HL Deb 29 July 1872 vol 213 cc34-5

asked Her Majesty's Government, What Instructions are to be given to the English Representatives at the International Congress summoned by Prance on the Metrical System of Weights and Measures? He expressed a hope that these instructions would not be such as to encourage any hope of our adopting the metrical system. It was usually said that the metrical system was scientific, while our own was arbitrary; but the metrical system really rested on a basis which was arbitrary too. The truth was that that system of weights and measures was best with which the public were most familiar, and mere scientific accuracy would never compensate for the inconvenience which would be suffered by all classes in this country from a change of system. Moreover, it was unreasonable on the part of the French to ask us to give up our system of weights and measures for theirs, considering the vastly greater area and population of Anglo-Saxon territory, and the rapid spread of the Anglo-Saxon race and tongue. That being so, the French had no more right to ask us to adopt their weights and measures than they had to ask us to adopt their drama, their novels, or their revolutions.


said, that in 1870 the Astronomer Royal, the Warden of the Stannaries, and Professor Miller were sent to Paris to attend the International Congress. They arrived in August, but the War, of course, put a stop to everything. In April of this year the same gentlemen went over again, and would return in September. They were sent to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners on Weights and Measures, the object being to assimilate our metrical system to that of the French. The noble Duke would remember that the metrical system was legalized in England nearly 10 years ago, and being legalized here, it was important that it should be the same as that existing in France and other countries. There was not much danger, however, that the metrical system would supersede our own weights and measures, and he (Earl Cowper) believed that, though legalized in England, it had never been used by anybody.

House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, Eleven o'clock.