§ 3.18 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are contemplating the study of, or the introduction of, currency decimalisation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper. This Motion might have been called, to borrow the phrase attributed to Lord Randolph Churchill. "these damned dots". Most countries in the world have a decimal currency, and I hope to show in my few remarks that it is time that Britain began to consider this matter. Fingers were made before digital computers, but that may not be a reason why we should condemn our posterity to count up pounds, shillings and pence on their fingers, as I find I have to do, instead of doing it in their heads. Nor need we assume that for ever we must deny our manufacturers of calculating machines and the most complex electronic calculators which are now coming into use the opportunity of exporting standard machines which operate for monetary purposes on a decimal system instead of a duodecimal system.481
§ The British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of Chambers of Commerce set up a Committee to study this matter and to make a Report. Their Report was published last May and was given confirmation by the annual meeting of the British Association last September. That Committee took evidence from over 1,000 persons and institutions, including learned societies, educational authorities and business institutions, large and small, and, basing themselves upon a very large majority opinion shown by their respondents, they produced a unanimous Report. They were themselves a very representative joint Committee of persons in education, business and the arts and sciences. The joint Committee were reporting on the decimalisation of the currency and of our weights and measures; but I propose, in this Motion which I am commending to your Lordships, to deal only with currency—not because I am in any way opposed to the decimalisation of weights and measures but because it seems enough, perhaps, to start with one complex subject rather than two.
§ Whereas an overwhelming majority of those who have given consideration to this matter, when they were asked to give evidence to this Committee expressed themselves as being in favour of the introduction of a decimal currency, the Committee did not test public opinion in the matter, and it is clear that the man in the street and the woman in the home will have a view about this matter and that their view must be taken into account. It seems to me, therefore, that at some stage or other, unless we are wholly to neglect this Report and this matter, Parliament must give it some thought; and that is my reason for putting down this Motion.
§ If we take the ten older Commonwealth countries we shall find that four of them, namely, Canada, India, Ceylon and the British West Indies, already have decimal coinage; that South Africa will have a decimal coinage in operation next February; that Australia has agreed in principle to the introduction of a decimal coinage and that a Committee very similar in its status and its broadness of purpose to the one we have had dealing with this matter here, has sat upon this matter and produced a most valuable Report. We shall find 482 that New Zealand is in similar case and that Southern Rhodesia is now considering the matter. The only two countries that are not considering the matter publicly or with Government support are Pakistan and the United Kingdom; and it may well be that in a few years' time the United Kingdom will be alone, not only among the countries of the Commonwealth but among the countries of the world in not using a decimal currency system.
§ The cost of changing over in this complex business society of ours would be very considerable. On the mechanical side, there are cash registers, calculating machines, petrol pumps (so far as the financial charge recording element is concerned), telephones, taxis, slot machines and, of course, many other machines which either use a coin or make a calculation in currency. All of them would have to be converted over a time. It is estimated by the Committee that the cost of conversion of these machines alone might be as much as £ 128 million. Then there are many charges which will fall upon the nation which are incapable of accurate assessment. Business houses will have to change the forms of their accounts. Banks and insurance companies will be affected, and in the case of the latter there are the millions of industrial insurance policies which are often in units of pence—1d., 2d. or 3d.—which may have to be changed. It is therefore a formidable task and one upon which no nation could embark lightly.
§ Your Lordships may ask who is to pay for it. The advantage will inure to the nation as a whole and therefore the nation as a whole should perhaps pay for it. There are ways in which that could be done: for example, by way of cash grants or compensation to those firms who have to change heir machines. Another way would be to make a tax allowance for the expense of changing these machines; and that would be a way of sharing the cost between taxpayers as a whole and the companies who are put to the expense of making alterations. School books will have to be altered, and methods of teaching. By and large, the changeover, might take from three to five years and might cost £ 300 million; but that is a vague estimate and it is perhaps impossible to be more accurate than that.483
§ The longer we put off considering this matter and undertaking this great change, the more it will cost, because the machines are becoming more and more expensive. That is perhaps a strong reason why one should ask Her Majesty's Government to give this matter consideration without delay, and more especially since this Report has now been on the table for some months and available for study. So far as education and the schools are concerned, it is estimated that there will be a substantial saving in the time occupied in teaching children to do sums in money—perhaps 5 or 10 per cent. for children up to the age of 10 or 11 years, with a smaller saving in time for the older children who undertake a much wider curriculum.
§ Another factor to be borne in mind, as regards both education and the general use of the system by the public, is that we are gradually becoming accustomed to the use of decimals for many purposes but cannot use them in our currency. If we could use them for both, then all the teaching in the use of decimals for ordinary purposes would automatically apply to the working out of the sums of currency. Every transaction in every shop, every calculation made by every person in his private life every day—every calculation which any of us makes in our private life—would be facilitated, and would be facilitated for ever. It might, therefore, be worth while paying a high price to place this business nation of ours—a nation much more educated than it used to be—in possession of this new tool which cannot but be of the greatest advantage to it. Errors would be eliminated to a much greater extent in all these calculations and we should be the more able to complete in making a living and in export trade and in all our various activities if we simplified these day-to-day processes which all of us must go through.
§ I do not propose to do more than introduce this subject to public notice, and will therefore not go into great detail. But perhaps I ought to say a word about the system. There are, of course, various systems. But we must have one which will easily, or relatively easily, be applied to our existing currency; which will not offend our national pride, and which will not be too difficult to translate during the two 484 or three years of transition when the old system of currency and the new must be running concurrently.
§ Of the various systems which are discussed in this interesting Report I myself plump for what is called the "pound cent" system. The pound would be the main element of the currency—not because it is the one most used; it clearly is not. Coins of small denomination are the ones most used, but there are disadvantages in having a currency based upon a small denomination of money. The pound, on the other hand, is well known, well respected and, in spite of its vicissitudes (for which all of us at various times have had responsibility), it is a currency in which more than half the world's trade is conducted and it is one in which we in these islands are very proud. Therefore, some of us would not like to see the pound disappear in favour of some other fundamental unit. Indeed, the Committee recommend unanimously that the pound should be retained, and most of the evidence given in favour of a change agrees with that.
§ The cent would, of course, be one-hundredth part of the pound. I myself should hope that it would not be called a cent. I would rather find some Anglo-Saxon name for it, though I am bound to say that at present I have not found one. We should have a pound which would contain ten florins (there is nothing wrong with a florin) and the florin, in turn, would contain ten cents or ten "tickies" or ten coppers, or whatever they might be called, each of which would be worth 2. 4 of the present penny. It is said that that is not a small enough coin for common usage. It is rather surprising that it is not, because, of course, a coin which is worth 2. 4 pence to-day will buy only what a coin worth a penny would have bought ten or twenty years ago. The halfpenny, is, in fact, very little used: not at all in trade and commerce, but to some extent in retail trade, and certainly in travelling and in the purchase of newspapers. But who is not to say that the reason why it is used is that it is there rather than that it is necessary? If there were not a halfpenny it might well be that the newspapers and the manufacturers of lollipops would find some way of giving us equivalent value for some other round figure; and 485 that is, of course, what has happened in other countries.
§ I happen to have a family business of some substance in South Africa, and I have already mentioned to your Lordships that in February South Africa is going over to a decimal coinage. I have therefore seen from the inside what effect it has upon a substantial trading concern; what difficulties the firm has to meet in the matter of changing over its machines, for we use a great many office machines; and what difficulties are anticipated among our staff. And it should be considered that a very large proportion of our staff is composed of Africans, and that 90 per cent. of all our customers are Africans, who have not the educational advantages that are enjoyed by our population generally in Britain; I assure your Lordships that we see no difficulty (perhaps I should not say "no difficulty", but we see no insuperable difficulty) in carrying out this transaction in our business and that that is the general opinion in South Africa.
§ My Lords, I wonder whether Britain is too old to make this change. I wonder whether the Houses of Parliament and the senior civil servants who advise the Ministers, and Ministers themselves, are too old to contemplate this change. The instinct of a man of my age might well be to say, "Well, I have put up with pounds, shillings and pence for 50 years. Why Not leave me alone?" That view is understandable; but I do not think it is a proper answer to the responsibility that rests upon us of dealing with new ideas when they come to our notice and of applying them if we feel that they are going to be of value. Will the Government grasp this awkward nettle, which will lead to a considerable amount of confusion and difficulty in the country generally; which will cost a lot of money and will not benefit the Government at all but will benefit only posterity? My own view is that they should do so; that it is a responsibility of Government to look into the future; and that on its merits this matter deserves the fullest possible consideration.
§ I have said that I am not speaking today about weights and measures. But I cannot help observing that the Government have been so forward looking as to produce, as mentioned in the Queen's Speech, a Bill which, among other things, will destroy the rod, pole and perch. I 486 congratulate them upon that—I can hear Tory Benches asking for the return of the rod, but hardly for the perch—and I hope that the same enlightened view about this matter, as it comes to be better known, will prevail.
§ It is understood that the Post Office are a little averse to these proposals, though Government Departments generally, in giving evidence to this Committee, did not express great anxiety. It is not surprising that the Post Office should view the change with anxiety, because it would be an enormous change for them. But, my Lords, Government Departments are always very conservative, perhaps too conservative, when new schemes come before them. I have been told that when "Pay as you earn" was first suggested, in the first year of the war, the Treasury said that it was impracticable or undesirable. It has proved practicable, and I think that most people will agree that it has proved to be desirable. I am told that when it was first suggested that a universal method of providing insurance against war damage was suggested it was said to be impracticable or undesirable. I think that nearly everything is impracticable or undesirable until we set about doing it.
§ My Lords, I ask the Government to tell us whether they are studying this matter, and, if they are not, I ask them to set about it. And if they have no statement to make to-day, then I ask them to consider an immediate study of the matter and to bring to Parliament, in due course, some proposals of their own, whether directly as a result of this Committee's work or by setting up some Government Committee to give the authority that such a Committee would give to a further investigation. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, the absence of speakers in the list may perhaps indicate, as I hope it does, that the measure of support upon which the noble Lord who has just spoken can count is very great. I feel that we are indebted to him for bringing this matter forward at this particular moment, and I refer especially to his reference, finally, to the Weights and Measures Bill.
The only contribution which I have felt I could make to your Lordships' consideration of the matter is that earlier 487 this year I re-visited India, where I had previously spent many years, and where the decimal system has only recently been introduced. I should like your Lordships to know—and perhaps others will confirm what I say—that I was amazed at the facility with which a country of that size has dropped into the use of decimals. The naiya paisa seems to be fully accepted in the bazaars. I dare say that the small trader has managed to make a little bit here and there on the conversion of the anna and pie into the naiya paisa, but the fact remains that that great country, with its enormous population, a large proportion of them illiterate, has dropped into the decimal coinage with, as far as I can see, the minimum of trouble so far as the individual is concerned. The cost to the country, of course, is great, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, has said, I think everybody agrees that the advantages to the people as a whole greatly outweigh any cost that this step incurs.
So far as India is concerned, I happen to know, because my father was concerned with it, that this recommendation of a decimal coinage was made more than fifty years ago, and the point was then made which, again, the noble Lord has made to-day: that the longer we wait, the more it will cost. As he also said, we must appreciate that, with this rapid development of mechanical counting—the computer and the like—the snowball of mechanisation will soon become an avalanche, and with these machines the cost which he mentioned will increase in a marked degree the longer we delay this very necessary step. I hope that the noble Earl who is going to reply will be able to indicate what views the Government have on a speedy introduction of the system.
As to the Weights and Measures Bill, it is interesting that the definition of the yard has now been related to the metre although I am informed (I have not had time to read the Bill myself) that in fact there is no stepping stone, as it were, in the Weights and Measures Bill leading towards a decimalisation of weights and measures. The noble Lord referred to the length of time occupied in teaching children the complicated calculation of pounds, shillings and pence. That is bad enough, but ounces, pounds, 488 quarters and hundredweights are infinitely more laborious.
I have only one further comment to make. If we were to keep to the pound—and, again, I agree with the noble Lord that the pound seems to be the right measure, divided into (I should like to call them) "bobs"—one regret to me would be that the disappearance of the shilling might also mean the disappearance of the "bob", particularly since nobody seems to know why it is called a "bob". My Lords, I would support with all my energy the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale.
§ 3.44 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I will intervene just for three minutes, not only to support the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, in his admirable expose of decimalisation, but also to give a small illustration on the subject of currency. Three years ago, when I was at the Foreign Office, I had the pleasure of visiting practically all the countries in Latin America, and I was given a lunch in each of the capitals by our chambers of commerce. I think that, without exception, one of the major points they made to me was: "When can you do something about your money?" They said that many orders are lost all the year round owing to the inability of foreigners to understand our currency. One could easily say that they should, and that that is their fault; but that is not the point. We are losing orders because of this one fact. The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, says it will cost money to alter, but it would seem to me to be well worth while doing in the long run, particularly as we consider ourselves one of the major exporting countries of the world. If we are losing exports due to this small technical matter, then, surely, my Lords, it is about time we did something about it.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH
My Lords, I do not disagree with the suggestion that it would be a good thing if our currency were decimalised, but I think it is easy to exaggerate the advantages which would flow from it. To take the point which has just been made by the noble Earl, there is nothing whatever to prevent any British manufacturer from quoting the price of the articles 489 which he is selling abroad as a pound and so many decimals of a pound. Nothing, I should think, would be easier than to do that. It does not matter whether there happens to be a coinage in this country which is on a decimal system or not. If his foreign customers find it difficult to calculate in shillings and pence, it is quite easy for him Ito make a quotation of, let us say, £3.175, or whatever the figure may be.
That brings me to one of the points which was made by the noble Lord who moved the Motion. It is suggested that the production of computers is handicapped because we have not a decimal system of coinage. But even at the present moment there is nothing easier than to turn shillings and pence into a decimal of a pound. Anybody who has had a little practice at it can do it in his head with the utmost facility, and can translate it back. In any case, so far as the computer is concerned, it does not work on a decimal system: it works upon a binary system, and everything which is fed into it has to be put into a binary system in order that the computer may work. It is then translated back into decimals or whatever is required. The apparatus which is necessary to convert it back into shillings and pence is a very small part of the machine. It is therefore a little fallacious to suggest that the manufacture of computing machines is seriously interfered with because we have not a decimal system of coinage. I mention these things because I think they ought to be pointed out, although in principle, naturally, everybody would like to see a decimal system introduced.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, I am afraid that the few words I have to say on behalf of the Government may not be very satisfactory to my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, because I cannot to-day go beyond what I said to my noble friend in reply to the Question which he put on May 31 this year, which was that the Government were very seriously considering this question, that we are grateful to the Committees appointed by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce for the very valuable Report on which my 490 noble friend has based his own observations, and that before we reach any decision we should like, if possible, to hear wider expressions of opinion from other people and other interests in the country who would be affected by it.
My noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale said he thought it was time we began to consider this matter, and he wondered if any of us were too old to do so. But in fact we have been considering it ever since decimal coinage was introduced by France in 1799, and, on the whole, the weight of that consideration has been against making a similar change in Great Britain. In the early part of the nineteenth century we were rather more in favour of the change than we have been since. There was a Royal Commission in 1838 and again in 1843, and they both recommended decimal coinage. That is more than 100 years ago. But since then two other Royal Commissions, in 1856 and in 1868, recommended decidedly against it, so evidently opinion in the second half of the century had swung the other way. In 1918, the most recent Royal Commission on coinage, the Report stated that they were against any change in the existing system because they thoughtthe advantages to be gained by a change to the pound and mil scheme as regards keeping accounts is in no way commensurate with the loss of the convenience of the existing system for other purposes.In the middle of the century it seems that opinion again is swinging rather in favour of changing to a decimal coinage, partly no doubt because so many other countries in the world are doing so, and partly, perhaps, because of the increasing use of machinery for the purpose of calculation. All I can do now is to give your Lordships a very brief summary of what we regard as the arguments both for and against this proposed change. The principal arguments in favour, of course, are: greater facility in the manipulation of figures, and a saving in office work. It has also been suggested by my noble friend Lord Gosford that it might be a great advantage to our export trade in South America and. I have no doubt, elsewhere in other countries where decimal coinage is in force.
The Committee to which Lord Fraser of Lonsdale referred sent out a questionnaire in which they consulted about 1,000 491 bodies—companies, trade associations, chambers of commerce and local authorities—and I will just give your Lordships the results. Of the industrial and commercial companies who were sent the questionnaire, 421 were in favour of changing to a decimal coinage and only 72 were against. Of the trade associations, 65 were for and only 4 against. Of the chambers of commerce, 38 were in favour, none against. In reply to the question: "What attitude would your organisation take to a proposal to adopt decimal coinage?" of the industrial and commercial companies, 369 gave unqualified approval, 105 qualified approval, 9 unqualified opposition, and 34 qualified opposition. The trade associations and chambers of commerce were in much the same proportion. Of the local authorities, 18 gave unqualified approval, 15 qualified, and only 2 expressed opposition. I would ask your Lordships to observe that the main qualifications made were: (1) insistence on retention of the pound, and (2) compensation for transitional costs incurred. That is a very powerful assembly of opinion in favour of the change which has been compiled as a result of the inquiries made by this Committee.
Now, what are the considerations against it? From our point of view, the main reason against—or perhaps should say, the main difficulty which would be encountered in making a change—is the large amount of the pound sterling compared with other units of currency. Twenty shillings—240 pence. If you divide, as my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale proposed that we should, the pound into 100 units—the pound-cent system, with no lower amounts than the cent—that will mean that your smallest coin, your smallest medium of exchange, will be about 2½ d. Although, as my noble friend said, we have got rid of farthings and perhaps we shall soon get rid of halfpennies, 2½d. is too large for the smallest unit of our currency. It will be inconvenient for people to have nothing less and for small tradesmen to be able to charge nothing less.
You can do it in only two ways. Either you must have half cents or quarter cents, which would largely destroy the simplicity of your new system—it would mean a sort of hybrid system be- 492 tween decimalisation and fractionalisation—or you could have the pound-mil system in which every cent would be divided into ten mils. But that would mean you would have to use three places of decimals instead of two, and that would largely remove the advantages in the shape of easier manipulation, easier calculation and a smaller amount of office work which might be gained by a decimal system. To have three places of decimals instead of two, you would need much larger and more expensive calculating machines.
The other countries to which my noble friend referred who had their currency based on the pound but are now making the change are, so far as we can see, reducing the pound to 10s. That is what South Africa is doing now: they are going to have pounds worth only 10s., thereby cutting all their pounds in half and doubling the number which everybody has. That would give you a much more convenient unit, because a cent, on that basis, would be just under 1¼d instead of 2½d., which would not be too large for the smallest unit of currency. That is the reason why they are doing it. They are going to get the advantage of simplicity and avoid the necessity for having machines and calculations to three places of decimals.
So far as we are aware, in Australia and New Zealand, both of which countries are considering going on to the decimal currency system, they are also contemplating having a 10s. pound instead of a 20s. pound. It is all right for them, because the Australian pound and the South African pound are not great media of international currency like the pound sterling. Your Lordships will observe that in this Report it is recommended that we should maintain the pound sterling, and all the bodies who were consulted, or nearly all of them, were in favour of doing so and thought this should be a condition of decimalisation. I do not quite know whether they have thought out the corollaries which follow from that—namely, that if you retain so large a unit as the pound, you must forfeit some of the conveniences which you will gain by having a decimal currency.
Another reason that we have to consider, which has also been mentioned by my noble friend, is the expense. On page 14 of this Committee's Report there 493 is a table which gives estimates of what it would cost. They estimate that the cost of changing and replacing cash registers would be over £51 million, of changing some adding machines £ 16 million and replacing others £47 million. The whole cost, including the cost of changing Post Office telephone boxes and stamp machines and taxi meters would be £128 million. The Committee conclude that the future advantages of having a decimal coinage would outweigh that loss, but of course the future advantages cannot be measured—they are largely hypothetical—whereas the immediate loss is certain and substantial.
My noble friend said that he was not going to talk about weights and measures, and neither am I, but of course many people regard a decimal coinage as a first step towards the decimalisation of weights and measures. 'The bodies consulted by the Committee expressed some views on this. The Institute of Production Engineers stated that:The cost of complete change to the metric system would be prohibitive for most firms, involving as it must do the scrapping and replacement of most machines.The British Refrigeration Association said:Within our own resources we do not consider that we could make such a change in five or ten years and remain competitive.I will not pursue this, because we are only talking now about currency, but it is a consideration which might weigh with some people.
Another objection, of course, is that the divisibility of the duo-decimal system is more convenient in many ways than that of the decimal system, although it may not fit in so simply with the working of an electronic calculating machine. A pound of twenty shillings, with each shilling of twelve pence, can be divided by two, three, four, five and six—giving ten shillings, 6s. 8d., 5s., 4s., and 3s. 4d.—whereas any unit of currency which is decimal, like the franc and dollar, can be divided only by two, four and five. One of the most ludicrous things about the decimal system is its complete inability to express the common and convenient fraction of one-third. You just cannot do it. The only way of expressing a third in the decimal system is by 0.333 recurring, and you can spend the rest of your life adding on more threes, but 494 you never get home. You never succeed in reaching the simply and easily understood concept of one-third of any object.
I think that these objections are all appreciated, and your Lordships may well consider that the advantage of a decimal coinage would outweigh all of them. When my noble friend put his Question on May 31, I expressed the hope that he might thereby encourage more public interest in the subject, and that if both your Lordships' House and another place and everybody in the country who might be interested would try to make their views known, we could ascertain what people really thought about it. We have already got in this valuable report of the Committee the opinions of big business, the banks and the local authorities. We should like to know a little more about the opinion of the man in the street, the small shopkeeper, the little tradesman, the carpenter and grocer, the small worker of every kind, of people who cannot afford an office staff and an electronic calculating machine but who are continually accustomed to buying and selling small quantities of goods in shillings and pence. I am sorry to say that since my noble friend asked his Question the amount of interest which the country has shown has been exceedingly small. We received fewer than twenty letters on the subject.
The most interesting letter which was received by my noble friend Lord Amory, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, was from an eminent mathematical authority in Scotland. He gave a justification of the duo-decimal system, showing how superior it was to the decimal system in higher mathematics and science, and his views seemed to me to be entirely unanswerable, though of course they are more a matter for my noble friend the Minister for Science than for the Departments for whom I am speaking. This Scottish mathematician gave some interesting reasons why in his opinion it would not be a good thing to change our currency to a decimal system. I cannot quote anything he said, because his letter was marked "Confidential", but he is an eminent mathematician, and if he thought it right to make his views public in the Press or by any other medium of expression, not only would the public be very interested but it might help other people to express their views 495 and encourage other people and organisations who are interested and whose views have not yet been heard to get together and pay some attention to this question.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, would he answer this point? This unknown gentleman may well have said that the duo-decimal system was fascinating for Einstein and him, but could he really say that it was advantageous to anybody else?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, he is a very eminent professor of mathematics and he definitely gave arguments relating to the more mundane matter of pounds, shillings and pence. What I am now saying is that if this great authority would think it right to publicise his views—the only reason I cannot quote them is that his letter was marked Confidential "—I think it would be a matter of great interest and value to the country. Before we make a final decision we should like to get as many views as we can from all those people who do not belong to industrial and commercial firms and chambers of commerce, so that we know how the country really feels about this.
As my noble friend says, we ought not to take too long about making up our minds because if we do there will be so many more electronic machines on a pound, shillings and pence basis that if we made a decision to decimalise the currency later on the cost might be far greater than it would be now. That is one reason for not delaying too long, although a matter of this kind is not a thing which ought to be decided in a tearing hurry. I would make it plain that the Government are seriously considering the matter. They are aware of the arguments for doing so without too much delay, and we should like everybody whose views have not yet been received to express them as soon as possible; otherwise, their opinions may go by default and it is possible that the Government might feel that the right thing to do was to take action on the views which have already been so clearly expressed by so large a number of representative bodies. Therefore I hope that no opportunity will be neglected of putting forward other views on behalf of other people, because this is a thing 496 on which the mind of the country ought to be ascertained. For this reason I am grateful to the noble Lord for having raised this matter again and to those other noble Lords who have spoken. I think we ought to know a little more about the mind of the country before we decide to take action.
§ LORD FERRIER
Before the noble Earl sits down, may I make a point arising out of what he said about the value of the smallest coin? The Indian position is that there are 100 naiya paisa to the rupee, compared to 192 pies before. In other words, they have nearly doubled.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Yes. What we could easily do to make it more convenient would be to halve the size of the pound. The 10s. pound is what the South Africans and (I understand) the Australians are going to have. In our case we have other reasons—and they are fully expressed in the Report—for maintaining the 20s. pound sterling.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his courteous reply and for the evident trouble that he has taken to make it? I hope it will not be a hundred years before this matter again comes before your Lordships' House. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.