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Tag ‘metrication’

Acres outlawed by Brussels

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Rolling acres are outlawed by Brussels (The Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2008, p1)
The acre, one of Britain’s historic imperial measurements, is to be banned under a new European directive.  It will no longer be allowed in measurements when land is being registered and will be replaced by the hectare – 2.471 acres.

Acreshaker – EU meddlers sneak in a ban on our historic land measure (The Sun, 21 July 2008, p6 and p8)
EU chiefs have secretly BANNED Britain from using the acre – one of our oldest forms of measurement. Ministers killed it off when they put up no objection to a European Commission directive outlawing its use…… British farmers and estate agents will have to use the word “hectare” from January 1, 2010.

Now the EU is to ban the acre (Daily Express, 21 July 2008, p10 and p12)
The acre is set to be banned after the EU announced that Labour has agreed to the abolition of yet another part of the British way of life. The Government’s surrender – buried in the small print of an EU document last week – would also make it more likely that rules will be removed from road signs in favour of the kilometre.

After 800 years, the acre is history (Daily Mail, 22 July 2008, p17)
The use of an ancient British imperial measurement – the acre – is to be restricted under a new EU ruling.  It will no longer be allowed for land registration from 2010 and will be replaced by the metric equivalent, the hectare.

 Brussels, stay off our little patch of land (The Times, 22 July 2008, p24)
…. Brussels now insists that the acre is one anachronism too far.  From 2010, the word must no longer be mentioned.  From 2010, the word must no longer be mentioned.

Contrary to the “acres” of press coverage, the EU has not banned this unit of measurement.
Legislation being brought in to safeguard the use of the mile and the pint simply removes the exemption for the use of acres in land registry to reflect current UK practice.

The Land Registry has worked in hectares since 1995.

Hectares have also routinely been used for the past 20 years by the UK government in dealings with farmers.
Private landowners advertising the size of their land can continue to do so but must give the equivalent in hectares, as has been the case for more than a decade.

Pinta and loaf under threat

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Eurocrats in push to pull the plug on the pinta (Daily Mail 30 January 2006)
The traditional pinta is under threat from the EU which wants to replace it with litre and half-litre bottles. Milk is one of a number of staples Brussels wants put in standardised metric packages. Bread, sugar, butter and rice are also being targeted.

No pints? Dairy me (The Sun 30 January 2006)
Meddling Brussels Eurocrats want to ban the traditional British pinta and replace it with metric sizes.

Pint-sized EU upstarts (Daily Express 30 January 2006)
We must save our pinta. The EU bureaucrats think we should quaff our milk, and beer, in litres and half litres. […]The Daily Express has news for them. In Britain, we have been happy with pints, miles an hour and feet and inches for hundreds of years – and no one is confused.

Also in: 
Sunday Times 29 January 2006
Daily Mirror 2 February
Birmingham Post 3 February
Yorkshire Post 3 February

Well, it looks like the press is confused, anyway! The European Commission is in favour of keeping the British pint and loaf.
Under a new drive against red tape, the Commission wants to repeal a number of useless European laws leaving businesses free to decide what kind of packaging to use for goods such as the pint and loaf. The confusion arose when the European Parliament wanted to introduce standard sizes for milk packaging. However, an amendment allows for the use of both metric and imperial measurements. Bread packaging will continue to be governed by national law.
As unelected, barmy Eurocrats we at the Commission cannot decide these things alone. The elected representatives in the European Parliament, including those from the UK, form part of the decision-making process. They voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal to simplify the existing rules on package sizes European Parliament press release on 2 February 2006. And even if the majority had wanted to introduce standard sizes for products like milk and bread, this could not happen without the agreement of the UK Government.
So the loaf and pinta are here to stay, protected and not threatened by the European Union’s rules.

(See also BBC Online about the pinta saga, with Head of European Commission Representation in the UK Reijo Kemppinen’s comment:

EU imposes metric measurements on UK

Wednesday, 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.

Delicacies must be sold in quantities over one and a quarter pounds

Friday, January 13th, 1995

Myth: Brussels has ensured that anyone trying to buy delicacies weighing less then one and a quarter ounces cannot do so, and that retailers found to be breaking the law are up for prosecution.
Source: The Times, letters page (13 January 1995)

Response: This has little to do with Brussels.

Although there is a measure approximating laws across the EU on non-automatic weighing instruments, this was aimed primarily at the weighing of pharmaceuticals and precious metals.

In implementing the Directive, the Department of Trade and Industry supplemented it to deal with certain conditons of use, one of which disallowed the weighing of items on machines below their minimum capacity. Extended it to the retail sector, this measure is shortly to be repealed, but will still apply to precious metals and pharmaceuticals.

It should be noticed that this supplemtary measure was purely national and was not catered for by the original EU Directive.

Brussels rules on serving wine by the glass?

Saturday, December 24th, 1994

Myth: Brussels is responsible for a new law forcing hotels and restaurants to serve wine by the glass only in quantities of 125ml or 175ml, or multiples. Wliatsmore each glass has to be lined, with a government-approved stamp, or be served with a government-approved stamped optic.
Source: Financial Times (24 December 1994)

Response: There is absolutely no European legislation which would have any effect on the amounts of alcohol to be served in pubs, bars and so on. This is entirely a matter for the UK Government. The relevant UK legislation is in fact the Weights and Measures (Various Foods) (Amendment) Order 1990, which came into effect on 1 January 1995.

Note for editors:
This story ought not be confused with EU legislation on units of measurement, due to come into effect in the UK this year (see our myth series no. 107). This deals with the way that units of measurement are expressed, and marks the move away from the imperial to the metric system.

Brussels bans pints of shandy

Monday, November 21st, 1994

Statement: As from 1 October 1995 it will be a criminal offence for a pub to sell mixed drinks such as shandy in a pint.
Source: The Publican (21 November 1994), Sunday Telegraph (27 November 1994)

Response: Not true. Almost every country in the developed world has adopted the International System of unit measurements (the so-called “metric system”). In 1970 Member States’ national systems were harmonised and with the accession of the UK and Ireland in 1973 a period was granted so that a smooth transition could be made. As it happens the UK was already carrying out its metrification programme at the time. Under Community law (89/617/EEC) the UK’s transition period ends on 31 December 1994, after which the UK needs to have switched over from imperial units. However the Government successfully sought a derogation for the use of the unit “pint” when serving draught beer and draught cider in pubs.

Shandy, then, will technically be allowed to be sold in a pint, but not be called a pint. However UK authorities have said they will offer advice on the rules rather than interpreting them very strictly. This is a decision for the relevant British authorities, just as it would be if they were to declare shandy sold in a pint a criminal offence.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

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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