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Counterfeit Currency

Volume 301: debated on Friday 21 November 1997

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the numbers of (a) counterfeit notes and (b) counterfeit £1 coins in circulation (i) nationally and (ii) in the North West England. [16921]

The Bank of England is not in a position to provide a reliable estimate of the number of counterfeit notes in circulation. A record is maintained of the number of counterfeit notes which are received from circulation, but the Bank of England, in common with most note-issuing authorities, does not publish details of the counterfeit notes it receives. However, despite an increase in counterfeiting between 1990 and 1995, counterfeit notes detected still represented only a small fraction of 1 per cent. of the total notes in circulation throughout that period. The number of counterfeit notes received during 1997 shows a reduction against earlier totals. Counterfeit notes are found throughout the United Kingdom and there is no particular bias towards the North West.The Royal Mint is not in a position to provide a reliable estimate of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation, either on a national or a regional basis. However, the number of counterfeit £1 coins is believed to be very small in relation to the total circulation.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to make it more difficult for the coinage to be forged. [16922]

Special precautions are always taken to protect higher value coins. This is done by developing and using sophisticated alloys, edge lettering and, in the case of the new bi-coloured £2 coin, the introduction of a latent feature.