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Nature volume 114, pages 96100 (19 July 1924) | Download Citation



REPRESENTATIVES of a number of educational, scientific, and commercial bodies in Great Britain and Overseas attended a conference organised by the Decimal Association at the Institution of Electrical Engineers on July 9. The main subjects discussed were the Association's proposal to divide the shilling into ten pence instead of twelve, and to alter the Imperial gallon so as to make it equal to four litres. The former proposal means a twenty per cent, increase of the value of a penny, and by it “an almost complete decimal coinage would be secu ed, while pre-serving the old names oil. s. d. and the three-column method of book-keeping, and incidentally a reasonable solution of the present impasse in penny postage and penny fares would be found” At present, services and commodities which could be profitably provided for slightly more than a penny are subjected to a fifty per cent, increase, whereas a penny would be sufficient if the value were increased as suggested. Mr. Harold Cox, who was a member of the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage in 1920, said at the conference that if this proposal had been before the Commission he believed the majority of the members would have been in favour of it. The proposal to make the Imperial gallon equal to four litres instead of the present 4-54, so that the quart would become one litre and the pint half a litre, arises largely from the present confusion in the use of the designation “gallon “in commercial transactions relating· to motor spirit and lubricating oils. The American gallon has a capacity twenty per cent, less than the Imperial gallon, and in South America a capacity of four litres is being called a gallon, so that a single name is being used for three different quantities. TJie introduction of a four-litre gallon would, of course, be an important step towards the adoption of other metric weights and measures in Great Britain. Whatever may be said in favour of the British system, it can never become an international system, and as trade develops with new countries the need for the use of a universal language of quantity by British firms must become more important every year. The conference passed resolutions urging the Government to appoint a committee to examine and report upon the proposals discussed.

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