HC Deb 10 March 1920 vol 126 cc1280-1

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can see his way to increase the fineness of the East African rupee to 500 and issue it as a 2s. piece of the new standard, thereby avoiding the possibility of confusion with the Indian rupee and also avoiding the issue of a coin by the British Government of unlimited legal tender, more than half composed of base metal; and will he consider the advisability of making a uniform issue of currency and coinage for all Crown Colonies and Protectorates in Africa under the administration of the Colonial Office?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

In view of the necessity of securing that no loss shall be incurred on the coinage, even if the price of silver should rise materially, I consider that it would be undesirable to increase the fineness of the new East African coinage. The intrinsic value of the currency is, in any case, immaterial, as it will be strictly based on sterling. To this extent the great majority of the British Colonies and Protectorates in Africa will now be brought on the same basis, though I regret that, for the present at any rate, the issue of a uniform currency has not been found practicable.


Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say what value this new rupee is going to be, and whether there is any precedent in the British Empire for issuing a coin of unlimited legal tender of more than half base metal?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

With regard to the latter part of the question, as the currency is strictly based on the sterling, and can always be exchanged for sterling in this country, the intrinsic value of the coin is immaterial. The actual value of the new rupee will be 2s.


Will the East African rupee resemble the Indian rupee to the outward eye, or will there be a clear difference, so that the two cannot be confused?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

These East African coins are entirely distinguishable from the Indian rupee?


In view of the fact that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated this is a sterling coin, does not the coin become a token coin, and, therefore, would it not be well to consider the issue of an Imperial currency note to get rid of all this trouble in British East Africa and Nigeria?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

I can sympathise with the suggestion of my hon. Friend, but he must remember that in the conditions of tropical Africa, in dealing with people without pockets, it is desirable to have something besides paper currency.


Where do they carry their coins?