The Return Of Pounds And Ounces? UK Government Plans To Bring Back Imperial Measures

Owen Humphreys – PA Images via Getty Images

Steve Thoburn (right) with friend Neil Herron at his fruit and veg shop in Sunderland. The “metric martyr” was prosecuted for selling his goods in pounds and ounces.

Shops in the UK could be allowed to sell produce in pounds and ounces again after ministers pledged to review a ban on using imperial units.

The unlikely return of Britain’s traditional weighing system has been mooted as part of a post-Brexit bonfire of European Union red tape.

The shift from imperial to metric measurements began before the UK joined the European trading bloc in 1973.

But the issue became a rallying cry for eurosceptics after fruit and veg traders – dubbed the “metric martyrs” – faced prosecution for selling goods in metric measures of kilograms and grams from 2000.

The most famous was green grocer and market trader Steve Thoburn from Sunderland.

On Thursday, Brexit minister Lord Frost set out plans to ditch Brussels’ rules, which have been retained after the Brexit transition period ended in December 2020.

He criticised the “gloom-mongers” who have been proved wrong following the UK’s departure from the EU, despite ongoing uncertainty over Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements and shortages in shops across the UK.

As well as reviewing the EU ban on markings and sales in pounds and ounces, measures include permitting the voluntary printing of the crown stamp on pint glasses – with legislation “in due course”.

Lord Frost told the House of Lords: “I am sure there will be change, but don’t believe those changes will result in regression of standards.”

He said the purpose of the reforms was to “improve the productivity of the UK by putting in place regulations that are tailored to our conditions”.

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