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Units of Measurement Directive 16/08/1999

1. Government laid six statutory instruments before Parliament on 19 July implementing the Units of Measurement Directive (89/617/EEC). Whilst none of the instruments will come into force until debated by Parliament in the autumn, they in effect introduce UK metric provisions in relation to units of measurement, weights and measures and price marking legislation as largely set out in earlier Government consultative documents. It should be noted that the changeover date from imperial to metric units of measurement in use for trade has been deferred to 1 October 1995. Supplementary indications in imperial units will be permitted infinitum.

2. Annexed for information is a copy of the summary document issued by the Department of Trade and Industry at the time of laying the statutory instruments. It is reproduced in full so that local authorities might have a comprehensive understanding of the scope and scale of the metrication changes and their potential impact upon themselves, businesses and consumers. LACOTS continues to discuss the nature of this impact with DTI officials and the potential resource consequences for local enforcement authorities.

3. The statutory instruments available from HMSO:

SI 1851/1994 - The Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments)
Regulations 1994.

SI 1852/1994 - The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods and Quantity

Marking and Abbreviations of Units) (Amendment) Regulations
1994

SI 1853/1994 - The Price Marking (Amendment) Order 1994

Draft - The Units of Measurement Regulations 1994

Draft - The Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment)
Order 1994

Draft - The Weights and Measures (Metrication) (Miscellaneous Goods)
(Amendment) Order 1994.

4. Chief Officers should note that metric conversions of imperial weighing instruments are now likely to commence in greater numbers with the larger retailers particularly targeting a single metric changeover date in each of their stores leading up to 1 October 1995, although goods can continue to be sold loose from bulk until 1 January 2000. Some authorities have already received preliminary approaches from weighing machine companies. Consistency of a verification and inspection approach to the treatment of conversions under the regulations will clearly be important to this changeover period. Over recent months, LACOTS with ITSA, the UK Weighing Federation, the British Retail Consortium and NWML has developed an agreed metric conversion protocol. This will be published imminently as a WM (or supplement) by NWML.

5. The protocol deals with the application of notification procedures, use of inspection tolerances and appropriate occasions for fee paying verifications.

INTRODUCTION

In July 1992 the Department sought the views of interested parties on its proposals for implementing the Units of Measurement Directive 1989 (89/617/EEC) in relation to units of measurement, weights and measures and price marking legislation. In June 1993 a consultation document was issued on price conversion charts. The replies to these two consultations have been taken into account in drawing up the six instruments which were laid before Parliament on 19 July. Annex A sets out their titles and relationship with the July 1992 draft instruments. Annex B briefly summarises their contents. None of these instruments will come into force until they have been debated by Parliament in the Autumn. Copies of all six instruments are available from Her Majesty´s Stationery Office or through booksellers.

2. The main changes to the original proposals are summarised below. The most significant changes concern the timetable for phasing out imperial units (paragraphs 4 and 5), spirit measures (paragraphs 6 and 7), supplementary indications for weighing and measuring equipment (paragraph 11) and price conversion charts as an alternative to dual pricing (paragraph 19).

3. Two further statutory instruments are needed to complete the metrication process. These two instruments concern automatic weighing machines and capacity measures (paragraph 14).

TIMETABLE FOR PHASING OUT IMPERIAL UNITS

4. The legislation referred to at Annex A ends the use for trade of most imperial units from 1 October 1995 other than as supplementary indications (see paragraph 8 below). The main exceptions to this are the pound and ounce for the sale of goods loose from bulk (eg sales of fresh fruit and vegetables) which may be used until 1 January 2000 and the pint for dispensing draught beer and cider and for milk in returnable containers for which no time limit has been specified.

5. The draft legislation circulated in 1992 proposed that the use for trade of most imperial units would not be permitted from 1 January 1995 (other than the exceptions referred to in paragraph 4 above). This date is now less than 5 months away and there is insufficient time for the trade to complete the change over from selling goods in imperial to metric. The draft legislation therefore sets a date of 1 October 1995 for the change over. This means that goods which may, at present, be traded in imperial units may continue to be so traded until this date. In particular, goods which may continue to be sold in imperial units until this date include the following:

a) food pre-packed in variable weights such as cheese and meat;

b) goods sold be length (eg fabric) or area (eg carpets); and

c) petrol, diesel and other liquid fuels.

Goods which are already required to be sold in metric or which are required to be sold in metric at a future date by existing legislation (eg sales of wine by the glass for which controls come into force on 1 January 1995) are not affected.

SPIRIT MEASURES

6. The draft legislation circulated in 1992 included a provision permitting a second metric quantity, namely 35 ml (and multiples of 35 ml), in which gin, rum, vodka and whisky may be sold for consumption on licensed premises. Legislation providing for this was made earlier this month: the relevant statutory instruments are the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) (Amendment) Order 1994 and the Measuring Equipment (Capacity Measures) (Amendment) Regulations 1994. The provisions of this legislation came into force with immediate effect.

7. It should also be noted that one of the effects of phasing out the use for trade of imperial units from 1 October 1995 - referred to in paragraph 5 above - is that optics and thimbles calibrated in imperial units (eg ¼, 1/5 and 1/6 gill) may continue to be used for dispensing spirits other than gin, rum, vodka and whisky and for other drinks until 30 September 1995. The four named spirits will, however, be required to be sold in a quantity of either 25 ml or 35 ml (or in multiples of one or the other) from 1 January 1995: the existing requirement to use only one of the prescribed quantities, or multiples of that quantity, will continue to apply.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES TO JULY 1992 PROPOSALS

The Units of Measurement Regulations 1994

Supplementary Indications

8. A supplementary indication is an indication of quantity expressed in units other than metric units which is used in conjunction with, but is less prominent than, an indication in metric units. The original proposals provided that the use of supplementary indications would not be permitted from 1 January 2000. At the Government´s request, however, the European Commission has undertaken to bring forward a proposal to permit supplementary indications to be used without time limit. Accordingly, the new legislation places no time limit on the use of such supplementary indications.

Definition of imperial units when used as supplementary indications

9. The original proposals deleted references to the yard and pound in section 1(1) of the Weights and Measures Act 1985 in the list of units by reference to which measurement of length and mass shall be made in the UK and deleted the requirement, in section 2 of the Act, for the Secretary of State to maintain physical standards of these units. The Government however wishes to put beyond doubt that the current definitions of imperial units are retained in connection with their use as supplementary indications. Accordingly, the new legislation provides that, rather than deleting the references to imperial units in section 1 and the requirement to retain standards in section 2, section 1(1) shall continue to have effect but only so as to authorise the use of the yard and pound as supplementary indications.

The Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) Order 1994

Capacity measures

10. Although the original proposals did not impose a limit on the maximum size of imperial capacity measures which would be lawful for use for trade from 1 January 1995 (now 1 October 1995), the consultation document asked whether quantities above 16 pints were needed. In the light of the responses received the new Order makes the maximum size of capacity measures 16 pints.

The Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments) Regulations 1994

Supplementary indications for weighing and measuring equipment

11. Provision is now made for weighing and measuring equipment to indicate the quantity by means of a supplementary indication (as defined in paragraph 8 above) subject to approval of design changes where appropriate. For example, a trader may wish shop scales to show the weight of goods in pounds and ounces alongside the predominant indication in kilograms and grams.

Saving for certain equipment using less common imperial units

12. Under the original proposals, amendments were to be made to Schedule 11 to the Weights and Measures Act 1985 to cease to permit the use of certain old equipment which, although using units which had ceased to be authorised at earlier stages in the metrication process (such as the hundredweight and stone), could, in accordance with that Schedule, continue to be used. The use of this old equipment was permitted under a derogation in an earlier Units of Measurement Directive. The Department is now advised however that the terms of the 1989 Units of Measurement Directive do not strictly require that the use of this old equipment to cease, it is now proposed to permit its continued use. As a consequence, revised amendments are made to the Units of Measurement Regulations 1994, the Weights and Measurements Act 1985 and to subordinate legislation made under the Act, principally the Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments) Regulations 1994.

Wholesale transactions

13. The original proposals provided for section 89 of the Weights and Measures 1985 to be repealed. Section 89 permits, provided this is not inconsistent with Schedule 1 in the Act, units of measurement which were customarily used for trade before 31 July 1963 to continue to be used for wholesale transactions even though such units are not included in Parts I to V of Schedule 1 to the 1985 Act (which lists all the legal units of measurement for use for trade). The Department is now advised however that the terms of the 1989 Units of Measurement Directive do not strictly require the repeal of section 89, and the revised legislation does not, therefore, repeal it.

Weights and Measures Regulations 1963

14. The original proposals also contained amendments to the Weights and Measures Regulations 1963 (SI 1963/1710 as amended). This statutory instrument has been extensively changed by many amending instruments and now only covers capacity measures (other than those prescribed by the Capacity Serving Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1988, SI 1988/120) and certain automatic weighing machines. It is now proposed that it should be replaced by two statutory instruments, including all necessary metrication changes, as separate exercises. The first of these two - draft proposals in respect of new legislation for capacity measures - was circulated by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory in a consultation document dated 13 August 1993. The closing date for comments was 16 November 1993, and a number of issues are under consideration before a decision can be announced. The second - covering certain automatic weighing machines - is still in preparation.

The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods and Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) (Amendment) Regulations 1994

Dual marking of pre-packed foods subject to imperial prescribed quantities - sequence of markings

15. Regulation 7 of the Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987/1538 as amended) provides that goods pre-packed in imperial prescribed quantities (jam, marmalade, honey, syrup, ground coffee, potatoes and milk) must be marked with the imperial quantity first followed by the metric quantity (eg 1lb 454g). The original proposals provided for this requirement to remain in place until 31 December 1994 but from 1 January 1995 to require the marking to be the metric quantity only or the metric quantity preceding the imperial quantity.

16. Part 1 of the Schedule to the new draft Regulations revokes with immediate effect the present requirement for the imperial quantity marking to have precedence. Packers will therefore be able to change over to marking a metric quantity followed by an imperial quantity (or a metric quantity only) at any time between the time when the Regulations come into force and 30 September 1995.

The Weights and Measures (Metrication) (Miscellaneous Goods) (Amendment) Order 1994

Pre-packed foods subject to imperial prescribed quantities

17. Schedule 1 to the Weights and Measures (Miscellaneous Foods) Order 1988 (SI 1988/2040 as amended) provides that certain foods must be pre-packed in imperial prescribed quantities only (jam, marmalade, honey and syrup) or in either imperial or metric prescribed quantities (ground coffee, potatoes and milk). The original proposals provided, with effect from 1 January 1995, for the imperial quantities for jam, marmalade, honey and syrup as well as milk in non-returnable containers to be converted to their metric equivalents (milk in returnable containers benefits from a derogation which permits it to be sold in pints) but revoked the imperial quantities for ground coffee and potatoes (the metric quantities for all products would not be amended).

18. The Department issued a consultation document on 28 October 1993 proposing the revocation of all national prescribed quantity legislation to the extent that it is not subject to mandatory EC legislation. The responses to this consultation document are being considered in the context of new proposals expected for EC ranges. In the meantime, the metrication legislation will put into effect the proposals which were issued in 1992, subject to minor changes requested by consultees. These are the additional conversion to metric of the imperial prescribed quantities for ground coffee and an extra quantity for potatoes (750g) and for milk (1.5 litres). All of the changes are due to come into effect on 1 October 1995.

The Price Marking (Amendment) Order 1994

Price conversion charts as an alternative to duel pricing

19. Existing legislation required retailers of food who switched to displaying unit prices in metric units before imperial unit prices were phased out to display an imperial unit price in close proximity to the metric unit price ("Dual pricing"). Following further consultation, the revised Order now provides for retailers to display at least one price conversion chart on their premises as an alternative to dual pricing. The requirement to dual price or to display conversion charts will continue until imperial unit prices are phased out ie up to 30 September 1995 for catchweight pre-packed foods and up to 31 December 1999 for foods sold loose from bulk.

Transition of goods sold from bulk to metric

20. The revised Order now revokes the requirement in the Price Marking Order 1991 for retailers starting to sell any goods from bulk in metric on any premises to sell all such goods in metric on those premises within 28 days. Retailers consider that consumers will be assisted by a process which allows flexibility for example, for a change over from imperial to metric product category by product category over a longer period of time.

ANNEX A

LIST OF INSTRUMENTS LAID BEFORE PARLIAMENT
Instruments laid before Parliament Corresponding draft instruments in July 1992 proposals
1. The Units of Measurement Regulations 1994
2. The Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) (Order) 1994
The draft Units of Measurement Regulations (Annex B)
3. The Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments) Regulations 1994 The draft Weights and Measures (Metrication) Regulations (Annex C)
4. The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods and Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) (Amendment) Regulations 1994 The draft Weights and Measures (Metrication) (2) Regulations (Annex D)
5. The Weights and Measures (Metrication) (Miscellaneous Goods) (Amendment) Order 1994 The draft Weights and Measures (Metrication) Order (Annex E)
6. The Price Marking (Amendment) Order 1994 The draft Price Marking (Metrication) Order (Annex F)


ANNEX B

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS OF INSTRUMENTS LAID BEFORE PARLIAMENT

1. The Units of Measurement Regulations 1994

These Regulations amend the Units of Measurement Regulations 1985 and the Weights and Measures Act 1985. The principal amendments to the Act relate to:

(a) definitions and standards of units of measurements;

(b) prohibition on the use of certain imperial units for weighing and measuring for trade;

(c) controls on transactions in goods (eg selling goods by quantity); and

(d) the amendment of miscellaneous provisions relating to savings for the use of equipment.

2. The Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) Order 1994

This Order amends the Weights and Measures Act 1985. The principal changes it makes are to:

(a) restrict the use of some imperial units for weighing and measuring for trade;

(b) prohibit the use of some imperial measures and weights for trade; and

(c) substitute metric units for imperial units or omit imperial units for controls on transactions in goods (eg selling goods by quantity and marking the quantity on pre-packed goods).

3. The Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments) Regulations 1994

These Regulations amend the Regulations administered by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory relating to the use of a number of different types of weighing and measuring equipment for trade. The Regulations concerned and their coverage are set out in the following table.
RegulationsCoverage
Weighing Equipment (Beltweighers) Regulations 1983 (1)* Beltweighers
Measuring Equipment (Liquid Fuel delivered from Road Tankers) Regulations 1983 Meter measuring systems, dipstick measuring systems and contents gauging systems on road tankers
Measuring Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983 Beer meters and spirit measuring instruments
Weighing Equipment (Filling and Discontinuous Totalising Automatic Weighing Machines) Regulations 1986 Filling machines and discontinuous totalisers
Measuring Equipment (Measures of Length) Regulations 1986 Rigid rules, flexible tapes
Weights Regulations 1986 (2)* Weights
Weights and Measures (Local and Working Standards Linear Measures) Regulations 1986 Local and working standards used by Trading Standards Officers (TSOs)
Capacity Serving Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1988 Capacity serving measures for beer, wine, from 4 fl ox to 4 pt and from 100 ml to 2 litres
Measuring Equipment (Liquid Fuel and Lubricants) Regulations 1988 (3)* Petrol pumps, paraffin dispensers and lubricating oil meters
Weighing Equipment (Non-automatic Weighing Machines) Regulations 1988 (4)* Non-automatic weighing machines
Weights and Measures (Local and Working Standard Capacity Measures and Testing Equipment) Regulations 1990 Local and working standards used by TSOs

*See following note concerning public consultation about beltweighers, weights, liquid and fuel lubricants and non-automatic weighing machines.

Note: The National Weights and Measures Laboratory has recently issued consultation documents (dealing with matters other than metrication) in respect of certain equipment. Copies can be obtained from NWML.

(1) Beltweighers: closing date for comments 21 September 1994

(2) Weights - closing date for comments 4 October 1994

(3) Liquid fuel and lubricants: closing date for comments 3 October 1994

(4) Non-automatic weighing machines: closing date for comments 7 October 1994.

The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods and Quantity Marking and Abbreviation of Units) (Amendment) Regulations 1994

These Regulations amend the Weights and Measures (Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) Regulations 1987 and the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 1986. The principal amendments to these Regulations relate to:

(a) the prescribed maximum capacities of weighing instruments used for making up packaged goods under the average system;

(b) the units of measurement to be used in marking pre-packed goods and the display of supplementary indications; and

(c) the abbreviations permitted to be used in marking goods.

5. The Weights and Measures (Metrication) (Miscellaneous Goods) Order 1994

This Order amends the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 and the Weights and Measures (Miscellaneous Foods) Order 1988. The principal amendments to these Orders relate to:

(a) the quantities in which alcoholic drinks may be sold on licensed premises; and

(b) the quantities in which certain foods may be pre-packed.

6. The Price Marking (Amendment) Order 1994

This Order amends the Price Marking Order 1991 and the Price Marking (Pre-packed Milk in Vending Machines) Order 1976. The principal amendments to these Orders relate to the units by reference to which unit prices shall be displayed and to the display of conversion charts.

ANNEX C

PARLIAMENTARY ANNOUNCEMENT OF LAYING OF INSTRUMENTS

Question

To ask Her Majesty´s Government when it intends to implement the EC Units of Measurement Directive 89/617/EEC.

Answer by Lord Strathclyde

I have today laid before Parliament the following instruments which implement the Units of Measurement Directive in relation to the authorisation of units of measurement and their use for weights and measures and price marking purposes:

the Units of Measurement Regulations 1994;

the Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication) (Amendment) Order 1994;

the Weights and Measures (Metrication) (Miscellaneous Goods) (Amendment) Order 1994;

the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods and Quantity Marking and Abbreviations of Units) (Amendment) Regulations 1994;

the Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendments) Regulations 1994; and

the Price Marking (Amendment) Order 1994.

The first three SIs have been laid in draft for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament. The last three have been made before laying and are subject to the negative resolution procedure.

The legislation provides that the doorstep pint of milk and the pint of draught beer or cider in the pub will be allowed without time limit as well as the mile for road traffic signs, speedometers and odometers.

For many purposes the UK has already switched to the metric system. From 1 October 1995, almost all goods sold by quantity (including food pre-packed in variable weights such as cheese and meat) that are not already traded in metric will have to be so traded. The principal exception is in respect of goods sold loose from bulk by the pound and ounce - primarily foods, such as meat, poultry, cheese, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables - which will not have to switch to metric until 1 January 2000.

Retailers who price food sold loose from bulk or pre-packed in variable weights in metric during the transitional periods will be required to display a price conversion chart or to dual price items. The British Retail Consortium has agreed to adopt a Code under which retailers will supplement this with further charts at any place where consumers select such food which is priced in metric. The DTI is discussing with the trade other publicity measures.

ANNEX D

PARLIAMENTARY ANNOUNCEMENT OF METRICATION TIMETABLE - 2 JULY 1991

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will be introducing legislation on phasing out the use of imperial units following the adoption of the 1989 amendment to the Units of Measurement Directive; and if he will make a statement.

Answer

Having considered the replies to my Department´s consultation paper, I intend to amend the legislation on the units of measurement authorised for use in the UK, generally taking maximum advantage of the transitional arrangements in the Directive, and accordingly to:

(i) cease to authorise, after 31 December 1994, imperial units used for economic, public health, public safety and administrative purposes except for the units used for the purposes set out in (ii) and (iii) below:

(ii) cease to authorise after 31 December 1999:

(a) the pound and ounce for goods sold loose from bulk;

(b) the pint and fluid ounce for beer, cider, waters, lemonades and fruit juices in returnable containers;

(c) the fathom for marine navigation; and

(d) the therm for gas supply;

(iii) authorise the continued use, without time limit of:

(a) the mile, yard, foot and inch for road traffic signs and related distance and speed measurement;

(b) the pint for dispensing draught beer and cider and for milk in returnable containers;

(c) the troy ounce for transactions in precious metals; and

(d) the acre for land registration purposes.

Metric units will continue to be authorised for use in the UK for economic, public health, public safety and administrative purposes.

Changes to other legislation which refers to imperial units of measurement will be a matter for the government departments and other bodies responsible for that legislation.

Contact Officer: Dick Diplock tel: 020 7840 7212 email Dick Diplock

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