HL Deb 25 June 1980 vol 410 c1596

2.48 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave 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 the prevalent habit of defacing banknotes by writing on them is an offence; and, if not, whether they consider that it ought to be an offence.

The MINISTER of STATE, TREASURY (Lord Cockfield)

No, my Lords. Simply writing on a banknote is not an offence and it would be impracticable to make it one as it would be unenforceable.


My Lords, I am much obliged. However, if the Bank of England were empowered to refuse to take back untidy banknotes upon which cashiers had been doing their sums, would this not very quickly put an end to this untidy habit?


My Lords, the Bank of England endeavour to maintain a good standard of banknotes. This task is in fact delegated to the clearing banks, which examine the notes which go through their hands and withdraw those which are in an unsatisfactory condition.


My Lords, would the Government consider introducing a pound coin, since this would be more difficult to deface and would also take account of inflation?


My Lords, such a coin was in common use before 1914. The Government are aware of the suggestions which have been made but they do not contemplate early action on these lines.


My Lords, would not the answer to the Question on the Order Paper depend on what was written on the banknote?