HC Deb 29 November 1966 vol 737 cc183-5
4. Mr. Cant

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to publish the promised White Paper on decimal currency.

53. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now make a statement on his plans for converting to decimal currency.

Mr. Callaghan

I hope to publish a White Paper on 12th December.

Mr. Cant

Has my right hon. Friend read the great volume of support for the 10s. cent system coming from industry, commerce and finance? Is the White Paper likely to recommend this system and give us a system of coinage not so weighty as our present system?

Mr. Callaghan

I have read the evidence, but I have also read the Report of the Halsbury Committee, the majority of which came down in favour of the £system, and I hope that the White Paper will once again argue the case in favour of the £ system. As for the nature of the currency, perhaps my hon. Friend will wait until 12th December.

Mr. Lubbock

I welcome the Chancellor's announcement that the White Paper is due on 12th December. However, is he aware that the vast majority of expert opinion is against the £ cent system and in favour of the 10s. cent system?

Sir G. Nabarro

indicated dissent.

Mr. Lubbock

Will the right hon. Gentleman also take account of the fact that during this time coin-operated machines are continuing to be manufactured using existing coin sizes, which is a waste of resources?

Mr. Callaghan

Whether there has been a waste of resources will depend on what the size of the new coins is. There is a division of opinion about using the 10s. or £ system. I would have been astonished if there had been unanimity. The Government have reached a conclusion based on the majority Report of the Halsbury Committee and in due course we shall ask the House to uphold it.

12. Mr. John Smith

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will hasten the introduction of decimal currency.

Mr. Callaghan

The most convenient date is February, 1971.

Mr. Smith

Could not the right hon. Gentleman speed this up a bit if only because it would help us in Europe? At this rate, inflation will decimalise the currency before he does.

Mr. Callaghan

I think that it is important to give trade and industry and commerce as well as those manufacturing machines a reasonable time in which to change over. Australia took three years. New Zealand is taking four years. I think that the problems of neither of those countries were as complex as those of Great Britain in this regard. I think that 1971 is a sensible date. It gives another four years from now in which to get it done.

Mr. Lipton

Does this mean that we shall be loaded until 1971 with the inconvenience of halfpennies which have become quite useless from every point of view?

Mr. Callaghan

If my hon. Friend cares to make a collection on my behalf, I shall be glad to accept any halfpennies which he gets.