Skip to main content


Volume 980: debated on Monday 3 March 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied with the progress currently being made towards metrication.

Yes. The voluntary approach will enable industries to complete the change to metric working as and when it is most appropriate for them to do so.

Does the Minister agree that the lack of decisiveness on the part of the Government means that we are having the worst of both worlds? Does he not realise that we shall be half metric and half non-metric for years to come, and that, except for the schools that have changed to metric working, we shall have a mixed system? Do the Government really want to go down in history as the first Government who tried to work out how many centimetres there were in a rod, pole or perch?

The Government's policy is clear. There is no impediment to any firm changing to metric working when it chooses. That decision is a matter for its commercial judgment, taking estimated costs and benefits into account. Costs are often critically dependent on the timetable adopted, because machines, equipment and working practices have to be altered or scrapped.

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that we shall keep the pint, the yard and the mile?

My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that Parliament need not make further decisions on these important matters until 1989.

Does not industry take the view that a voluntary change to metrication is best accompanied by an order made by the Government, with the agreement of industry and consumers setting a date so that the whole of trade or industry can work together towards an orderly and planned change?

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it is necessary for industry itself to agree that date. As I understand it, there is no legal impediment to prevent industry from coming forward with voluntary proposals, choosing whatever date it wishes to adopt.

Does that mean that if industry agrees a date the Government will make the appropriate order?

If there is agreement, and if industry works within that agreement, that will solve the problem.