Ireland introduces legislation after EU warning on failure to measure

TDs discuss oldest science and oldest metrology method - Pharaoh’s ‘royal cubit’

Fianna Fail TD John Lahart said the global economy relies on measuring instruments and weights such as petrol pumps and taximeters “and we need to know they can be trusted”.

Fianna Fail TD John Lahart said the global economy relies on measuring instruments and weights such as petrol pumps and taximeters “and we need to know they can be trusted”.

 

Ireland has belatedly begun the process of harmonising its regulations with those of EU member states on the science of metrology, better known as measurement.

The State was issued with a formal infringement notice from the European Commission after it missed the April 19th 2016 deadline to transpose an EU directive into Irish law relating to “measuring instruments”.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald introduced the Legal Metrology (Measuring Instruments) Bill relating to the “making available on the market of measuring instruments”.

The directive aims to ensure that machinery such as petrol pumps, electricity, gas, water and even taxi meters accurately measure what they are supposed to measure.

The Tánaiste, who is Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, said the “main objective of legal metrology is to assure citizens of correct measurement results when used in trade and commercial transactions”.

The law will ensure that inaccurate measuring instruments are prevented from being sold in Ireland.

She said the directive regulates the marketing and use of 10 categories of measuring instruments including water meters, gas meters and volume conversion devices, fuel dispensers such as petrol, exhaust gas analysers and measuring systems for road tankers and milk.

Both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin acknowledged that it was not Ms Fitzgerald’s fault that the State failed to meet its deadline.

Fianna Fail TD John Lahart said the global economy relies on measuring instruments and weights such as petrol pumps and taximeters “and we need to know they can be trusted”.

He highlighted a number of court cases including one on overcharging for petrol. He said a petrol station in Dublin was investigated and received a significant fine.

“They found that the fuel pumps were significantly under-measuring petrol and diesel sold to consumers and prosecuted them on that basis.”

In a witty Dáil speech, Mr Lahart said “the whole world is kept ticking over by metrology” and that everyone engaged with it, “from measuring the coffee in our morning to weighing ourselves on bathroom scales. I think the metrology in my weighing scales at home is dodgy.”

Quoting from the Oireachtas library and research documentation on the legislation, he noted that the first diplomatic treaty on the metre measurement, was signed by 17 countries in Paris in 1875.

And the first measurement the “royal cubit” was introduced when the pyramids were being built. It was defined as the “length of the forearm from elbow to tip of the extended middle finger of the ruling Pharaoh, plus the width of his hand”.

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said he did not think the legislation “was in any of our election manifestos”.

He also highlighted how often people engaged with metrology “from drinking a pint or watching the pump as we fill the car with diesel to weighing ourselves on the bathroom scales and monitoring our electricity and gas usage”.

Mr Quinlivan asked if the delay in the legislation resulted in any fines being imposed.

The Bill goes to committee stage to be dealt with in the autumn session.