COINAGE (1½d. PIECE) (Hansard, 19 June 1951)
HC Deb 19 June 1951 vol 489 cc236-9
47. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what practical difficulties prevent the issue of a 1½d. piece.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gaitskell)

Mainly the additional burden imposed on the Mint, which is already working at full capacity, and the inconvenience of having to change ticket machines.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

If the difficulties are insuperable, will my right hon. Friend consider as an alternative the revaluation of the 1d. on the basis of 10 to the Is., thus at one stroke introducing a decimal coinage and at the same time making price increases unnecessary for bus fares, newspapers, beer and other items of daily expenditure?

Mr. Gaitskell

That is a quite different question, which I think is under consideration as a result of a report to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is it not the case that because of the inflationary policies which the Chancellor is now pursuing the thing would be out of date as soon as it was made?

Mr. Churchill

Would it not be a matter of very great convenience to have a common copper coin which took the place of the old ld., even though we have to pay much more for it, and which we should at any rate want available for an enormous number of basic transactions—a myriad of basic transactions—which are of great common useage amongst the masses of the people? Surely that ought to be considered. The ld. now really does not cover anything that we are confronted with under the present dispensation.

Mr. Gaitskell

I am not quite sure whether I follow the right hon. Gentleman's thought in this matter, but as I have said, the question of a decimal coinage and of a change in the measurement system has been brought up in a recent report to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and is under consideration.

Mr. Churchill

I was not speaking at all about decimal coinage—that is another question altogether. The idea is that a coin should be made which takes the place of the penny, which, since the end of the war, has ceased to play its normal, natural and, I believe, necessary part in the ordinary life and transactions of the great mass of the people.

Mr. Gaitskell

There is, of course, no evidence to that effect. The Id. is used—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, distinguish the question of changes in the value of money from the question of what coins are or are not suitable for general circulation.

Mr. Churchill

Surely the coins in common usage ought to bear an effective relation to the value of money?

Mr. Speaker

We are getting a little wide of the original Question which, after all, asked what practicable difficulties prevented the issue of a l½d. piece, not whether it is desirable or not to have one.

Mr. Eric Fletcher

With all respect, may I put this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—is my right hon. Friend aware that newsvendors and others are becoming increasingly reluctant to give a ½d. change if one gives them 2d. for a newspaper?

Mr. Arthur Colegate

Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer explain why making a central hole in a threepenny bit would throw a heavy burden on those in charge? It is a common form of coin on the Continent and would fulfill the purpose we all have in mind.

Mr. Gaitskell

Certainly it would mean additional machinery in the Mint and, during the interim period, it would increase the total output.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can my right hon. Friend give a definite assurance that, although the proposal for some change has received unexpected support from the Leader of the Opposition, it will, nevertheless, receive favourable consideration when it comes before my right hon. Friend?

Mr. Gaitskell

I do not think the question of what coins are or are not suitable is a major party political issue.

Mr. Nicholson

Will the right hon. Gentleman pay attention to the inscription, which is important? Is it not true that so long as the Labour Government are in power the less this coin will buy?

Sir T. Moore

On a point of order, I have two Questions, Nos. 48 and 49, on the Order Paper, which I do not want answered now, because I realise that Question Time has elapsed; but I should like your assurance, Mr. Speaker, that the answers will be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The question of publication of the figures for net income receipts was raised by Sir Frank Sanderson in 1948. The Minister then said he would not publish them in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but you finally decided that it should be published because of its great importance in this country and the United States.

Mr. Speaker

Of course, the answers will be published in HANSARD. That always takes place.

Sir T. Moore

No, Sir.

GLOBAL ISLES COURT OF RECORD