UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: A Happy New Year for the British Pint

Press Release   •   Jan 04, 2010 11:05 GMT

New powers preserving the pint and the mile come into force today after the Government’s success in Europe. The new legislation also ensures that any business that uses imperial units alongside metric can continue with business as usual.

In 2009, Britain successfully negotiated an indefinite exemption from EU laws which would otherwise have meant British businesses having to produce separate metric and imperial labels for different markets. The change also means the UK alone can decide on the future of the pint of beer, cider and milk, the mile on road signs and the troy ounce for precious metals.

Welcoming the new powers, Science and Innovation Minister Lord Drayson said:

“As we enter a new decade it’s good to know that traditional imperial measurements like the pint and mile will remain. But importantly this also means that businesses will avoid the unnecessary cost of changing labels. This indefinite exemption leaves these important decisions in our own hands, removing worry and uncertainty from businesses.”

Notes to editors

1. The new Directive on Units of Measurement (Directive 2009/3/EC) was published in May 2009 and removes a deadline for the end of supplementary indications (i.e. the use of imperial alongside metric) and allows the UK alone to decide the future use of the mile for road traffic, the pint for draught beer and cider and bottled milk and the troy ounce for precious metals.

2. The Units of Measurement Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/3046) and the Weights and Measures (Metrication Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI2009/3045) implement the new Directive into UK law. These come into force today, 1 January 2010.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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