HC Deb 24 May 1965 vol 713 cc32-3W
Mr. Horner

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the adoption in Great Britain of metric weights and measures.

Mr. Jay

The Government are impressed with the case which has been put to them by the representatives of industry for the wider use in British industry of the metric system of weights and measures. Countries using that system now take more than one-half of our exports; and the total proportion of world trade conducted in terms of metric units will no doubt continue to increase. Against that background the Government consider it desirable that British industries on a broadening front should adopt metric units, sector by sector, until that system can become in time the primary system of weights and measures for the country as a whole.

One necessary condition for advances in this field will be the provision of metric standards, wherever possible internationally recognised, which will enable particular sectors of industry to work in metric units. The Government have therefore asked the British Standards Institution—and the Institution have agreed—to pay special attention to this work and to press on with it as speedily as possible. The Government will, of course, take this new commitment into account in determining the amount of future grants-in-aid to the Institution. We are also considering how we can best encourage the educational work to familiarise future school generations and students in technological establishments with working in terms of metric units.

We shall also encourage the change to the metric system as and when this becomes practicable for particular industries, by seeking to arrange that tenders for procurement by the Government and other public authorities shall be in terms of metric specifications.

Practical difficulties attending the change-over will, of course, mean that this process must be gradual; but the Government hope that within ten years the greater part of the country's industry will have effected the change. To this end they propose to establish a small standing joint committee of representatives of Government Departments and industry to facilitate the removal of obstacles and to keep under constant review the progress which is being achieved.

The Government will keep in touch with Commonwealth Governments on this matter.

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