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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 20:18 GMT
Tories 'save' the other pound

Loose fruit and vegetables will go metric in the New Year

Britain's Euro-Tories are claiming to have saved the pound for Britain - but it is the imperial weight rather than sterling they are referring to.

The party, which is pledged to fight off the single currency, is claiming to have won a partial reprieve for the sort of pounds that are measured in lbs.

Conservative MEP Giles Chichester has secured approval in the European Parliament for a proposal to allow consumers across the United Kingdom to continue to buy pre-packed food by imperial rather than metric measurements.

Mr Chichester had spotted that current European Union rules could mean the abolition of traditional weights and measures on these goods on 1 January.

Antony Worrall Thompson: Supports imperial weights
He has persuaded MEPs from all parties to support Tory proposals to avoid what he called this "crazy Euro-rule".

The Conservatives are still campaigning to save imperial measures for loose fruit and vegetables generally as Britain's opt-out will end in the New Year and they will automatically go metric on 1 January.

Nick Gibb, shadow minister for trade and industry, said: "The extension agreed yesterday means that pre-packed food can continue to show imperial measurements but from the end of this year it will be illegal to sell loose fruit and vegetables in pounds or ounces.

"Labour have it in their power to try to extend our opt-out, but they have only 15 days to save the pound."

Archie Norman, shadow minister for Europe, commented: "Conservatives are fighting to keep sterling and pounds in weight.

"Market traders estimate that the cost of the changeover itself will be around 1,000 per trader and displaying prices in terms of kilos will create an illusion of increased prices and cause confusion among customers and traders alike."

Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson, is supporting the Conservatives in wanting to delay the introduction of metric measures for 10 years.

He said: "I wish them every success in making sure that the cry `a pound for a pound' may still ring out across the fruit and veg markets of Britain."

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