HC Deb 28 April 1927 vol 205 cc1006-7

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated value of silver money of 925- thousandths fineness and that of 500-thousandths fineness in circulation in Great Britain; what is the reason for retaining silver coins of differing fineness; whether, in the interests of economy, he will arrange for the early establishment of one uniform basis of fineness; and, if so, what basis will he adopt?


About £27,000,000 of 500-thousandths fineness silver is actually in circulation. The amount of 925-thousandths silver still in circulation is estimated at from £20,000,000 to £25,000,000. The whole coinage is being steadily converted to 500 fineness in the interests of economy, and more than half has been so converted; over £2,000,000 more is being converted this year, but it is unnecessary and uneconomical to force the pace. So far as I am aware, no inconvenience is caused to anyone by the concurrent circulation of silver of different degrees of fineness.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual saving if the existing copper coins were replaced by nickel coins of sizes similar to those in use in many British Colonies, in Germany, France and other countries?


There would be no saving, but increased expense, from substituting nickel for the present metal. By reducing the size of coins and using nickel alloys it might be possible to avoid loss, but the change would be certainly inconvenient to the public, and probably unpopular.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

What would happen to all the telephone call-boxes?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that 75 countries have adopted nickel coins; whether he is aware that more than £10,000,000 would be saved if the silver in British coinage could be replaced by nickel; and whether he will take steps to secure some part of this saving by substituting nickel for the smaller silver coins at present in use?


I am aware that nickel is used for small token coins in many countries. Undoubtedly there would be a considerable saving, spread, however, over many years, by replacing all our silver coins by nickel, but I do not think that public opinion would welcome the substitution of nickel tokens for, at any rate, our larger silver coins, and the possibilities of saving by converting the small silver coins to nickel are not very great. This limited proposal has been considered and rejected on several occasions, and I am not prepared at present to make any change.