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Powell, William (Corby)

Price, Sir David

Raffan, Keith

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Redwood, John

Rhodes James, Robert

Riddick, Graham

Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas

Ridsdale, Sir Julian

Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)

Roe, Mrs Marion

Rost, Peter

Rowe, Andrew

Sainsbury, Hon Tim

Sayeed, Jonathan

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Shersby, Michael

Skeet, Sir Trevor

Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Squire, Robin

Stanbrook, Ivor

Steen, Anthony

Stern, Michael

Stevens, Lewis

Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)

Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)

Stradling Thomas, Sir John

Sumberg, David

Summerson, Hugo

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, John M (Solihull)

Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman

Temple-Morris, Peter

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thurnham, Peter

Townend, John (Bridlington)

Tracey, Richard

Tredinnick, David

Trippier, David

Twinn, Dr Ian

Vaughan, Sir Gerard

Waddington, Rt Hon David

Waldegrave, Hon William

Walden, George

Walker, Bill (T'side North)

Waller, Gary

Ward, John

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Warren, Kenneth

Watts, John

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wiggin, Jerry

Wilkinson, John

Wilshire, David

Winterton, Mrs Ann

Winterton, Nicholas

Wolfson, Mark

Wood, Timothy

Woodcock, Mike

Yeo, Tim

Young, Sir George (Acton)

Younger, Rt Hon George

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Tony Durant and

Mr. Tom Sackville.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker-- forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


That this House, deploring the high accident rate on construction sites and noting that 90 per cent. of construction accidents are preventable, recognises that the prime responsibility for safety lies with employers and others on site ; acknowledges the vigorous action which the Health and Safety Commission and Executive have taken through enforcement blitzes and publicity campaigns on construction safety ; and welcomes the increased provision which the Government has made available to the Health and Safety Executive thereby enabling the Executive to increase the number of inspectors employed on construction work.

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European Community (Weights and Measures)

10.17 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Corporate Affairs (Mr. Francis Maude) : I beg to move

That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 4102/89 on units of measurement ; and welcomes the proposals as providing adequate transitional periods to enable businesses and consumers to adapt and become used to the new measurements. In 1965 the then Government announced their support to encourage the adoption of metric units as the primary system for weights and measures in the United Kingdom. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. Will hon. Members who are not remaining for this debate please leave quietly?

Mr. Maude : That was a decision taken for purely domestic reasons, in response to urging by the CBI and others ; it had nothing to do then with possible membership of the European Community. In 1971 the then member states of the Community adopted a directive which established the sole use of the metric system throughout the Community. When the United Kingdom and Ireland acceded to the Community the Government accepted that eventually the metric system should be the only system to be used.

In consequence, a White Paper on metrication was published in 1972. It stated that all practicable progress towards the full use of the metric system should be made within the next few years, in the interests of economic prosperity. This led to the education system moving to the use of metric units in 1974. As a result, 11 million children since then have been taught only in the metric system.

Mr. Neil Hamilton (Tatton) : I am interested to hear that the Government now take orders from the CBI. If the situation is as my hon. Friend says, I wonder whether he can tell us why abolition of the Metrication Board was one of the Government's first acts on being elected in 1979.

Mr. Maude : In the hubbub my hon. Friend may not have heard that I was referring to the Government in 1965 taking steps in response to urging by the CBI. I am now dealing with steps taken by the Government in 1972 and 1974. My hon. Friend will realise that different considerations may have applied then.

In the late 1970s, discussion began, under the last Government, on proposals for a new directive. The directive was eventually adopted in late 1979, having been modified by the present Government to allow the yard to continue to be used. In its final form, the directive continued to authorise the use of the remaining imperial units in the United Kingdom and Ireland until a date to be fixed by those member states. However, the directive provided that there should be a further directive, to be agreed not later than the end of the 1989, which would set a final date by which the United Kingdom and Ireland should end the use of imperial units. The proposals we are discussing are intended to meet that commitment. They have been brought forward as a result of a binding commitment entered into by the Government, with bipartisan support, in 1979.

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Following the Single European Act, the directive falls to be decided under article 100A by qualified majority, and the United Kingdom and Ireland alone do not form a blocking minority. Let us now consider the detail of the commission's proposals. The first proposal covers the mile, yard, foot and inch for road transport purposes, the pint for dispensing draught beer and cider, the pint for milk in returnable bottles, and the acre.

We and Ireland will be able to continue to authorise those units for these purposes for as long as we wish, without any need for a further EC decision. Therefore, the mile, the pint in the pub, the doorstep pint of milk and the acre will be preserved.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : Did my hon. Friend say "as long as we wish"

or will there be a termination date of 1999?

Mr. Maude : There is no termination date and it will be for the member states concerned to set a termination date if and when they wish.

Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) : The Minister said that the directive will be determined under article 100A. The Select Committee on European Legislation said in its report :

"It appears to the Committee, in the light of the Department's response to the second point"--

it was about article 100A-- "that there is no impediment to the Commission, if the present proposal is adopted by the Council, subsequently submitting a further proposal, under Article 100A, to fix the date for ending".

That means the use of this particular group of measures could be ended under article 100A.

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