A derogation was obtained for 1999 – 2009 allowing traders to use dual marking (i.e. both metric and imperial measures) for other items. Giles Chichester, industry spokesman in the European Parliament, says that in May 2007 the European Commission informed him that it would propose extending dual marking indefinitely. He comments today:
"Consumers should be able to buy in the measurement of their choice.
Under this law, shoppers will be able to continue using the measurement they prefer. The British government has rightly announced it will take a more balanced approach towards traders who want to sell by the bowl or by the pound, but ministers cannot claim to have led the campaign for a consumer’s right to choose imperial measures.
Conservatives were able to secure a derogation for Imperial measures in the parliament in 1999. It was ultimately the European Commission that listened to Conservative pressure to keep pounds and ounces indefinitely, whilst the British government was still trying to force metrication down our throats.
The Government may be eager to scrap the pound as our currency, but at least we can say we have saved it indefinitely – as a measurement at any rate."
This is good work. The British people feel very strongly about miles, pints and pounds, and even the most ardent europhile should recognise that – indeed such people should realise that the threat to imperial measures undermines support for the European Union project.
However, insisting that traders invariably use dual marking is authoritarian. The best way forward is for the market to lead the way. And it seems likely that demand for imperial measures will remain extremely high. Good luck to the pub that doesn’t offer punters an honest pint!