Tuesday, 16 December 2008

David Williams welcomes the saving of the pint and the mile

The future of the pint of beer and the mile have been secured, after the Government's victory in removing European legislation that would have required the UK to sell beer in litres and measure road traffic distances in kilometres.

Legislation agreed by the European Parliament will allow the UK to continue its use of the mile for roads, the pint for draught beer, cider and bottled milk, and the troy ounce for precious metals. The opt out has been granted indefinitely.

The Government has also secured the future use of imperial units for all other uses, provided they are used alongside metric equivalents - in the form of dual labelling.

David Williams, Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Crewe and Nantwich, said, "We like our pint and our mile. We should be able to use the measures we are most familiar with, and now we can be sure that we will continue to do so.

"The Government made strong arguments for the UK's right to carry on using pints and miles and maintaining dual metric and imperial labelling. I know how important this is to the British people and businesses and we are grateful for the Commission's support".

The European Parliament has agreed a proposal to update the Directive on Units of Measurement (Directive 80/181/EC) to remove the 2009 deadline for the end of supplementary indications (i.e. the use of imperial alongside metric) and to allow the UK to decide the future use of the mile for road traffic, the pint for draught beer and cider and bottled milk and the troy ounce for precious metals.

The European Council agreed this text on 18th November. The new Directive is expected to be formally signed early next year.

The UK took the decision in 1965 to adopt the metric system in stages, in response to the adoption of metric as the international system of measurement worldwide. The country is now substantially metric - the vast majority of goods are subject to the Weights and Measures Act 1985 so must be sold in metric - the only exceptions are doorstep milk, draught beer/cider and precious metals.

Dual labelling in both metric and imperial is permitted, in recognition that there remain a number of people in the UK who are more familiar with or prefer to use the imperial system of measurement.

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