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Sugar (Metrication)

Volume 914: debated on Monday 5 July 1976

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what steps the Government propose to take to protect consumers during the period when retail packs of sugar are being converted to metric amounts.

Metric packs of granulated sugar will start to appear in shops from now on and they should be generally on sale by the end of August, although imperial packs will not finally disappear until some time later. The new packs will have to be distinctively marked with the words METRIC PACK and to be marked in both metric and imperial. For example, the 1 kg pack will be marked 1 kg 2ยท2 lb. Industry also intends to mark packs with helpful information on metrication. Metrication will not lead to any increase in the unit price but prices will in some cases need to be rounded to the nearest halfpenny.United Kingdom refiners have told me they will marginally round down their prices when they go metric. I hope retailers will do the same and I have no doubt that many retailers will find it necessary for competitive reasons to do so. I shall be asking the Retail Consortium to draw this statement to the attention of its members.The Government were concerned lest there was a rise in the retail price of sugar during the early stages of the metric changeover, arising from the EEC sugar intervention price. However, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture on 1st July, this is only one of the factors affecting price and the refiners expect to hold their present prices until at least the end of August, even though the increase in EEC intervention price takes effect from 1st July.Finally, the Government have now made a reference to the Price Commission requiring it to keep under continuous review the effect of metrication on retail prices. This general reference has been made at the present time with sugar specifically in mind, though it will of course be a continuing reference under which the prices of other products can be reviewed as the change over to metric quantities proceeds.