HL Deb 18 July 2002 vol 637 cc181-2WA
Lord Barnett

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why some of the new "Elizabeth Fry" £5 notes had serial numbers which rubbed off, and when the Bank of England plans to start reissuing the new note again. [HL5423]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The Bank of England suspended issuance of the new "Elizabeth Fry" £5 note after it was discovered that, on some notes, it was possible to remove part or all of the serial numbers, when the note was rubbed vigorously. The problem was traced to unexpectedly slow drying of the numbering ink on some of the notes, when the numbers were printed over the new varnish coating. This varnish had been introduced to make the note more durable. In future the Bank will put the varnish over the numbering, as tests have shown that this solves the problem. The notes already printed will undergo extensive drying treatment to ensure that the numbering ink dries thoroughly.

The Bank plans to resume issuing the new note in the week commencing 19 August 2002 and is announcing this today.

The total cost of finding and solving this problem amount to less than £250,000 (or approximately half of one per cent of the annual costs of note issue and production). The Bank is looking to find cost savings elsewhere in note production to ensure that the taxpayer does not suffer any loss of revenue.