Choice on Units of Measurement: Markings and Sales

The Government of the UK has opened a consultation on the choice of units of measurement, particularly aimed at bringing back the old imperial system. I believe that this is a waste of a golden opportunity, and I have communicated this belief to the consultation. I have copied my response below, and I encourage all those right thinking people who see the benefit of my proposed New Imperial Measurement system to respond in a similar manner to the consultation. Together we can persuade them to embrace progress!

(Goverment questions in purple. My reponses in black.)


Choice on Units of Measurement: Markings and Sales – Response Form

Consultation Questions

1             For All,

a)            Are there any specific areas of consumer transactions that should be a priority for allowing a choice in units of measurement, and why?

b)            Are there any specific areas that you think should be excluded from a choice in units of measurement, and why?

c)            If an item is sold in imperial measures, should there be a requirement for a metric equivalent alongside it?

It is important before I complete my responses to this consultation that I set out a number a number of factors which have guided my answers.

Firstly, it is my belief that the current mixture of measures is burdensome, confusing, and reflects a failure of leadership by previous governments.  This is now an opportunity for a complete structural overhaul of the system of measurement in use in the UK.  Thus I believe that there shouldn’t be a choice, all measurements should be standardised on one new imperial system.

If we are going to level up, we should use this set of changes to iron out historical inconsistencies within the two old systems of measurement to create new efficiencies across the whole of British society.  We must carpe diem! 

I propose a new imperial system to replace all existing units, which contains the following principles from both the old imperial, and the metric systems:

1) The metric system contains a number of units based on the names of famous British scientists.  We should make these more prominent, by ensuring their (re)introduction into everyday life.  These include: Newton, Faraday, Joule, Kelvin and Watt.

2) The yard was initially set based on the average stride of a man.  The modern man can stride 9.35% further than that ancient man, and I propose that the New Imperial Yard (NIY) reflect this.

3) To help bring the metric indoctrinated into the new imperial system, it makes sense to use the kilo, centi, micro system to provide the gradations of units.  Thus centi-yards or kilo-pints will be acceptable.

Some basic measures will help explain this further.

Length – the NIY is defined as above.  The New Imperial Foot (NIF) is, to bring gender equality into the measurement system, as the average length of a modern woman’s foot.  With a slight rounding, this brings 4 NIFs to a NIY.  The New Imperial Inch (NII) has to be adjusted to take into account this size change, thus there are 5 NIIs to a NIF.  It has to be acknowledged that this has altered the ratios somewhat, but it is important that we honour the gender which has received the least recognition in prior measurement systems.

A New Imperial Mile will be set at 4 kiloNIYs to represent what the average sedentary modern person can walk in one hour.

Weight – the kilogram has incorrectly been used as a measurement of weight for many years.  The correct measurement is Newtons.  All weight should therefore be measured in Newtons, thereby giving due prominence to one of Britain’s greatest scientists.  However, to offer choice and bring the old imperial system into line, the New Imperial Pound (NILb) would be standardised as 5 Newtons.

Volume – a New Imperial Pint (NIP) should be expressed as the volume of water which weighs one NILb.  This NIP is slightly smaller than the current imperial pint, which will help reduce alcohol consumption.  Using NIPs to measure fuel would also reduce the prices at petrol stations.

A New Imperial Non-US Gallon (NING) would be 8 NIPs.  Fuel economy would simply be expressed as New Imperial Miles per NING.

Obviously these standards can and should be applied across the whole gamut of measurement, and I do not need to go into all the details here.  Nonetheless, I believe there are two other areas which need urgent attention and should, in my opinion, be brought into this consultation.

Calories are an example of the steps which need to be taken to get to an optimal system of measurement.  They were, once, perhaps useful.  But they should be abolished entirely and all measurements of energy should be in joules.  Not only will it highlight an important British scientist, but it will help ameliorate the obesity crisis, as all food energy will show higher numbers and help people make better food choices.

Temperature is another area where standardising on a single system will reduce confusion, and help to pay homage to another great British scientist.  To achieve this, use of Fahrenheit should be banned, and all temperatures must be in Kelvin.

With this clarification in place, I will answer all the questions twice.  Once in reference to the forward looking, control taking and levelling up methodology embodied in the New Imperial Measurement system (NIMS) as defined above.  The other will be in reference to the nonsensical, backward looking and more or less useless, old imperial system.

1a) NIMS – everything should be defined by the new system.  Old imperial – none.  In fact, it should be ruled out entirely as an utterly useless waste of time which fails to take the country forward.

b) NIMS – there should be no choice in units, it should all be under NIMS.  Old imperial – if there is an existing metric measure it should be used exclusively.  Continued use of the anachronistic imperial system is rather embarrassing.

c) NIMS – no, it should only be in NIMS.  Old imperial – it should only be in metric.  Having two systems in parallel borders on the ludicrous.

2             For Businesses,

What would be the consequences of your business having the freedom to sell products in imperial measures, if you wished?

               NIMS – with the new system this would make everything much easier for everybody and I would wholly support it.  Old imperial – nothing, why add additional cost for literally zero benefit.

3             For Consumers,

a)            If you had a choice, would you want to purchase items:

(i)            in imperial units?

(ii)           in imperial units alongside a metric equivalent?

b)            Are you more likely to shop from businesses that sell in imperial units?

c)            Do you foresee any costs or benefits to you from businesses being permitted to sell:

(i)            solely in imperial units?

(ii)           in imperial units alongside a less prominent metric equivalent?

d)            Do you have experience of buying solely in imperial units?


i) NIMS – no choice required, everything in NIMS would be perfection.  Old imperial – I see little value in this antediluvian system, so under no circumstances can I see myself wanting to purchase items in imperial units.

ii) NIMS – only one system is needed.  Old imperial – is this the previous question rephrased?  Or is this back to the two systems at once question?  Either way, it seems somewhat pointless.  Why add the additional cost and complexity?

b) NIMS – all shops should sell in these units, so it wouldn’t change my habits.  Old imperial – I’d probably avoid shops selling in old imperial units, as it either shows that they are backward looking and incapable of adapting to the modern age, or are trying to defraud me in some way by using an outmoded and hard to understand set of units.


         i) NIMS – no because the whole country would be on a single, sensible and coherent system.  Old imperial – if they’re wasting time and effort on adding such an irrelevant additional set of data on their products then they’ll either be charging me more for the privilege, or reducing quality to recoup the cost.

         ii) NIMS – no because there will be only one measure.  Old imperial – it seems odd to prioritise an arcane system, but either way this seems an inefficient option.  Additional weighing and printing costs to have two measures will absolutely add cost.  And having metric less prominently may mean I have to buy new reading glasses. 

e)            NIMS – not yet, but I hope the day will come.  Old imperial – yes.  And I’ll be honest, it never made much sense.  The biggest mistake made in the adoption of metric has been the failure to complete the job and wipe out the incongruity of the old imperial system.

4             For Trading Standards,

What potential impacts might there be on regulatory activity, including any costs or benefits?

<No answer>


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