HC Deb 03 December 1959 vol 614 cc1359-61
20. Mr. Mapp

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recommendations he has received in regard to the design for future bank notes; what recommendations he proposes to make to the Bank of England; and if he will undertake consultations with the appropriate representatives of blind people to ensure that any recommendations take into account their special requirements.

34. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will ask the Bank of England to bear in mind, when changing the design of Bank of England notes, the needs and difficulties of blind people.

Mr. Barber

A number of suggestions regarding the design of bank notes have been received and I have been assured by the Bank of England that these are being given due consideration. As I have indicated in replies to previous Questions, the problem as it affects blind people is being discussed by the Bank of England with St. Dunstan's and the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

I understand that a meeting for this purpose is taking place this afternoon.

Mr. Mapp

Will the Economic Secretary bear in mind that blind people individually and collectively are apprehensive about the move that has taken place? Will he undertake to ensure that the unique claims of these people on all Members of the House have the same priority as any commercial claims that there may be in connection with these bank notes? Secondly, will the hon. Gentleman indicate whether a report can be made of the ultimate negotiations, and whether in that report the willing approval of the representatives of blind people can be shown? Thirdly, can he say whether a specimen print has been made of the £1 notes, and if so, will he defer further printing?

Mr. Barber

I do not know what the answer is to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, but I am conscious of the importance of this matter. I have myself received a considerable number of letters on the subject, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Bank of England will certainly do all it can to help.

Mr. Bell

Would it not have been better to have consulted the blind organisations first, rather than make the announcement first that the sizes will be assimilated and then to consult the organisations?

Mr. Barber

I can only say that this matter was considered by the Bank of England originally, and I hope that from now on it may be possible to find a solution to the difficulties.

Mr. H. Hynd

If there is any insuperable difficulty in making the notes in different sizes, will the hon. Gentleman consider one of them being made with a serrated edge to enable people to distinguish between notes of different denominations just as we are able to distinguish between different coins?

Mr. Barber

I am sure that the Bank of England will be happy to consider any suggestions.

Sir H. Oakshott

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that there is genuine feeling about this problem of the different sizes of these notes? If it is not possible to change the design and size, will he examine the possibility of incorporating an embossment of some sort on the notes which will make them more readily distinguishable?

Mr. Barber

My hon. Friend has already spoken to me about this matter and I know how concerned he is. I can promise him that his views will be made known to the Bank of England.