HC Deb 21 December 1976 vol 923 cc131-2W
Mr. Graham Page

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends to make an order removing the confusion to which the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments called attention in its 29th Report of last Session (HC 54-xli), caused by the failure of the Corn Returns Act 1882 (Amendment of Units) Order 1976 to make explicit the need in the recalculation of prices to recalculate averages antedaing the change from the ton, which is 2,240 imperial standard pounds, to the metric tonne, which is 1,000 kilograms.

Mr. Bishop,

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 13th December 1976; Vol. 922, c. 578–9], gave the following information:

No. What the right hon. Member suggests is beyond the powers conferred by Section 17 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1972, under which both the revoked 1972 order and the 1976 order were made. It was for this reason that the precedent of the 1972 order in this respect was not followed in drafting the 1976 order. Section 17 of the 1972 Act does contain power to modify subsections (4) and (5) of Section 9 of the Corn Returns Act 1882 so far as may be considered appropriate in consequence of any provision of an order made under that section, but those subsections of the 1882 Act were drafted so as to apply whatever units of weight are used and I therefore do not consider that they stand in need of modification.

As the right hon. Member knows, the 1976 order was made in implementation of the metrication policy pursued by successive Administrations. No confusion is likely to arise, since new metricated forms of corn return were introduced to facilitate compliance with the requirement for returns to be made in metric tonnes. The only persons concerned with the recalculation of averages originally computed on the old basis are the officers who have the duty of officially publishing the weekly, quarterly, annual and septennial average prices. I am satisfied that they understand the need for conversion of averages computed by reference to imperial tons into averages computed by reference to metric tonnes.

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