HC Deb 01 May 1884 vol 287 cc1041-2

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If it is the intention of the Government to take light half-sovereigns at their nominal value in exchange for sovereigns during the next three months; and, if so, whether there will be any limit imposed in respect either of the amount which may be tendered by any one person at any one time, or in respect of deficiency allowed on individual coins; and, whether the Treasury has received any precise information as to the number of half-sovereigns now in the Banks of Australia and other Colonies?


In reply to the hon. Member, I have to say that, under the law as it now stands, light half-sovereigns are not current coin of the Realm, and that Government is debarred from giving sovereigns for them if they are not of their nominal value. If the Bill which I am about to introduce passes, we shall take steps, with the aid of the banks, to withdraw all light half-sovereigns at their nominal value, by giving a sovereign for every two half-sovereigns, unless they have been tampered with or are 4d. below that value, in which case they will be, as now, treated as bullion. We have no information as to the number of half-sovereigns which may happen to be at any given time in the banks of Australia or other Colonies; but the total amount of half-sovereigns issued from the Sydney and Melbourne Mints since their foundation is less than £2,500,000 worth, and half-sovereigns are not usually sent as remittances to or from the United Kingdom.

In reply to a further Question,


said, he did not think it would be possible to withdraw the whole of the light half-sovereigns within three months; but they would be withdrawn as soon as possible.