Weights and Measures and related matters (such as road signs) should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament – according to the UK Metric Association.
In a submission to the Smith Commission (on further devolution to Scotland), the UK Metric Association (UKMA) has argued “that Weights and Measures and related matters (such as road traffic signs), provided that they comply with European Directive 80/181/EEC (as amended), do not need to be dealt with at the UK level and should therefore be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”
The submission notes that “Weights and measures (including units of measurement and price marking) and road traffic signs are subject to EU Directive 80/181/EEC but are currently dealt with at either the UK or the GB level, with no facility for Scotland to adopt a different approach. The UK approach (of permitting two incompatible measurement systems to co-exist) is unique in the world and has resulted in an incoherent measurement muddle. The UK has no plans to resolve this issue. Devolving the relevant powers to the Scottish Parliament (while still compliant with the EU Directive) would enable Scotland to progress at its own speed unhindered by the rest of the UK.”
Devolution would not of itself mean that Weights and Measures laws would immediately change in Scotland: that would depend on whether and how soon the Scottish Parliament decided to use its new power. However, it would enable Scotland to “standardise on a single system of weights and measures (SI – the metric system) without all the disadvantages of trying to cope with two incompatible systems as in the rest of the UK. This would particularly benefit schoolchildren, who would not need to learn two systems, but would also serve to reduce or eliminate the incomprehension, misunderstandings, conversion errors and additional costs that result from the UK’s “two systems” approach to weights and measures. Standardisation on a single system could also have financial benefits for Scotland.”
UKMA’s submission, which can be read at this link, was in response to an invitation from the Smith Commission with a closing date of 31 October. The Commission, which has representatives from all the main political parties in Scotland, is required to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. This should result in draft clauses being published in January so that legislation can be ready before the General Election in May.