Metrication Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Prices and Consumer Protection – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 1976.

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Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Approximately £4½ million since the board was established in 1969.

Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham

Will the Government now take a close look at the Metrication Board to see whether it can be pruned or, preferably, axed altogether? Would it not be best now to end the obsessive dogmatic attachment to total metrication and instead to operate both systems of measurement?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

It would be a great disservice, particuarly to many millions of children who have been educated in the metric system, if we were to maintain a dual system of measurement. The best way is to proceed with our Weights and Measures, &c. (No. 2) Bill and adequately to consult consumers, linking this with consumer protection, eventually having one unconfusing system.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

Following the experience gained from the partial conversion to metrication, may I ask whether the Government are now in a position to give an estimate of the total cost to the country of converting to metrication?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I cannot give an accurate figure, but the cost is not as high as some have made out. It is possibly no greater than the cost of not completing the metrication programme.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Bain Mrs Margaret Bain , Dunbartonshire East

Can the Minister say whether he has persuaded his own Back Benchers that it is right to allow us to debate this question, so that we may end the uncertainty not only in education but among business men and manufacturers of products who are uncertain about what they should do?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her comments. I hope that we shall have the chance to debate these matters next week.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

Apart from the demands coming from schoolchildren about metrication, can my hon. Friend tell the House what other quarters are making such representations to him? Is he aware that I have made inquiries in industry recently and have found that there is little demand for a move in this direction?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

The Weights and Measures, &c. (No. 2) Bill, which has now passed all its stages in the House of Lords, has the support of many responsible consumer organisations in the country, including the National Consumer Council.