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Coinage (Consultation)

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the results of the public consultation on the coinage; and if he will make a statement.

In July this year the Royal Mint issued a consultation pamphlet "The United Kingdom Coinage". This set out four options for making the coinage lighter. Comments were invited from the general public and from those with special interests such as the blind and elderly, those who handle large amounts of coins, and the manufacturers and users of coin operated machines.The consultation period ended in September. More than 3,000 replies were received. A majority of those who commented on the options favoured that in which the 5p is replaced by a coin similar to the old sixpence, and the lop with one similar to the existing 5p. This was option 4 in the pamphlet. Having carefully considered the responses to the consultation, I have decided to introduce new 5p and 10p coins, as in option 4. This will reduce the overall weight of the coinage considerably. It will also complete the change from the pre-decimal coins.The precise specifications for the new coins will be announced later, after further consultation about the details with the blind and with manufacturers of coin-operated machines. The new 5p will be issued first, probably in 1991 to give plenty of notice of the change, and the 10p will be issued two or three years later. The new coins will be issued with the same designs as the present coins.On 12 November 1984 I informed the House that I had instructed the Bank of England to cease issuing £1 notes after the end of that year, but that the notes would continue to be legal tender for at least a further year. That further period has long since elapsed, and there are now very few series D £1 notes still in active circulation. Accordingly, the Bank is announcing today that, after 11 March 1988, series D Bank of England £1 notes will cease to be legal tender. This announcement does not affect the status of £1 notes issued by Scottish banks.