MP John Hemming comes down on stamp duty reports like a 'ton of bricks' ahead of Budget 2012

Simon Garner
Yahoo! News

An MP who has tabled a Commons motion calling for an end to the metrication of traditional British phrases has hit back at critics accusing him of wasting precious Parliamentary time.

An Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled today by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, highlights media reports on 'the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come down "like a tonne of bricks" on wealthy people who sell properties through offshore companies to avoid stamp duty'.

EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons that allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.

In the EDM Mr Hemming asks the House of Commons to note 'this is a part of a trend of metrication of traditional British phrases'.

It continues: "Given that a ton is greater in weight than a tonne, this understates the Chancellor's commitment to action."

The EDM concludes by asking the House to 'call on the BBC and other media to cease the metrication of traditional phrases forthwith before people end up being exhorted not to give another 24.5 millimetres rather than not giving another inch'.

Mr Hemming's EDM triggered derision in the Twittersphere.

One user called @JackofKent tweeted: "What one Lib Dem MP sees as a national priority: Oh dear."

Kit Lovelace joined the chorus of disapproval, tweeting: "John Hemming MP seems to be confusing the House Of Commons with a mid-morning Radio 2 call-in."

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But Mr Hemming insisted the issue was worthy of Parliamentary discussion, telling Yahoo News!: "British traditions are important and we shouldn't have to put up with homogenised pap."

He explained: "I accept metrication for certain purposes, but we don't need to homogenise and make everything metric.

"The phrase should be written 'ton of bricks', metric should not muddy the waters."

He added: "I want to make it absolutely clear I'm with Chancellor George Osborne every inch of the way when it comes to clamping down on stamp duty evasion."

Neil Herron of the Metric Martyrs, which campaigns for the retention of imperial measures, said: "It's important that this debate is discussed at the very highest levels and I applaud Mr Hemming for what he's done."

Mr Hemming's motion is unlikely to get an airing though, as at the time of writing no other MPs had signed up to it.

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