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EU imposes metric measurements on UK

January 17th, 2001

“Pints next” (Daily Star, 17 January 2001, page 8)
The British pint could be BANNED if greengrocer Steve Thoburn loses his fight to flog fruit and veg by the pound… The same Euro law that means market traders must use metric instead of imperial scales could outlaw the traditional booze measure too. That means pubs across the country would have to start selling ale by the litre.

“Queen obeys Europe and adopts metric rule” (The Daily Telegraph, 20 August 2001, page 5)
The Queen has been told that the Sandringham Estate must stop selling wood in imperial measures within two weeks or trading standards officers will prosecute. The Sandringham sawmill, on the Queen’s Norfolk estate, has been selling oak and teak timber in feet and inches rather than metres, which is a criminal offence under EC metrication laws.

Metrication in the UK is not the result of British membership of the EU. In 1965, eight years before joining the EEC, the Wilson Government decided to initiate the UK’s metrication programme, in response to global moves in this direction – Ireland and all Commonwealth countries had already adopted the metric system. The transition has been a gradual one but, for almost three decades now, children in British schools have enjoyed a metric-only education.
Metric units of measurement are now used for most transactions regulated by the Weights and Measures Act 1985. From 1 January 2000, goods sold loose by weight (mainly fresh foods) are required to be sold in grams and kilograms. It is not a criminal offence to sell goods in imperial. Traders are allowed to display weights and prices in both imperial and metric but not in imperial only. Consumers can continue to express the quantity they wish to buy in pounds and ounces. The directive was agreed by the UK Government of the day and the implementing legislation was approved by Parliament in Westminster.

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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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