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Letter to Prime Minister

On 16 April 2006, BWMA's patrons and honorary members wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, MP. The Prime Minister's office replied on 4 May.

Rt Hon Tony Blair, MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

16 April 2006

COMPULSORY METRICATION - THE 2010 DEADLINE

Dear Prime Minister

As Patrons and Honorary Members of the British Weights and Measures Association, we were very pleased to hear of the emphatic assurances given by the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, during BBC's 'Question Time' on 23 February, that there is no intention to replace miles by kilometres or mph by km/h on road signs; and even happier to read the statement by Gunter Verheugen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, that "I am not pressuring the UK to go metric. As long as I am in office we will not touch the issue. Full stop. I personally have a lot of sympathy for the pint and the mile in the UK. Really, what is the problem?"

We were also impressed, though not surprised, to learn the results of recent opinion polls by the media. We understand that 'Good Morning' (ITV) reported that 97% of viewers opposed metric conversion, ITV Teletext 96% against, while Sky TV simply announced "overwhelming" opposition. The AOL News website poll, that ran 22-24 February, attracted 30,000 votes (a definitive sample!) of whom 82.5% preferred to keep the mile. Likewise, the BBCi website's 'Have Your Say' poll (22-26 February) attracted 2,490 'recommendations', of which 85.9% favoured pro-mile comments. Furthermore, consumer surveys by professional market researchers have invariably produced similar results. The will of the people is surely conclusive on this whole issue.

Accordingly, we trust that, while safeguarding the pint and the mile, you will also ensure a future for the pound and ounce. The EU may, as it has done since 1995, prohibit use of customary units of weight except as 'supplementary indications' - i.e. alongside but subordinate to the primary metric marking - yet even that inferior use, solely to provide additional information for the customer's benefit, is to be abolished from 1 January 2010.

So it is not enough that all goods must be weighed and priced in metric measures; in less than 4 years from now it will be a criminal offence even to mention imperial measures! This is repression purely for its own sake. It is no more than a malicious attack on our cultural heritage as well as on our democracy.

Not only do the vast majority of the people not want a metric monopoly, a large proportion do not even understand metric units and - if that proposed regulation is enforced - will be deprived of the necessary consumer protection afforded by display of imperial equivalents. Will you therefore please undertake to secure a permanent derogation for use of supplementary indications?

Yours faithfully

TREVOR BAILEY
CHRISTOPHER BOOKER
JILLY COOPER
ROY FAIERS
SIR RANULPH FIENNES
SANDY GALL
CANDIDA LYCETT GREEN
JOOLS HOLLAND
Prof. RICHARD HOLMES
Vice Admiral SIR LOUIS LE BAILLY
Dr JAMES LE FANU
CHRISTOPHER MARTIN-JENKINS
LORD MONSON
SIR PATRICK MOORE
WILLIAM POOLE
SIR TIM RICE
ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH
ANDREW ROBERTS
QUINLAN TERRY
SIR ROWLAND WHITEHEAD Bt
ANTONY WORRALL THOMPSON

The letter was copied to the Times, internet version here. Here is how it appeared in print:


The Prime Minister's office replied as follows:


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