§ MR. J. B. SMITH
said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the following facts—namely, that in July, 1864, an Act was passed intituled "An Act to Render Permissive the Use of the Metric System of Weights and Measures;" that, in consequence of a person being summoned before the Magistrates by an Inspector of Weights and Measures for having Metric Weights in his possession, the following Circular, from the Standards Department of the 973 Board of Trade, dated 19th April, 1867, was addressed to Inspectors of Weights and Measures, namely—I am instructed by the Board of Trade to acquaint you, for the information of the Local Magistrates and Inspectors of Weights and Measures, that, upon a case submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown upon the legal construction of 'The Metric Weights and Measures Act, 1864,' they have given an opinion that a person using Metrical Weights and Measures is liable to have them seized, and to conviction and forfeiture of the weights under the Act 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 63;Whether he considers this a satisfactory state of the Law; and, whether he intends to bring in a Bill during the present Session of Parliament to remedy it; or, whether, with a view to settle this question, he proposes to bring in a Bill to establish the Metric system in the place of the existing system of Weights and Measures in the United Kingdom?
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend may be quite sure that there is only one answer to be given to his first Question—that the state of the law is not satisfactory—for nothing can be more absurd than that a man having in his possession a certain description of weights and measures should be liable to have them seized, although the law intended that he should use them. I am only surprised that my hon. Friend did not take care when the Bill was passing that it was more carefully worded. With regard to the prospect of bringing in a Bill this Session, I may tell him that the Standards Commission have reported in favour of the change which he has so strongly and for so long a time advocated in this House; and I suppose sometime, when the Government or the Board of Trade has a great deal more leisure than at present, possibly a measure on the subject may be introduced. But I do not think there is any prospect that it will be introduced during the present Session.