HL Deb 24 November 1953 vol 184 cc440-1

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider issuing Treasury notes of larger denominations, particularly £2 and possibly £5.]


My Lords, in view of the terms of the noble Lord's Question, may I give some account of the facilities that are now available. There are no Treasury notes to-day. The Treasury issued 10s. notes and £1 notes between 1914 and 1928, but the Treasury and Bank of England note issues were amalgamated in 1928 by the Currency and Bank Notes Act of that year, and the Bank of England is now the sole note-issuing authority in England. The Bank of England notes now in issue are the 10s. note, the £1 and the £5 note. The Bank of England has, in fact, issued notes of £5 and upwards for over a hundred years, but all notes of denominations above £5 (£10, £20, £50, £100, £200 and £1,000) have now been demonetised—that is to say, they have been called in by the Bank of England and have lost their legal tender status. The requirements of the public are constantly in mind, but there is no real evidence of a public need for notes of denominations other than those now in use, including the £5 note, of which 34 million are in circulation.


My Lords, arising out of the noble Earl's answer, may say I that I feel I that there is a demand for a denomination between the £ 1 note and the £5 note. I have heard that from many people. With regard to the £5 note, I think it is generally felt that it is too large and cumbersome and that it should be replaced by a note which will more easily fit into the pocket wallet.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord's points will be taken carefully into account, but I think he should realise that the Bank of England are in close touch with a large number of banks dealing with the public. If there were any strong demand for notes of other denominations, they would know immediately, and would have no difficulty in meeting such a demand, if it were felt to be in the public need.