Role of government

Government planning and management of the changeover

The painfully slow progress made by the UK toward full adoption of the international metric system is attributable above all to one factor: the failure of successive governments to take the lead and to plan and manage the change.

Instead, governments have pretended that the change could be made voluntarily and gradually, and that there was no need for government action. Where new regulations have been introduced (such as the Price Marking Orders), they have attempted to blame the European Union. Understandably, therefore, both private and public sector organisations have refused to take on the role of explaining the change and educating the general public. Quite reasonably, they have argued that this is the Government’s job.

UKMA believes that further progress toward completing the metric changeover can only be achieved if the Government faces up to its responsibility actively to promote the change – by, for example:

  • publicly declaring its support and facing down the opposition of misguided traditionalists
  • establishing a cross-departmental authority to help manage the change.
  • requiring all publicly-funded agencies and all private contractors on publicly-funded projects to work toward becoming exclusively metric
  • setting a timetable and target dates for completion in various sectors
  • introducing any necessary legislation and ensuring that it is enforced
  • undertaking a campaign of public education and familiarisation

UKMA is convinced that if this level of Government support were forthcoming, then within a very few years the UK could catch up with the rest of the world in enjoying the benefits of a single, simple and modern system of weights and measures.