HC Deb 01 July 1868 vol 193 cc425-6

Order for Committee read.


said, that before moving that the Order be discharged, he wished to call the attention of the House and of the Government to the present anomalous state of the law. The late Government opposed a Bill brought in by his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (MR. Ewart) for the adoption of the system of metric weights and measures; but being defeated by a large majority, they agreed to bring in a Bill permitting the use of metric weights and measures. Persons, however, who were found using them were prosecuted for having these measures in their possession. The case was laid before the Law Officers of the Crown, who held that it was lawful, according to this Act, to use metric weights and measures, but that if a person were found in possession of them he would be liable to be prosecuted. His hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (MR. Ewart) thereupon brought in a Bill enacting that the metric system of metric weights and measures should be adopted in this country. A large majority had affirmed the second reading of his hon. Friend's Bill, and he must do the present Government the justice to say that they had heartily supported the measure. It was, however, necessary that proper metric standards should be provided to verify these weights and measures, and the Government had appointed a Royal Commission to consider the question. Next year he hoped the Government would bring in a Bill and carry this great question to a successful issue. Countries containing a population of no less than 270,000,000 had adopted the metric system of weights and measures, and only a few days ago the King of Prussia congratulated his Parliament upon the adoption of this system throughout the whole of Germany. The Parliament of Prussia, on its part, had moved the Government to take into its consideration the best means of carrying into effect an international system of monies as well as weights and measures. He moved that the Order of the Day be now discharged.


denied that the division on the second reading was a proof of the general feeling on the subject. It was one of those political contrivances by which both parties—the Government and the Opposition—had avoided au issue which neither wished to encounter. The second reading was affirmed on the understanding that the measure was not to proceed further. Practical men in the country were largely protesting against the inconvenience which the adoption of the system would entail.


reminded the hon. Member that that was not the time to discuss the merits of the measure.

Order discharged.

Bill withdrawn.