§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
Yes. I have decided to introduce both a £1 coin and a 20p coin within the next three years. The Royal Mint is therefore proposing to issue in the course of next year a seven-sided cupro-nickel 20p coin of approximately ⅞" (22mm) diameter, which is the specification envisaged by the Decimal Currency Board when it completed its work in 1971. Subsequently, during the course of 1983, a £1 coin would be introduced.
The Royal Mint has recommended that the £1 coin be struck in a yellow metal and that it should be of approximately the same diameter as the gold sovereign (⅞"), but considerably thicker and with a distinctive security edge. The present intention is that the new £1 coin would initially circulate alongside the £1 note and that the Bank of England would phase out the latter over an extended period.
Over the next few months, the Royal Mint will be consulting the banks and others most closely concerned about these proposals, and I expect to be ready by the middle of this year to announce the precise specifications of the new coins and their date of issue. In the meantime the selection of designs for the new coins will proceed.
A Treasury press notice is being issued today and copies will be made available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office of the House of Lords.