HC Deb 18 February 1867 vol 185 c466

said, he would beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether it is the fact that the Standards of Weights and Measures have been in use for forty years without re-adjustment, and whether such re-adjustment is intended, and when; and what notice will be given to the public thereof?


said, in reply, that the official standards of weight and length have been in use since 1825, or forty-two years, and the standards of capacity since 1834, or thirty-three years, without re-adjustment. No legal provision was made for their comparison and re-verification until the passing of the Standards Act of last Session, by which it was provided that the Board of Trade should cause such comparison to be made as soon as conveniently might be after the passing of the Act, and afterwards, once at least in every five years, and the standards to be adjusted or renewed if requisite. It is intended that this provision shall be carried out under high scientific superintendence, and for this purpose to re-appoint the Standards Commission, the members of which have expressed willingness to serve. All the preliminary steps have been already taken for these objects, and the actual comparison of the standards is now being proceeded with in the Standards Department. The weights have been tested, and it may be satisfactory to state that their actual errors are, generally speaking, so small as to be hardly appreciable, except with very fine balances; the 56 lb. weight is the most defective, and that varies only about a 30000th part, that is, thirteen grains in 392,000 grains. The adjustment or renewal of the standards will necessarily occupy some time after the appointment of the Commission, but due notice will be given when the whole work is completed.