to convince your voters that you're eurosceptic, are you? You're an embarrassment to the nation, Giles, and I hope you and your cronies are thoroughly ashamed of yourself. I also hope you don't get elected in 2009 and you have to find a job in the real world. One that then gets shut down because of all the harmful EU legislation that you and your other MEP colleagues have helped to bring about to justify your own existence.

Shame on you.


Chip Dale said...

Excellent points, Trixy. I make all my important measurements by the inch and always will.

james higham said...

Seems to me, Trixy, the essential thing we have to look out for here is what it does for shoe sizes.