HC Deb 07 February 1977 vol 925 cc1043-4
22. Mr. Robert Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when he will make a statement about further progress in metrication.

Mr. John Fraser

As I said in reply to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on 20th January, I hope to make a report to Parliament on the subject of metrication before Easter.

Mr. Edwards

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does not he agree, however, that it is rather a negative one? Is there any programme for phasing out imperial measures? What steps is he taking to protect the consumer from having to shoulder the whole burden of the cost of this transformation?

Mr. Fraser

I am sorry that my reply was somewhat negative. I undertook, on Second Reading of the Weights and Measures Bill, to have as much consultation as possible and to link the process of metrication as closely as possible to consumer protection. That process is going on, and I hope before Easter to publish in tentative form the results of the consultations so that I can be guided by the House and by opinion outside as to the pace of metrication.

Sir John Hall

As the hon. Gentleman has now had some experience of conversion to metrication, can he estimate how much it will cost the nation?

Mr. Fraser

It has not been possible in any country to estimate the total cost of going metric, but I believe that in the long term there is a benefit and not a cost.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

When we went decimal, many peeple were done out of a lot of money. Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that the same thing will not happen when going metric?

Mr. Fraser

I do not want to reflect on decimalisation, but I can give an assurance that I shall monitor very closely any changes to metric quantities to ensure both the maximum degree of consumer protection and that during the change metrication does not fall into disrepute.