§ 5 p.m.
§ Lord LYELL rose to move. That the draft order laid before the House on 1407 29th November 1979 be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a small amendment to our weights and measures control over the way in which solid fuel is sold. For many years solid fuel, mainly coal and coke, has been sold in prescribed imperial sizes, the most common sizes being the half hundredweight and the hundredweight sack, though multiples of one hundredweight were, and still are, permitted. The Weights and Measures Etc. Act 1976, introduced by the previous Administration, authorised a parallel range of metric sizes. On the advice of the trade, provision was made for 25 kilogram and 50 kilogram sizes only, overlooking the need for a 100 kilogram size to replace the use of two-hundredweight sacks when solid fuel went metric.
This order, which has the support of all interested parties, simply authorises the use of "multiples of 50 kilogram" sizes. I hasten to add that this is a purely permissive order since, as I said in relation to the milk order, the Government's policy is to have no more compulsory metrication. The coal merchant and, I hope, the consumer, will retain his freedom to buy and sell in imperial or metric sizes. The order simply means that the metric range is as comprehensive as the imperial one.
§ Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 29th November 1979 be approved.—(Lord Lyell.)
§ Lord PONSONBY of SHULBREDE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for explaining this draft order and I am sure people will be pleased to know that it will be possible from 1st January to buy a 100 kilogram sack of French coal. I have always felt it very odd and regrettable that a country such as ours, which has had its industrial past built on coal, should be conceiving a situation when we would be wanting to buy 100 kilogram sacks of coal; but to conform with EEC regulations it is obviously right and necessary that this proposal should be agreed to.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord's comments and I am sure that if he and I could between us lift a 100 kilogram sack of coal we should be very happy.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.