HC Deb 22 March 1962 vol 656 cc533-4
1. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the periodical shortages of single shillings as a result of the increasing general employment of shilling coin-meters; and what action he is taking to remedy this shortage.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Anthony Barber)

All demands from the banks for shillings have been fully met by the Royal Mint. Employers, by using more shillings in pay packets, and shopkeepers, by drawing more shillings to give change, could help to increase the number available to the public.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware, despite that explanation, that this shortage has an adverse effect on the country as a whole? Does he realise that there are even known cases of unscrupulous traders charging 1s. 3d. for a shilling piece because of the very grave shortage? Will he do something more about this problem?

Mr. Barber

I know from my own experience that the hon. Member is quite right in saying that there is a shortage of shillings, but it is very difficult to know just how we can help further. The Royal Mint has £1 million worth of shillings in hand already, and it is estimated that about 900 million shillings are in circulation.

Sir G. Nicholson

Has my hon. Friend seen the account in the newspapers this morning of an individual who, in a praiseworthy attempt to help the situation, made the same shilling go through the gas meter 288 times running? Will he try to urge upon his right hon. and learned Friend how grateful we would all be if he would make the nation's money do as much work as that?

Mr. Barber

I only hope that he did not take the shilling out himself before putting it back again.

Mrs. Cullen

Will the hon. Gentleman consider introducing some special coin for gas and electricity meters to be used instead of shillings? As this has been done in other trades, why cannot it be done for these meters?

Mr. Barber

I imagine that that is a matter for the gas and electricity industries, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Lady has said.