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Standards Commission, 1870

Volume 218: debated on Monday 23 March 1874

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asked, If it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce any measure for carrying out any portion of the recommendations of the Report of the Standards Commission, 1870, and said, that at the close of last Session he called the attention of the late Government to the subject. In 1870, the Commission, to which he had the honour to belong, issued its last Report. No steps having been taken since that time by the Executive Government, which was occupied by subjects more exciting, he thought that, after an interval of three years, it was desirable to learn whether the matter had been in any way under consideration, and if the Board of Trade, to which Department the subject belonged, were prepared to adopt all or any of the suggestions of the Report as a basis of action. Last year he was informed that a Bill had been partially prepared—though it was not, as he understood, of so extensive a character as the Commissioners had recommended. The Bill was promised at an early stage of the present Session; but of course the undertakings of the late Board of Trade were not binding on their successors. He presumed that a Bill or a skeleton of a Bill on this subject had been found in the pigeon-holes of the Department, and he trusted that the Board had determined to proceed with such a measure at once. The Royal Commission had recommended, among other matters, the voluntary use of the metric system, and, as a corollary, the abolition of Troy weight, to avoid the inconvenience of three different systems of weights and measures being in use simultaneously. They further recommended that the verification of weights and measures, which was a scientific matter, and their inspection, which was a police matter, which had been united in 1885, should be separated, and the latter placed entirely in the hands of the police. Under the present system the Inspector was appointed by the Town Councils, which consisted of the very persons whoso weights and measures he had to examine; and it was proposed that the power of appointing the Inspectors should be transferred to the county magistrates, except in the case of very largo towns, the corporations of which were above suspicion. It should not be forgotten that the honesty of trade and the protection of the poor were matters of Imperial, and not merely of parochial, interest, and he trusted that the Government, which had a large majority in both Houses, and which was under no necessity to undertake sensational legislation, would give its attention to measures of this kind, which would be extremely beneficial to a great number of our less wealthy fellow-subjects,

, in reply, had to inform the noble Lord that the portion of the Report of the Standards Commission which related to the verification and inspection of weights and measures was at present under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. If the noble Lord would repeat his Question after Easter, he should be in a position to state what the views of Her Majesty's Government on the subject were.