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Will Pounds and Ounces Survive in Britain ?
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January 27, 2008, 12:57 PM
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"It`s disgusting. We have knifings. We have killings. And they`re taking me to court because I`m selling in pounds and ounces." That`s what Janet Devers, a lady who runs a vegetable stand in London, said about facing criminal charges for selling vegetables by pounds and ounces. She could wind up having to pay fines (possibly up to $130,000) and could lose her business:
Janet Devers, 63, was notified of the criminal counts with a 67-page letter that arrived in the mail, outlining 13 criminal charges relating to the "improper" pricing of goods as well as the offense of selling vegetables in bowls.
Obviously, this has something to do with the European Union, which, according to Section 128 of the Treaty on European Union
shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.
But rather than blame the EU for the whole mess, those who don`t like the EU and forced metrication ought also to blame British leaders for allowing it.

The UK had been slowly going the metric route even before entering the European Economic Community (now European Union) but when the UK entered the EEC, metrication was a condition of membership in the club.

The British continued to postpone the acceleration of metrication but in 2000, the European Union`s "compulsory metrication policy" was enacted, prohibiting the use of non-metric weights and measures for sale of goods in Britain.

In 2002-2004, the famed "Metric Martyrs" case resulted in convictions, but that case got a lot of publicity and nobody had been prosecuted until Janet Devers` scales were confiscated last September.

Confusingly, some EU officials have recently downplayed the law, stating that they never intended it to be a crime for pounds and ounces to be used in Britain and the whole issue had been invented by the British tabloid press. Nevertheless, the EU regulations do exist, and as currently drafted, in 2010 would prohibit merchants not only from selling goods in traditional imperial measures, but even to refer to them. According to British opinion polls, over 90% of the public oppose criminalizing the sale of goods in imperial measures.