HC Deb 12 July 1966 vol 731 cc1193-4
8. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has had since 17th May, 1966, from trade, commercial and industrial associations, and organisations connected with consumer protection about the decision to bring in a £ cent system of decimal currency; and if he will publish a White Paper outlining the various systems of decimal currency which he has considered, the merits and demerits of each and the reason for the decision to adopt the £ cent system.

Mr. Callaghan

I have received seventeen representations. A White Paper will be published in due course which will, among other things, set out the reasons why the Government decided to retain a major unit. The merits and demerits of other decimal systems are considered in the Halsbury Report.

Mr. Osborn

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that by 1971 the nation will have made an irrevocable decision based on the decision of 1st March? Is it not reasonable that those affected, including the National Chamber of Trade and other organisations among the seventeen, should make their arguments? Would the right hon. Gentleman not consider these representations?

Mr. Callaghan

I have already said on previous occasions that this is, of course, an irrevocable step. My information is that industry broadly welcomes the fact that a decision has been taken and that we are to move into decimalisation. The Government have adopted the majority view of the Halsbury Committee which investigated this at very great length for a very long time.

Mr. Cant

Is it not true that the overwhelming body of information from industry and commerce is in support of the 10s. unit? As my right hon. Friend has said previously that he is legislating for one thousand years, can his decision he pragmatic and not prestigious?

Mr. Callaghan

As I have explained previously, the Halsbury Committee set out a number of good reasons why the £ unit should be retained.