Imperial measurements: what are they, how are they different to metric system measures - will they come back?

Lord Frost said the purpose of the reforms was to improve the productivity of the UK (Photo: Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Lord Frost said the purpose of the reforms was to improve the productivity of the UK (Photo: Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Lord Frost said the purpose of the reforms was to improve the productivity of the UK (Photo: Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images) | Getty Images

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Pounds and ounces could be replacing grams and litres if plans to ditch EU rules are approved

Imperial measures such as pounds and gallons could become standard again in the UK.

Ministers have set out plans for the return of the crown stamp on pint glasses and pledged to review a ban on marking and selling products in imperial units.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The move came as Brexit minister Lord Frost set out plans to ditch European Union rules and claimed “gloom-mongers” have been proved wrong following the UK’s departure from the bloc.

The Government intends to review the content of retained EU law – which was preserved in UK law for continuity after the transition period ended in December 2020.

The minister told peers: “A lot of things haven’t happened that the gloom-mongers said would happen and I don’t think are going to happen.”

JPI Media

He said, “this economy and this country is prospering vastly already under the arrangements that we are putting in place” adding: “High standards need to reflect the context we are operating in.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I am sure there will be change, but don’t believe those changes will result in regression of standards.”

But what could change, and what will it means for the public?

Here is everything you need to know.

What could change?

Lord Frost 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”.

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

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Other reforms include introducing digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT processes.

Shareholders will be able to have digital certificates instead of paper ones and regulations governing clinical trials and medical devices will be changed.

What are imperial measurements?

The imperial system of units is the system of units first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act 1824.

It developed from earlier English units, and the system came into official use across the British Empire two years later in 1826.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It differs from the metric system of measurements in that the metric system’s units are derived from natural principles, rather than by copies of physical artefacts.

For example, the unit of length, the metre, is based on the dimensions of the Earth, and the unit of mass, the kilogram, is based on the mass of a volume of water of one litre.

Its decimalisation also means that units are coherent with one another, and conversions are made much easier.

By the late 20th century, most nations of the former empire had officially adopted the metric system as their main system of measurement.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Imperial units are still used alongside metric units in the United Kingdom and in some other parts of the former empire, notably Canada.

Why are the plans controversial?

Lord Frost’s comments came despite ongoing uncertainty over Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements and shortages in shops across the UK, which critics say Brexit has exacerbated.

In the Commons, the shadow international trade secretary, Emily Thornberry, was scathing about what she sarcastically described as “the marvellous Brexit deal which is working so well at present”.

She said the country “faces continuing shortages of staff and supplies exacerbated by the Government’s Brexit deal, while businesses across the country face mounting loses in trade with Europe”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In Northern Ireland people “remain stuck in limbo as the Government refuses to implement the Brexit deal that they negotiated,” she said.

“Into all of that along comes the new Paymaster General to talk about all the wonderful opportunities that await us because of the marvellous Brexit deal which is working so well at present.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.