Stephen Doughty, the backbench Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, has suggested in the Commons that the image of Cardiff-born singer Shirley Bassey should figure on Bank of Wales banknotes issued by Lloyds Bank.
The proposal came in a debate on an amendment which – theoretically – would enable the Lloyds Banking Group, which holds the “Bank of Wales” trademark, to issue banknotes in Wales.
- In 1971 the “Bank of Wales” was founded by Cardiff financier Sir Julian Hodge after he’d noted a plan by Welsh computer banking expert Richard Williams to re-establish the “Bank of the Black Sheep” in North Wales – a quasi bank which would have printed its own currency.
- Hodge’s bank was initially only allowed to use the title “Commercial Bank of Wales“ after a tussel over nomenclature with the Bank of England, but in 1986 the name “Bank of Wales“ was formally adopted. A brand new bank building was set up in Kingsway Cardiff but in the same year the Bank was taken over by the Bank of Scotland – which already printed its own Scottish banknotes.
- In 2001 Bank of Scotland merged with the Halifax Building Society to become Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) .
- In 2008 at the height of the Labour Government’s catastrophic banking crisis Chancellor Gordon Brown pressured Lloyds Bank – a bank which had remained free of the problems afflicting other banks – to take over the failing HBOS bank to prevent its collapse. Unwisely, Lloyds did as Brown asked it to – with disastrous consequences.
- In 2014 Lloyds announced that it would re-establish the “Bank of Wales” as a savings provider.
In the Commons MPs have now discussed – no avail – a rather more far-reaching scheme to make provision authorising the Lloyds Banking Group to issue banknotes in Wales.
[PDN Note: Lloyds is a Welsh bank anyway – having being originally founded by Welsh Quakers].
In the Commons Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru treasury spokesperson) said the amendment before the house would deal with “the historical anomaly that prohibits Wales from producing its own distinctive banknotes.
He said “Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are allowed to do so, and so to celebrate their respective national figures and landmarks.”
Nick Thomas-Symonds Labour Work and Pensions spokesman suggested that an image of the former Labour MP for Pontypool Leo Abse should be printed on Welsh banknotes
Nick Smith Labour spokesman on the environment suggested – somewhat predictably – that “Aneurin Bevan, a son of Tredegar and founder of the National Health Service” should be a candidate for the banknotes.
Stephen Doughty (Labour Cardiff South and Penarth) rose to say “The honourable gentleman will note that two men—great men—have been recommended, but I would like to see more women represented on banknotes, whether they are Welsh or Bank of England notes. Does he agree that, whether or not one is a big spender, a resident of my own constituency, Dame Shirley Bassey, would be an excellent person to be on a Welsh banknote?”
Jonathan Edwards retorted that he had already seen that same suggestion on a Labour Party press release earlier that morning . He said “The proposed amendment would allow Lloyds Banking Group, which holds the rights to the Bank of Wales brand and is in part publicly owned by Welsh taxpayers, to issue Welsh banknotes, just as is permitted for the three clearing banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland.”
Harriett Baldwin The Economic Secretary to the Treasury said she sympathised with the case made by Jonathan Edwards but that “the commercial advantage of issuing banknotes in Wales to just one bank would raise competition and commercial issues for others.”
She said “The Bank of England has already announced that future banknotes, starting with the polymer £5 note which will be issued in September 2016, will include symbols representing all four home nations. For Wales, the imagery will be taken from the Royal Coat of Arms and the Royal Badge of Wales. The Bank recently announced that the design for the £5 note would be revealed on 2 June 2016.”
She said “I am very glad that we have had a chance to discuss the merits of the amendment. The hon. Gentleman will understand why I cannot support it. However, I welcome the opportunity to convey the message that an important symbol of Wales will appear on our new banknotes.”
PDN Note: In fact Shirley Bassey is not a constituent of Doughty’s and does not live in Cardiff South and Penarth . According to Wikipedia Shirley Bassey has been a tax exile since 1968 and lives in Monte Carlo .