England badge English weights and measures Last edit: 01/Dec/2014
Legal matters: The laws of weights & measures

Throughout this history of this land, laws have been made relating to weights and measures. At first, these were necessary both to protect the consumer and to facilitate free trade. Since joining the EU/EEC/Common Market the emphasis has changed - trade is protected from foreign (that is: non-EU) competition, and to suit big business it is necessary to restrict choice by the consumer to essentially EU goods. This has the happy (for the EU that is) consequence of enabling the EU to have more control over what is bought and sold.

Roman times
A lot of the Imperial/Customary measures trace their origins back to Roman times (which explains the similarity of most pre-metric European measures), and no doubt laws were enacted in those times relating to weights and measures. At the moment, we know little about these laws.

Saxons to Stuarts
Written copies of many laws still exist (or are referred to in later documents) which relate in some ways to weights and measures. The domesday book, being in effect an asset register for the Norman kings uses the contemporary measures. The most important document in this time period is Magna Carta (i.e King John's Magna Carta of 1215 - there were quite a few others), which famously sets out the requirement for there being just one sytem of weights and measures in use throughout the land. Strictly speaking Magna Carta is not a law, but more like a contract between the King and his subjects (in this case the Barons), and cannot be overruled by a mere act of Parliament.

Orange, Hanoverians, Saxe-Coburg etc.
As we get more modern, it becomes easier to find, read, and understand the laws of weights and measures. Weights and Measures acts per se were passed in 1824, 1834, 1835, 1861, 1878, 1889, 1892, 1893 and 1904.

Currently, the major topic is the 'outlawing' of most of the Imperial system, which was meant to have come into power on 1st Jan. 2000. This isn't a 'law' in the way one would normally understand the term, merely an instruction from our leaders in Brussels. Contrast this to the way things were done in the past - the Assize of Bread and Ale, a law passed in 1266 (51 Hen. 3, stat.1), which among other things says '... by the consent of the whole realm of England, the the measure of our Lord the King was made, that is to say, an English penny, called a sterling, round and without any clipping, shall weigh 32 wheat corns ...'. It would seem that 750 years ago medieval kings of England had a better notion of democracy than than Brussels ever will.

In practice, many places seem to continue pricing and selling goods in units that the consumer wants (i.e. Imperial), rather than the 'metric' units that Brussels and its departments (especially the BBC) wants us to use. A recent court case has agreed with Brussels, and decided that the weights and measures act 1985, which allows trading in Imperial units is overruled by the 1972 European Communities act - an act which in effect says that whatever Brussels wants Brussels gets.

Where it leaves us is trying to decide whose country it is. The people like to think it belongs to them. The Government and the courts thinks it belongs to the unelected and unelectable elite in Brussels. Meanwhile, as evil bannana sellers are being perscuted, drugs are being legalised, murderers are allowed to abscond undetected from 'open' prisons, 'double jeapordy' is being brought in so that people can be tried for crimes they've already been found not guilty of committing...

Time for a quote:
... the only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over its government.

The 1972 European Communities act gave away powers to Brussles that our constitution expressly forbids. If you want to be well informed, read the Treason Felony Act 1848!

Please see the anti-metrication page for more details.

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