25th February 2022

Caution urged on imperial markings

CTSI has expressed concerns over the potential reintroduction of imperial measurements.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
CTSI believes the proposal risks creating additional complexities for business and consumers

Following an announcement that the Government intends to study the economic impacts of reintroducing imperial markings, CTSI is warning against the potential risks involved.

There are several concerns about the reintroduction of imperial units among the trading standards profession, which regulates weights and measures. These include questions about trading standards service capacity to enforce new regulations due to the 50% budget cuts experienced over the past decade. There would also be demands for new consumer education about the units, which have not been taught as primary units of measurement in school curriculums since 1974.

CTSI called for a full consultation and impact assessment on this matter in September last year. It welcomed the opportunity to provide the necessary expert opinion from the trading standards profession for any study into the issue.

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “While we recognise the UK Government’s desire to identify opportunities afforded by the exit from the EU and also the importance of business and consumer choice, it is important that we look at the realities of implementation, enforcement, and their impact on consumers, business and the economy as a whole. This is why CTSI called for a consultation last September, and why we welcome the opportunity to inform the study.

“CTSI believes the proposal risks creating additional complexities for business and consumers, creating uncertainty in the economy which undermines the Government’s goals for economic growth. Our considered view is that it is better to focus on ensuring stability in the marketplace for businesses and consumers than focus on the unit measures under which goods are sold. This would be a better route to supporting market growth rather than risk creating confusion and additional costs at multiple levels.”



5 responses to “Caution urged on imperial markings”

  1. David Jolly says:

    I am in total agreement that we need to urge caution on imperial markings. It took a rather long time to convert from imperial to metric before and indeed people were prosecuted for not complying with metric selling. This generation of school children since the 1970’s has been taught in metric, indeed most of the current generation won’t know what pounds, ounces, yards and inches are, except for us old fogies. I am an ex TSO.

  2. janice Uttley says:

    Some Imperial measurements are still in use in the UK. Miles for road signs for example. One of the reasons they were left in use was the huge cost that would be incurred to change to Kilometres. It would be a retrograde step to even consider reverting to the old Imperial measures. Anyone under 50 is now totally unfamiliar with the old imperial system and would find it confusing. It would incur unnecessary costs in education, in business, and enforcement. (Where is the weighing and measuring equipment going to come from? and at what cost? To make the relatively small quantities required and have them validated will be uneconomic.) It would have detrimental trading implications as virtually no other country in the world uses the system (The US system has different values for nominally the same units so this is even more confusing). Yes the ‘old’ system has historic and sentimental value let’s remember it as such.

  3. Michael Potter, Retired Member says:

    Miles on road signs, we can add to that pints in pubs.
    I was recently asked for my weight, I said 10 stone 4 pounds, that received a blank stare! I didn’t convert it very quickly.

  4. Phil Thomas says:

    The benefits of Brexit are so opaque that the govt is clutching at straws like imperial measures to show something positive (not that it is!).

  5. Martin Vlietstra says:

    @Michael Potter. You said that you weigh 10st 4 lbs. Without using an app on your mobile or you laptop, how would you set about calculating your BMI? Also, if you were given the weights of each of the forwards on the England Rugby team in stones and pounds, are you able to calculate their average weight?

    Both problems are a lot simpler in kilogram.

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