HC Deb 01 May 1820 vol 1 cc47-8
Mr. H. Sumner

adverted to the great inconveniences under which the county of Surrey laboured, owing to the varying and uncertain state of weights and measures. He said that the city of London had formerly felt the great inconvenience and disadvantage of a similar state of things, and conceived that, acting under their own authority, they were capable of subdividing the standard measure in the Exchequer, and and of making those subdivisions the standards of weights and measures within their jurisdiction. Now, the county of Surrey having no means of obtaining that standard exchequer measure, took its own standard from that of the city of London, and nothing could be executed with more apparent accuracy than these weights and measures of the county were. But the county was immediately convicted for having so done, and now laboured under the state of one using weights and measures no longer established by law; the consequence was, that the public were liable to be defrauded to any excess without any possibility of redress. At the time when he first brought this subject under the notice of parliament, he gave notice that he should move for leave to bring in a bill in order to remedy so great and manifest an inconvenience; but the chancellor of the exchequer, on that occasion, seemed to wish that he should suspend such a measure, seeing that a committee had been already appointed to inquire into matters of this kind; and to intimate, that some general bill relative to weights and measures would be introduced by his majesty's ministers. Thus the case had stood two years; and though he was perfectly aware that the labours of the committee had been greatly retarded in consequence of investigating new specimens of bank notes, yet he thought it time that some definitive information on the subject should be afforded: and his object in now rising was to ask the chancellor of the exchequer whether the labours of that committee were concluded, or whether in consequence of their investigation it was his intention to introduce any general measure relative to establishing a standard of weights and measures.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was not entirely prepared to answer the question of the hon. gentleman. The subject was one which had long occupied the attention of his majesty's ministers. He was quite aware of its importance, but he apprehended that no general meausre could be brought in during the present session; some preliminary steps, however, might be taken.